Where do we go from here?

Mr. Market seems to be saying “thumbs down” to the future over the last couple of days since the election, with big declines yesterday and thus far today.  As I have repeatedly said throughout this crisis, the government hasn’t a clue and is doing all the wrong things.  And they are re-writing history in the process!  They claim their actions are the opposite of Hoover et al 1929-1932, but in fact, they are doing exactly what Hoover did, which was pour money (gasoline) on the financial fire by attempting to prevent the liquidation of the unsound investments of the 1920 bubble era.

Catherine Austin Fitts has a good thread going at her Solari blog about big and little picture economic/political options at the present time.  I also like the Genesis Project proposals, which focus on preventing any more big picture financial scams/schemes, and forcing total transparency on the financial system so that people can actually know the risks of a given institution or investment plan.

The problem with all of the big picture solutions is that they require the government to get a clue.  Thus, while we can advocate and organize, we need to invest more in the household and local.

Posted in Financial Crisis | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

20 tasks now that the election is over.

Now that the election is over, it is time to go to work.

If you are happy about the election, the ideas below will help you do your part to heal the nation.  If you are unhappy about the election, the ideas below will help you prepare.

There are two important things to understand about the crisis we face:

(1) We may be beyond the point where there is anything at the national level that can be done to resolve the situation,

(2)  The lesson of the last few years is clear: the elites of our society — economic, religious, and political — have betrayed their responsibilities to protect and serve the common good.  If there is anything that will save us, it will grow organically from the grassroots — local solutions are needed. 

We must all work together with our neighbors to increase the health, safety, security, and well-being of our communities.

PDF Version — feel free to copy and give to friends, family, co-workers, or leave in public literature racks.

1. Close your ears to the lies of politicians and corporations.

Turn off your television and ignore advertising. The purpose of the bail-out is not to help Main Street. Congress will not get a clue. The government will make the situation worse. Politicians will distract you from important actions that are necessary to save your family and community from this crisis. Look to the “side-stream” media for news and info.

2. Nurture blessings and hope in your own life and in the life of your community.

Promote solidarity & cooperation. Don’t give in to despair, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Beware of the tendency to resort to bad habits when under stress. With positive action, you gain control over your life & reduce your vulnerabilities. Trust yourself, respect others & all creation. Understand our inter-dependence with each other & the natural world.

3. Work together with your neighbors to increase the safety, security, health, and well-being of your family and community.

While there is danger in the present situation, there is also opportunity for us to make a better life, a world with more justice, peace, equity, and sustainability. If we want truth, wisdom, justice, and beauty, then the best thing to do is to practice truth, wisdom, justice, and beauty in our own lives and neighborhoods. Eventually we will get good at it.

4. Observe, evaluate, design, act.

Pay attention to events and circumstances. Watch the weather and your local climate and ecology. Carefully discern the signs of these times ““ politics, economics, cult, culture, community, Plan your response — design your adaptation to changes in your situation with careful thought about necessities, risks, challenges, resources, hazards, & opportunities.

5. The borrower is the slave of the lender.

Cut up your credit cards! Pay off your debts. Sell financial assets if you have them to clear your liabilities. In the 1930s, 85% of the property in some areas was foreclosed upon by banks. Debt-free housing is important for survival!

6. Increase the size of your household.

Combining smaller households to make larger households has great financial and resiliency benefits for small families and individuals living alone. Co-housing can be a useful response to troubled economic times. People can downsize from large single family homes ““ two families can buy a duplex together. Or an existing home could be duplexed. If your kids need to move home, welcome them. Perhaps you should plan for this and encourage family to move home.

7. Live beneath your means.

Divide your expenses into three categories ““ necessaries, “nice but not necessary”, and everything else. Keep track of your spending. Focus on necessities, cut back on “nice but not necessary”, and eliminate “everything else”.

8. Don’t leave anyone behind for the wolves to devour.

Everyone is responsible for strengthening the voluntary social safety net ““ Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul conferences, Catholic Charities, the Red Cross, local food banks, etc. What goes around, comes around.

