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  1. #31
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Human consumerist economics - Don't you mean 'humans', Fung? Is there a human consumerist economy without us? Or has some mad scientist, some Dark Lord dreamed it up in order to destroy the world?
    Yes, I meant what you meant. Animal economics are theoretically the sustainable environmental ideal. Certainly it's what we consider the "natural" way. The human approach to economics is what's screwing things up. And there are some identifiable Dark Lords out there, but I suspect their interest is not to destroy the world so much as it is to sustain their power. There is a specific man who devised "planned obsolescence," specific people behind the Heartland Institute, and those who hire them. But the interesting thing is that the nature of the current system makes all of us the Dark Lords who are consuming our way into the destruction of our very way of life.

    The corporations, oddly enough, are responding by taking steps to ensure the sustainability of their business. Cigarette companies, perhaps unsurprisingly, own most of the patents on the quit-smoking drugs and products. Does that really surprise anyone? Tackle the industry from both ends. But they produce an illusion for the consumers so that the consumers keeps consuming, despite the dutch door action. Oil companies are probably investing is alternate fuel-source production schemes. Ethanol is a big one, bio-fuels another. You'll note neither of them are very environmentally friendly. But they keep their power by prviding what we need to live our lives without the threat of everything being upended. We're the ones demanding the products and they're the one supplying them. We must always remember that even in the bully:victim relationship, the victim has a degree of power over the bully -- in some cases, more power.

    But we -- the consumers -- think we're the victims when, in fact, we're probably the bullies.

    We're ****ing things up, no doubt. But it's hard to point the finger. I saw 'we're' in a very generic sense.
    That's part of my point, as well. We're complicit. Not only that, we're afraid of the change that may be required of us. Based on the ideals of democracy, the free market, capitalism, individualism, subjectivity, relativism, etc, we won't take well to corporations (who are made up of us, which is a confounding factor) dictating to us that we can't have, say, Saran Wrap or Vaseline anymore because they need the product it's made from for other things based on importance.

    In this system the proverbial "we" are the self-styled important ones. We're rapidly approaching the point where our bloated sense of importance is the root cause of our own problems. How do we fix that? If a corporation is considered a person under the law, and a corporation is composed of people who wish to maintain their current way of life, how do we devise a reasonable system of responsibility? One that doesn't step on the toes of our beloved democracies? Our sense of rights? How do we identify what's important here?

    These are questions of value. It's not about pointing the finger as much as it's about reconceptualizing what we consider valuable. Can we do tat through democracy? Does your subjective independence matter in this regard? If you perceive environmentally sustainable life as already existing, should your vote count? What is the value of your say? And what is it based on? If you think we're going to kill the planet, what then? Where is the value coming from? What does "f***ing it all up" really mean?

    Take away what we want and we fight for it. Give us what we want and we abuse it. Tell us what we want and we believe it.

    What do we need? Can we separate need from want?
    Yes. Food is a need. Restaurants are a want. Most of what exists in consumer society falls into the "want" category. We need shelter, but we want big suburban homes. We want our own space. We want our independence. But are we so sure that independence is a value that matches up with reality? Humanity, entirely, is a system of codependencies. Independence runs only so deep. Subjectivity is only so real. Take, Give, and Tell being what they are -- the implicit conundrum being that we can never be sure what's real and what's not (and the following assertion from the subjectivity debate that nothing is real, per se, so much as we believe it to be real) -- this relativistic sense forgets the simple reality that we are organic machines and we need fuel to survive. Our fuel sources are looking like they're within a lifespan of being challenged beyond their capability to bounce back. Our very way of life -- the one that allows to debate these ideas and cherish them in the first place -- is being threatened by the self-same thing that created it. Us.

    So, subjective you, how do you rectify your place in the economy of humanity? And, is that any different from how you place yourself in the economy of nature? Take, Give, and Tell being what they are, where do you fit?

    Is it not likely that your ideals -- your sense of subjectivity and relativism -- is a by-product of consumer society? A belief set that allows our existence to continue with decreased guilt and shame? In a classic argument in didacticism, if the subjective-relative philosophical standpoint can be understood as cultural, what is its root? "Truth"? Or -- and this seems likely to me -- is it just how we get by without feeling like we're empty and leading ourselves to suicide?

