Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sustainable Economic Calculation

The blind spot of our time is that we take mainstream economic thought for granted, as if it were a natural law. But in reality, all so-called economic laws begin to melt and morph into something else the moment you begin to change the most important variable: the quality of awareness of the participants in a system. ~ Dr. C. Otto Scharmer, MIT Senior Lecturer

When we take a trip to the grocery store, the mall or peruse wares online from the comfort of our homes (assuming we have one) we are presented with a variety of goods that all share one common attribute – that of price. As we know all too well if we wish to acquire the goods we need and desire we must engage in various calculations – whether emotionally driven or by careful analysis – to arrive at the balance between the monetary credits we happen to possess and the prices of those goods.

However in our ongoing contention between need, wants and price, rarely do we stop and ask ourselves why are the prices of our goods what they are. What are the myriad of relationships that underly and interconnect and finally sum together into this singular metric? What precisely are we paying for or just as importantly what does that price not include in the greater scope of our lives and the world around us?

How much of the price is directed to marketing & advertising budgets, legal fees, packaging, executive bonuses, taxes, tariffs, wages, monopolistic dominance, corruption, trade secrets, copyright, patents, regulation and numerous other factors?

Today where the majority of the goods that arrive at our doorstep follow complex production chains – quite often spanning the globe – often between competing entities whose methods are shrouded from each other in layers of proprietary secrecy, and by consequence opaque to society as a whole, it can be said in all but the most simple of cases we simply have little idea what constitutes the prices we pay. More importantly, these siloed & obfuscatory methods of production by their very nature generate a cacophony of social & environmental ills – as each player in their narrow pursuit of profit maximization seek to externalize all else which may negatively impact their bottom lines.

Though Classically trained economists, and others similarly aligned, have and continue to believe that this individualized pursuit of profit somehow translates into the best possible state for society (an "invisible guiding hand"), given the large & growing body of evidence to the contrary (chronic inequality, environmental decline, mass starvation, etc.) it is becoming clear that humanity has yet to fully discover & implement the economic solutions necessary to come into harmony with the delicate life systems of the Earth and to efficiently & justly allocate resources to maximize our collective wellbeing.

Today we as a species are faced with a confluence of planetary-wide crises and at a critical juncture that will require each of us to deeply reexamine many of the beliefs we currently hold as well as necessitate the opening of our minds to new & evolving frames of reference. Whether it be the reasons behind the prices we pay, to the sensibility of markets or even money itself our ability to survive is now directly dependent on our coming to a correct understanding – and alignment with – the mechanisms which truly undergird our existence...

Economic Calculation in a Natural Law / RBE, Peter Joseph

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brand New Politics

Whether you love him, hate him or think he is just plain nuts one thing for certain, comedian Russel Brand is an individual who is raising some vitally important dialog that we should all take a few moments out of our overworked lives to ponder.

These two interviews offer up a roller coaster of views that guaranteed will stir your mind...

Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman Talks to Russell Brand

A Brand New Politics: Russell Brand Interview with Mehdi Hasan

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Liquid Democracy

Government for and by the people? 

This brief video illustrates just how limited our current political systems are and offers up a tantalizing alternative that could revolutionize & expand what we think of as "democracy" far beyond the confines of what exists today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sixth Extinction

252 million years ago ninety-five percent of all species on Earth went extinct.

Referred to as the Permian Mass Extinction, the reasons for this catastrophic period in our planet's history was until very recently a complete mystery.

Fortunately, however through decades of dedicated research by scientists across the world in 2000 the puzzle was finally cracked and with it the discovery that the death of most life on Earth was not triggered by a single event such as the asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but instead was the result of the interplay of two independent but inexorably interconnected killers that together turned most of the Earth's surface into a desert wasteland and rendered vast portions of the oceans hostile to marine life.

So why should we concern ourselves with this event from so very very long ago?

