The Cross, the Flag & Idolatry

SOURCE: BetteJo Dux (
SUBHEAD: How the mix of religious and patriotic symbolism is today’s national idolatry.

By Loren Adams on 13 September 2009 in Island Breath - 

Image above: Billboard seen in Atlanta, Georgia, in January 2006. From  

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” wrote Sinclair Lewis in 1935. When Hitler’s hordes stole Germany, they stormed town-halls across the Fatherland carrying their sacred symbols of nationalism reinforced by a form of Christianity that lent moral credence to mob rule. In fact, Nazism could not have risen had it not been for German evangelicals and fundamentalists embedded within the various religious sects and denominations.

German Christians were seduced by the allure of national pride, and in doing so, the flag, eagle, and swastika became select idols of that time – images so sacred anyone caught desecrating them were put to death. The pageantry and massive torch-bearing ceremonies were spectacular – even by today’s standards. Joseph Goebbels and Albert Speer were the Fuhrer’s designers, serving as Minister of Propaganda and Adolf’s Chief Architect, respectively.

Commissioned by Hitler in 1934, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, the propaganda film of all time, displayed seductive pageantry and overt symbolatry (idol worship of symbols). German evangelicals who succumbed to this idolatry comprised the base of the right-wing movement, same as American evangelicals are the base of the right-wing today in the U.S.

Yes, there are parallels between Nazi Germany and 21st Century right-wing America which is currently on recess but determined more than ever to recapture the government after managing to destroy the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats.

Let no one successfully persuade otherwise: Fascism was never a left-wing movement, only a right, and America’s right-wing is again on the march – using white evangelicals (seduced by symbols and “Christian” idolatry) to do its bidding – advocating and condoning violence, preaching the gospel of the “free market” (corporatism/fascism), and promoting militaristic monarchial/theocratic rule.

Giant crosses are erected adjacent Interstates across America, supposedly to lead lost souls to Jesus Christ, but on the other hand, are testament to modern American “Christian” idolatry. In front of America’s megachurches, giant U.S. flags flap in the wind, supposedly as an indication of devotion to the country, but on the other hand, are testament to modern American “Christian” idolatry. The symbols mean more than mandates Christ issued to the Church: caring for the needy, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick.

The Bible, also, has become an idolatrous image to many. The phrase is often heard from fundamentalist pulpits and broadcasts, “The King James Version of the Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God.” Then they add, “The King James was good enough for Paul and Silas, so it’s good enough for me,” without considering the King James Version wasn’t commissioned by the King of England until 1,600 years after Paul and Silas were dead.

The disease of ignorance is as contagious as swine flu. Worship of the cross and flag was evident as far back as the Great Depression, as described by Sinclair Lewis in 1935, and this symbolatry was at the forefront of the Nazi movement across the Atlantic. So, Lewis put two and two together and foresaw the day fascism would come to America “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Lewis observed that Hitler’s core followers were uneducated, anti-intellectuals, and steeped in mythology and peripheral religion. And he compared the European base to an American counterpart that could potentially propel an American tyrant to power – for the same element flourished on both continents.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, Sinclair Lewis was eye-witness to the Great Depression and the ascension of Adolf Hitler’s Germany. He wrote of similar threat to America – where fascism would come dressed in the flag, carrying a cross, and preaching Christianity – the wolf in sheep’s clothing. He saw the parallels then as they are now. Sinclair Lewis predicted such in 1935. Of course, most tyrants in world history rise to power compliments of a religious base. In fact, they couldn’t have arrived without a supportive religious system.

The antichrist can only come to power because of the quasi-Christian Beast he rides, called the “Great Whore” in The Revelation. But after he succeeds and arrives at his desired destination, he betrays his mode of transport, the Beast, by destroying her. I believe a significant portion of fundamentalists today have become seduced by a form of symbol worship. “Idolatry” is defined as blind and excessive devotion to a person or thing. If an individual or group of individuals are caught up in a collective act of blindly venerating the same object or person, this common bond is defined as a “cult.”

 Twenty-first century America is encumbered by a mass cult which is stripping away the nation’s constitutional rights, civil liberties, and potential greatness. Ironically, it is also threatening the very religious freedom for which they claim to cherish dearly.

Symbols mean more than substance today. Little flag pins arouse more adoration than real acts of valor. FOX’s America preferred to investigate (and lie about) John Kerry’s medals than George Bush’s AWOL, cocaine use, and draft-dodging. FOX’s America preferred to perpetrate the Obama birth certificate myth than investigate torture and treason. Barack without a tie in the Oval Office elicited more outrage than Blackwater’s murders. It is symbolism the right-wing is after, not reality.

Surface outweighs substance. Not only the flag, but the cross and Bible are erected as idols. And sadly, the national idolatry cult has racial overtones – like the original fascist movement 80 years before.

Nazis venerated the flag, the swastika, Mein Kampf, and the eagle. The American right-wing venerates the flag, the cross, the Bible and the eagle. The parallels can’t be more apparent.  

Arctic seas turning acid

SUBHEAD: Now we realize the situation is much worse. The ocean will become so acidic it will actually dissolve the shells of living shellfish.

By Robin McKie on 04 October in the Guardian -

Image above: Back in 2007 an area of Arctic sea ice the size of Florida melted in a week. That melting has not slowed down. From

[Editor's Note: The geoengineering "solutions" proposed will NOT solve the acidification of the oceans upon which all life depends. Not only will the planet lose an important oxygen resource, with the elimination of its production by plankton, but it may also trigger the poisoning of the atmosphere, with lethal quantities of methane gas from dead and decaying organic material left in the wake of this disaster.]
Carbon-dioxide emissions are turning the waters of the Arctic Ocean into acid at an unprecedented rate, scientists have discovered. Research carried out in the archipelago of Svalbard has shown in many regions around the north pole seawater is likely to reach corrosive levels within 10 years. 

The water will then start to dissolve the shells of mussels and other shellfish and cause major disruption to the food chain. By the end of the century, the entire Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic.
"This is extremely worrying," Professor Jean-Pierre Gattuso, of France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, told an international oceanography conference last week:
"We knew that the seas were getting more acidic and this would disrupt the ability of shellfish – like mussels – to grow their shells. But now we realize the situation is much worse. The water will become so acidic it will actually dissolve the shells of living shellfish."
Just as an acid descaler breaks apart limescale inside a kettle, so the shells that protect molluscs and other creatures will be dissolved. "This will affect the whole food chain, including the North Atlantic salmon, which feeds on molluscs," said Gattuso, speaking at a European commission conference, Oceans of Tomorrow, in Barcelona last week. The oceanographer told delegates that the problem of ocean acidification was worse in high latitudes, in the Arctic and around Antarctica, than it was nearer the equator.

"More carbon dioxide can dissolve in cold water than warm," he said. "Hence the problem of acidification is worse in the Arctic than in the tropics, though we have only recently got round to studying the problem in detail."

About a quarter of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by factories, power stations and cars now ends up being absorbed by the oceans. That represents more than six million tonnes of carbon a day.

This carbon dioxide dissolves and is turned into carbonic acid, causing the oceans to become more acidic. "We knew the Arctic would be particularly badly affected when we started our studies but I did not anticipate the extent of the problem," said Gattuso.

His research suggests that 10% of the Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic by 2018; 50% by 2050; and 100% ocean by 2100. "Over the whole planet, there will be a threefold increase in the average acidity of the oceans, which is unprecedented during the past 20 million years. That level of acidification will cause immense damage to the ecosystem and the food chain, particularly in the Arctic," he added.

The tiny mollusc Limacina helicina, which is found in Arctic waters, will be particularly vulnerable, he said. The little shellfish is eaten by baleen whales, salmon, herring and various seabirds. Its disappearance would therefore have a major impact on the entire marine food chain. The deep-water coral Lophelia pertusa would also be extremely vulnerable to rising acidity. Reefs in high latitudes are constructed by only one or two types of coral – unlike tropical coral reefs which are built by a large variety of species.

The loss of Lophelia pertusa would therefore devastate reefs off Norway and the coast of Scotland, removing underwater shelters that are exploited by dozens of species of fish and other creatures.
"Scientists have proposed all sorts of geo-engineering solutions to global warming," said Gattuso. "For instance, they have proposed spraying the upper atmosphere with aerosol particles that would reduce sunlight reaching the Earth, mitigating the warming caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide.