  2. #32
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Methinks you misunderstood the intent of my question. I was not trying to work you into a box, I was trying to define the problem in a manner that leads to stabs at solutions.
    Oh! Yeah, I was going in the slightly wrong direction then. But not in a bad way, I think. Your questions helped me clear some of the mud in my head. Got me some support for my campaign to take over the world, too!!!

    Damn this fragile ego!



    Can the problem of dwindling resources be attacked as a collective noun issue or must we really deal with individual resources? I suspect the latter approach is required but I'm perfectly willing to have the error in my thinking exposed.
    Is it not possible to do both?

    If we allow that a certain degree of "individuality" relies on the social process -- that is, the collective -- then it would be sensible to approach the question using the individual to create collective pressure on the individual. That's the underlying ideology of the consumer model, though -- to create individual consumers by making consumption socially desirable.

    Of itself, that's not exactly a morally black and white issue (not that any are, but I think we could argue some issues are more in the black or white than others -- this one being firmly amongst the greyest of the grey!). But how else to approach it? It's so damn useful. We can see consumerism at work in the corporate green assault already. Signs on lawns "this home is powered by green technology!" We know it's basically BS, but the pressure is there. But the pressure is only to change what you consume, not whether you consume or not. "Green" is the new socially acceptable product, and the marketing tells us that it is individual responsibility.

    For myself, I'd like to see a return to localization. I think the idea of knowledge as a product is a great way to keep the globalized economy working, and certain economic factors like resource unavailability make extra-regional trade a necessity, but the goal (just my idea here) should be to have every community be as self sufficient as possible.

    Let's step off the enviro-only track for a second here though and talk about culture. I'll use American political culture as an example, since we're probably all pretty conversant on the subject... Is a mid-western American the same kind of American as every other American? A New Yorker the same as a Boisean? Is there a reason why the blue states localize on the coasts, and the red states localize in the centre/south? Are there cultures within the culture? Are they determined geographically? By environmental factors? Or not?

    Is it really practical to use the consumer model of simultaneous TopDown-and-BottomUp policy enforcement practice in such a widespread and diverse geographic-environmental expanse? We know that consumerism is strongest in urban centres with large suburban areas, and we know the suburbs carry the highest degree of complicity/reliance with the existing system -- can we expect to best enact change of any kind across such a widely diverse set of cultural, geographic, and environmental factors?

    Following this, does it continue to make sense that a single federal union dictate policy for a region as geographically and culture diverse as the USA? Is it time that we started examining the possibility of cutting the USA up into smaller, more regionalized pieces? Perhaps managed by an EU style meta-government? Create more localized governmental control?

    With those questions in mind, I'd propose the break up of the mega-countries, and the rejoining of them take the form of a meta-governmental representative trade assembly. I'd make the emphasis of membership to the meta-government be one of mutual support, but based on a requirement of maintaining a minimum level of self sufficiency.

    By decreasing the relative size of each population group, group identification theoretically increases, and that would in turn increase the sense of local importance in each region. Thus, the environmental footprint of each region would have to be primarily local to balance the local economy, or else the locality next door can complain that your system is affecting their local system, rendering the offending system insufficiently localized. The codependencies built into the system would require everyone to watch their asses a little more closely.

    People would then be free to consume however they so choose, but would have to measured against everything being local. Including your local dump and your primary food supply. The rule would have to be that your junk goes into your own backyard.

    This would also reduce the emissions of widespread distribution channels. More locality, less influx, thus less overall emissions. Distribution models would have to be maintained at a certain minimum standard for disaster relief, but the push would be to keep inter-locality trade as close to the locality as possible.

    I'm not certain, but this sounds a lot like a return to city-states. Local democracies instead of feudalism or despotism, hopefully. I'd also propose a mandatory year of public service in either public works or the military as a requirement for enfranchisement.

    Anyway, that's a thought on a possible solution. What do you think? Divided we stand, united we fall?