Well it turns out of the two Permian killers that caused so much devastation one is still with us today. Lurking deep in our oceans and locked in the permafrost soils throughout the colder regions of the world this Kraken lies in wait ready to unleash its poisonous effects if stirred from its precarious slumber. Though the ancient partner of this tempest is long gone, unfortunately it looks like humanity – through our current indiscriminate actions – are rapidly taking the former's place and may already be unleashing this nemesis from its frozen chains and in so doing delivering us and all other life on Earth into a deadly embrace.

Last Hours

For more information go to

... and to learn about the fascinating discover of the Permian Mass Extinction see this next fantastic BBC documentary...

BBC – The Day the Earth Nearly Died

Monday, October 7, 2013

Better, Not More

First there was The Story of Stuff, then The Story of Broke and now we stand at a momentous fork in the road. Do we keep playing the "Game of More" until we've completely exhausted the resources of planet Earth and collapse OR just maybe is it time to rewrite the rules that currently tether us and boldly strike out in the pursuit of something better?

The Story of Solutions

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Food Revolution

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as of 2012 at least 870 million people in the world suffer from chronic undernourishment. Compared against the world population, this is greater than one person in eight. Though progress in reducing hunger has been made from the early 1990s, since the 2007 global economic meltdown this positive trend has disconcertedly slowed or come to a standstill and in many regions most hard hit reversed.

Though current agricultural yields across the world today if equitably distributed are enough to feed the entire world population – with their inequatable distribution according to resulting from "harmful economic systems" or according to University of Guelph, Canada Professor Emeritus of Philosophy John McMurtry: a metastasis of "private money-sequences self-multiplying out of control with no productive function."* – with continuing rises in population (estimated by the U.N. to reach 9.5 billion by 2050), ongoing degradation of arable landincreasing water shortagesunsustainable fossil-fuel intensive farming practices and Climate Change, it is becoming clear to growing numbers of scientists, environmentalists, farmers and others that humanity will need to revolutionize its means of food production if we will have any hope of meeting rising demands and doing so in a manner that does not catastrophically undermine the biosphere.

So what can we do about it?

Fortunately & enticingly, new emerging technologies in hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, indoor, rooftop and vertical farming now offer to the whole of humanity the potential for a literal cornucopia of locally produced environmentally-sustainable organic food that require zero pesticides, can be grown with a small fraction of the water that current industrial methods use, do so 365 days a year and at practically any latitude.

With these technologies – and the collective will to transcend the artificial scarcity induced by our current economic assumptions & competitive-based mindsets – world hunger could in very short order be entirely eliminated while simultaneously resolving the cacophony of food-related illnesses that are born by our now dominant pesticide-laden monocultures (increasingly composed of GMOs) which are produced by our multi-national agribusinesses for the maximization of profit over health.

Given the massive benefits the whole of humanity would enjoy & the untold lives saved are there really any legitimate excuses for not pursuing these new production methods with the full resources our world governments & industries can offer?

* From the book, "The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis To Cure"

CNN – A Farm On Every Rooftop

Urban Aquaculture – Fish Farming in the City

Farming Beneath a Dome

Feeding 9 Billion – Vertical Farming in Singapore

Plantagon – The Future of Urban Food

Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Untold History

If it weren't for this man, we may not be here today.

On October 27th, 1962 during the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis the aircraft carrier USS Randolph and eleven other accompanying destroyers detected near cuba the Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-59 whose mission was to support the Soviet delivery of arms to Cuba. At the time of this encounter the submarine had not been in contact with Moscow for severals days, and although earlier had been picking up US civilian broadcasts, in order to evade the American carrier group dove too deep to monitor any radio traffic.

Unbeknownst, to the United States Navy (USN) this particular submarine in addition to its 21 conventionally armed torpedoes contained one more torpedo armed with a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead. By way of comparison, Little Boy – the bomb dropped on Hiroshima – was 15 kilotons.