"But these ideas miss the point. They will still allow carbon dioxide emissions to continue to increase – and thus the oceans to become more and more acidic. There is only one way to stop the devastation the oceans are now facing and that is to limit carbon-dioxide emissions as a matter of urgency."

This was backed by other speakers at the conference. Daniel Conley, of Lund University, Sweden, said that increasing acidity levels, sea-level rises and temperature changes now threatened to bring about irreversible loss of biodiversity in the sea. Christoph Heinze, of Bergen University, Norway, said his studies, part of the EU CarboOcean project, had found that carbon from the atmosphere was being transported into the oceans' deeper waters far more rapidly than expected and was already having a corrosive effect on life forms there.

The oceans' vulnerability to climate change and rising carbon-dioxide levels has also been a key factor in the launching of the EU's Tara Ocean project at Barcelona. The expedition, on the sailing ship Tara, will take three years to circumnavigate the globe, culminating in a voyage through the icy Northwest Passage in Canada, and will make continual and detailed samplings of seawater to study its life forms.

A litre of seawater contains between 1bn and 10bn single-celled organisms called prokaryotes, between 10bn and 100bn viruses and a vast number of more complex, microscopic creatures known as zooplankton, said Chris Bowler, a marine biologist on Tara.

"People think they are just swimming in water when they go for a dip in the sea," he said. "In fact, they are bathing in a plankton soup."

That plankton soup is of crucial importance to the planet, he added. "As much carbon dioxide is absorbed by plankton as is absorbed by tropical rainforests. Its health is therefore of crucial importance to us all."

However, only 1% of the life forms found in the sea have been properly identified and studied, said Bowler. "The aim of the Tara project is to correct some of that ignorance and identify many more of these organisms while we still have the chance.

Issues like ocean acidification, rising sea levels and global warming will not be concerns at the back of our minds. They will be a key focus for the work that we do while we are on our expedition."

Samoan Tsunami Relief Effort

SUBHEAD: An 8.4 Richter earthquake created a 5 foot tsunami that hit Samoa on September 30th. Help is needed.  

 By Josh Green M.D. State Hawaii Senator on 2 OCtober 2009   (

Image above: Samoans walk amongst the debris on the road to the beach following tsunami. (Photo by Phil Walter from  

At 6:48am local time, on September 30th 2009, a strong quake of 8.3 on the Richter scale struck in Lalomanu, 200km from Samoa's capital of Apia. The quake triggered a tsunami wave up to 5 feet high across areas of the island, with a death toll currently sitting at 28 fatalities but expected to rise. The Samoan people are an important part of Hawaii’s multicultural tapestry, and most of us here have close friends or family who are Samoan.

The devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Samoa, has left over a hundred people dead and thousands more homeless. Samoa’s recovery from this disaster will be long and difficult, but we in Hawaii can help bring needed relief now.

Please join me and my wife Jaime in contributing to the relief effort today. The Samoan people truly need our help. Donations may be sent to:

American Red Cross – American Samoa P.O. Box 2635 Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799

American Red Cross – Disaster Relief Fund Hawaii State Chapter 4155 Diamond Head Road Honolulu, HI 96816

 or call 1-800-REDCROSS and donate either to their national or international relief fund. Mahalo.

See also:
 Ea O Ka Aina: Philippine Flood Relief 10/2/09

Kauai Seed & Plant Exchange

SUBHEAD: Kauai's fourth biannual free community event promoting sustainable, nutritious food self-sufficiency.

Image above: Organic vegetable field at Kauapea Farms. From  

By Jill Richardson on 28 September 2009 in Island Breath -

The 4th Biannual Community Seed and Plant Exchange will be held on Sunday, October 11th from 12 noon until 5pm at the Kauapea Farms. The featured keynote resentation is entitled “Kauai’s Sacred Botanical Gardens” by Paramacharya Palaniswami of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. Please bring your favorite GMO-free & pest-free seeds, plants, and cuttings to share with others.

Even if you have no seeds or plants to bring you will be encouraged to bring some home. Free Admission and workshops! Great local food, music, and aloha! Come spend the Afternoon! This event is a joint production of Regenerations Botanical Garden, Kaua`i Community Seed Bank, GMO Free Kaua'i and Kauapea Farms.  
4th Kauai Biannual Plant & Seed Exchange  

Sunday, 11 October 2009 from 12:00 noon - 5:00pm
12:00-1:00pm Seed/Plant check-in
1:00-2:00pm Mini workshops
2:00-3:00pm The exchange
 3:30-4:30pm Keynote presentation  

2671 Kaupea Road, Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii  

Drive NORTHEAST on KILAUEA RD toward the Kilauea Light House Turn LEFT onto KAUAPEA RD. 2671 KAUAPEA RD is on the LEFT. Look for signs. Please Carpool!

Jill Richardson
phone: (808) 652-4118
fax: (866) 216-5373
snail: PO Box 1137, Kilauea, Kauai, 96754

Regenerations Botanical Garden
Kauai Community Seed Bank
 GMO Free Kauai
Kauapea Farms

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: 3rd Seed & Plant Exchange 2/21/09
Island Breath: 2nd Seed & Plant Exchange 9/15/08
Island Breath: 1st Seed & Plant Exchange 2/28/08

Maui Bans GMO Taro

SUBHEAD: The taro bill prohibits anyone from testing, propagating, growing or introducing genetically modified taro.  

By Melissa Tanji on 3 October 2009 in The Maui News -

Image above: A specimen taro plant at the 2009 East Maui Taro Festival. From

A bill prohibiting genetically modified taro in Maui County received final approval Friday by the Maui County Council.

In other council business, a bill banning alcohol at Kamaole Beach Park I received initial approval.

The taro bill prohibits anyone from testing, propagating, growing or introducing genetically engineered or modified taro, or kalo, within Maui County. Council members voted 9-0 to approve the ban, saying they believed taro's cultural and spiritual significance to Native Hawaiians was more important than any other factor.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares said after the vote that she would support the ban.

"I will be signing the bill into law and recognize that the passage of this new law will send a message of support for state Representative Mele Carroll's efforts to introduce and pass a bill at the state Legislature," she said in an e-mailed statement.

"The input from various stakeholders that I've received has been valuable," Tavares said. "I am told that this important law will bring us closer to protection of kalo on a statewide level. I support the intent of the bill and the protection of Hawaiian kalo, which deserves our respect and acknowledgment for its ancestral ties to Native Hawaiians, our host culture."

Tavares previously had expressed doubts about the bill, saying it might be difficult to enforce.

Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala said after the vote that he appreciated everyone's support on the bill and asked that council members continue to improve the language of the bill.

Council Member Bill Medeiros thanked people who had testified or sent e-mails in support of the bill he introduced.

Around 15 people Friday morning made it clear they were testifying in support of the ban on genetically modified taro. Supporters of the ban have argued passionately that taro is a sacred plant and staple food for Native Hawaiians and should be kept in its natural form. They feared that even if limited use or research were allowed, genetically modified forms of taro could mingle with other strains being cultivated.

Caren Diamond of Hawaii Seed - a nonprofit coalition of grass-roots groups composed of farmers, doctors, scientists, lawyers, concerned citizens and Native Hawaiians opposing the use of genetic modification - said taro was vital to Hawaiian culture.

"You have an opportunity to protect this living culture," she said.

But Harold Keyser, the Maui County administrator for the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources in Maui County, testified in opposition to the bill.

He asked for some way to conduct research on Hawaii taro, saying in one case research on taro has led to the replenishment of a taro crop that was lost in American Samoa. He said he and others who support the bill also want to see taro thrive and have it preserved.

"We care, but in a different way," Keyser said.

Also Friday, council members voted unanimously at first reading to support the prohibition of alcohol at Kamaole Beach Park I. The proposal would extend a drinking ban, applicable at the neighboring Charley Young Beach, that was passed by the council in August.

