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Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 19,888

About Me

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.

Journal Archives

Disconnect your cable and broadcast television, throw away your junk mail unread...

... and quit buying stuff.

Don't trade your freedom for a few shiny trinkets and a false sense of security.

Convince others to do the same.

The only television commercials I've seen for years now are those I see posted here on DU.

Rather than feeling disconnected from the world, I feel like I've got a much clearer view of it.

As a nation we seem to be willing hosts to the oligarch parasites. But it's only because they've gotten inside our heads.

Our "market economy" is a religion; it's just that simple.

In science the way one manipulates numbers in a model doesn't change the nature of the universe itself.

Look a physics. Relativity still existed before Einstein came along to describe it. We were not living in a Newtonian universe before that.

The earth has never been "the center of the universe" whatever humans happened to believe at the time.

No matter the mathematical models we create to describe our universe, the universe is not going to change to accommodate them.

Economic theory isn't like that.

Congress could pass a law to change the speed of light, or set pi=3, but the universe doesn't care. If we try to live by the laws of Congress and ignore the laws of nature, then nature will kill us. We can't legislate "zero gravity zones" and do away with elevators in buildings, or wings on airplanes. Step into an elevator shaft without an elevator, fall, and die. The wings come off your airplane, fall, die. Your pi=3 engines explode? Die.

To an outsider observing our current economic system it is clear that only a small percentage of economic activity is actually "productive," in the sense of making this world a richer place, not just for humans, but for the overall cultural and biological diversity of life itself, and not just human culture and biology either. Wolves have a culture. Whales have a culture. Condors have a culture.

But most of the things economists call "productive" are actually exploitive. There is "profit" to be made by destroying the natural environment and increasing the overall misery of cultural populations such as ourselves.

There's nothing "productive" about that exploitive sort of profit.

There's so many ways religions can fuck us up. How many gay people have our religions discarded? Alan Turing? Far, far, beyond that, and into the depths of hellish sorts of despair .

How many rich cultures and environments have our religions destroyed?

What do we know? Somewhere in North America maybe there was a plant that cured some common form of cancer. The indigenous people knew about it, knew how to use it. Then the Europeans invaded, killed off the indigenous people and their culture, and slash-and-burn destroyed the forest where the rare plant grew.

We are much poorer today for that.

Some people quit religion without abandoning the frameworks of intolerance...

...of the religion they abandoned.

That's not "humanism," it's just intolerance of religion. One sees a huge amount of that, even on DU; all the culturally white male Protestants who have abandoned formal religion, but still express great animosity toward Catholics, Muslims, etc. (for example); who fail to recognize recognize the patriarchal, Puritanical, authoritarian and intolerant patterns of thinking that permeate this Christian Protestant society they exist within; the "religious" patterns that still permeate their own thinking.

Having abandoned religion, an atheist can still be a sexist, racist, Puritanical, judgmental, religiously intolerant asshole; the guy you hated in church, but without the church.

Google's definition of humanism is pretty good:

Humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

Religious intolerance and bigotry are not rational ways of solving human problems. Religions exist in human societies, that's a scientific fact, deal with it. An anti-religious person can be as intolerant and bigoted as any fundamentalist religious person. That's not humanism.

I can be very critical of any single aspect of a religion or secular society, but lumping groups of people together as "atheists," Catholics, Southern Fundamentalists, Muslims, whatever, is never rational, and it solves no human problems.

Every human being is a bubbling stew of contradictions. Religious beliefs are just a small part of that stew.

If this is the answer, then there is something seriously wrong with the question.

The question shouldn't be "How do we replace fossil (or nuclear) fuels with solar?"

The question should be "How do we improve the standard of living for all people (not just the wealthy) and reduce the impact of humans on earth's environment?)

The answer to that question does not involve a very expensive mish-mash of Rube Goldberg technologies.

The most effective answer is to limit human populations. Generally, people will have fewer children if they have easy access to birth control, medical care is good, people are educated (especially women!), standards of living are comfortable, and elderly people are financially independent of their own children or grandchildren.