At this time, the US vessels began dropping practice depth charges (with low energy explosives), in an attempt to force the B-59 to the surface for positive identification. Messages from USN that practice depth charges were being used however never reached the submarine, nor it seems Soviet naval headquarters. One of the crew, the signals officer Vadim Orlov, described the scene: "The [depth charges] exploded right next to the hull. It felt like you were sitting in a metal barrel, which somebody is constantly blasting with a sledgehammer. The situation was quite unusual, if not to say shocking–for the crew."¹ The temperature rose sharply, inside the engine room especially. The sub then went dark, with only emergency lights functioning. Carbon dioxide in the air reached near-lethal levels barely allowing the crew to breath. Orlov continues: "One of the duty officers fainted and fell down. Then another one followed, then the third one. . . . They were falling like dominoes. But we were still holding on, trying to escape. We were suffering like this for about four hours." Then "the Americans hit us with something stronger. . . . We thought–that's it–the end."

The captain of the B-59, Velentin Grigorievitch Savitsky, unable to contact the general staff and feeling his back was against the wall ordered the officer in charge of the nuclear torpedo to prepare it for battle and is quoted as shouting, "Maybe the war has already started up there, while we are doing somersaults here. We're going to blast them now! We will die, but we sill sink them all–we will not disgrace our Navy."

Of the three primary officers on board – all of which whose unanimous consent was required – the political officer, Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, also concurred with Savitsky to launch the warhead. Fortunately however, the third and remaining officer, Vasili Arkhipov (pictured above) stood in opposition and eventually persuaded captain Savitsky to surface the submarine – plainly visible to the U.S. fleet – and await orders from Moscow.

Had Arkhipov not been the wise person he was and instead agreed with his fellow officers on that fateful day and launched their torpedo – destroying themselves, the USS Randolph and accompanying destroyers – given the hair trigger status of both the Soviet and United States militaries, it is almost a foregone conclusion that a full nuclear exchange would have occurred.

If this bit of history is as new & shocking to you as it was to me, you may be equally shocked to learn of the incredible and predominantly untold chain of events that led to that spine-chilling day in 1962 as well as those that have followed all the way to the present. Was the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States inevitable, especially in the light of both countries being allies during World War II? Did the U.S. have to drop The Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How has the many decades of mutual distrust affected the way we view one another and framed our social &amp political narratives – both domestic and in relation to how we have treated the many nations & peoples throughout the world?

To garner a deeper & clearer understanding into these questions – and many more – this next gripping ten-part documentary series from director Oliver Stone opens before us a view of history that has until now been obscured by officialdom and which today is of critical importance to be understood if we are to come to a more peaceful, thriving & enlightened world view.

¹ This quote and those following excerpted from the book, "The Untold History of the United States."

The Untold History of the United States

NOTE: While playing these episodes from if any of these videos stop and stutter from inadequate download speed pause them for a bit and they will buffer up enough for smooth playing.

Chapter 1 – World War I

Chapter 2 – Roosevelt, Truman & Wallace

Chapter 3 – The Bomb

Chapter 4 – The Cold War 1945-1950

Chapter 5 – The 50s: Eisenhower, The Bomb & The Third World

Unfortunately I can't seem to find a version of episode 5 at the moment on the web. If anyone out there happens to locate one I can embed please leave me a note in the comments. Thank you!

Chapter 6 – JFK: To The Brink

Chapter 7 – Johnson, Nixon & Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune

Chapter 8 – Reagan, Gorbachev & Third World: Rise of the Right

Chapter 9 – Bush & Clinton: American Triumphalism--New World Order

Unfortunately I could not locate an embeddable version of this episode either. If anyone knows where  I can find one please let me know by commenting below. Thanks again!

Chapter 10 – Bush & Obama: Age of Terror

If you enjoyed this series and would like to dig further into the many incredible events throughout this period of American history, pick up a copy of the companion book to this documentary:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Global Wealth Inequality

How evenly is wealth distributed across the world today? Give this brief video a view to get the stunning answer...