9. Go car free, if possible.

It is much cheaper to take the bus or to rent a car or take a taxi occasionally than to own a car. If you can’t go car-free ““ walk, carpool, ride a bicycle, or take public transportation more, drive less.

10. Stop buying new stuff.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, make it over, make do, do without. Shop the “after market” (flea markets, garage sales, thrift shops). If you buy stuff because of emotional needs, get counseling. You can’t spend your way to prosperity, so don’t try. Your life will not improve if you buy more stuff. Your kids will not be smarter if they wear designer clothes. If you buy advertised products, you will have less money, more stress, & increased risk of economic calamity.

11. Support locally owned businesses.

When you spend money, keep it as local as possible. Join or start a local food coop, keep your money in a credit union. Think and act globally, but shop locally.

12. Invest in extreme energy conservation.

Protect yourself from energy price increases & shortages. Super insulate your house, use insulated interior shutters on windows, get free heat from the sun in the winter. See www.energyconservationinfo.org for many ideas and details.

13. Go coop!

Develop a part-time, low-capital business in your local economy that can perhaps grow in time to become a full-time job. The ultimate job security is “owning” your job yourself, or in cooperation with others. Learn about worker-owned cooperatives, and talk with friends, family, and neighbors about using the cooperative business structure to build household and community economic security and resiliency.

14. Teach your kids frugality and financial management.

Allowances should always be connected to work. Offer them incentives to save their money instead of spending it.

15. Grow as much food as you can.

Growing food is like growing money in your back yard. Landscape your yard with fruit & nut trees & berry bushes. Cook your meals from basic ingredients. Buy food from local farmers. Keep some of your savings as food; always have several months of basic food staples on hand to insulate yourself from the mood swings of supermarket pricing and the risks of sudden emergencies and crises (more is better than less!). Store what you eat, and eat what you store.

16. Save some money each month.

Unexpected expenses run up your credit cards or send you to a pawn shop or pay day loan. Save some money each month ““ but get your money out of banks & the stock markets and into a credit union. If you have money to invest, put it to work in your local community. Be a responsible steward, don’t feed the parasites on Wall Street.

17. Plan for catastrophe ““ design for resiliency.

Resiliency is the ability to successfully deal with challenges & problems. Murphy’s Law is often triumphant during economic crises: If something can go wrong, it will. So plan on that, and act now to mitigate your vulnerabilities ““ design your response. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Every important function (e.g. food, soil fertility, shelter, household energy, water, etc.) should have back-ups ““ more than one “system’ should support each critical need.

18. Don’t procrastinate.

If you are in an untenable financial situation, go ahead & declare bankruptcy, sooner rather than later. If you think it is likely that you will lose your home, don’t throw good money after the bad. Don’t wait for a food crisis to stock up on food and plant a garden. Don’t wait for problems with the water supply to install a rainwater harvesting system. Be honest with yourself and your household about your circumstances. Never forget that procrastination is the thief of time.

19. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Investing time, work, and design in a household plan for incremental changes over time will greatly reduce the amount of stress, risk, and emotional trouble in your life. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Do what is necessary; never do anything for only one reason. Every project should have more than one purpose. Often, the problem contains the solution.

20. Start big projects that will save the world, or at least, your little corner of it.

Times of crisis are times of change. If we don’t get there the firstest with the mostest, someone else will, and we may not like what happens thereafter. When people ask questions, be there with answers and positive suggestions for productive activities that promote justice, solidarity, economic security, and community resilience.

Posted in Financial Crisis | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A most excellent analysis of the choices on this election day. . .

. . . at least for those of us who live in state without third parties on the ballots.

“We stand today at a crossroads:
One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness.
The other leads to total extinction.
Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice.”

— Woody Allen

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Campaign News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Oklahoman just doesn’t get it.

The Oklahoman is endorsing McCain for president because he supports cutting taxes and spending.  In other words, they support the process of shifting the tax burden from capital to labor, and move spending from human needs to corporate welfare and the war budget.

