Archive for the ‘Wealth disparity’ Category

In order to solve the current economic crisis we need to put many unemployed and/or underemployed people back to work rebuilding small/medium-sized towns, farms, villages, and hamlets.  There are hundreds if not thousands of small to medium-sized towns across the USA with declining populations that could be revitalized with an influx of people in to them (from America’s overgrown cities) which would revive local/regional markets.  People keep cramming in to cities/suburbs (major metro areas) where the employment market is vastly over-saturated and this only serves to exacerbate employment problems.

Small and medium-sized farms which surround towns and villages should be re-started to provide employment opportunities and secure America’s food supplies for the future.  We should also work to revive local/regional factories and artisan shops in towns and cities, rebuilding America’s domestic manufacturing base.  There are far too many paper shufflers in the American economy and as such we must begin to revive key hands-on industries – agriculture, manufacturing, focus on long-term ecological sustainability, etc – which actually produce things locally and regionally.  The USA manufactures more than it ever has yet industry/manufacturing has become so overmechanized that one machine now does the work that dozens (even hundreds) of people used to do by hand; as such, we may also need to begin to de-mechanize certain manufacturing sectors in order to provide more jobs, i.e. begin to make and produce more things by hand as in the past (artisans of yore like the local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker) instead of relying too much on machinery in far away places.

This economic crisis and only be solved by de-centralization, re-localization, and re-regionalization of people, industry, artisanry, manufacturing, and especially agriculture.  In a mature American market facing the typical and predictable capitalistic crisis of overproduction, oversupply, and overmechanization (along with almost total agricultural and industrial monopolies), so called ‘green collar jobs’ are the only way to fix the current mess now and in the coming decades/centuries.

Cousin Charles’s feeling about the depression is that it serves the “industrialists” right. He pointed out in a magazine article seven years ago that the present trouble with the country was that the cities were getting overgrown – Megalopolis, as Spengler calls it. Strange that it should have been left for a German to diagnose our American disease. But the effect of the depression should be salutary, because it ought to make the government get rid of the high tariff and send people back to the land. There’s always a living on a farm – and he himself has been a dirt farmer, not a white-collar farmer. – http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/tennessee.html

Even the apologists of industrialism have been obliged to admit that some economic evils follow in the wake of the machines. These are such as overproduction, unemployment, and a growing inequality in the distribution of wealth. But the remedies proposed by the apologists are always homeopathic. They expect the evils to disappear when we have bigger and better machines, and more of them. Their remedial programs, therefore, look forward to more industrialism. … Opposed to the industrial society is the agrarian, which does not stand in particular need of definition. An agrarian society is hardly one that has no use at all for industries, for professional vocations, for scholars and artists, and for the life of cities. Technically, perhaps, an agrarian society is one in which agriculture is the leading vocation, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for prestige-a form of labor that is pursued with intelligence and leisure, and that becomes the model to which the other forms approach as well as they may. But an agrarian regime will be secured readily enough where the superfluous industries are not allowed to rise against it. The theory of agrarianism is that the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations, and that therefore it should have the economic preference and enlist the maximum number of workers. – http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/agrarian.html

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As referenced in a recent post, the USA and other nations must begin to build ecovillages, ecotowns, and ecosuburbs for a substantial portion of its population due to the growing instability and over-reach of petroleum-based living systems.  This is especially important for the growing underclass in the USA and elsewhere, not just the middle classes.  This is due to the fact that large numbers of the underclass are in many senses unfit for working and living in any other manner — the modern techno-industrial world has grown too complicated for large numbers of the population (especially the underclass), and thus they must be encouraged to live in ways that are more fit for their skill-set and socio-cultural mindset, i.e. in ecovillages, ecotowns, and ecosuburbs (or ‘agriburbs‘).  Green-collar jobs are the only way forward for a substantial portion of the population and as such many nations must begin to create such jobs en masse as soon as possible.

This large underclass labor pool can be intelligently utilized to repopulate and rebuild various rural and suburban areas, improving and repairing the Earth in many ways by growing or raising local/regional food, improving degraded soils, cleaning up polluted waterways, installing alternative energy sources, replanting and managing forests, rebuilding a local business/artisan base, and overall beginning to work again in many ecologically-focused sectors that have been neglected or forgotten in the past few decades of hyperindustrialism.

