A thousand year decline in property prices?

Here’s a cheerful thought for this “supposed-to-be-the-biggest-shopping-day-of-the-year”.  According to Bill Bonner of the Daily Reckoning financial newsletter, after the fall of Rome property prices declined for a thousand years.  He doesn’t have a footnote, but they usually do their homework.  This of course is rather contrary to the modern “wisdom” (delusion might be a better word) that “property prices always go up” and “the market will certainly come back.”  Ask the ancient stockholders who traded on the Roman stock exchange about that.

Comes now the news, from numerous sources including the New York Times, that the actual out of pocket cost of the various financial bailout schemes being advanced by the goobermint is approaching $8 TRILLION.  As I often say, nice work if you can get it, but this is starting to boggle the mind.  This is the biggest “public works” project in history.  It is bigger than World War II.  Bigger than all the dams on our rivers, and highways across our land. 

Ah well, I am glad that most of the food on my Thanksgiving table came from local farmers, that my mortgageis with a credit union that does not sell its loans but keeps them at home and thus the interest benefits the local economy.  I am grateful that my house is super-insulated and energy efficient and that I have lots of edible landscaping.  I am glad that many of the people I know and love are making similar changes in their lifestyles.  I worry about the many people who are unable, or unwilling to adapt to the coming realities.  By working together, we can strengthen our local communities in the face of this on-coming category 5 financial hurricane.

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Bashing the Oklahoma Constitution

Professor Spiropoulos’ rant against the Oklahoma Constitution (November 17, 2008, “Revisions Are Overdue“) is the latest attack by legal elitists on our state’s foundational document.

The article is long on unsubstantiated generalities and short on substance. His basic message is “old is bad”. The Oklahoma Constitution is no doubt old fashioned. It protects the rights to speech, press, keep and bear arms, and home school your children. How quaint. But isn’t that the purpose of a constitution?  Like the “old time religion”, I like the “old time Constitution”. I think it’s likely that this professor, his allies,  and their “new fangled ideas” are up to no good.

The professor complains that it is hard to amend the Constitution.  Well, DUH!  It should be hard to amend. 

He doesn’t even trust a lawfully elected constitutional convention to amend the Constitution. No, like Philadelphia in 1787, that would be a “political circus”. People are so pesky, they keep getting in the way of the goals of our aristocracies. So I guess he feels it is best just to keep us out of the process as much as possible.

Instead, he proposes a panel of politically appointed “experts” that would bypass the amendment procedure ““ ah yes, sounds like a “Supreme Constitutional Revision Soviet” to me! Let the aristocratic experts change the Constitution.  They always know what is best, don’t they?  That’s what history teaches us, isn’t it?

Professor Spiropoulos makes several demands, including —

  • “deleting obsolete and inappropriate provisions” — see “Bill of Rights, no doubt”,
  • expanding the authority of local government in the fiscal realm — city income tax, here we come,
  • reforming the judicial selection process — goodbye retention elections for judges, and
  • strengthening the executive.

About that last point . . . Spiropoulos wants a “strong” and “unified” executive branch.

In other words, let’s make it easier for the governor to do mischief and cause trouble! Given our gubernatorial history, why would we want to do that? 

Division and diffusion of power, as mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution, is good.

What did a “strong and unified executive” do for Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union? Or perhaps I should say, “do TO the Germans and the Russsians and their neighbors.”  A plea for a strong and unified executive is always on the lips of aristocrats.  They like feudalism and autocracy.  They don’t like democracy and republican (please note small r) institutions and structures.  They want — they need — a strong leader!

His plea for a “new constitution for a new people with new priorities” is a rhetorical fig leaf for a special interest power-grab. All who support traditional rights should stand together against this ill-advised scheme.

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Saginaw Michigan Day the Second

I gave two presentations today to different groups here in Saginaw.

This morning I spoke at the Houghton-Jones Neighborhood Community Center to a packed crowd.  This is a seriously economically depressed neighborhood.  Lots of empty lots.  Many of those lots are owned by a city land bank, as they have gone back to city ownership due to non-payment of property taxes.

The Community Center is a hive of activity.  They had a market garden this year, and sold everything they could grow at the local farmers market.  It was a student project, so most of the workers were elementary school children who learned about both gardening and business.  SVSU is working with the center to set up a hydroponics operation in their basement.  Joining me as a speaker was Bryan Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology at SVSU who is active with the Green Cardinals organization.

Folks attending that presentation included people from the neighborhood, folks from Saginaw Valley State University, and some producers who had heard about the event from various sources.  Folks seemed to think that the city would be willing to make empty lots available for market gardening, and I told them if they didn’t, they should vote them out of office and find some new politicians.