  3. #33
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Oh, man, slow down!!! You youngsters are always so impetuous! <favorite line from almost favorite John Wayne movie: Barry Fiztgerald observing broken bed: "Impetuous!">

    But how else to approach it?
    Try thinking that the system in and of it self is not all that bad; it's built a pretty decent world. It has flaws so think about addressing the flaws. If we want to take it at the macro level, then a-not-the macro solution is to discover a way to turn the residue into resource, e.g., why could there not be a utility to nuclear waste? Still has a bunch of radiation which is energy and irraditaion of some lumber makes the lumber useful in a different sort of way than usual so radiation works...literally.
    If we accept that bureacracies resist change...and all the best management books, including the 6 Sigma stuff, concede they do and bureaucracies are simply people en masse so that people must also be resistant change, then try to plan the changes that people can stomach.
    Hell, Poo, HE's 2nd or 3d Law - depending on the list you subscribe to - is that any damned fool can criticize; it takes some intelligence to make it better.

    Is it time that we started examining the possibility of cutting the USA up into smaller, more regionalized pieces?
    Barry Goldwater, a person from the Sonoran Desert like myself, was accused of advocating that back in 1968. I have a sister who believes all our troubles are caused by GW and people like him who are silly enough to live on the East Coast. Your argument here is perfectly sensible. It will also apply to Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, China, Korea, Vietnam, and a host of other countries. Sensible but not likely because of those bureaucracies we talked about above. Still, if we can't break up the country, could we teach the geographically different places to act as if they were all by themselves? Are there not states and provinces that are fully capable of acting in their own best intests? How would we teach them to do that?

    I'd propose the break up of the mega-countries...
    C'mon, Poo. The problem isn't supposed to be Nationalism; it's supposed to be consumerism. Is the only way to improve that system to forcibly - or even peacfully if you can come up with a plan for making it happen peaceully - break up all existing systems? Would that not make the breakdown of everything damned near inevitable?

    ...or else the locality next door can complain that your system is affecting their local system,..
    Is it possible that there are localized economies and/or localized environments? Are they not subsets within the global economy and the global environment but nowhere near independent or without impact on their neighbors near and far?

    With your entire post, you propose total change as a solution. That constitutes a solution. My critique consists of a hesistancy to believe that total change can be accomplished to current economic, political, religious, and ethnic institutions without catastrophic consequences to material and human resources, something I am not willing to commit to...yet. I want to think about other possiblilites first.

  4. #34
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Oh, man, slow down!!! You youngsters are always so impetuous! <favorite line from almost favorite John Wayne movie: Barry Fiztgerald observing broken bed: "Impetuous!">
    Today I've not eaten and am running entirely on a caffeine fuel diet. I can't help but be fast! I'm too damn jittery today to be slow

    a-not-the macro solution is to discover a way to turn the residue into resource, e.g., why could there not be a utility to nuclear waste? Still has a bunch of radiation which is energy and irraditaion of some lumber makes the lumber useful in a different sort of way than usual so radiation works...literally.
    And interesting idea, certainly. But as I understand nuclear technology to work, we've not yet had much (if any) luck in running sustainable nuclear reactions in any other materials but uranium and plutonium. Not that it's impossible -- but there is a question of desirability. What you're proposing -- open radioactivation -- would qualify everything as a viable fuel source. While on the one hand that is certainly a possibility, is it a good one? I'm not sure... How do we de-radiate the newly radioactivated materials? We have yet to come up with a good re-radiation strategy for the existing fuels...

    Hell, Poo, HE's 2nd or 3d Law - depending on the list you subscribe to - is that any damned fool can criticize; it takes some intelligence to make it better.
    I'd suggest it also takes persuasion and force. A good idea is only as powerful as the motivating force behind it. And I think we all know that passion often masquerades as intelligence. Some of the worst ideas in the world, argued passionately, can seem like genius.

    I have a sister who believes all our troubles are caused by GW and people like him who are silly enough to live on the East Coast.
    Let me guess... republican?