... and for those who are interested in the levels of inequality in the United States see the second video from this earlier post.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Money In Service To Life

As a child you may remember playing the game Musical Chairs, where a circle of seats are made, the children told to dance around them while a song is played and then dash in for their own when the music abruptly stops only to find there are not enough to go around and those hapless who are unable to find a seat ejected from the game.

Well it may come as a surprise to know that we in our daily lives are essentially playing this same game, but instead of dancing to a song we do so for money and when the music stops (i.e. when our debts come due) we either have enough to pay them or face bankruptcy, homelessness, hunger and even death.

Money – as it predominantly exists today – is very much like the dwindling supply of musical chairs in the respect that all major currencies are created out of debt, i.e. are issued by banks to governments, businesses and individuals, but only on the promise that those funds (the principal) will in the future be paid back in their entirety plus interest. This means for every dollar, euro, yen, etc. we may currently have in our possession somewhere else in the world another/others owe this amount – or once did if they fell into bankruptcy. A game of "musical money chairs" is thus set into motion, since all the money in circulation represents only the principal portion of these loans, while the interest payments remain hanging over society as a whole – incapable of being paid off in the aggregate since the total money supply in circulation is always less than the total collective debt.

The ramifications of this arrangement are multifarious, but two major & inescapable consequences are (1) bankruptcy is literally baked into the system and (2) in the aggregate the only effective way to stave off the former is by expanding the size of the monetary economy by borrowing ever greater sums in order to keep pace with the interest payments as they come due (and why not coincidentally you will hear mainstream economists & politicians trumpeting the need for more growth as the panacea to our woes.) Of course, since each new loan fuels more of the same, an exponential trap is set loose and like all such run-away processes cannot indefinitely persist on a finite world.

As many are now articulating – several of whom powerfully in the following documentary – the perpetual growth logic inherent to our "modern" monetary system now looks to be driving humanity dangerously beyond the limits that our biosphere can sustainably support and therefore if we are going to avoid catastrophic collapse will require of us a fundamental reformation in our thinking, social organization as well as in the very makeup of our economic assumptions. To that end, our money will also need to undergo a transformation if it will come to serve – versus hinder – our future wellbeing.

Money & Life

If you enjoyed this documentary and would like to dig deeper I highly recommend picking up a copy of Brian Czech's book, "Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution."

Friday, May 31, 2013

Contending Economic Theories

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist ~ John Maynard Keynes

Economics – It is a subject that for many seem as dry & distant as they come, but as elucidated by the quote above economics is a discipline – whether we are conscious of it or not – which fundamentally rules our minds, social structures and even the most miniscule aspects of our lives. Like a puppeteer or a wizard hiding behind a curtain the particular variety of economic logic which happens to inundate us is very much a determinant of what we think of as possible (and impossible), how we treat (or maltreat) one another (as well as other forms of life) and even how we conceive of our own self-worth and that of our peers.

Like the air we breath, we are so inextricably intertwined with economics that we often spend a great portion of our lives – or their entirety – completely unaware of the strings that are subtlety pulling us this way and that and how these processes can if blindly followed steer us away from solutions & insights that may very well be the key to greater liberty, prosperity and social progress.

Like a lense, the brand of economic logic we may identify with, or have been indoctrinated by, can narrow our views to such an extent that when we encounter perspectives outside of those we have been inculcated over our lives as being "right" extraordinarily strong emotions can ensue. From a Cold War which on more than one occasion brought humanity to the edge of nuclear annihilation*, to a practically endless stream of the real kind, the potential for a given group, tribe or nation to become lost in their particular brand of economic jingoism can become so pervasive that their ability to engage in dispassionate open dialog and rational evidence-based analysis can all too easily be compromised.