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The following is something that I wrote nearly two years ago, back in August 2007; as the title of this post suggests, it promotes ‘localism,’ the belief that many people should return to more locally-focused ways of life in order to build stronger, better connected, and more sustainable local communities. Here it is:

Live locally:

– build strong community relationships and form deep local/regional roots
– buy locally and regionally as much as possible (goods and services)
– grow food locally as much as you can: start community gardens and/or small to medium-sized farms in cooperation with other people in your local area
– use well water and/or local water sources, avoid bottled water
– plant orchards on local unused open-land (for fruit, nuts, etc) and/or bushes for berries
– revitalize local pastureland and local livestock raising for meat and milk/butter/cheese
– raise a few hens and have a constant supply of fresh eggs
– work with neighbors to tear down one or more old and decrepit houses in your neighborhood and try to plant an orchard and/or community garden in its place
– start revitalizing local small, medium-sized, and family-owned businesses
– start local/community banks
– stay around your home and local community more (use less fossil fuel) and get to know your neighbors very well
– find a way to make your family and friends your neighbors for closer local networking
– read more books & listen to more music to enrich your mind: watch much less TV because it destroys your mind
– start local/small neighborhood schools and educate your community’s children in both intellectual as well as technical/practical skills (don’t forget the physical exercise, too)
– start a neighborhood health clinic using local medical volunteers or staff
– if you can afford it, get solar panels on your roof for electricity plus a solar hot-water heater
– learn useful crafts and skills like basic woodworking, electrical work, home repair, auto repair, local agriculture, etc
– learn how to sew or knit and try to make or repair some of your own clothes
– travel and explore locally and regionally (not just globally)
– pay off all outstanding debts and then forever stay out of debt; also try to help others in your local area to get out of debt
– start strong community groups in order to protect local interests and preserve local/regional safety (2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – revive local militias)
– avoid the big corporate national mass-media (cable TV, Hollywood movies, trash journalism)
– avoid mass-retail stores, malls, chain restaurants, etc and revitalize local businesses and restaurants
– conserve and preserve local greenspace, farmland, forests, pastureland, orchards, and so on
– drive less & you will pollute less
– be a community activist: work to eradicate crime, loneliness, alcoholism, drug addiction, neglect of the elderly, and other social ills in your local community
– talk more with people (especially kids) and watch less TV
– walk and/or ride bicycles around your local community when weather permits
– eat more fresh and locally grown food and avoid factory-farmed meat
– learn how to cook well
– exercise more
– reject too much globalization and internationalism because those trends homogenize and even destroy local/regional cultures and decrease overall diversity
– use less, consume less
– recycle more, conserve more

Are you sick and tired of corporate-driven globalization and the promotion of profits over people? Are you distressed by the decimation of local businesses and communities by mega-corporations? Would you one day like to achieve community self-sufficiency as opposed to the current model which overtly seeks the maximization of centralized/corporate economic growth with a total disregard for the continuous loss of local ecological sustainability, social solidarity, and cultural integrity of the community? Then be a LOCALIST.

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If we do not begin to change course within the coming decades and start taking better care of our Earth, we might face problems which may eventually become insurmountable and or even fatal to our species. Some areas or regions could be forced to confront a full or partial environmental/ecological collapse, which may trigger even more widespread chaos outside of the affected area(s) as people flee the desolation they have wrought in search of new habitats.

Resource depletion/exhaustion is another distinct possibility, with humanity eventually running out of resources with which to ‘keep the motors of civilization running’ so to speak. This would surely cause human culture as we have come to know it to grind mostly to a halt as we find ourselves mostly stranded or marooned in our local areas which may not provide all that is needed to maintain life. Rising nationalistic and/or ethnic-racial tensions will likely reach a fever-pitch as different groups fight non-stop for the scraps of a gradually more resource-scarce planet. Regional, continental, or even worldwide wars over scant resources could also break out, leading to further interruptions of human civilization.

In the worst of all scenarios, a major population crash could occur, causing the death of untold millions or billions of humans and thus the utter decimation of our evolutionary success as an advanced species on Earth. Even the near-total extinction of humanity might result from this catastrophic chain-of-events, meaning all of what we humans worked so hard for in the last few hundred thousand years of evolution might all come to naught. This is clearly unacceptable and must be prevented. Therefore, as stated, we must start now in order to build a more secure and sustainable future for humanity on planet Earth.

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Many obstacles, hurdles, and setbacks will confront humankind in our quest to build a better world. Foremost among these is going to be social, political, and economic disorganization, which is obviously no surprise considering it was/is rampant disorganization that has likely contributed the most to the modern socio-environmental crisis. We are going to have to do much better in this regard – no more excuses or dissimulation, no more procrastination or lollygagging, no more avoidance of difficult decisions, no more arguing and disagreeing over petty and ultimately inconsequential issues. In some respects we are going to have to force change upon ourselves whether we are willing to accept it or not. We must realize that the environmental future of Earth is at stake, and thus to continue to delay the inevitable changes we must make could spell the end of modern human civilization.