    Your argument here is perfectly sensible. It will also apply to Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, China, Korea, Vietnam, and a host of other countries. Sensible but not likely because of those bureaucracies we talked about above. Still, if we can't break up the country, could we teach the geographically different places to act as if they were all by themselves? Are there not states and provinces that are fully capable of acting in their own best intests? How would we teach them to do that?
    We'd have to sever their access to the communal pot. One thing I thought of, based on the BitTorrent swarm idea, is the concept of swarm utilities. If instead of creating new solar stations and wind farms we instead put a house-sized power regulator into the middle of each community, then put a small wind turbine and solar panels on every house's roof, shunt the power to the regulating station (which would essentially be a huge storage cell, with it's own turbine and panels), then each community would be generating the very power it uses. It would pull the community off the centralized grid. And it would remove the need for massive turbines and huge fields of solar panels, reducing environmental impacts by reusing existing space in a novel way.

    Living off the grid within the grid. Cost wise, it's mostly just maintenance. After the initial installation, the cost of repair and replacement would be relatively minimal, though significantly more widespread -- resulting in huge numbers of jobs (at least enough to replace the centralized system's current number of employees, and probably a few more).

    Then, if each community had one of these regulating stations, it could shunt excess power -- on demand -- to neighbouring communities. The end result would be a finely balanced network of quota-based energy consumption. If someone else needs more power, but all the available power is in use, then that person either has to wait, or request of his/her neighbours that they be given access to a greater supply for a temporary period of time.

    The existing power grid could then be minimized to powering only the regulating stations in the event of total battery depletion. That should substantially reduce the requirements on the grid and ease up the draining of our resources. It would also begin to establish the idea of quota-based living to the individual, fostering greater self-reliance and cooperation in energy usage.

    That would be phase 1...

    C'mon, Poo. The problem isn't supposed to be Nationalism; it's supposed to be consumerism. Is the only way to improve that system to forcibly - or even peacfully if you can come up with a plan for making it happen peaceully - break up all existing systems? Would that not make the breakdown of everything damned near inevitable?
    I'm suggesting that we use the in-group/out-group phenomenon (the entire idea of group membership) and make it more local. People are fervently devoted to small groups they belong to. So I say use it. Use "nationalism" and distort it -- turn it in provincialism or whatever...

    Also, I've been trying to point out that consumption isn't the whole problem. The modern economy of consumerism runs right down to the base of society, including how we use money. Nationalism becomes a passé concept in the face of globalization. But the in-group identification is an aspect of our psyches that we all have, even if we're in a group of one. People find larger groups harder to identify with, which is why you get mass rioting. he masking principle applies to democracy, social organization, and environmentalism. "Like one vote makes a difference" -- it makes a bigger difference in a smaller pool.

    If we can encourage greater identification with one's local area (rather than the consumerist impulse to constantly move, and each new place becomes precisely like the last), we can begin the fracture of the system into smaller, local, responsibilities.

    Is it possible that there are localized economies and/or localized environments? Are they not subsets within the global economy and the global environment but nowhere near independent or without impact on their neighbors near and far?
    Exactly. Each locality affects those adjacent. By making the locality be required to live in its own waste, be responsible for generating its own power, and be ultimately responsible for creating waste that flows out onto their neighbours yards, you create a system where the neighbours has recourse. They can call POLLUTER! on you and have it mean something.

    With your entire post, you propose total change as a solution. That constitutes a solution. My critique consists of a hesistancy to believe that total change can be accomplished to current economic, political, religious, and ethnic institutions without catastrophic consequences to material and human resources, something I am not willing to commit to...yet. I want to think about other possiblilites first.
    I don't think of it as total change. Though I can see why it appears that way . Mostly it would just require some rejiggering of the way we use certain key resources -- mostly power and food -- and tweaking the flow of power. Each governmental system is different so would require an individualized approach. In the States I imagine it working with the power system first, then putting lots of money into local food production. Create the local social codependencies first, then let the government change around them accordingly.

    The ideologies are the hardest to get around. The "united we stand" ideal has a cultural capital attached to it that would need to met with something of equal value. But that's unique to the States. In Canada it would be something to do with the equalization system. The idea being to switch from a model of centralized singular federal authority to one of distributed localized authority that works together through federation. Two party system versus a 50 party system. Always operating with a minority government to force agreement.

