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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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. 

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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.

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Transforming Our Financial System … From the Bottom Up

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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

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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

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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

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2008: Live in San Francisco DVD

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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.

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11 strategies for coping with the collapse of the American empire

I originally wrote this essay in 2004 and it appeared in the 5th edition of the Better Times Almanac of Useful Information.  For this re-publication, I only found it necessary to only add one sentence. 

+++++++++

It’s not news to anybody with low or moderate income that economic hard times are here. In constant dollars, over the last 30 years the average American worker has LOST 22% of his or her purchasing power, and the less money you have, the bigger the impact this has been on you. For people with low to moderate incomes trying to live a regular American lifestyle, things are going from bad to worse, and then they will get even worse. Your dollars will not buy as much in the future as they do now. We are headed for an economic crisis so terrible it will make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like good times. If you want to protect yourself and your family from these economic hard times, make changes in the way you live.

If people are not worried about this, then they simply aren’t paying attention to what is happening. Our entire economy is a stack of cards that can be knocked over at any time. Instead of looking out for the common good, powerful politicians make decisions that hurt ordinary people but benefit special interests that make big contributions to election campaigns.

The good news is you don’t have to play their game. Even in the midst of these hard times, you can find financial security and develop a high quality of life for you and your family. Here are some basic survival strategies for coping with what is coming at us, and triumphing over it.

People who don’t consider themselves low to moderate income can also benefit by following these strategies, because their ultimate effect is to increase the quality of life, security, and happiness of families.

It just isn’t possible to spend your way to prosperity. The advertisements and political talk that encourage this are the economic equivalent of methamphetamine addiction. Sure, you feel better for a while, but then you have to spend more money to get “high”, and then even more money, and pretty soon you are spending your money but not getting any high at all, so you spend more money, and more money, and then comes the crash as the bills come due and you can no longer escape the consequences of your foolish and extravagant lifestyle.

1. Start by closing your ears to the lies of politicians and corporations. Turn off your televisions and ignore all advertising. Your life will not be better if you buy advertised products. Your kids will not be smarter if they wear expensive designer clothes. In fact, if you buy advertised products, your quality of life will deteriorate. You will have less money, more stress, and your family will be at risk of the many evils that derive from financial stress.

2. The borrower is the slave of the lender. Avoid debt like the plague it is. Never finance frivolous consumption on credit cards. Never take out a pay day loan. Stay out of pawn shops unless you want to buy something cheaply. The only real valid reasons for debt are to buy a house or for education that enables you to earn a better living. Pay off such debts as quickly as you can. As long as you have a mortgage, you are not the owner of your house, the bank is the real owner, and a sudden drop in your income could put you out on the street, homeless. By making extra principle payments with every monthly payment, you pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Never take out a home equity loan for vacations, remodeling, or any kind of consumer spending. Don’t consolidate credit card debt as a home equity loan – this puts your house at risk for your frivolous consumption spending decisions! Low income people must in particular beware of predatory loan schemes. Never take out a loan that has a prepayment penalty. If your property is paid for, do not, under any circumstances, get another mortgage. Debt-free housing is one of the most important survival strategies for the upcoming hard times.

3. Choose co-housing. This is a fancy name for “more than one family living together in one large household.” The day is coming when individuals of low and moderate incomes will not be able to live alone as single person households, unless they own their own housing free of debt or are in some kind of government subsidized housing. This is also true for single mothers with kids. Two or three smaller families living together can do so for less money than each would spend operating a separate household. Co-housing works for house purchases too. Three families could go together and buy a triplex.

4. If possible, go car free. This is perhaps the one choice that can save the most money. Operating a car, including the capital cost of the automobile, insurance, taxes, repairs, interest, etc. can easily top $3,600/year. It is much cheaper to take the bus or the occasional taxi, or even to rent a car a few times a year than to own a car. This may require moving to an area with adequate public transportation and access to shopping, but that effort is well worth it.

5. Stop buying new stuff. Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, make it over, made do, do without. Shop at flea markets, garage sales, and thrift shops. Never buy new furniture, new appliances, new clothes, new home decoration items. Always look in the “after market” first, only then, if you simply can’t find what you need, should you consider buying something new. If you shop because of emotional needs, get into counseling, never spend money to cheer yourself up or because you are emotionally upset about something.

6. Use energy with extreme frugality. The cost of energy is going up and over time this will get much worse. Follow the many suggestions given in the section on Energy Conservation in this almanac.

7. Develop a part-time business on the side that can perhaps grow in time to become a full-time job that you own. This could be something simple like baking bread or pies from your home, or mowing lawns, or doing laundry and ironing for other people. Buy stuff cheap and then re-sell for a little more at flea markets or swap meets. Clean houses. Grow vegetables to sell to your neighbors. Don’t be taken in by schemes that want you to pay money for people to teach you how to make money, or by multi-level pyramid sales scams. Develop an honest business, providing a service or product that people regularly need. Teach your kids to do the same.