As is becoming obvious with the confluence of ecological, social and economic crises humanity now faces, we as a species are still far from understanding & solving the myriad of issues we collectively face and why in this day and age it is all the more important for all of us to open our minds to as wide a berth of perspectives as possible in order to expand & progress our thinking if we will have any hope of rising to the challenges before us.

To that end, this next excellent podcast from economist Richard Wolff discusses the dominant and often contending economic theories that have brought us to today and how each – if not dogmatically adhered to – can offer an array of alternative lenses in coming to a more complete understanding of the tumultuous world we currently occupy as well as arm us with a much expanded & potent toolkit for crafting – for the whole of humanity – a world of greater abundance & equality.

NOTE: If you are unable to see the audio player above you can download the podcast by clicking HERE.

If you enjoyed this podcast and are interested in exploring this subject further I highly recommend picking up a copy of Richard Wolff's and Stephen A. Resnick's book, "Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian":

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Paradise Reborn

According to extensive scientific research by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)*, each year 12 million hectares (approx. 29.6 million acres) of arable & forested land is being lost to "desertification" – that is the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, climate destabilization and/or unsustainable agricultural practices.

This represents an amount of territory equivalent to the country of Bulgaria and which annually could produce 20 million tonnes of grain. Since this loss is compounding – 12 million hectares the first, 24 the second, 36 etc. – since 1950 we have now experienced land degradation totaling 1.9 billion hectares* (4.7 billion acres) which is only slightly less than the combined land masses of the United States and Europe.

With global populations still well on the rise and already one-and-a-half billion human beings dependent on degrading lands for their survival*, the pressures for social unrest, resource-related wars, species-wide extinction and environmental collapse are rapidly intensifying and will likely spare no nation as conflicts inevitably bubble over pulling those who remain in the periphery into the fray*.

As alarming as these trends are if left to metastasize – and as lucidly explained by these next amazing videos – we now quite surprisingly already possess the technical know-how as well as the resources if intelligently allocated to fully reverse desertification if we so choose.

If these techniques are comprehensively & swiftly applied, this could mean halting global temperature increases, restoring vast stretches of land to nature, reforming our fossil-fuel intensive industrial farming practices with ecologically sustainable alternatives*, restoring water & food security and in so doing for the first time make major inroads in solving the myriad of real-world planetary-wide crises we presently face.

Possessed with the knowledge that we do have the means to overcome these critical issues at their source – and by doing so a world of abundance far & above anything that exists today could be made a reality – what possible excuses can we now seriously entertain when the grim alternative is to deliver us, our children and grandchildren into a world of needless suffering?

Green Gold

... if you enjoyed this special and are interested in viewing John D. Liu's documentary excerpted above here it is in its entirety:

Hope in a Changing Climate

... and lastly, this phenomenal TED talk from Allan Savory brings even more hopeful evidence to bear on what we can now do if we upgrade our thinking to come into alignment with the interwoven life systems here on Earth:

Allan Savory: How to Green the World's Deserts and Reverse Climate Change.

Related to this topic see Dan Barber: How I Fell in Love with a Fish.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Elysium Future?

Just like the game Monopoly an unfortunate consequence of the competitive market system we live in today is the inexorable concentration of wealth & power into fewer and fewer hands as enterprises frenetically vie for market share, undercut one another and over time those less able inevitably driven into bankruptcy or gobbled up by their more "successful" counterparts (success being defined in terms of the guiding logic of profit-maximization, cost-efficiency, creation of competitive barriers, branding and the like) until in the end a few of megalithic proportion come to dominate and whose disproportionate power can grow to such heights that they threaten the health & democratic values of society as a whole.

With this process of consolidation now well into its prime and the mechanistic line of reasoning that fuel it still deeply embedded in our individual psyches & social institutions, one can't help but look into the future and wonder where we may likely be heading and the world our children, grand children and generations to come will inherit if we do not change course. Will we find ourselves in the future depicted in the feature film, "Elysium" where a small minority live in utopic abundance far above our heads while the rest of humanity are trapped on an Earth whose environment systems have catastrophically collapsed and whom live in abject misery:

... or can we collectively see the err of proceeding in such a distopian direction, turn the tide and unleash our full creative, technical & moral abilities to bring into being a world that actually supports the wellbeing of all of humanity and which is now well within our collective capacity to build?