Removing language-related hurtles would help to expedite the processes of planning and enactment of the agreed-to plans – a universal world language or global lingua franca (likely English given its current international ubiquity) will need to be utilized as much as is achievable so that as many people as possible can remain on the same linguistic wavelength in terms of the widely accepted vision, as well as stay united during the planning and enactment stages. This would in no way necessitate people abandoning their local language(s) or dialect(s), only supplementing them with a universally-recognized global language so that all can listen as well as speak and be heard during the planning and enactment/execution stages.

We must not let political, economic, religious, and/or other socio-cultural complications stand in the way of ultimate success. All people must be made to understand that the health of our planet, which is so vital to the continued existence of the human species, depends on accepting the non-debatable primacy of our environmental requirements, i.e. the maintaining of a stable, clean, and sustainable Earth capable of supporting and nourishing the permanent survival of our species. All must accept the fact that without a livable Earth to support a healthy humanity no other issues matter…not cultural beliefs, or political opinions, nor even religious doctrines – for who will be on Earth to support various political parties or follow certain religions if we eventually render the Earth uninhabitable?

Humankind must come to the blunt realization that nothing else matters if we do not have a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in which to live and thrive – to repeat: without a decent/habitable environment in which to live nothing else matters because without the environment humanity has nothing. Must it be stated again? To wit: all of the secondary and/or tertiary issues which so preoccupy us will not mean anything unless we have an environment in which to live because our environment (the Earth) contains all other things.

A major complication is that humans seem to have not yet to evolved quickly enough (both mentally and possibly even physiologically) to cope with the radically different living conditions we now find ourselves in ever since the dawn of the Industrial Age and the spread of its associated socio-environmental shifts. Many of us in the most technologically ‘advanced’ nations have become little more than over-consuming automatons almost completely dependent upon the hyperindustrial and hypertechnological system for our most basic/everyday needs. This overdependency clearly reveals a major weakness of these most ‘advanced’ nations, for we have slowly become too far too reliant on unsustainable forms of technology to support and maintain our way of life. It is still going to take quite a bit more time for humans to evolve the necessary skills and coping-mechanisms that will help us to better deal with our drastically changed world.

Over-competitiveness, non-cooperation, and the ongoing tensions/ belligerence between all of the various peoples, groups, regions, and nations will have to be minimized as much as possible in order for humanity to move forward and work fruitfully together in the formation of a better world for everyone. As stated, the spread of a universal or near-universal language will likely assist in bringing people together much closer than they have ever been before and should help to resolve many of the issues which will arise between all of the groups and nations which inhabit the world. We should have faith that the creativity, resourcefulness, hardiness, and intelligence of our species will help to lead us through these problems.

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The best way to move toward more sustainable modes of living would be to utilize our advanced organizational skills to begin constructing environmentally-friendly ‘ecovillages,’ ‘ecotowns,’ and ‘ecocities.’  Actually, we wouldn’t have to construct much of anything because much of the needed infrastructure is already in place for such development – more retrofitting and intelligent planning rather than raw construction would be in order.  In doing this, we could all live much more locally, and thus more cleanly and sustainably.  We could easily relearn many very useful and practical skills which have mostly been lost in the confusing industrial shuffle of the past century.  This would necessitate ending the ‘division of labor’ and extreme economic specialization, thus allowing people the time and freedom to learn how to do many different things satisfactorily.

We should all get closer to food production (as much food as possible should be locally-produced), building construction and maintenance, making clothing, repairing machinery, and so on.  All of this would allow the natural development of people who are much more well-rounded in terms of their knowledge and skill-sets rather than forcing people in to becoming non-thinking, quasi-robotic automatons completely dependent on their particular socio-economic niche to survive.

We desperately need to return to simpler and slower (but still technologically-connected) lifestyles with an emphasis on long-term sustainability. There should never be too much population density in one area (dense overcrowding) or anonymous urban living.  We also need to be in much more contact with nature (especially our local environments) in order to cultivate and inculcate a sense of environmental responsibility within ourselves. We here in the United States could possibly consult the Amish and other related groups in this regard and learn much from them in terms of how to bring back some of the ‘old ways’ – however, we would of course still retain the cleanest and most useful labor-saving technology which they shun.

We’ll of course still need many factories to produce the basic and easily mass-manufactured consumer goods needed for sustaining large human populations, as well as weapons/munitions for local and national defense.  However, industrial manufacturing should be de-centralized as much as possible to avoid concentrating environmental degradation in certain areas; it needs to be spread it out thinly in order to more lightly distribute the bad environmental impact of heavy-industry. This also applies to human population levels which have become unsustainably large in too many urban areas – as such, a certain amount of de-urbanization is likely going to be needed to bring those population numbers back down to sustainable levels.