Council Member Jo Anne Johnson, who introduced the bill, said the ban at Kamaole I would make enforcement easier for police. There is no clear boundary between the two parks.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at

KIUC board OKs construction plan

SUBHEAD: "Do we want to spend even another penny on infrastructure that maintains our dependence on fossil fuels?” image above: Smokestacks of Chinese combustion power generators. From By Michael Levine on 02 October 2009 in The Garden Island The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s Board of Directors on Tuesday gave its approval to a Construction Work Plan that serves as the first step toward applying for low-interest government loans but does not yet include explicit details of a possible new fossil-fuel-burning combustion turbine. “A lot of discussion needs to be had on generation,” said first-year KIUC Director Ben Sullivan, adding that now is the “time to relook at load and fuel forecasts” as the co-op balances its desire to fund renewable energies with the need to maintain coverage for its thousands of members in the short run. The Construction Work Plan, which covers potential short-term projects through 2012, is required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service as a prerequisite for any loan filings and was accepted unanimously by the board. KIUC President and CEO Randy Hee clarified in a Wednesday phone interview that the plan, as currently constructed, covers transmission, distribution and smaller building facilities but not generation, which will be included in an addendum that could be approved as soon as the October meeting. KIUC staff told the board Tuesday that while the Construction Work Plan does not presently include generation facilities, the distribution projects that are featured in the plan are tied together with the potential Kapaia combustion turbine, and Hee told the board transmission depends on loads and generation, noting that KIUC made some assumptions about the location of energy sources when designing the Construction Work Plan. He said Wednesday a so-called GenX facility would likely be located in Kapaia and would burn both traditional oil and biodiesel if KIUC is unable to get a renewable project off the ground quickly enough. “We need to do some parallel path work in order that the renewables don’t come on stream, we may add a unit that might initially be running on a petroleum,” Hee said, noting that a new oil-burning combustion turbine has not received any authorization from the board and has had no funds allocated or even requested. Hee said the combustion turbine could cost in the range of $70 million. With the long-rumored investment in a new oil-burning facility now creeping onto the horizon, some members spoke out against the idea. “Members are highly dissatisfied with this direction. We keep hearing that this is a ‘parallel project,’ but parallel to what? Why are we moving more rapidly on this than on anything else?” asked Andrea Brower of Malama Kaua‘i in prepared testimony at the meeting Tuesday. “We need to pause and ask ourselves a fundamental question: Do we want to spend even another penny on infrastructure that maintains our dependence on fossil fuels?” Hee said KIUC hopes to move forward on a biomass project on former Gay and Robinson land, a proposal that he described as KIUC’s “best opportunity right now for renewable project.” He said the Kapaia combustion turbine is simply a backup that is being planned for because all generation facilities have long lead times. “Updating our grid technologies, renewable energy projects, and a major effort to encourage conservation are no small tasks. However, the longer we delay in moving in this direction, the more difficult it will be and the more we will pay for it tomorrow,” Brower said. “It is my opinion that a majority of members are willing to pay a little more today in order to secure a sustainable, stable, and resilient energy future for their children.” A KIUC spokesperson said Wednesday the Construction Work Plan would not be available to the public until after it was sent to RUS, which may have happened as early as Thursday. The board will be workshopping on generation possibilities on Oct. 14, 15 and 16, and could be adding generation projects to the Construction Work Plan soon.

KIUC’s Rate Hike Request

SUBHEAD: The best result would occur if KIUC simply withdrew its application and spared its membership increased rates. By Walter Lewis on 3 October 2009 in The Garden Island - image above: Political cartoon (modified by Juan Wilson) about Florida power utility. From It is probable that the impetus for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative petition to the Public Utilities Commission for the 10.5 percent across-the-board rate increase now pending arose when its management saw the results for its operations in December 2008. For many months KIUC had been urging its customers to conserve electric use to keep their billings down. When in late 2008 the recession impacted Kaua‘i as it had the rest of the nation, electric use dropped sharply by virtue of consumer conservation together with a plunge in Kaua‘i’s tourist activity and KIUC recorded a scary $3.3 million December monthly loss according to its PUC filings. It is ironic that KIUC was encouraging customer conservation of use and then when they got it, KIUC management discovered that they wanted an rate increase to compensate for the revenue loss caused by the conservation practices. By the time, however, that KIUC filed its application for increase in rates at the end of June 2009, its position had improved and it was again showing profitability. The justification that KIUC urged for its proposed rate increases was not, though, based on its operating losses but rather that it wanted to avoid a risk of violating the covenant in the loan agreement it has with the Rural Utilities Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture which required it to maintain a favorable ratio of its earnings to its debt. This TIE (times interest earned) ratio had fallen briefly below the required 1.25 level, but in June 2009, the filing month, compliance had been restored. Disturbingly, the concern of KIUC about its loan covenant existed largely because it did not want any impediment to impact its intended plans to make further borrowings from RUS related to its contemplated new generation facilities. Such facilities are not within the scope of the docket for its requested rate increase, but based on indications at KIUC community meetings seem to be in furtherance of maintaining fossil fuel generation rather than moving KIUC toward alternative energy. The PUC held a well-attended Kaua‘i public hearing on the rate increase proposal on Aug. 25. Nearly 100 comments were received at or in the allowed period following the hearing. Except for the testimony by KIUC management and one other person — the spouse of KIUC’s public relations director — the views expressed were all negative to the proposed increase. Although the PUC has generally discounted such testimony as consumers are almost always against a rate increase, the KIUC supporting testimony and their application data are thin, and approval for the increase being sought may well be limited or disapproved. A troublesome further issue has arisen. KIUC recently obtained as one of its ancillary studies to the application a cost of service survey made by R. W. Beck, a well-regarded engineering firm. This survey showed that KIUC’s residential class of customers (which comprise about 80 percent of the total number of customers and use about 35 percent of the electricity supplied) only contribute in their rate payments about 76 percent of the cost incurred to supply them. Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and Beach Club, a large power class customer, has applied to be an intervenor in the rate increase docket. The hearing on the application was held on Sept. 29. At the date of this writing it is not known whether the intervention will be allowed. However, if it is, Marriott and the Department of Navy, another intervenor thanks to its management of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, can be expected to urge that rates for large users should be protected or reduced and the subsidization of the residential class customers be ended or moderated. It is theoretically alarming to note that if the KIUC increase is granted and the existing subsidization of the residential class is ended, residential rates could rise over 30 percent. It may be comforting that a discussion with the Consumer Advocate’s office indicates that any elimination of the residential class subsidization would likely be gradual. Still the potential remains though that residential rates could be increased by more than the 10.5 percent being sought by KIUC. It is unfortunate that KIUC’s residential customers are being blindsided to this risk. Another item of current interest is that Western Renewable Energy principals met with KIUC management in late July about a WRE program that would include an up to 22.5 megawatt generating facility using pelletized wood chips as the energy source. It was proposed that this alternative energy would be supplied to KIUC on an essentially fixed price basis over a 20-year initial period without any investment by KIUC being required. I am informed that KIUC has failed to date to respond to the WRE request for a nondisclosure agreement relating to its confidential data. Regrettably it may well be that this potentially attractive program will be an opportunity lost as WRE has entered into a letter of intent with San Jose and Palo Alto California for a 20 megawatt facility using its technology there. KIUC talks the alternative energy game but its track record to date is modest. It will likely be several months before the PUC acts on the KIUC rate increase application. It would be beneficial but unlikely if the PUC gave attention to the KIUC ambition to use the requested rate increase revenue and new borrowings from RUS to acquire replacement generation facilities. For homeowners beset with the current economic problems it is probable that the best result would occur if KIUC simply withdrew its application and spared 80 percent of its membership from an unexpected increase in their rates. • Walter Lewis is a resident of Princeville and writes a biweekly column for The Garden Island.

When will jobs come back?

SUBHEAD: If you think of your job as just what you do to earn a paycheck, the answer is NEVER.

By George Mobus on 02 October 2009 in Question Everything - (

Image above: A blacksmith at work by Charles Grant Beauregard (American, Troy, NY, 1856 - 1919) From (  
Do you (or did you, if you got laid off) do useful work? If you think flipping hamburgers at McDonalds, so that some frazzled mother doesn't have to, counts as useful work, think again. Minding the front desk of a tanning salon isn't going to count either. And as long as you think those are real jobs, you are going to have a hard time with this economy as well as the future economy.