Today in the United States and many other places throughout the world, the wealth divide has reached such deeply corrosive extremes:

... that now people at all income levels in society are waking up and beginning to question the rationality of playing the game Monopoly with our lives. This next documentary by Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson reveals that even some at the very pinnacle of society are coming to the realization that there is something terribly wrong with the way we are operating and the answers to the challenges we now face will not be solved by the kind of thinking that brought us to this point in our collective development.

The One Percent

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Natural Law Economy

We live in an age where the overarching goal of our society is to collect symbols like these: $, €, ₡, ₤, ¥, ฿ and to invest mind-boggling levels of effort & resources devising methods of "convincing" one another to send more of them in our direction than the opposite. However, given the precarious & fleeting nature of these symbols – especially in the light that they are predominantly brought into existence only under agreement they will be returned with an even greater sum at a future date* (in turn triggering chains of exponential runaway effects & dilutions of "value") – there is in essence never enough to go around and by consequence we are collectively led into playing a pervasive & fear-driven game of musical chairs that produces within us states of scarcity that feed back on themselves perpetuating the cycle.

All the while we have been engaging in this unabating game of symbolic accumulation, back in the real world – the physical world that is – we as a species have steadily come to understand the nature of the universe we find ourselves in and with it – through our scientific & engineering proficiency – grown our capacities to alter the world around us for both good & ill until today we are pressing dangerously against the bounds of our planetary habitat.*

When viewing outside current prevailing frames of reference, it can be said this technical web of know-how in real terms is what constitutes the driving force behind what we refer to as the "economy", what generates concrete value in our lives and is the determinant on whether we thrive and/or suffer. From this vantage the recognition that the only hard rules on how we operate are defined by those of the Universe itself – i.e. physics – and not human-invented economic abstractions, we come to the realization that our economics if not centrally grounded to "physical referents" (i.e. those that empirically impact our biological, psychological & social needs, those of all life of Earth and the physical inputs & outputs of those systems) we will remain ill equipped to navigate & overcome the confluence of challenges now undermining our survival.

As it is becoming obvious to growing numbers, the Universe itself is indifferent to our fate. It will do what it will do, so ultimately it is up to us – both individually and collectively – to internalize this reality, take responsibility and evolve so we come into alignment with the laws nature dictates for us. If we succeed in this, given the powerful technologies we have at our disposal, we can readily meet the needs of every human being on the planet and do so in a manner that enriches all life on Earth. If however we fail to adapt and continue to barrel ahead lost in a haze of illusory abstraction, the Universe will of its own blind mechanisms "balance the equation" for us and most certainly in a manner far from our liking.

In the pursuit of avoiding the latter, the following interview by Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks with Peter Joseph – founder of the Zeitgeist Movement – discusses the attributes of what can be called a "Natural Law Economy" and how this newly emerging multi-disciplinary school of thought may offer the keys to the next phase of our evolution and ability to survive our species' present self-destructive adolescence.

Peter Joseph, Zeitgeist Movement Founder on TYT

If you have not yet had the opportunity to view Joseph's third documentary – the most impactful of the three – here it is in its entirety.

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward | Official Release | 2011

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Atom!

  • The average adult human weighs approximately 70 kg (154 U.S. pounds) and is estimated to be composed of around seven thousand trillion trillion atoms. That is a seven followed by twenty seven zeroes: 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.    
  • According to the University of Hawaii the number of grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world is roughly calculated at around seven and a half quintillion – that is seventy five followed by seventeen zeros: 7,500,000,000,000,000,000.
  • So if we divide the number of atoms in an average human body by the number of grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world we come to the stunning answer that it will take over 933 million planet Earths worth of beach sand grains to add up to the number of atoms in just one average adult person!