The next most effective answer is to build an attractive, much less energy intensive society than we have now.

One of the first things that struck me in this article was the $3000 average annual gasoline cost quoted. I drive a recycled "salvage title" car and maybe use about $400 gasoline annually, and the numbers are similar for my wife. (These are current, high, California gasoline prices.) My wife and I used to be Los Angeles commuters, back in the mid 'eighties, but by planning and some good fortune we've managed to avoid that lifestyle since. Ideally, I'd like to live in a fully walkable community where we didn't need cars.

I confess I am a very simple person who could live in a tiny house in a garden with a solar powered laptop and reading light. After I went off to college, and before I met my wife, it was a common living situation for me. I know I can live without a refrigerator, or even a washing machine. (I know I can live in my car too, but that's another story...) One of my great grandma's lived in more primitive conditions than that, with no running water, well into her eighties.

But that's not the sort of life I'm talking about. I imagine dense semi-urban cosmopolitan walkable communities with private home ownership, gardens, good public transportation; places with good plentiful jobs; places where owning a car is something few people desire.

I'm not the sort of architectural fascist who would force people into such communities, not at all so much as I feel forced to live as I do now in a suburban house within a smaller city, with a car in the driveway. But I am the sort who is pushing for low energy, low resource-intensive lifestyles that are more attractive than those generally offered by today's U.S.A. society.

I don't respect that kind of wealth. Full Stop.

There ought to be a minimum wage and a minimum wealth, and taxes ought to be such that nobody enjoys more than twenty times that income or wealth.

Minimum wage $10 an hour, maximum wage $200 an hour. Minimum wealth a cot and a locker, maximum wealth twenty times that space.

You see how this works...

If the CEO of a company wants to own a big fat penthouse suite and be driven around in a limo, the lowest paid employees get comfortable suites in the same building, park their own utilitarian cars in the same garage, and ride the same elevator.

In this scenario those prone to hoarding wealth have a very strong incentive to make sure their own good fortune really does "trickle down."

The game playing stops. Everyone's kids go to the same schools, everyone shops in the same places, and everyone's lives are "real." Nobody exists in an insulated "bubble" of wealth.

What's that you say? It takes away "incentive???" Nonsense. Anyone who would pay an employee starvation wages while traveling through life first class is up to no good or has been corrupted by the system.

I can't respect that. They are all Justin Biebers, but worse, because they are not stupid kids.

What's "dirty work?"

Why should an economy have "dirty work?"

Jobs with "dirt" can be satisfying if the pay is good and the working conditions are friendly.

Keeping hospitals and patients clean might be very satisfying work for someone who wants to work in medicine but is not academically inclined. Repairing plumbing is often filthy work, same with all sorts of agricultural work.

The worst jobs I've ever had were never "dirty" because of dirt, they were dirty because the employer or work culture was utterly rotten. Being a cop is a necessary job, but nobody wants "dirty" cops, right? Farm labor is necessary work, but nobody wants "dirty" labor bosses who tolerate dangerous working conditions, short people's pay, sexually harass, or otherwise threaten and abuse workers, right?

With a strong social safety net rotten employers will not be able to find workers they can abuse, and that's a good thing. Anyone will feel safe to tell a dirty boss "Take this job and shove it!"

There will be no "dirty" work.

Most people are not inclined to stay at home and do nothing, and if they are, so what? Their impact on the economy and environment is minimal, and they are probably not employable anyways. So many people want to work and can't find jobs why should they have to compete with those who are reluctant to participate? Society ought to, in fact, be paying someone to check up on the non-participants and offer social services to those who are not doing well and figure out why. It might be mental or physical illness, drug addiction, etc... If it really is just plain dull "would rather watch television," then does anyone want to work with a person like that? That kind of dullardness is probably the only true disability, most everyone else has some kind of sparkle within that they will contribute something positive to the community so long as their basic needs are met.

I don't believe "the devil finds work for idle hands" so much as he finds work for those who are hungry for power over other people.

This could be a good thing if we skimmed the scum off the top of our economy.