Today it was reported that the unemployment rate climbed again, edging toward 10% (see; HuffingtonPost article: "Unemployment Rate Rises To 9.8 Percent; U.S. Economy Shed 263,000 Jobs In September"). And Paul Krugman, in The New York Times ("Mission Not Accomplished") rightly points out that not only is this unacceptably high, but the projections for very slow jobs growth and employment recovery (still 7.7% in 2012) mean protracted suffering for millions of families.

He then goes on to whistle the same neoclassical tune of "growth is the answer" and that the government should be doing even more in the way of stimulus to get the US economy back on the growth curve. That, in the limited imaginations of neoclassical economists, is the only solution to creating jobs and providing people with access to incomes. I'm still flabbergasted at how myopic even Nobel Prize winners can be.

Yes Krugman is right that what the government is doing is wrong, which right now is holding the line on further stimulus, especially since it can't account for billions that it doled out to the financial institutions to keep them afloat. But he is dead wrong about the remedy.

Let me be clear. He is right that IF growth in GDP were somehow stimulated (and it would need to be rather healthy growth in the range of 4 - 5% per year) that new jobs would be created. Employers would see demand for their goods and services, presumably, and need to produce more. Hence they would be hiring again. Another NYT columnist, Tom Friedman, further has suggested that new kinds of high paying jobs in the 'green' sector, whatever that is, would be created. So we'd be well on the road to economic prosperity AND magically solve our greenhouse gas and energy independence problem all in one fell swoop.

But there is a basic fallacy with this classical economics/technology corucopianism view of things. The conventional wisdom is still conventional, but no longer wise. Growth is not the answer any more.

There are actually a couple of problems with both what Krugman wants to do and with the whole notion that jobs recovery will occur, albeit slowly, once the financial system is stable, the Geithner-Bernanke-Sumers plan. Krugman wants more stimulus, more government spending in true Keynesian economic style, arguing that it really won't hurt that much in the long run (he doesn't actually provide numbers to back up his claim but maybe we're to take the word of a Nobel Prize winner for granted). Many other economists worry about the fact that more government spending now will just put the federal government deeper in hock, and we are already up to our eyeballs in debt.

They (rightly) argue that the government can't go on 'printing' money to spend without risking inflation. Monetary and fiscal policies have to be balanced just right in order to 'manage' a recovery without runaway inflation eating us alive. Krugman disagrees. They all want the same thing though; economic recovery to an annual GDP growth as a measure of a healthy economy. They only disagree on how the monetary/fiscal balance is best achieved.

The second problem has to do with the actual possibility of job recovery by whatever means. The fact is that the US has become a major consumer-oriented and service-dominated economy. The GDP ostensibly captures all transactions where someone buys a hamburger at McDonalds (for example) and those kinds of transactions actually represent a substantial fraction of total GDP.

Now if the economic recovery depends on people buying and consuming stuff and those same people are not working, receiving an income, then with what will they buy? But if they don't buy, then there won't be those service jobs, and so on. It's circular causality. Consumers can't consume unless they are working and they can't work if people aren't consuming.

Krugman's solution (inferred from past writings) would be more government spending on infrastructure projects to pump money into the economy. Both Krugman and Friedman want the government to invest in green infrastructure, and Friedman, in particular, wants more R&D in green technology to spur entrepreneurism. He assumes that magical energy producing technology will pop out and make lots of people rich (he calls it the ET revolution!).

The government should be spending lots of money that it doesn't actually have (remember all those unemployed people and lowered profit corporations don't pay as much in taxes!) to generate jobs. Those newly hired workers (making really great wages in the new green economy) in turn will then become dutiful consumers and boost the service sector (which, for my purposes includes merchandise distribution and retailing). Thus our economy recovers, GDP goes upward again, taxes are collected so the government can get its fiscal house in order and life is generally back to 'normal'.

I've written plenty about the technology cornucopian fallacy, including the prior blog about why the scaling up problem will defeat alternative energy production from powering the kind of economy we have today. There are increasing numbers of studies and reports that back up the fact that belief in technology (in energy, such as ET) is delusional or at best wishful thinking.

And with peak oil looming, to be followed by peak energy period, the net energy needed to do economic work is going to fall. No amount of wishing by Krugman, Friedman, Geithner, etc. will change the basic fact that an economy based on growth and consumption is DOA.

So where will jobs come from? More cogently, how will people have an income sufficient to pay for their necessities? If I am right about the fact that all of the current economic plans are doomed to failure in the not-so-long run, then how will people support themselves?

The answer, in part, depends on a complete change in perceptions about what we are in terms of economic entities. As long as we think of ourselves as 'consumers' and let the powers treat us as consumers we are going to remain hostages of this growth/consume (and hence borrowing) mind set. Each of us has to think of ourselves as a producer of goods or services first.

But there is a hitch, sort of. What we produce cannot just be mindless stuff that others consume without a useful benefit. Our products and services have to be useful to those who buy them. Think about all those outdoor and farmer's markets that are springing up everywhere (the city of Portland, OR has a weekend market that has grown quite the spectacle). They tend to be dominated by 'artisans' who pump out an endless stream of trinkets and paintings and sculptures and yard art and... Don't get me wrong. I

am not saying art has no worth. But I find it difficult to believe that most of these 'products' are not just more useless stuff that people have accumulated more for its novelty (a short-lived phenomenon) as opposed to its continuing benefits. On the other hand, the farmers that sell actual food (as opposed to the food stalls that sell greasy junk foods like at a carnival!), especially the locally grown food, are selling real, useful products.

People who build useful tools and bring them to such markets are selling useful products. People who craft artful clothing, like knitted sweaters, but not the tie-died T-shirts, are selling useful products.

Those of us who develop a sense of themselves as a producer of useful goods or services can have gainful employment right now. It won't be a mind-numbing job flipping hamburgers or waiting on customers in a jewelry store. It won't even necessarily involve a paycheck. It will involve true entrepreneurialism (not quite the kind Tom Friedman thinks about) to be sure. It might even involve barter — my service for your product.

The key is that you have to produce something that someone else is willing to give up their labor to have. And they will be much more attuned to the value of their own labor than has been the case in the past. So you won't be able to produce junk jewelry or pulp paintings and expect that to provide food on the table.

In fact the transition to this kind of economy is already happening in local settings all across the country. It is born out of necessity since there are so many people out of work. When someone's unemployment benefits run out, they just disappear from the statistic radar screen. Where do they go? I have now seen many examples of people who are resilient and have coped with this situation by rethinking their own status. The first step is to simplify one's life, reduce the 'needs' one has for money and then think about what they can produce that others will find useful.

Is this going back to an earlier kind of economy? You bet it is. And that is exactly what we will all have to do eventually. Every able bodied man and woman is capable of physical labor and had better get used to the idea. Older people can run education (actually I think retired people make the best grade school teachers!).

Physically challenged people can handle bookkeeping (always a needed service!) or other 'desk' work in support of the physical work. Crafts persons can repair or build needed tools, such as treadle powered sewing machines or looms.

Every adult human being can find some way to do useful work, to add value to society in a way that is truly valuable. But rather than doing it for 'the man', they will need to learn to do it for the customer and how to barter and trade effectively. [As an aside there is a growing interest in local currencies to alleviate the classical problems with barter. But the underlying theme here is that people will actually know how to value the things they want to get in terms of their own labors and what they are worth. Those can be translated to worth and fractionalized in any local currency.]

We are not going to hell in a hand basket, even if it has to seem that way to the millions of people who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. We are going toward simplicity in terms of our own needs and in terms of our relations with the economy. Humans have never just been consumers. We have always been, primarily, producers who need to consume some basics in order to fulfill our primary mission.

We have been fooled into believing we had become something different, a consumer first, who had to do some kind of work in order to get a paycheck so as to fulfill his or her responsibility to consume junk. We fooled ourselves. It happened because we had discovered so much cheap energy that allowed us to turn a lot of the production work over to machines.

And that allowed us, for a short time, to think of ourselves as consumers first. But it was a temporary condition only. Now, as jobs disappear, it is time to reawaken our realization about what we really are. Producers first, consumers by necessity.

And, by the way, it isn't the case that we have to produce more than we consume in order to grow. Humanity already has overshot its natural population size based on the carrying capacity of the planet for our species. No, the need for production in excess of consumption is for two very fundamental reasons. The first is we are constantly fighting the Second Law of Thermodynamics, its entropy form. We are forever in need of repairing the degradation that just comes with time. That takes real work.