The Oklahoman’s support for cutting spending is carefully qualified.  Where were they when a trillion dollars was spent on an unjust war?  Where were they when the Fed dumped a trillion dollars out of helicopters all over Wall Street?  Where were they when our party-boy jock mayor Mick Cornett proposed spending $120 million to steal a losing ball team, the Sonics, from Seattle?

Well, they certainly weren’t talking about cutting spending.  They were right there cheering the big spenders on, and also in the process raking in a nice bit of this pocket-money for their owners. 

And then they criticize Obama for his redistributionist policies.

Oklahoma City needs a new daily newspaper, and I’m happy to report that a planning process is beginning to bring this about.  It will likely be a cooperative, owned by its staff and readers.

Posted in Campaign News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The upcoming election: NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE ACCEPTABLE

The upcoming election seems to be a topic of common conversation.

I am just back from the Financial Permaculture event in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Fortunately, the election wasn’t mentioned hardly at all.  We were involved with much more important work.

On the way outbound, it turned out that my seat-mate was someone I knew.  After the plane had landed at Chicago, while we were waiting for the opportunity to get off, I read a letter to the editor in the paper from a Republican that criticized the Democrats for “socialism”.  I remarked to her, “After giving Wall Street billions of dollars, Republicans complaining about socialism in the Democratic party are like a pot that complains about the color of the kettle.” 

Whereupon a lady sitting in the seat in front of us reared up and looked back at us and said, “That isn’t true at all, and if I were you, I would be careful what I said.”

To which I replied, “I will speak the truth as I see it and that’s my Constitutional right.”  Her husband then grabbed her and they left.

This year, as usual, I am not voting for either candidate for president.  They may quibble about a few details, but McCain and Obama are united in their fundamental support for the imperial program.

  • Both candidates support an aggressive, militaristic American Empire,
  • Both candidates support stealing from Main Street in order to subsidize the parasititical Wall Street economy.
  • Both candidates will leave the poor behind for the wolves to devour.
  • Both candidates embrace mass murder as an instrument of national policy.
  • Neither candidate is pro-life.

I will not consent with my vote to these policies of murder and corruption. 

In Oklahoma, the general election is rigged so that only the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties appear on the ballot for president, so I don’t have an opportunity to cast a vote for a third party.  If I write-in a candidate, the ballot will be deemed “spoiled” and discarded by the election officials.  I will go to the polls and get my ballot, and vote for a few races down the ticket, but I will not encourage four more years of murder and mayhem by the American Empire.

Instead, every day I will vote with my body for peace, justice, truth, beauty, and wisdom.

 

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Campaign News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wave of closings of chicken houses?

I am at the financial permaculture event in Hohenwald, TN.  There is some buzz here about a wave of closings of large CAFO chicken houses.  (CAFO = confined animal feeding operations.)  This is being driven by the high costs of their inputs (grain and energy) and the low profit margin those houses typically run with.  Their production cycle is about 8 weeks, so run the calendar forward 8 weeks and we are into December.

You can peer over our shoulder electronically by going to www.financialpermaculture.org

 

Posted in Local Food Systems | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Strident and scary rant about the food system

First we had the energy crisis, which contributed to the present economic collapse.

The next shoe to drop could very well be a food supply crisis.

At any given time, there are maybe 3 or 4 days of food in a typical supermarket.  Going up the chain a bit, there is maybe a month’s worth of food supply moving through the various aggregation and production channels heading towards the warehouses that supply the retail supermarkets.

In between America’s farmers and its grocery stores are about six very big corporations. While a grocery store appears very diverse, most of the brands are owned ultimately by six corporations.

The conventional food bidness at that level is very big business indeed. It is intimately entangled with the big transcontinental banks, hedge funds, credit swaps, and etc etc ad nauseum. When they need money — to finance a grain deal for example — it is in the millions of dollars and that is the level where the credit squeeze is the tightest.

