Sunday, August 30, 2009

Voluntary vs. Mandative Change

I started more formal education in environmental studies some 11 years ago. Along the many lessons I've learned during this path was the argument for why mandating environmental change is a bad thing. I was told this is why people don't like environmentalists because, "they demand too much change that greater society can't deal with so abruptly".
This argument never did sit right with me, especially when one studies how voluntary change has come about and implemented in modern day. Sure, it sounds god, but take something like how the ski industry promotes sustainability. The Sustainable Slopes Initiative is what guides ski resorts in engaging with sustainability initiatives. The ski resorts get to use the logo and claim "they are sustainable" by signing up for the non-mandative pledge that in reality says if a ski resort never recycled plastic, and now they do, they're on the road to sustainability.
Really? I mean come on, you're either sustainable or you're not, period. These voluntary policies allow for great green-washing and can also be seen in climate change discussions going on in the US government. Curb our emissions by how much percentage by when? What will that do anyway? My take was yes, I understand if we eliminated the oppressive capitalistic economic system that governs the US there would be a greater chance for instilling equality amongst the classes, but yes that would be an Earth shattering dramatic change that if it happened tomorrow, all hell would break loose as anarchists would rejoice. However, just imagine taking a step like Mexico City has and making it illegal to for any store to hand out non-biodegradable bags. Take that voluntary change this light, mandating change says so what, you'll have to alter your ways no matter what or you're breaking the law. And guess what? People will adapt.
That brings about change; mandating strong measures that are good for the health of the Earth and all its species. If they said try not to hand out plastic bags what would happen? Nothing, but perhaps a few would come along.
So the shared thought for today, beyond the lesson that in any case bringing your own reusable bag anywhere is much better than biodegradable ones that still take a lot of energy to produce and don't break down quite as well as one might hope, is keep dreaming for those measures that will bring about positive social change and don't get bogged down by "it's too hard and too dramatic a change for all people to live in respect filled coexistence where sustainability promotes social justice and peace for all sentient beings". There is a way, and with that one foot in the system and one foot out, great things can and will happen.
Thanks for the lessons Mexico, and while I'm at it, I might as well mention San Francisco's lead on the plastic bag banning, which also makes me think of the health care initiative that has been blossoming there where all San Franciscoites are afforded health care. Sounds nice doesn't it; All people with health care...maybe we should continue this mandative talk with this fine system of brutality we live by and just make sure all people are afforded the care and concern they deserve while we promote social good that's good for all life on this planet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today President Obama announced he is renominating Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke to a second term due to his efforts to work against the ongoing US and global recession. Of key note to Ben's ideological perspective is his recent economic prescription for the US. Essentially he said that currently the US economy is in its best state for a return to "growth" and that the next year looks good.

Now let us ponder the term and use of the word growth here and ask a few more questions. How is a lack of jobs and a continuously higher unemployment rates good for the economy? Something to note is Ben is really speaking to the top tiered class in the US, the one that succeeds or fails with a fluctuating stock market. So what about the 80-90% of the rest of us? Inequalities still beaming, does it matter? Who matters more to President Obama and good old Ben? Do they care about low-income people? What about the middle class? It's been said that the way to understand the difference amongst classes (loosely and generally I might add) is low-income folks struggle daily to make ends meet, middle-class folks own homes but otherwise may find affinity with low-income people, or rather strive to reach for the elite class that has investments tied to other larger financial markets (hedge funds, stocks, bonds, etc.)

Growth is only "good" for a small segment of the population that strives for private wealth. As capitalism has shown us, a system built on those premises will not can not support a total society of the planet. Growth and the mentality that growth is inevitable and necessary in order to have a "healthy" economy are fallacies in that growth continues to consume the Earth and all its resources as well as those who come in the way of rising to a higher class status. This status is of course socially constructed in the sense that without the Earth and its resources no life would exist. Yet as Obama continues the war in Afghanistan and the GDP rises as it is directly tied to military activity, people are dying and the yearning for more growth is extended.