Afterwards Dr. Schilling and I, together with the director of the Houghton-Jones center (whose name escapes me at the moment), stopped by the Jeanine Collier Catholic Worker House, where we had a delicious lunch and spent a couple of hours talking about issues in the area and ideas on jump-starting a local food system.

This evening I spoke at SVSU to an audience of faculty, students, producers, and others interested in local food systems.  There was a lot of energy in both groups today, and many good questions were asked.  I advised Dr. Schilling to capitalize on the interest by holding a follow-up meeting to get an organizing committee together.  They are going to look for some grant money to come down to Oklahoma City for one of our delivery day adventures.

One of the interesting things about this visit is their work with “vermiponics”, which I mentioned yesterday.  This is the use of worm tea as the solution for hydroponics.  One of the issues with conventional hydroponics is the cost of the inputs, but worm tea is, as they say, “dirt cheap”.  Ooops, I mean “dirt value priced”.  They are continuing to experiment with this, especially in terms of the concentration of the worm tea at the different stages of the plants’ growth (flowering, fruit development, etc.)  He has already compiled a pretty serious curriculum guide in order to teach hydro/aqua/vermi ponics (a very thick 3 ring binder full of detailed info) and have produced a DVD.  When they are ready for distribution, I told them to be sure and send me the info and I will tell everyone on the internet about it.  Well, I don’t suppose everyone, but I do subscribe to the big alternative ag/community food security discussion groups and info posted there percolates out through cyberspace.

This has been one of the most interesting travel adventures  as a missionary for local food systems.  There is a lot going on here in the tri-city area of Michigan, and with the way the auto industry is going, they will need to work hard to strengthen their local economy in the face of the likely job losses in coming years.

The news of the new coop Bountiful Sprout Coop starting up in Wimberley, Texas was a further treat for the week.  I told Dr. Schilling, “This is starting to get out of hand!”  And not a moment to soon, if you ask me.

One of the interesting things about the SVSU involvement is that professors from several different academic disciplines are involved.  Often, university departments tend to be focused on their own academic turf, and don’t work well with other departments.  At SVSU, a very competent inter-disciplinary team has come together to work with the neighborhood in creating sustainability initiatives that I think will be of great importance there in the future.  We in Oklahoma can learn something from them about their grassroots, low-tech approach to the practical use of biodiesel and ethanol.  Fuel prices are only in a temporary retreat, the day of five dollar gasoline will return just as sure as gun is iron.  I predict the day will come when the Oklahoma Food Coop will run on alternative fuels — we’ve already made a start in that, in the form of Matt Burch’s veggie oil van that does a lot of delivery day logistics work for us.

Tomorrow it is up up and away on a definitely non-alternative fueled airplane to get me back to OKC. (Oh well, what’s another few months added to my Purgatory bill, especially when invested in such a good cause.) I have four funerals, two weddings, and my usual weekend schedule at my job as director of music at Epiphany Church Thursday through Sunday.  (Why funerals always come in clusters is something that has always mystified me, but that is my experience over the last 14 years of my service as a pastoral musician.)

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Day 1 in Saginaw Michigan

I am in Saginaw, Michigan to present tomorrow on the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  This area is known as the “Tri Cities”, composed of a triangle of Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City.  Saginaw Valley State University, sponsor of my trip, is just about in the center of that triangle.  On the way to an interview with a reporter in Midland, this morning we drove by the world headquarters of Dow Chemical and Dow Corning, quite the impressive campus. 

 As I have mentioned before, I generally am not invited to world capitals, and thus over time I am getting an interesting tour of the provinces, places like Atwood, Kansas, Hohenwald, Tennessee, and now Saginaw, Michigan.  Everywhere I go though, I see enormous signs of hope, interesting seeds being planted with great promise for the future.

Today I toured the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Schilling, a mechanical engineer who is head of the engineering department here at SVSU.  His lab is a hive of alternative energy experimentation and resources.  I saw a working ethanol still made out of a 20 gallon water heater tank and two pieces of copper pipe.  I saw a two vat biodiesel “plant”, made out of two probably 30 or 40 gallon water heater tanks.  I saw a 2nd biodiesel generator that was basically a soda pop bottle, but biodiesel was slowly forming inside of it.

There were solar cells, and a wind generator made out of blades made for him by a farmer in Kansas and an automobile alternator.  He had replaced the electromagnets in the alternator with permanent magnets, which increases the efficiency.  It doesn’t match a factory-made wind generator, of course, but it was Very Cheap to make, and thus a person could have several. 