    Anyway, critique that and I'll wax rhapsodic more later

  5. #35
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    I didn't realize you are such a literalist:
    What you're proposing -- open radioactivation..
    I'm not proposing anything. I offered an example of something that could be useful if viewed differently. I do not recall where I read it but I read that some lumbers, when irradiated, take on new characteristics, among them strength and extended useful life. I do not recall how they were irradiated but if it was not with either of the big 2, then perhaps they were just creating more waste. But, the issue to me is: if the engineers began to work the thought of re-using spent uranimum and plutonimum, who knows what could be devised. At the moment, though, as with your own evident inclinations, the common sense approach is to go with what we know. We know spent U is dangerous so we worry about disposing of it. Rampant consumerism!

    At any rate, attacking the problem at the macro level sent you down to the community level. That surprised me. So, I guess we must tackle the problem at the micro-level?

    Added 13 May 08:
    Imagine my surprise when a candidate for political office actually submitted a plan for addressing an environmental concern. Yep, a plan with goals, measures, a time table, and resourcing. Not arguing the merits of the plan at the moment, just astonished that a plan was proposed.
    "We will cap emissions according to specific goals, measuring progress by reference to past carbon emissions. By the year 2012, we will seek a return to 2005 levels of emission, by 2020, a return to 1990 levels, and so on until we have achieved at least a reduction of sixty percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the course of time, it may be that new ideas and technologies will come along that we can hardly imagine today, allowing all industries to change with a speed that will surprise us. More likely, however, there will be some companies that need extra emissions rights, and they will be able to buy them. The system to meet these targets and timetables will give these companies extra time to adapt -- and that is good economic policy. It is also a matter of simple fairness, because the cap-and-trade system will create jobs, improve livelihoods, and strengthen futures across our country."
    http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/Speeches/Read.aspx?guid=0b381abd-e573-459d-8716-fbd83ab62d8d
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; May 13th, 2008 at 10:09 AM.

  6. #36
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    I don't know, that seems like a macro level solution to me. Modifying the basis of the power grid would have to occur country-wide, based on a country-wide policy of resource production and waste management localization.

    If you want to come up with a solution that doesn't require radical change, works within the existing system.....? That just seems really unlikely to me. If the basis of the existing macro-level consumerist model is one which spins ever upward, and the very money we use to partake in this system also spins ever upward, then it seems to me that the basics that need to be overcome in order to actualize a solution is something fundamental to the very nature of the system itself. To enact a macro level solution, we have to conceptualize at what point the problem starts within the existing system. And it seems to me that it starts right at the basics.

    But riddle me this -- what is the goal of the existing system? What are the goals of those industries within the existing system? What are our goals within the existing system?

    I suspect there are no clear answers to those questions. And if there are some answers, do we have any conception of the process by which we'll achieve those goals? If we're working toward something, we must have a plan for how to get there, no? Do you have any ideas on what the goals may be? You've been on the planet longer than I have -- any nuggets of wisdom, any insight into the underlying machinations and the grand destination of the system?

    ----

    Irradiating lumber... hmmm... I definitely agree that we should try to find more use out of our waste products (and byproducts). I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be living in a house made of irradiated lumber, though. Heck, plastic is supposed to be safe, but it turns out it leeches into our food and causes all kinds of screwy stuff.