If like me this statistic makes your mind go POP, you will absolutely love this next three part BBC documentary on the amazing & hard-won discovery of the atom and how it completely revolutionized our conceptions of ourselves and place in this fascinating Universe we find ourselves in.

BBC – Atom

Episode 1: Clash of the Titans

Episode 2: The Key to the Cosmos

Episode 3: Illusion of Reality

... and if you enjoyed this series and are interested in other posts along these lines try Our Unfolding Science.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Ascent of Separation

An excellent interview with economist Charles Eisenstein discussing many of the emerging & unintended consequences that have come from our shift to "modernity" and how much of our present beliefs surrounding what we think of as "human nature" are very much a reflection of that process.

Charles Eisenstein – London Real – January 17th 2013
“Money is really nothing but a set of agreements, or I like to say it's a story that gives value to these symbols. It's an interpretation of symbols. Otherwise that piece of paper or those bits in a computer they don't have any value aside from our agreements. Right now it is embedded in all kinds of social agreements about what these things mean. The question then is why have we created social agreements that drive us toward doing things we don't want to do and are killing the planet? Why is there a lot of money in cutting down a rainforest, digging mines and exterminating the indigenous people who live there to get rare earth minerals? There's a lot of money in that. Why is there not much money in restoring wetlands? Why is there lots of money in doing things we don't really want to do, like I don't know, being an accountant or something like that? Why, because it is just an agreement? Why have we created this agreement that is the enemy of everything that is sacred to us and what would it take to change that agreement? What would money look like if it were aligned with the things that are becoming sacred to us?”

Ancient Futures – Learning from Ladakh

If you wish to view the documentary that Eisenstein refers to in the interview above on the Ladakh people of Northern India – and not coincidentally their own collision & transformation by the forces of Globalization – here it is.

For more from Eisenstein see this earlier presentation and on the topic of "human nature" this talk from Alfie Kohn is a must listen.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Surviving Progress

“Humanity's behavior suggests intelligence is an evolutionary dead end.” ~ Wayne M. Schmidt

Putting aside how appropriate or inappropriate it is to apply the term "intelligence" to humanity as it operates today, it is most certainly an open question whether we as a species have the wherewithal to overcome the confluence of threats which now loom before us or if grim pronouncements such as that made by Mr. Schmidt turn out to be prophetic.

We stand at a crossroads: On the one hand our "intelligence" has unleashed incredible technologies that have allowed our numbers to burgeon and offer the potential for a plenitude of further riches, but on the other those same technologies, coupled with a biological & cultural predisposition toward short-term decision-making, have unleashed terrible forces that now seriously compromise the very fabric of the delicate & intricately interwoven life systems of the Earth.

Are we like Icarus, smart enough to take to the skies, but so blinded by avarice that we climb until our wings are incinerated by the fires of the Sun or will we find the wisdom to steady our course and come into balance with the natural limits this small finite world is capable of providing us?

This next 2011 documentary inspired by the best-selling book, "A Short History or Progress" by Ronald Wright and executive producer Martin Scorsese asks the deep question. What is progress? ... and just where might it be taking us.

NOTE: If your browser does not support the documentary above and you happen to have NetFlix you can stream it in HD by going here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Shared Sacrifice Shared Rewards

Professor Richard Wolff is back again to cut through the disinformation that permeates our airwaves. Another must listen podcast & interview that is well worth a few minutes of your time...

Economic Update: "Unemployment Analyzed" – Dec 30th, 2012

If you are unable to see the audio player above you can download the podcast by clicking HERE.

To listen to these weekly updates from Richard Wolff – a new show every Saturday at noon EST – you can go to WBAI or subscribe for free via iTunes.

Inside Story – Richard Wolff & Chris Hedges Interview