He is also doing quite a bit of work developing fuel pellets and briquets made from renewable materials like switchgrass and sugarbeets.  He had interesting stories to tell about a Swedish system of locally-based manufacturing and distribution of fuel briquets made from hemp grown on Swedish farms. They process them on the farm into fuel briquets (briquets are apparently easier to make than pellets) and then they retail them to local households within a 30 mile radius.  Apparently, this kind of local fuel briquet on farm operations are springing up all over Sweden.  One advantage of briquets over pellets is that the briquets do not need a special stove, they can burn in fireplaces or ordinary wood stoves, and thus are a way to use a renewable local resource for heating that does not involve chopping down forests.   He also thinks the machinery to make the briquets was probably made on the farm, using a hydraulic ram of some sort.

Oh, and he’s also developed a hard plastic made out of biomass that is biodegradable and has a beginning aquaponics project (one fish tank and a few plants).

And then there was the Lister engine on a platform outside.  A lister engine is a one cylinder engine that at one time practically ran the British empire.  They are apparently virtually indestructible.  They use it to run a generator, the fuel is biodiesel.  To see its potential, view Ken Boak’s Backyard Power Plant to generate home power and Ken also uses its waste heat to heat his home.  It could potentially be used to cool your home also, since ammonia cycle refrigeration uses a heat source (e.g. an RV refrigerator).

About the time I was thinking that “this must be what touring Edison’s lab was like”, he said, “And now, let’s go visit the vermiculture project.”  So we hopped into his biodiesel powered Volkswagon bug, and drove off campus and found two nice hoophouse greenhouses.  One had a well developed hydroponics operation growing various herbs, lettuces, and tomatoes, using a solution of water and worm tea.  The 2nd had several 4 x 8 worm bins, each of which produces about 20 gallons of pure worm tea a month.  Holes are drilled in the bottom of the worm bins, and the worm tea drips into gutters which lead to four buckets at the base of each bin, the bins being slightly at a slant so the liquid drips into the buckets.

I should also mention that the hydroponics operation consists of wooden A-frames, that support three or four 6 inch diameter PVC pipes on each side of the frame, with the plants growing out of holes in the tops of the pipes.  The pipes zigzag downwards from the top of the A frames. Water and worm tea is pumped with a small pump to the top of the pipe, and then runs through the pipes and back into the tank.  They have been experimenting with different rates of dilution, from 100% worm tea to 25% worm tea mixed with 75% water. 

The A Frame/pipe hydro system was designed by Dr. Edward Meisel, a chemistry professor at SVSU, who is Dr. Schilling’s collaborator in these various “Green Cardinal” initiatives (the Cardinals being the school’s sports mascot, which I realized when we went to the student union for coffee and were greeted b y a very enthusiastic student in a Cardinal costume.  Very red.  You can read more about their work at www.greencardinal.org .  I am having dinner with Dr. Meisel this evening, he is the fifth generation of their family to live on their nearby farm, and both he and Dr. Schilling are very interested in a “tri-city” food coop.  He either built or helped build quite a bit of the alternative energy infrastructure that is developing at SVSU.

Two biodiesel links Dr. Schilling gave me today are www.goldenfuelsystems.com and www.greasecar.com .

Who knew that such interesting work was being done here in the Tri-city area of Michigan? 

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Should we bail out the big three automakers?

Since the government is in the mood to give away money these days, the big American automakers are in the line.  They want $25 billion to subsidize their losing, failing business plans that among other things are a major attack on the integrity of Creation and a primary driver of our dependence upon  petroleum.  They are burning through 2 billion dollars a month, and have no actual plan other than “give us money”.

We do no one any favors by further subsidizing the automakers.  They are key players in the imperial economy, in an era when that imperial economy is collapsing.  Giving them money now will only delay the inevitable.

If we want to spend $25 billion, then give it to the workers of these failing companies to help rebuild their lives.  Capital could help them to invent their own jobs, as entrepreneurs or worker owned cooperatives, in the burgeoning local economies that are developing at the grassroots of the imperial economy. 

Meanwhile, our favorite corporate welfare queens — “too big to fail AIG” — fresh from one of their signature lavish executive parties, are in line this morning for even more welfare for these limousine queens.

How easy it is for the feds to give away this money!  How hard it will be for all of us as these incredible economic distortions work their way through the economy.

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My 5 billion mark German postage stamp.

“Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. ”

The primary government response on the table thus far to the unfolding financial crisis is to dump money from helicopters all over Wall Street.  Supposedly, this is to prevent a financial collapse of our economy.  Bad debt is being moved from the balance sheets of financial institutions onto the government’s balance sheet, which means, “distributed among the entire population.”

Nice work if you can get it. Which you can, if you are a member of the financial aristocracy.

The entire corrupt bail-out was pushed through by a shock and awe campaign — “the ATMs will stop working”, and “there will be civil disorder”.

The bad debt on balance sheets was blamed for the credit freeze, but we have due cause to wonder if that is really true.