  7. #37
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Problem Definition
    Consumerism as the basis for an economy has problems; that among these are dwindling and wasted resources, the breakdown of human connectedness, and the certain consequence of an ugly period of adjustment that must accompany its falling from grace.
    Quote Originally Posted by King Foo
    If you want to come up with a solution that doesn't require radical change, works within the existing system.....? That just seems really unlikely to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Seems Unlikely to Me
    With those questions in mind, I'd propose the break up of the mega-countries, and the rejoining of them take the form of a meta-governmental representative trade assembly. I'd make the emphasis of membership to the meta-government be one of mutual support, but based on a requirement of maintaining a minimum level of self sufficiency.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kung Foo
    And it seems to me that it starts right at the basics.
    Is it not the case, then, that any solutions to the problem as we defined it cannot occur at the macro level, must occur at the specific resource and the impact of that specific resource on a specific community in order to stave off "its falling from grace"?
    Under this approach, it would be far easier to ween the major metropolitan areas of oil than it would be the rural areas. But, if we are going to ween the world from oil, then we need a plan for each of the specific geographic subsets that we talked about elsewhere. Producing and executing said plans can take advantage of a central government to empower and punish participating and non-participating communities. What the candidate I quoted above is doing is exercising the power available to a central government to get specific problem communities to cooperate in the solution. One could conclude from this that the prsent system is perfectly capable of atoning for its sins albeit establishing the next great sin in its wake.

    Going back to the tribal model, small communities in specific locales, seems counterproductive to a population approaching 8 billion. Will not the Attilas, the Khans, the Napoleons, and all the other conquering heros - conquering heros who did not require outside influence to spur them on to bigger and better empires - continue to arise? Will those small tribes in specific locales be capable of fending off invaders?

    Sidebar: It is interesting that the human connectedness issue has been addressed for a long time now with Rousseau and Marx coming down on cities as the source of the problem. Well, cities and personal property. And here we are blaming the breakdown in human connectedness on consumerism, a belief in and of itself an attack on personal property.

    Another Sidebar Demonstrating the Reliability of Old Men's Memories: Not the kind of radiation we were discussing but here is a link to what I remembered:
    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/3663261.html
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; May 13th, 2008 at 12:02 PM.

  8. #38
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Is it not the case, then, that any solutions to the problem as we defined it cannot occur at the macro level, must occur at the specific resource and the impact of that specific resource on a specific community in order to stave off "its falling from grace"?
    First things first: under the basic tenets of democracy, is the individual located at the micro or macro level?

    ...exercising the power available to a central government to get specific problem communities to cooperate in the solution. One could conclude from this that the prsent system is perfectly capable of atoning for its sins albeit establishing the next great sin in its wake.
    Perhaps... how is waste calculated into the "problem" communities? What, other than reducing oil dependence, defines the problem? A community could have a zero oil dependence but still produce substantial waste. Oil is hardly the only resource which is creating environmental problems. At this point it is safe to say that all of our resources are creating problems. Are we to prioritize them, or try to find a way to deal with all of them at once? Can the existing system do that? And does the existing system give enough power to localities to look after their own issues? Or is every local issue being diluted in importance because the system is too broad? (Like -- Who is paying for the new levees in New Orleans? Who approved them? Who is building them?)

    Will those small tribes in specific locales be capable of fending off invaders?
    I figured this would come up. For the size of localities, I'm imagining something no bigger than your average European nation, but preferably somewhere about half that size. A population/resource area of that size would be more than capable of creating and maintaining a military structure. The meta-government level could then act like the UN -- a court system and mediation system. Aggressive expansion is contrary to the nature of the system, so member nations would be expected to supply military weight in the common defense of the system. But whether or not the meta-governmental system should be able to demand troops for the defense of one of its member nations, or whether each locality has to agree situation by situation, is a tricky issue.

    But that does bring up an interesting point. If we maintain/modify the existing system, should the UN get its own army? Should it be able to demand troops versus request them? Or not? How much power should we give to potentially stabilizing forces?

    Sidebar: It is interesting that the human connectedness issue has been addressed for a long time now with Rousseau and Marx coming down on cities as the source of the problem. Well, cities and personal property. And here we are blaming the breakdown in human connectedness on consumerism, a belief in and of itself an attack on personal property.
    I'm slightly confused by your wording here... Are you saying the belief that consumerism is bad is an attack on the concept of personal property? Or something else? Which belief is the attack?

    ...if the stats in "The Story of Stuff" are correct and most of the property we acquire winds up in the garbage in six months, is it really fair to call consumer goods property at all? Aren't we just spending money for temporary acquisitions? Property, to me, is something we maintain and upkeep. You acquire it, develop it, look after it, desire to keep it. Anything else is basically a lease, a rental, transitory. Which even makes homes questionable as property since the vast majority are the property of the banks.