And that also includes replacing ourselves (rearing children). Second, we need to produce an excess of usable wealth (like tools and storable food) against the times when things aren't going so well. There will be disasters. We need stored excess in order to repair the damage or sustain ourselves in droughts. We need insurance and hedges against the inevitable bad times. We need savings of real wealth. And we only borrow from those savings when there is an actual need.

As the energy flow diminishes, we will need to adapt our economics to the situation. That means more human (and animal) labor directed at things that truly matter to survival with reasonable esthetics. We can transition to that kind of economy only when people start thinking of themselves differently than the economists and politicians would like.

You don't need a job. You need to be a producer. That also means you need to be a problem solver (which I suspect is why we evolved bigger brains!) Let go of the dream of a bigger house, or a motorboat.

Focus on your skills and talents and what you can produce that others will need (not just want). And if you play your abilities right, learn to trade and learn to value things realistically, you will find a sustainable life.

The Trouble with Money

SUBHEAD: The need to always grow the economy to pay interest is unsustainable. By Kellia Ramares on 13 July 2009 in Kellia's World - The current economic crisis is bringing monetary reform movements such as End The Fed, to the fore. These movements bring to light what is wrong with our current monetary system, i.e., it is the instrument by which people are held in debt slavery. image above: A hard money lender at work. From
But these movements often call for a return to the backing of paper money with gold and silver. In other words, that we should be able to redeem our paper money for gold and silver – though I can't think of why we would want to do that;. gold and silver are too heavy to carry around. No more paper currency should be in circulation than can be backed by precious metal, according to the proponents of “real money.” But returning to a gold/silver standard for currency will not stabilize our economy. The real problem with our currency is not its fiat nature. Gold and silver are themselves fiat currencies. Long ago, certain cultures decided that these metals were valuable and could be used to transact business. Cultures that did not have access to these metals used something else: shells, feathers, rocks, etc. to facilitate exchange. The decree of some ancient king to use gold and silver as currency is just as much a fiat as the decision of the US Government to use Federal Reserve Notes. We just don't consider gold and silver as fiat currency because the decision to use them as currency was made millennia ago. The value of gold and silver is a fundamental assumption, part of our “racial memory” that we do not question. But there is nothing in the natural order of the world that decrees that these metals are valuable. It is only an ancient consensus, still honored, that makes them so. Thomas Nast, the great 19th century American political cartoonist, and a “hard money” enthusiast, was right when he drew a picture saying that Congress could declare soft soap to be the currency. Indeed, if Ancient Greece and Rome had made such declarations, I wonder what we would be washing ourselves with today. The immediate problem with our currency is not its fiat nature. The trouble with money is interest. Ancient religions forbade interest—Islam still retains that proscription—they saw time as a gift from God. But that consensus broke down and interest as a payment for the time a lender would be without his money came into being. Interest is what has made every business transaction into one of debt. It also requires the world's economy to be in a state of permanent growth because growth is needed to expand the money supply in order to pay back loans PLUS interest. If there were no interest and people with surplus money loaned it to those who needed it, the repayment would simply be the return of the sum loaned and the money supply would not need to grow just so that each loan can be repaid with interest. This is not unheard of; it's something friends do amongst each other. As the foes of fiat currency correctly point out, increasing the money supply decreases the value of each dollar in circulation. They would propose to limit inflationary increases in the money supply by tying paper currency to the limited supply of gold and silver. But that could cause the problem of needlessly restraining real growth because of an insufficient money supply. I say, attack the problem of inflation at the taproot by abolishing interest. A way to eliminate interest and still provide incentive for money to circulate is the focus of the book “Interest and Inflation Free Money: Creating an exchange medium that works for everybody and protects the earth” by Margrit Kennedy. It's published by New Society Publishers. The need to always grow the economy to pay interest is unsustainable. No system grows forever. The linear view of the Universe is not natural. Nature operates in circles and spirals, not in straight lines. The human hubris that we have dominion over the earth and can subdue it is folly. Mother Nature bats last. We are playing on her field. And Her game is about resource depletion--not just oil, but other resources, such as potable water--brought about by a species that thinks that infinite growth on a finite planet is possible and desirable. Interest is how that species puts its belief into action. Ecology and economy are two words that come from the same root. We must remember this whenever we hear politicians say that we can't take certain measures to protect the environment because they will hurt the economy. Without the environment there is no economy. Therefore, we must abandon the belief in the possibility and desirability of infinite growth. We must also abandon the demand for compensation for every instance of use of anything valuable that we possess including and especially time. (Contrast the copyright battles over usage of one digital product across several pieces of equipment with the way you freely share time and resources with your social circle). Once we abandon those old ways of thinking, the wisdom of eliminating interest, which is based on those old ways, will be self-evident. And what will happen to the people who make their living from lending at interest? I say to them what the working class has been told time and again in the face of outsourcing: RETRAIN. Of course, the elimination of interest is only one step toward what should be the ultimate goal: the elimination of money. That, too, can be accomplished with a massive change of thinking leading to a new consensus that no longer supports monetary systems. But for now, one thing at a time.

Food, Energy & Civilization

SUBHEAD: Saving civilization is not a spectator sport. Each of us must have a plan of action and push for rapid change. By Lester R. Brown on 28 September 2009 in IPS News - image above: Recent aerial photo of irrigated wheat fields in Jawf, Saudi Arabia, as seen from GoogleEarth In early 2008, Saudi Arabia announced that, after being self-sufficient in wheat for over 20 years, the non-replenishable aquifer it had been pumping for irrigation was largely depleted. In response, officials said they would reduce their wheat harvest by one-eighth each year until production would cease entirely in 2016. The Saudis would then import virtually all the grain consumed by their Canada-sized population of nearly 30 million people. The Saudis are unique in being so wholly dependent on irrigation. But other, far larger, grain producers such as India and China are facing irrigation water losses and could face grain production declines. Emerging Trends Threaten Food Security Fifteen percent of India's grain harvest is produced by overpumping its groundwater. In human terms, 175 million Indians are being fed with grain produced from wells that will be going dry. The comparable number for China is 130 million. Among the many other countries facing harvest reductions from groundwater depletion are Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen. The tripling of world wheat, rice, and corn prices between mid-2006 and mid-2008 signaled our growing vulnerability to food shortages. It took the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression to lower grain prices. Past decades have witnessed world grain price surges, but they were event-driven - a drought in the former Soviet Union, a monsoon failure in India, or a crop-withering heat wave in the U.S. Corn Belt. This most recent price surge was trend-driven, the result of our failure to reverse the environmental trends that are undermining world food production. These trends include - in addition to falling water tables - eroding soils and rising temperatures from increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Rising temperatures bring crop-shrinking heat waves, melting ice sheets, rising sea level, and shrinking mountain glaciers. With both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melting at an accelerating pace, sea level could rise by up to six feet during this century. Such a rise would inundate much of the Mekong Delta, which produces half of the rice in Viet Nam, the world's second-ranking rice exporter. Even a three-foot rise in sea level would cover half the riceland in Bangladesh, a country of 160 million people. And these are only two of Asia's many rice-growing river deltas. The world's mountain glaciers have shrunk for 18 consecutive years. Many smaller glaciers have disappeared. Nowhere is the melting more alarming than in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau where the ice melt from glaciers sustains not only the dry-season flow of the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers but also the irrigation systems that depend on them. Without these glaciers, many Asian rivers would cease to flow during the dry season. The wheat and rice harvests of China and India would be directly affected. China is the world's leading wheat producer. India is second. (The United States is third.) With rice, China and India totally dominate the world harvest. The projected melting of these glaciers poses the most massive threat to food security the world has ever faced. The Harbinger of Civilization's Demise? The number of hungry people, which was declining for several decades, bottomed out in the mid-1990s at 825 million. In 2009 it jumped to over one billion. With world food prices projected to continue rising, so too will the number of hungry people. We know from studying earlier civilizations such as the Sumerians, Mayans, and many others, that more often than not it was food shortages that led to their demise. It now appears that food may be the weak link in our early twenty-first century civilization as well. Will we follow in the footsteps of the Sumerians and the Mayans or can we change course - and do it before time runs out? Can we move onto an economic path that is environmentally sustainable? We think we can. That is what Plan B 4.0 is about. Mobilizing to Save Civilization Plan B aims to stabilise climate, stabilize population, eradicate poverty, and restore the economy's natural support systems. It prescribes a worldwide cut in net carbon emissions of 80 percent by 2020, thus keeping atmospheric CO2 concentrations from exceeding 400 parts per million. Cutting carbon emissions will require both a worldwide revolution in energy efficiency and a shift from oil, coal, and gas to wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The shift to renewable sources of energy is moving at a pace and on a scale we could not imagine even two years ago. Consider the state of Texas. The enormous number of wind projects under development, on top of the 9,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity in operation and under construction, will bring Texas to over 50,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity (think 50 coal-fired power plants) when all these wind farms are completed. This will more than satisfy the needs of the state's 24 million residents. Nationwide, new wind generating capacity in 2008 totaled 8,400 megawatts while new coal plants totaled only 1,400 megawatts. The annual growth in solar generating capacity will also soon overtake that of coal. The energy transition is under way. The United States has led the world in each of the last four years in new wind generating capacity, having overtaken Germany in 2005. But this lead will be short-lived. China is working on six wind farm mega-complexes with generating capacities that range from 10,000 to 30,000 megawatts, for a total of 105,000 megawatts. This is in addition to the hundreds of smaller wind farms built or planned. Wind is not the only option. In July 2009, a consortium of European corporations led by Munich Re, and including Deutsche Bank, Siemens, and ABB plus an Algerian firm, announced a proposal to tap the massive solar thermal generating capacity in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Solar thermal power plants in North Africa could economically supply half of Europe's electricity. The Algerians note that they have enough harnessable solar energy in their desert to power the world economy. (No, this is not an error.) The soaring investment in wind, solar, and geothermal energy is being driven by the exciting realization that these renewables can last as long as the earth itself. In contrast to investing in new oil fields where well yields begin to decline in a matter of decades, or in coal mines where the seams run out, these new energy sources can last forever. At a Tipping Point We are in a race between political tipping points and natural tipping points. Can we cut carbon emissions fast enough to save the Greenland ice sheet and avoid the resulting rise in sea level? Can we close coal-fired power plants fast enough to save at least the larger glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau? Can we stabilise population by lowering fertility before nature takes over and halts population growth by raising mortality? Yes. But it will take something close to a wartime mobilization, one similar to that of the United States in 1942 as it restructured its industrial economy in a matter of months. We used to talk about saving the planet, but it is civilization itself that is now at risk. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport. Each of us must push for rapid change. And we must be armed with a plan outlining the changes needed. *Lester R. Brown is founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute. "Plan B 4.0: Mobilising to Save Civilization" can be downloaded for free at