8. Grow as much food as you can. Plant things that you like to eat, and which are easy to grow and have a lot of value. If you own your property, landscape it with fruit and nut trees and berry bushes, and learn to make your own jams, jellies, and pie fillings. Growing food is like growing money in your back yard. Follow other suggestions elsewhere in this almanac and cook your meals from basic ingredients, shop frugally but wisely.

9. Save some money each month. Even if it is only $5 from each paycheck, stash it away. Life is full of surprises, and unexpected expenses that send you to the pawn shop or pay day loan service or run up your credit cards can be real financial problems for you and your family. Work to build your household savings. Keep some of your savings as food, always have at least 2 or 3 months of basic food staples on hand in your house to insulate yourself from the mood swings of supermarket pricing and the risks of sudden emergencies and crises. Keep your money in a credit union.

10. Beware of the two income trap. Many families feel they need two incomes to survive, and in some cases this may be true. However, with both parents working outside the home, the family acquires significant additional expenses, including transportation and child care/babysitting. Do the math on your two incomes. Make sure that both parents working outside the home is a net economic benefit and not a net loss over the long run.

Understand that a parent working at home is a net economic asset to the family. The additional time a parent can devote to in-home activities makes it possible to save money in many areas of life. A “work at home parent” can also participate in part-time businesses the family may start. Home schooling becomes a possibility, at least through the elementary grades, and this is a great blessing for families.

11. Don’t give in to despair and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Sow blessings and kindness and you will reap blessings and kindness. By living more frugally and sustainably, you aren’t going second class, you will have a first class, worry-free lifestyle. The people to feel sorry for are those, of whatever income category, who are locked into the super-consumer lifestyle. Their self-image is bound up in how much stuff they have. They are never satisfied, they always must have more stuff, new stuff, better stuff. If they aren’t spending money, they feel depressed. They may have flashy clothes and lots of new possessions, but they are in reality slaves to banks, corporations, and credit card companies. Such people will have real problems adjusting to the realities of life in coming years. The more you follow our “Better Times” ideas, the more control you will have over your life, and the less vulnerable you will be to crises and emergencies. By organizing your life in favor of Better Times, you will reduce the amount of stress, risk, and emotional trouble in your life.

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

The grassroots alternative to the big goobermint bail-out of the parasites on Wall Street.

Over the last few weeks, the financial masters of the Universe have been meeting in grand conferences.  Held in world capitals, the cash glitterati have been conspicuous in their open conspiracy to take from Main Street and give to Wall Street.

They’d like for everyone to believe there is no alternative to their schemes.  But that is part of their shock and awe propaganda campaign.

Although the national media will likely ignore this event, an important meeting to plan grassroots, community, Main Street alternatives as we go forward through the crash of the American Empire, will convene October 24-28.  This won’t happen in a world capital, but rather in Hohenwald, Tennessee, which is about 80 miles from Nashville.

We will apply the design discipline of permaculture to the situation of a small rural town, and consider a sustainable way forward for that area through the coming decline years.  Twenty presenters/instructors include community investment experts, sustainability entrepreneurs, and permaculture designers.

We will learn to map the financial eco-system of a community, to apply permaculture principles to a business plan, and invest in sustainable, grassroots, home-grown enterprises.

We will answer the question — what does a sustainable, working model for a modern American rural community look like?

Read more about the event here. As of this writing, more than 100 people have signed up, plus the 20 presenters.

If you can’t attend, you can follow the events as they unfold on the internet via presenter and design team blogs, podcasts, and video clips.  The gateway for joining us online is http://www.financialpermaculture.org/ .

I will be presenting Sunday afternoon through Tuesday, on my work here in Oklahoma City in developing local food systems via the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.

Please take the time and effort to join us, either in person or on line. 

 

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Time for a poem

The overnight markets in other countries are down considerably.  I will be at the Oklahoma Food Cooperative’s October delivery day today and will be mercifully away from computers and telephones, concentrating on food, which is a nice activity for World Food Day.  If the markets have another down day, that’s going to create “even more” anxiety, for which I prescribe a Wendell Berry poem. . .

The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows for me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests,
in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things,
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief,
I come into the presence of still water,
and I feel above me the dayblind stars,
waiting with their light,
for a time, I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free.

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Bob’s Get Ready for Winter Song

Altogether now, to the tune “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”…

OH! We better not wait, it’s time to make plans,
Compost, mulch, put away the fans,
Winter time is coming to town!

Squash and turnips and carrot plants,
Season extension for the cabbage transplants,
Winter time is coming to town!

Let’s insulate the attic!
Insulate the floors!
Insulate the walls so deep,
and don’t forget the doors!

So!  Make your list, and check it twice,
Solarize, weatherize, don’t roll the dice,
Winter time is coming to town!

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