Imagine shorter work weeks, longer vacations, earlier retirements, pleasant workplaces, universal free healthcare, and generous welfare, disability, and unemployment benefits.

We could have all that, but the uber-wealthy and their heirs actually believe they created that money and it's their's to play with as they please.

Fuck them.

Money is created by the people and their labor. It belongs to us. If money is not being used in ways that improve the lot of all of us, we are obligated to take it back.

Taxes ought to be progressive and high enough that nobody is hungry, nobody lacks safe comfortable shelter, nobody is illiterate, and nobody lacks appropriate medical care. Especially taxes ought to be progressive and high enough that no corporation or individual can buy the political process.

Saddest thing is addiction is a medical and social problem that shouldn't be difficult to deal with.

Meth addicts need a safe place of last resort other than prison or the mean streets.

Our's would be a much better world if they had access to legal amphetamines in a safe place to come down, even if they were contributing nothing to society, for the rest of their lives even. Let them harmlessly play video games in the shelter.

"No longer a danger to self or others" is a much better world than what we have now.

Every community ought to have a place where addicts of all sorts can come in for a soft, foam-on-the-runway landing. Crash and burn is never a good thing. Innocent people get hurt.

Some people are without hope, the drugs or alcohol or cigarettes will kill them. But punishment never improves the situation.

In a gentle society some people will escape their addiction, or at least find a place where they can remain somewhat functional.

An ex-meth-head, heroin, or nicotine addict on legal meds... who cares??? Slap a patch on them, give them legal e-cigs, gums, pills, whatever they need not to be jonesing for the illegal stuff.

There are interesting little old ladies with disintegrating bones taking doses of opiates that would leave me passed out in the gutter. More power to them.

Opiates and amphetamines are remarkably non-hazardous drugs compared to alcohol or nicotine, if only the source is legal and clean.

We could save the R2D2s who now become trashcans, even free them from their addictions, if we simply abandoned this stupid "war on drugs." It would take the illegal gangster and cop, spy vs.spy, profit out of the drug trade too.

Existing patent and copyright law are impeding human progress.

I think patents and copyrights ought to have a very short life if they pass to third party for-profit corporations.

Certainly, let artists pass patents and copyrights to wife, kids, grandkids, and other intimate relationships of the author; do let copyrights and patents support family known to the author.

But limit the time unrelated parties can control patents and copyrights

If I ever write something brilliant and profitable, yes, I might want the money going to known family after I'm dead.

Maybe corporations only ought to be able to buy time-limited leases on patents and copyrights from the artist or their name-designated heirs. After that the art would revert back to the artist's named family or be released to humanity in the public domain.

In the case of patents involving life-saving technology (pharmaceuticals, etc.) I think patents ought to be subject to eminent domain (nationalization and release to the public domain) whenever the owners of these patent are found to be restricting supply for egregious profit.

My perfect Christmas would be spent on a tropical beach...

... in a place no one has ever heard of Christmas. I'd share fish I caught and cooked.

My parents retired and escaped to that kind of life. Their "Christmas Trees" are pieces of driftwood decorated with handmade ornaments and Christmas cards from family, friends, and neighbors...

Yeah, I know what this Christmas Holiday is about. It's the great party before all the Northern Europeans start stacking up their old and infirm like Popsicles in the shed waiting to bury them come spring in the rain and the mud.

We don't have a birth certificate for Jesus, don't know the date of Conception when the Virgin Mary exclaimed "OH GOD!."

I try not to be a drag everyone else down during the Christmas Holidays, but it ain't easy.

In my personal universe I don't like to buy stuff unless I must, and I don't like people buying stuff for me.

I like to find stuff. I like to make stuff. If somebody finds stuff or makes stuff and gives it to me as a gift, that's okay too. But please, don't buy me stuff, unless I NEED it. (That would be food, shelter, or medicine. Those I've got now, so I don't NEED them.)

I've made my peace best I can with the Holiday, often cooking Christmas dinner.

Receiving or purchasing "gifts" some random stranger made, perhaps some wage slave in China, just makes me feel sad and cold.

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