Put simply, until the mindset that growth is not good is shared, until every person is afforded health care and education and the barriers to equality are lessened, Ben and Barrack will not be working for the public good, for peace, for justice or sustainability, because an economy that continues in the trend the US has had only benefits the "lucky" few that get all the benefits while everyone else faces all the burdens.
The mindset that growth is good MUST come to an end!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Question...

Today, sixteen individuals received the highest civilian honor bestowed upon by the US government. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to such activists as social justice and peace promoter Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Another man was granted this honor today, posthumously. Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, also received this award for his steadfast activism for gay rights and equality.

Now this is a nice thing, to grant such honors to such worthy people. But I have to wonder, why is President Obama giving awards to champions of holistic sustainability, when we also learned this day that Obama is going back on his campaign promise to not reauthorize NAFTA.

NAFTA is a cornerstone piece of the Clinton legacy that is by definition neolibral politics that promote "free-trade" through globalization, which essentially one of the more non-free policies out there. Ever wonder why Mexicans have to import cheaper corn from the US, grown with pesticides and GMO's when they have a plentiful amount in their own country...NAFTA, and other means of "free-trade" are anything but free. However, they do promote class stratification, perpetuate the power of elites, and overall help to strengthen a hegemonic structure, if that's what he's really going for.

So I wonder how Obama could award such honors to those fighting the status quo oppressive systems that be, illuminating their great work and the odds they've overcome in struggles for peace, justice and sustainability, and at the same time work to instill policy that undermines any effort for true holistic sustainability? Maybe the nine peace activists that were arrested this week at the US military base Mount McCoy will help us understand where he's coming from? I mean, protesting the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan along with the US stockpile of nuclear weapons, especially on the sixty-fourth anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a worthy endeavor to bring to light the struggles the globe still faces to bring real freedom to the lives of our total biotic community. I wonder what will happen when they stand trial on federal trespass charges? And I wonder how the NAFTA proceedings will unfold...maybe with a little help from the WTO and IMF?

The contradictions and steps backwards continue to astound me with Mr. Obama, although I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't have a feeling this was obviously going to happen. Can't completely kill Hope, but...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Indigenous Struggles Abroad, A 30,000 lb bomb, and Racists in Alabama

Among the many topic of news today ponder the struggle the Penan people in Malaysia are engaged in. Since the 80's these folks have fought of multinational corporations who want to log their traditional homelands. None the less they continue to fight for their justice.

And then I read this on : Pentagon Eyes New 30,000-Pound “Bunker Buster” Bomb
The Pentagon is seeking to speed deployment of an ultra-large “bunker buster” bomb on the most advanced US bomber as soon as July 2010 – three years ahead of schedule. The 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator is designed to destroy deeply buried bunkers beyond the reach of existing bombs. Analysts say the request from the Pentagon reflects growing unease over nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea. In a request for $68 million in funding, Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale said there was “an urgent operational need for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high-threat environments.” The precision-guided weapon, built by Boeing, could become the biggest conventional bomb the United States has ever used.

Finally, a devastating piece about an American Indian traditional ceremonial site in Alabama, that is literally being paved over for the sake of a corporate wholesale store. An article can be accessed at: ...and I should say to the informed mind, this is extremely disturbing and one should contact Sam's Club in Alabama immediately to express your concerns!

These are indeed the days when multiple issues can hit you from multiple angles, as beyond these three stories, stretching all over the globe, there's so much more happening...but as always, read, get involved, speak, organize and get activated because everyone of us must lend our efforts to the causes for peace , justice and sustainability to ever truly take root!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is Obama Spying on me (us)?

Unfortunately the answer seems to be yes. Check out this article on Democracy Now and ponder the thought of military personnel spying on and infiltrating anti-war groups (or social justice groups, environmental groups, etc.) in the US.

How does one argue that this is a good use of federal time and keeps the US "safer"? How? I wonder if the they would spy on a anti-peace group, or is there already one of those? I wonder who that might be?