We must promote and return to more local forms of agriculture, local livestock raising, local hunting/gathering, local fishing, and so forth.  We should start to use the landscape and its precious resources more intelligently and sustainably, including shared greenspace, gardenspace/farmland/orchards, pastureland, and fishing/hunting areas.  Every home should have adequate space to plant a garden or gardens if they so choose.  This would all need to be planned very well, researched exhaustively, and ruthlessly revised or improved when needed.

The concepts of ‘New Urbanism’ as well as ‘ecodensity’ should be tested and widely implemented if they prove successful.  We must also examine the so-called ‘Blue Zones’ found in select spots around the world where people have lives that are so often a great deal better than average and attempt to replicate their success if possible.

In the future, we will clearly need to have totally oil-free societies, civilizations which are as sustainable, clean, and free of pollution as humanly possible.  They should be run entirely on various forms of cleaner/greener alternative energy (this is still dependent on future technological breakthroughs). All of these ecovillages/ecotowns/ecocities will need to be intensively connected with environmentally-friendly mass-transit, and very clean ‘greencars’ should be cheap to buy or rent for basic traveling; ideally, much of the everyday local work, travel, or recreation would be done on foot or via small vehicles in your local area within a few of the surrounding square miles.  Pollution-free forms of transportation for traveling long-distances should be made available to everyone so that they can travel anywhere needed at any time.

Also, these ecovillages/ecotowns/ecocities would have to be connected to the internet and other modern forms of communication technology in order to promote cooperation, trade, and commerce between them, but even then they should remain mostly self-sufficient in terms of food production and the other basic necessities as much as is possible.

In order to facilitate information-sharing and the formulating of solutions to various problems, all books, articles, newspapers, and other material that has ever been written, as well as all other forms of human knowledge, should be digitized and subsequently loaded on to the internet, totally free for anyone to browse, read, and learn from.  This totally comprehensive internet should forever remain completely open and uncensored in terms of use, research, and discussion; internet servers must be decentralized in order to prevent the possible monopolization or censorship of the internet by various interest groups who might grow too powerful.

Banking and monetary policy should also be de-centralized as well in order to prevent the overconcentration of wealth, power, and influence in certain areas at the expense of all others.  The media should be decentralized too, but it could still nationally aggregative.  Also, the laws and rights of states must always trump national/federal ones, with local (town/city/county) laws and rights even more important than state ones.

We must work to end the insecurity of ‘economic nomadism’ and forced economic rootlessness by encouraging people to work more in the immediate local area(s) in which they have been born or raised.  People can only begin to care about their local area or community if they are intimately and deeply connected to it, and the constant shuffling around of people via immigration in search of economic opportunities is not at all conducive or favorable to sustainable/stable economic or environmental policies – in fact, it is entirely inimical to it.

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As stated in the previous section, we are going to need to re-localize, re-regionalize, and de-centralize in order for people to get more effectively organized.  It’s much easier to organize a few hundred or a few thousand people and implement various agreed-upon changes among them than to try to make sweeping centralized changes across the board in the lives of millions.  We are going to need to scale down life in order to make it more manageable instead of continuing to allow faraway people, businesses, or organizations to dominate the current social, economic, and environmental milieu.

We should all seek to live more simply/slowly as well as frugally (the old saying ‘back to the basics’ has never been more needed than right now), including less consumption, less commuting, and less overall complication.  Not only would this help to slow-down the environmental damage done to the Earth by reducing the non-stop transportation and consumption of valuable resources that should be conserved, protected, and intelligently utilized for the long-term, but it would also allow us to begin to focus on the more pleasurable aspects of life that are often neglected as a result of the overconsumptive and ultramaterialistic lifestyles that have become all too common in the last century.

Simplifying life would leave much more time for constructive and enjoyable activities like socializing with family/friends/neighbors, learning/reading/research, creating art, landscaping/gardening, and many other pleasurable cultural activities or hobbies.  Why have we worked so hard to solve the many problems related to the production and dissemination of material goods and services if we aren’t taking the time to truly enjoy the fruits of our labor?

We who reside in the most ‘advanced’ nations should take a step back, slow down, and realize that we have in some senses moved beyond the raw stage of socio-economic development and have entered in to an age of improvement and maintenance of what we have already achieved.  Too much commerce, too much ‘progress,’ too much industrialization, too much consumerism, and too much development is obviously undermining the Earth’s environment and as such must be sharply reigned in to more sustainable levels.  This process of ‘reigning in’ is actually not a problem because we already possess everything that is needed for a materially-secure existence – we have largely solved the problem(s) of production and thus we must move on to the more pressing issues of distribution and sustainability.

Let us again start to focus more on building up and improving our overall culture as well as our planet — which is of course what makes all human culture possible – rather than continuing to obsess over our personal bank accounts and the superficially decadent luxuries that money can buy.

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