Gay & Robinson Survival

SUBHEAD: What does it mean for Gay & Robinson to survive if it means supporting King Corn instead of King Cane? By Juan Wilson on 2 October 2009 - image above: The Kaumakani Mill (l.), school and neighborhhod center (c.) and Kaumakani village (r.). From GoogleEarth. The announcement that Gay & Robinson has leased 3,400 acres to Dow Agro-Science Corporation for developing GMO corn, soybean, and sunflower between Waimea and Hanapepe was an unpleasant news to me. I had hoped the sugarcane fields could have been moved towards local food production leading to self-sustainability for people on Kauai. Seems there is no profit in that. We have all known that sugarcane farming in Hawaii not a viable business. For three decades it has been disappearing and is about to wink out. Currently, G & R is on the last round of harvest of their fields. In some ways we should be glad. The Bad - 1) Sugarcane farming on Kauai destroyed native Hawaiian agriculture by diverting the valley waters onto the cane fields - this led to the breakdown Hawaiian families and communities. A great die-off of Hawaiians occurred. The profitability of western plantations (and their desire to own and control the lands) led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian nation and culture. 2) The technology of sugarcane agriculture required burning the crops in the fields. The depletion of nutrients by lack of crop rotation exhausted the soil. The destruction of streams and ocean reefs by soil runoff led to degradation of the environment. 3) The plantation system encouraged a kind of indentured servitude for the Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Filipino workers imported for labor over the last century. An almost mediaeval feudal system persisted though the 2oth century that led to social injustice and lack of individual freedoms. image above: Gay & Robinson sugarcane being harvested by fire on public land above Hanapepe. From GoogleEarth. On the other hand there have been virtues to the sugarcane industry. The Good - 1) The continuation of the sugarcane industry through the 20th century on Kauai has kept thousands of acres from development as suburban sprawl. That has preserved something of a rural character to much of the island. 2) Ironically, although it displaced Hawaiian communities, plantation communities preserved elements of the music, art language and skills of the Hawaiian people through intermarriage with the people brought to Hawaii to work the sugarcane. Hawaiian culture was intertwined with the cultures of the Pacific Rim and beyond. 3) The plantation system with one of self sufficiency and sustainability. Each large enterprise had its own town with shops, medical facilities, schools, etc. Plantations had their own dairy farms, slaughter houses, power plants and railroads. Plantation workers grew their own fruit and vegetables, hunted the mountains and fished the sea. Sustainability is not an empty word for the people in the G & R community. Survival - Gay & Robinson will tell you that the deal with Dow Agro-Science was a grasp at the last straw before drowning. Recent deals for growing sugarcane for ethanol evaporated. The agreement with KIUC to co-generate power, and other schemes never bore fruit. In the last year G & R made it clear that they had come to the end of the road. They were broke and on their last harvest. This has led to some unfortunate results. The Robinson family could easily lose the land they they have held control over for the last century. This has meant cutting back, shutting down and letting go. When DOW made an offer to G & R for leasing 3,400 acres, it was a matter of life and death for the family empire, and therefor a deal they could not refuse. The Ups - 1) Gay & Robinson will continue to keep the thousands of acres of land they have manages for a century. Jobs will be kept. Some worker housing that is now not occupied could be renovated and put back to use. There are plans to begin by adding a 100 acres for food production by current Kaumakani residents. 2) G & R is hoping that with this deal several of the plans they have had for their community will be possible now. After recent harvests, due economic circumstances and loss of resources, soil remediation efforts have not met previous standards. Erosion and degradation have accelerated. G & R hopes to reverse that by developing commercial grasslands and forestation of parts of the acreage formally in cane. The Downs - 1) I grew up knowing DOW as the chemical company that manufactured DDT (an insecticide), Agent Orange (an herbicide) and Napalm (an incendiary). These products were used on people and forests with negative results for decades. I don't trust DOW Chemical Company. They must prove themselves worthy of being called a "good neighbor". 2) GMO companies, like Syngenta, Pioneer, Monsanto and DOW, follow a scheme: Achieve patents over our vital food sources (corn soybean, wheat, then make farmers dependent on their seed and chemicals for the growth, health and continuity of crops. It's about globalism, corporatism and profits. It's not to save the world and make is self-sustaining (regardless of their public relations blather). DOW will not replace their scheme to follow a more local, natural and sustainable model because that won't include them as a global corporation. Outcomes? - 1) It may be that the GMO scheme of agriculture will fail. Peak Oil may preclude the logistical ability to put it in the field, maintain it and control it. Localism will be the natural course of things. The DOW lease on the land will end. They will go away and Gay & Robinson will persist and perhaps eventually thrive. Maybe. 2) Another scenario may be that the military/corporate control of the westside of Kauai will instensify and strengthen. DOW has worked hand in hand with the US military since WWII. An "understanding" between those parties would expand and buffer the military networks on the island; and reinforce the security and secrecy of the GMO corporations. Let's hope not. see also: Ea O Ka Aina: GMO seed crops take root 9/27/09 Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai's last sugar harvest 9/27/09 Ea O Ka Aina: Gay & Robinson Future 9/25/09

Philippine Flood Relief

SOURCE: Rodney Pascua (
SUBHEAD: Join the Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council flood victim benefit concert on October 3 at Kukui Grove.

Image above: Filipino flood victims. All photos from email forwarded by Rodney Pascua.  

By Sonia Topenio on 1 October 2009 in Island Breath -

Various Filipino organizations on Kaua‘i will put their efforts to raise funds to help the flood victims of the deadly typhoon that struck the Philippines last week. “This is the time we need your help more than ever,” says Liza Trinidad, President of the Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council.