One issue with the credit freeze is lack of transparency.  Potential lenders can’t be sure of the actual financial condition of the borrowers at their doors.  Without total transparency and accurate accounting, there will be no credit.  Government policies and rules are in place that prevent full transparency and accurate accounting.

A second question is whether the United States is about maxed out on debt.  If so, it isn’t a surprise that credit is drying up.  Suppose a family gets in debt to the point where their payments equal 125% of their income.  Will anyone loan them any more money?  No, they won’t.

Now think about that at a national level.

That’s a bigger oops.

While these are difficult questions that are hard to discern, the answer to the problem of bad debt is not at all hard to understand:  bad debts must be written off, and if that leads to a bankruptcy, then that is the price of the bad financial decisions that led to the problem in the first place.  Moving them from the balance sheets of financial institutions to the government’s ledger only expands the problem — instead of being a problem for those financial institutions and their stockholders, officers, and emploees, they become the problem of the entire population.  This is not a step in the right direction, but it sure is saving the financial bacon of a number of very wealthy institutions from the consequences of their greed and incompetence.

Note that one option was simply to help out the homeowners who were in financial trouble. If they don’t default on their mortgages, then the loans aren’t bad, but that option was never on the table.  The financial aristocracy looks after itself, families with mortgages in foreclosure can be left behind for the wolves to devour, for all that the Wall Street parasites care.

If these big institutions had gone into bankruptcy, their assets would be evaluated by the marketplace and bought.  Business would have gone on, but the originators of the problem would probably not be carrying on that business.  That would be good, since we obviously have a surplus of greedy and corrupt and incompetent people at the top of our very large financial institutions.

Writing off these debts forces transparency on the financial system.  With transparency comes accountability, and with accountability comes change.

Instead, we got a financial coup that has stolen hundreds of billions of dollars and put that money in the worst place possible, in a way that is virtually guaranteed to cause an even worse situation in the months and years to come.

You don’t just create trillions of dollars out of thin air without affecting the entire economy.  The people who get that money first get the most value, since it has not depreciated yet.  But as it works its way through the economy — more money chasing a stagnant supply of goods and services — its value declines.

So we’re throwing money, which will ignite inflation, and since the money thrown thus far won’t be enough, even more money will be thrown.  .  . and then somewhere along the line we get something like the Weimar Republic after World War I.  In my stamp collection, I have a first class stamp from the Weimar Republic that originally cost someone five BILLION marks.  Before WW I, there were maybe 3 or 4 German marks to the dollar, and the dollar was defined by law as 1/20th of an ounce of gold.  So we see what happened to the mark under that hyperinflation.

What did the Germans get out of it?  The Nazis. 

History suggests that the German experience is typical — the most common social and political response to a collapse of a monetary system is a nasty authoritarian regime.  The rapid inflation and collapse of the French revolutionary currency in the 18th century led directly to the Reign of Terror.

What’s to be done?  Well, the long shot is to get the goobermint to change course and as I have recently written about, mandate transparency, reduce leverage, and basically force a giant house-cleaning of the financial masters of the universe cozy little aristocratic club.

And it’s true, if that could happen, we would be in much better shape.  But if the French aristocracy had gotten their act together and reformed themselves, they wouldn’t have lost their heads in the Reign of Terror.  If the Czar had been smart, there would not have been a Bolshevik revolution. If the Allied Powers and the Weimar Republic had had competent leadership, I wouldn’t have a 5 billion mark stamp in my collection and we might never have had the Nazis.

And so six million Jews and millions of others would have lived instead of being cruelly exterminated in the death camps.

That’s the price we are looking at, if our financial system continues its present path.

One thing we have is foreknowledge and thousands of years of history from which we can learn desperate lessons in a time of grave need.

We cannot let ourselves be pushed around by our political and economic aristocracies. We must empower ourselves, our households, and our communities to not only stand against the gathering economic storm, but create new structures in the midst of the collapsing ruins of the old.

If we don’t do this, then we will make an inevitable detour into a likely violent and chaotic period of authoritarian rule.

Every person’s preparation begins at home, as we get our own house’s in order.  Next come our communities, which includes our actual geographic locations, but also expands to include our civil society networks (clubs, religious associations, civic groups, etc.), our economic relationships (workplaces, businesses), and cyberspace (social networking, discussion groups, websites, etc.)

Many tools are available, one of them is my list of 20 tasks now that the election is over, which is also available as a PDF that can be downloaded, reprinted, published, copied, and redistributed at will without permission.  Make copies for friends, family, co-workers, people at your church, hand them out door to door, put them on windshields in parking lots, hand them out on street corners, leave them in public literature racks at stores, libraries, schools, wherever.

The time to build creative local economic alternatives is before the economic system collapses.  Since that collapse has begun and is unfolding before our eyes every day, there is no time to waste.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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