    In the existing system, what is property? And how do we determine its value?

    Not the kind of radiation we were discussing but here is a link
    So... radioactive wood that wont biodegrade...

  9. #39
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    First things first: under the basic tenets of democracy, is the individual located at the micro or macro level?
    Under the tenets of democracy, the individual is located at both locations. Do you know of any pure democracies where this is the case?
    Under a democratic republic, the individual is at the micro level. Under a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the individual is at the micro level.
    In either case, why is this a priori to the question asked?
    Perhaps... how is waste calculated into the "problem" communities? What, other than reducing oil dependence, defines the problem?
    What is the resource under discussion? Seems to me that every resource will have a different answer and that is why we so quickly went from a macro approach to a micro approach.
    The meta-government level could then act like the UN -- a court system and mediation system.
    A global government, eh? Wow! Didn't Dostoevsky convince you of the problem with global governments. You rail against over-sized countries but want a global government? Yes, I know! You want a limited global government but you want to give it a court and mediation system and that implies the power to enforce its decisions. Power implies lots of things but reasoned discourse is not one of them.
    So, you want to trade lots of over-sized countries for one super-sized country? And you expect this super-sized government to perform more perfectly than its under-sized cousins.
    Are you saying the belief that consumerism is bad is an attack on the concept of personal property?
    Yes. Ask any consumer. But, I think that just an interesting sidebar to the defined problem.

  10. #40
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Under the tenets of democracy, the individual is located at both locations. Do you know of any pure democracies where this is the case?
    Well, it all depends on how you choose to interpret the specific incarnation of democracy. One interpretation says that no democracy is pure, the other says they all are. Relativism and all that, eh...

    Under a democratic republic, the individual is at the micro level. Under a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the individual is at the micro level.
    In either case, why is this a priori to the question asked?
    Because the question is where we enact change. Democracy is setup on the idea that the individual represents both themselves and their fellow individuals. In a classically hierarchical system, there is a difference between what the individuals at the bottom, middle, and top represent. One speaks to no one but themselves, one speaks at the people under them and to the people above, and the top claim to represent the ideal for all.

    (The funny thing about the USA is that it was trying to get away from the classically hierarchical system, yet that's pretty much what it has ended up with.) Asking how we enact change based on a defined problem which states that there is an endemic problem with the system necessarily requires us to ask who, ultimately, is responsible? But even more specific -- who is responsible, and what are they actually responsible for?

    The individual under democracy technically carries all the power and responsibility. That's the basic idea. Practically, it's more complicated than that. And the perception has become one where "what does my one little vote count?" is a fairly normal sentiment. People aren't thinking this way for no reason.

    Some measures of an individual's environmental impact calculate industrial pollution into the individual's footprint -- but is that really accurate? Yes, the individual consumes the industrial products, but the system doesn't provide much in the way of an alternative. There's more I could go on about, but the simple point is this: the industrial complex is dependent on us, and we are dependent on it. The responsibility is thus shared. In this equation, the macro and micro are basically equal.

    For that reason, what we need is a solution that both the individual and the industrial complex can easily transition into with relatively minimal effort. Assuming we come up with a desirable plan, the next question is: what are the obstacles? Corporations are routinely vilified because the individual doesn't want to accept complicity; but realistically, because corporations are so dependent on us, they're about equally as likely to change as we are. The institution won't change if it doesn't have to, and will resist it tooth and nail. This is the institution that defines the fundamental value of our symbolic exchange system.

    The bank system is not democratic. We have no say. We could all go to the bank and withdraw all of our money and try to force a closure on the bank, but they have a safety net. Protection. Reserves. What we can do to enact change must therefore be measured against what the financial institution wants.

    So we can talk about micro and macro level change, but there's one crowd that runs at every level of society. They're neither macro nor micro, but something else.