“We encourage everyone, particularly the Filipino community to participate in this concerted effort.” Only monetary donations will be accepted by the organizing groups at this time.

A free concert featuring local performing artists is scheduled at Kukui Grove Shopping Center this Saturday October 3, to kick off the fundraising drive. The event will start at 10:30 am. For more information, please call 482-0267. Please stop by and enjoy what our entertainers have to offer.


Philippine Flood Relief Benefit Concert  

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 at 10:30am  

Kukui Grove Shopping Center Courtyard  

Phone: (808) 482-0267
Email: (

Metaphysics of Money

SUBHEAD: Because economic scholars have made a metaphysical error our civilization may be doomed. By John Michael Greer on 30 September 2009 in The Arch Druid Report - image above: Illustration from movie "Scarface" of Tony (Al Pachino) clutching money. From To mention money and metaphysics in the same sentence, as I did at the close of last week’s post, is to invite any number of misunderstandings. The hoary habit of thinking that walls off philosophical questions in a ghetto of abstractions apart from the world of ordinary life gets in the way of clarity here as so often, but there’s an even more basic problem: most people these days have no clear notion of what the word “metaphysics” means in the first place. The tangled history of the word probably makes that inevitable. A nameless librarian in ancient Alexandria first coined it out of sheer desperation while cataloging the works of Aristotle; most of the treatises got names based on their subject matter – Physics, Meteorology, Poetics, and so on – but one difficult treatise was labeled simply meta phusikoi, “the stuff that comes after the Physics.” Then, as the fourth-grade history paper put it, some other stuff happened – the library of Alexandria burned, Rome fell, what was left of the classical world got tipped into history’s dumpster by a band of helpful Visigoths, and so on. When the dust finally cleared, Aristotle was very nearly the only systematic ancient thinker whose works were still around, and so he became, in Dante’s words, “the master of those who know.” That meant, among other things, that the labels assigned to his treatises by that anonymous Alexandrian savant became the basic categories of scholarship in the Middle Ages. (Most of them remain basic categories today, which is why your local university has departments of physics, meteorology, and so on.) Metaphysics was no exception, and the philosophical issues Aristotle tackled in that treatise have carried that label ever since. Those issues are what Aristotle himself called “first philosophy:” an analysis of the basic terms that have to be sorted out before any kind of philosophy can be sure of its foundations. The medieval scholars who blew the dust off Aristotle’s treatise, however, interpreted his work in their own way, which meant that the basic issues of philosophy were redefined in terms of Christian, Muslim, or Jewish theology. By the time the 18th century rolled around, metaphysics as a discipline was almost entirely identified with the theological basis given it by the scholars of the Middle Ages, and so it got dropped like a hot potato as secularism swept the academic world. By the end of the 19th century even theologians had stopped doing metaphysics in the old style, and most of the people practicing what used to be called metaphysics weren’t using the word. At that point, in a fine display of history’s twisted sense of humor, the word got picked up by the American folk religious movement ancestral to today’s New Age scene, and turned into a label for their own beliefs. The town in southern Oregon where I used to live has a Metaphysical Library, which even had a few books on metaphysics in the philosophical sense of the world, though how they got there I have no idea. The vast majority of the books were on past lives, channeled entities, flying saucers, evil conspiracies, and the rest of the mental furniture of contemporary alternative culture. Thus it’s probably necessary to point out that when I mention the metaphysics of money, I ‘m not referring to claims that money was invented by a conspiracy of evil space lizards, or that you can get as much money as you want by convincing yourself that money really, really wants to bed down in your wallet. You can find books making both these claims at the library just mentioned, as it happens, but both beliefs – and a good many statements less obviously absurd – are in large part produced by a failure to engage in the other kind of metaphysics, the thoughtful consideration of the basic categories of thought itself. That sort of analysis seems very abstruse and impractical, until you notice the consequences of ignoring it. Sweeping claims are being made these days about whether certain things exist or do not exist, for example, by people who never seem to have examined their own presuppositions about what it means to exist and how a thing can be known to exist. That’s the problem with the ghettoizing of philosophy mentioned earlier; the philosophical issues you ignore can still sneak up on you while you’re not looking, and turn your best attempts at thinking into gibberish. This, finally, is where metaphysics and money come together. Last week’s post discussed some of the reasons why you can get better economic advice from a randomly chosen fortune cookie at your local Asian buffet than from the most prestigious contemporary economists. Part of it, as I pointed out, was the way that the boom-bust cycle makes giving bad advice the most lucrative career strategy for economists; another part is due to the attempts of economists to make their field a theoretical science without going to the trouble of grounding their theories in an adequate foundation of historical fact. Still, there’s a third factor at work, and it’s even more pervasive than the two just named. It’s far from unique to economics – in one way or another, it underlies a great many of the mistakes that are tipping our own civilization into the same dumpster that received the ruins of Rome – but it stands out in the field of economics with particular clarity. Its roots are in a metaphysical error which might as well be called, after one of its most influential practitioners, Descartes’ fallacy. Rene Descartes is famous nowadays for saying “I think, therefore I am.” Few people these days take the time to find out what he meant by that statement, and fewer still catch onto the radical project that underlay it. Without too much inaccuracy, Descartes can be called the first modern thinker. Certainly he was the first to embrace what has become an automatic presupposition of modern thought, the notion of the individual self as an isolated, independent witness whose thoughts and experiences are entirely its own. What existed, to Descartes, was limited to what he could know, and know precisely, with the same exactness as a geometrical proof. Descartes was arguing, in effect, that “to be” means the same thing as “to be known,” and “to be known” in turn equals “to be precisely defined.” It’s clear that he recognized, and intended, the sweeping implications of this metaphysical stance. It’s equally clear that a great many of the people who unknowingly follow his lead nowadays either accept those implications uncritically or have never noticed their existence. In the hands of much of modern science, in particular, Descartes’ equation has been blended with a passion for quantitative measurement to produce an even more extreme form of the same logic. To a great many scientists today, what exists is limited to what can be known; what can be known is limited to what can be measured; and what can be measured is treated as though it was identical to its measurements. You can get away with this in physics, and still do excellent science. The objects studied by physics follow patterns that can be modeled effectively by mathematics, and most of them are so remote from ordinary human experience that anything about them that doesn’t measure easily can be ignored without too much trouble. Try doing this in sciences closer to the realm of everyday human life, on the other hand, and you can count on running into trouble, because in that realm Descartes’ approach is usually a bad idea, and the modern scientific expansion of it an even worse one. What can be measured is only a subset of what can be known, and what can be known, at least in any given situation, is only a subset of what exists; nor does the fact that some properties of a thing can be measured according to some numerical scale prevent it from having other properties at least as important that are not subject to that kind of measurement. The sort of bad logic that treats quantitative measurements as the only things that really exist is pervasive in the sciences, but its grip is even tighter on those fields of study that want to claim the prestige of science but can’t quite pass muster. Economics could be the poster child for this noxious effect. Down through the generations, against the sound advice of its best practitioners, economists have consistently treated the one thing in their field that can easily and consistently be measured with numbers – money – as though it was the one thing that matters. It’s easy to see how seductive this habit can be, since it seems to allow everything to be measured on a common scale; the problem, of course, is that everything that can’t be flattened out into that common scale gets mislaid, and as often as not these mislaid factors prove to be decisive. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith criticizes the notion – as common in his time as in ours – that money is the same thing as wealth. The wealth of a country, he points out, consists of the product of its natural resources and collective labor: in modern terms, it’s the sum total of the goods and services produced by a nation’s ecosystems and economy. In another place, though, he defines wealth as anything that can be valued in money. These definitions do not conflict with one another; rather, they make the crucial point that money is not wealth but the yardstick by which modern cultures measure wealth. This ought to be the first thing we teach children about money, though of course it isn’t. It probably ought to be the first thing we teach economists about money, too, but the power of Descartes’ fallacy stands in the way. Money is a unit of measurement, so it’s inherently easy to define, understand, and quantify. Wealth is much less easy to force into the Procrustean bed of numbers; that’s why we use money as a rough and ready way of sorting out the relative value of different kinds of wealth so they can be exchanged without too much trouble. Money is so convenient as a way of measuring wealth that very often it ends up eclipsing wealth, and this is why most economists nowadays, even when they think they’re talking about wealth, are actually talking about money. This becomes especially problematic when, as so often happens, they start attributing to wealth characteristics that are only true of money. This habit of thought pervades contemporary economics. For a relevant example, watch the way most economists these days brush aside the immense challenges of peak oil with the assurance that if oil ever does get scarce, the market will come up with alternatives. Implicit in this claim is the assumption that any energy source is as good as any other, and that the total amount in the system is effectively unlimited. This is true of money – one dollar bill is worth exactly the same amount as any other, and the total number of dollars in circulation is as close to limitless, these days, as the printing presses of the US Treasury can make it – but it is emphatically not true of energy resources, or of any other form of wealth. Compare any two energy resources in practical terms and it’s clear that in most cases they’re not even apples and oranges; they’re apples and orangutans. Take petroleum and solar energy as good examples. A highly concentrated form of chemical energy and a rather diffuse form of electromagnetic energy have very little in common, and even when they can do the same things – you can heat a house with passive solar design, for example, or you can heat it with an oil-fired burner – the technologies are totally different. Easy talk about swapping one for the other thus evades the immense challenge and nearly unimaginable cost of scrapping multiple continent-wide infrastructures geared to oil and building new ones suited to solar energy. (There are plenty of other questions that it ducks, too, but this one will do for starters.) Presumably an economist would notice something odd if he sat down at a lunch counter, ordered the daily special, and was handed instead a box of socket wrenches, even if the price of the wrenches was exactly the same as the daily special. If the economist was starving on a desert island and a crate that washed ashore proved to contain socket wrenches rather than food, the difference would be a matter of life or death. This latter is uncomfortably close to our position just now, as the world’s energy companies race each other and the clock to extract fossil fuels in nearly unimaginable volumes from the Earth’s dwindling supplies. If we allow ourselves to wait until those supplies start to run short, it will be much too late to start retooling our civilization for some other energy resource, even if one happens to turn up. Because a subculture of erudite scholars in the economics departments of universities have made a metaphysical error, in other words, our civilization may have missed its chance to dodge disaster. It’s hard to think of a better argument for the importance of metaphysics than that. Still, the problem sketched in this post extends much further than I’ve had space to outline here, and the way in which money has metastatized in our society to become the measure of all things has become a massive though unrecognized barrier in the way of any attempt to improve a rapidly worsening situation. We’ll explore that in next week’s post. .