We are already hearing rumors of financial troubles in the big ag sphere — Pilgrim’s Pride is reported to be in trouble becaus it can’t find debtor in possession financing, which apparently is the first step to a chapter 11 bankruptcy. If they can’t do Chapter 11, they will have to do Chapter 13, liquidation. There go 50,000 jobs and a LOT of chickens.

If the big trans-national aggregators go, we will have a situation where on one hand you will have a large number of farmers with food, and on the other hand, 300 million hungry customers, and no structural market for them to meet.

Folks will immediately begin to sort things out, but a new market structure won’t magickally materialize over-night. Large inventories of primary products can be frozen in place while bankruptcy proceedings drag on. Processors may not be able to get raw materials and the processing pipeline that feeds the warehouses that supplies the stores may grind to a halt, or at best operate at a much reduced level of supply.

It will take months for this to sort itself out, and the more remote people are from farms, the longer it will take.  All of this adds up to potential food shortages, possibly right in the middle of winter.

On an emergency basis, the government may supply cities with whole foods like grain and soybeans, but that food won’t arrive at cities nicely processed and packaged. We’ll be looking at bushels of grain and soybeans. Many areas won’t have local or household infrastructure to process these products.

There won’t be much meat, dairy, or poultry. 

I have long been an advocate of food storage, and I know many people think “how quaint” when they hear me encourage people to store at least 3 months of food, and more is better.  “Food shortages can’t happen here”, is certainly the conventional wisdom.

But this is a year which has seen $4 gas prices and the meltdown of our financial system.  Food shortages can in fact happen right here in “America the Bountiful”.  They won’t be caused, at least at first, by absolute shortages, but as with all of the 20th century famines, the roots will be economic and political.

Just as people buy auto and property insurance, folks should keep some of their families’ savings in the form of food.  “Store what you eat, and eat what you store.”

Don’t wait until next week.  Just as the energy and financial crises were not scheduled on anyone’s day planner, neither will the food shortages.  They will happen quickly and without warning.

The time to buy your winter’s food supply is BEFORE the food shortage hits your neighborhood grocery store. Buy more than you need, so you have some to share with your neighbors and the poor.

While the system is still up and running, we need to move as much food through the processing system as possible and get it into people’s homes and neighborhoods.

Now is also the time to start building an alternative local food system.  Here are the instructions, and here are other groups organizing local food coops, see also your local farmers market.  If you don’t know any farmers, now would be a good time to find some and make friends with them.

Procrastination is the thief of time, and if food shortages hit, could also be the driver of hunger.

 

Posted in Local Food Systems | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

And now for something completely different. . .

When I’m not railing at the financial masters of the universe, criticizing the US Catholic bishops, teaching permaculture, managing the Oklahoma Food Coop, directing the music at Epiphany Church, or afflicting the comfortable amongst the powers that be here in Oklahoma City and elsewhere, I organize deliveries of food to the poor who don’t have transportation and have basically fallen through the cracks of the safety net.  We do this every month and have done so since 1999.

And so it will come to pass on this coming Saturday, Oct. 25, we have about 275 or so deliveries to make to the poor who don’t have transportation here in the OKC area. We meet at 9 AM at the Dorothy Day Center, 4909 N State Street, OKC. This street runs into NW 50th along the east boundary of St. Charles Parish. This is typically a 2 to 3 hour commitment, depending on how many deliveries you want to do.

These deliveries go to some of the poorest and most fragile people in this area.  You would not believe some of the stories we hear. Sometimes they are hard for me to believe, and then we knock on the door and find out that things are worse than the story told to us. We have a lot of elderly people on our list who are raising grandkids or great-grandchildren, and it’s often 5 or more kids plus one grandparent.

We will do our big holiday deliveries on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and the Saturday before Christmas, if you want to “save those dates” and come out and help us.

We’re also looking for about $3,000 so that we can include a bag of potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery with all of the holiday deliveries.

Many thanks to Mary Freeh, and the students at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Okarche, who have committed to make holiday boxes of hard candies for all our Christmas deliveries. I think she is asking people to save one pound folger’s coffee containers that they intend to paint and decorate for the holidays and then fill with candy. If you are in the OKC area, and use that brand, you can leave them at Epiphany Church to my attention, or drop them off on the front porch here at 1524 NW 21st (southeast corner of N McKinley and NW 21, it’s the house with a forest instead of a yard.)

If you can help with these extra holiday expenses, please mail your check, payable to Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, to 1524 NW 21, OKC, 73106. Or you can send a donation via PayPal, using a credit card or e-draft on your checking account, to jpeaceokc@yahoo.com  .

If you are in the OKC area and want to donate non-perishable food, you can leave it at Epiphany Church or on our porch. If anyone happens to see a “killer deal” on canned hams in the OKC area, let me know in private email at bwaldrop@cox.net  , because we’d like about 120 of them if we can afford them. 

We typically have full size hams or turkeys for families, but for single people living alone we like to at least include a canned ham.  Plus members of the Oklahoma Food Coop donate money for us to buy food from farmers, so we usually also give the folks who are not getting turkeys a pound of grass-fed beef hamburger.

We make a little bit go a long way, the miracle of feeding a multitude with 5 barley loaves and 2 fishes is never far away from us.  We always seem to have just enough, thanks to the mercy of God and the generosity of ordinary people. 

Posted in Catholic, Social Justice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Reminder of internet access for financial permaculture conference

Below is a reminder from the Solari Network of the Financial Permaculture event that starts tomorrow (Friday, Oct 24) and runs through next Tuesday. If you aren’t attending, you can follow the event through the various event blogs, linked below.

==============================================

Transforming Our Financial System … From the Bottom Up

==============================================

The central bankers of the world are planning to meet in Europe to redesign the financial system from the top down. From Friday, October 24 through Tuesday, October 28, a diverse group of permaculturists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and investment strategists are gathering in Hohenwald, Tennessee, to transform the financial system from the bottom up, contributing to efforts that are spreading virally, creating liquidity and economic health.

=============================================Get

the Details on the Financial Permaculture Conference

=============================================

http://www.financialpermaculture.com

http://solari.com/events/financial-permaculture/

For those of you who will not be joining us in person at the conference, we hope you will join us in the blogosphere — by either posting at your blog, commenting at one of ours, referring our blog to your network (www.solari.com/blog/ ), or just enjoying the discussion. See also http://www.financialpermaculture.org  for daily updates and participation.

Here are some recent blog posts to inspire your participation:

=====================================Join the Solari Prayer Team by Teleconference

=====================================

I would also like to invite you to join our Solari Prayer Team by phone conference line for short periods of group prayer before and during the conference itself. We will focus on the goals of the conference and the many people who are attending in various capacities. The prayer will be led in the Christian tradition, and we always invite participants on our prayer calls to take part in a way that is true to their own religious or spiritual path and understanding.

Here are the details on how to join us: http://solari.com/blog/?p=1735

==========================

2008: Live in San Francisco DVD

==========================

If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, you can watch a video clip of our latest DVD, 2008: Live in San Francisco. This live presentation highlights material from the Solari Audio seminar: Positioning Your Assets for Growth in Uncertain Times. Watch the video clip:

http://solari.com/store/audio-seminars/live_in_san_francisco/

— Catherine Austin Fitts

Posted in Economic Prosperity, Financial Crisis, Local Food Systems | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What’s this about?

Comes now the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, reporting Top World Military Officials Meet in Lake Placid. All of the joint chiefs of staff were there, flying in on a Boeing 757 with their staff, as well as their counterparts from France, Germany and a “third country”, possibly Great Britain.  The Italians flew in later on another plane.

So what’s this about?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe a new “splendid little war”?  Perhaps concerns about widespread civil unrest as the Kondratieff Winter’s Greater Depression unfolds?

Who knows, but when powerful military leaders meet in secret, We the People do well to take notice.

Posted in War and Peace | Tagged , | Leave a comment