G20 Street Report

SOURCE: Katy Rose ( SUBHEAD: The G20 in Pittsburgh showed us how pitifully fearful our leaders have become. By Bill Quigley on 27 September 2009 in Z-Space

What no terrorist could do to us, our own leaders did.

image above: Paramilitary police "welcome the world" to Pittsburgh. Photo by Erik Thayer. From Out of fear of the possibility of a terrorist attack, authorities militarize our towns, scare our people away, stop daily life and quash our constitutional rights. For days, downtown Pittsburgh, home to the G20, was a turned into a militarized people-free ghost town. Sirens screamed day and night. Helicopters crisscrossed the skies. Gunboats sat in the rivers. The skies were defended by Air Force jets. Streets were barricaded by huge cement blocks and fencing. Bridges were closed with National Guard across the entrances. Public transportation was stopped downtown. Amtrak train service was suspended for days. In many areas, there were armed police every 100 feet. Businesses closed. Schools closed. Tens of thousands were unable to work. Four thousand police were on duty plus 2500 National Guard plus Coast Guard and Air Force and dozens of other security agencies. A thousand volunteers from other police forces were sworn in to help out. Police were dressed in battle gear, bulky black ninja turtle outfits - helmets with clear visors, strapped on body armor, shin guards, big boots, batons, and long guns.

image above: Mutant Ninja Turtles on a break. From In addition to helicopters, the police had hundreds of cars and motorcycles , armored vehicles, monster trucks, small electric go-karts. There were even passenger vans screaming through town so stuffed with heavily armed ninja turtles that the side and rear doors remained open.

No terrorists showed up at the G20. Since no terrorists showed up, those in charge of the heavily armed security forces chose to deploy their forces around those who were protesting. Not everyone is delighted that 20 countries control 80% of the world's resources. Several thousand of them chose to express their displeasure by protesting. Unfortunately, the officials in charge thought that it was more important to create a militarized people-free zone around the G20 people than to allow freedom of speech, freedom of assembly or the freedom to protest. It took a lawsuit by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU to get any major protest permitted anywhere near downtown Pittsburgh. Even then, the police "forgot" what was permitted and turned people away from areas of town. Hundreds of police also harassed a bus of people who were giving away free food - repeatedly detaining the bus and searching it and its passengers without warrants. Then a group of young people decided that they did not need a permit to express their human and constitutional rights to freedom. They announced they were going to hold their own gathering at a city park and go down the deserted city streets to protest the G20. Maybe 200 of these young people were self-described anarchists, dressed in black, many with bandanas across their faces. The police warned everyone these people were very scary. My cab driver said the anarchist spokesperson looked like Harry Potter in a black hoodie. The anarchists were joined in the park by hundreds of other activists of all ages, ultimately one thousand strong, all insisting on exercising their right to protest. This drove the authorities crazy. Battle dressed ninja turtles showed up at the park and formed a line across one entrance. Helicopters buzzed overhead. Armored vehicles gathered.

image above: Back to work protecting our freedom, Pittsburgh's finest SWAT team. From

The crowd surged out of the park and up a side street yelling, chanting, drumming, and holding signs. As they exited the park, everyone passed an ice cream truck that was playing "It's a small world after all." Indeed. Any remaining doubts about the militarization of the police were dispelled shortly after the crowd left the park. A few blocks away the police unveiled their latest high tech anti-protestor toy. It was mounted on the back of a huge black truck. The Pittsburgh-Gazette described it as Long Range Acoustic Device designed to break up crowds with piercing noise. Similar devices have been used in Fallujah, Mosul and Basra Iraq. The police backed the truck up, told people not to go any further down the street and then blasted them with piercing noise. The crowd then moved to other streets. Now they were being tracked by helicopters. The police repeatedly tried to block them from re-grouping ultimately firing tear gas into the crowd injuring hundreds including people in the residential neighborhood where the police decided to confront the marchers. I was treated to some of the tear gas myself and I found the Pittsburgh brand to be spiced with a hint of kelbasa. Fortunately I was handed some paper towels soaked in apple cider vinegar which helped fight the tears and cough a bit. Who would have thought? After the large group broke and ran from the tear gas, smaller groups went into commercial neighborhoods and broke glass at a bank and a couple of other businesses. The police chased and the glass breakers ran. And the police chased and the people ran. For a few hours. By day the police were menacing, but at night they lost their cool. Around a park by the University of Pittsburgh the ninja turtles pushed and shoved and beat and arrested not just protestors but people passing by. One young woman reported she and her friend watched Grey's Anatomy and were on their way back to their dorm when they were cornered by police. One was bruised by police baton and her friend was arrested. Police shot tear gas, pepper spray, smoke canisters, and rubber bullets. They pushed with big plastic shields and struck with batons. The biggest march was Friday. Thousands of people from Pittsburgh and other places protested the G20. Since the court had ruled on this march, the police did not confront the marchers. Ninja turtled police showed up in formation sometimes and the helicopters hovered but no confrontations occurred. Again Friday night, riot clad police fought with students outside of the University of Pittsburgh. To what end was just as unclear as the night before. Ultimately about 200 were arrested, mostly in clashes with the police around the University. The G20 leaders left by helicopter and limousine. Pittsburgh now belongs again to the people of Pittsburgh. The cement barricades were removed, the fences were taken down, the bridges and roads were opened. The gunboats packed up and left. The police packed away their ninja turtle outfits and tear gas and rubber bullets. They don't look like military commandos anymore. No more gunboats on the river. No more sirens all the time. No more armored vehicles and ear splitting machines used in Iraq. On Monday the businesses will open and kids will have to go back to school. Civil society has returned. It is now probably even safe to exercise constitutional rights in Pittsburgh once again. The USA really showed those terrorists didn't we?

- Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at

see also: Ea O Ka Aina: Protest as National Security Threat 9/26/09 Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Pretense in Pittsburgh 9/26/09