    What is the resource under discussion?
    That's just it, isn't it? I'd argue the resource in question is money. Since the entire monetary system, locally and globally, relies on a system of indebtedness -- how do we proceed? Under basic economics, if demand can be considered roughly equivalent to debt, resource acquisition is a payment on principal. If demand (debt) is constant, payment is constant. That's the theoretical framework of disposable consumerism. Now, is it that way because it's impossible for it to be any other way? Or is it that way because that's the way the financial institutions (which govern trade and determine relative values) work?

    We can make all the suggestions we want, but I think what we really need to focus on is getting the world banks (probably CitiGroup specifically, since they control around 1/3 of the world's entire monetary capital) to change the way they attribute value to money. And yes, I'm aware that's a tall order.

    But there are certain things we could try that might cause them to react, but they would only be successful if they do react. Which brings me to monopolized power...

    A global government, eh? Wow! Didn't Dostoevsky convince you of the problem with global governments. You rail against over-sized countries but want a global government? Yes, I know! You want a limited global government but you want to give it a court and mediation system and that implies the power to enforce its decisions. Power implies lots of things but reasoned discourse is not one of them.
    So, you want to trade lots of over-sized countries for one super-sized country?
    This is one of those things... why is everyone so afraid of monopoly? I get why it's supposed to be bad for the "free" market. But in the end, a monopolized system of power inevitably winds up indebted to its users/patrons/customers/citizens. Authority only has authority if we give it authority. A monopolized force is only as powerful as we make it. That's why an impending market crash is such a big issue for our monetary system. The banks have a de facto monopoly over currency, and currency determines our access to resources. Banks only have power because every layer of society is setup relative to them.

    Like I said, we need to make the codependencies stronger -- at least more evident. The monopolized force necessarily entails vested interest in survival. You can only abuse people so much before they react negatively. There's a very important basic drive to maintain the status quo. Banks know this well. Sustainability is ultimately about maintenance.

    And you expect this super-sized government to perform more perfectly than its under-sized cousins.
    The broader the scope of the meta-governmental layer, the greater the degree of interest in maintenance. So long as it could be setup with the majority of local power based in the localities, to maintain itself the meta-government would necessarily be caught in a balancing act between trying to take power from the localities and trying to keep power in the localities. If broad enough, the meta-government couldn't effectively take power away from localities without effectively capsizing itself.

    As with religion, every strong and maintainable power system provides its own enemy. What I'm trying to suggest is a system based on internal antagonism. The more evident the inherent conflict, the more interest in maintenance. Provide the sides for people to be on.

    Yes. Ask any consumer. But, I think that just an interesting sidebar to the defined problem.
    I still think there's a way we can consume all our new toys without wasting the planet in the process. But the change has to happen in the way we ascribe value to the consumer product. Basing it on gold and rarity starts to lose applicability in a system designed on trying to get everyone to have at least one of a given thing -- something they shortly dispose of and move on to a new thing. There is some hope -- several companies are introducing "buy back" programs that become mutually beneficial, but only so far as the monetary system allows.

    I'm not proposing a move to communism, here. There are real benefits for us in the way we do things right now. Those benefits are being matched with the detractions. In the current system there may not be a way to create that balance.

    So now, HE and anyone else, let me throw it back to you (I'm getting far too Wind-Baggy McPreacherson). How do you define the problem? What would you do to change it?

  11. #41
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Another interesting element to this debate: the virtual economy.

    http://www.canada.com/topics/technol...1-8d7c542af567

    Proprietary software creatures an imaginary world which is given an economy, but users develop their own secondary internal economy based on resource acquisition and desirability, then gets translated into real dollars in the real world. If real dollars can buy virtual resources, what does that say about money and its value?

    The article forgets that this practice goes back even to Ultima Online, and in some cases further back even to text-based MUDs. But it's still an interesting situation -- I wonder how long until banks setup shop inside the virtual worlds and create regulated exchange rates. What could it possibly be based on?

  12. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Another interesting element to this debate: the virtual economy.

    http://www.canada.com/topics/technol...1-8d7c542af567

    Proprietary software creatures an imaginary world which is given an economy, but users develop their own secondary internal economy based on resource acquisition and desirability, then gets translated into real dollars in the real world. If real dollars can buy virtual resources, what does that say about money and its value?

    The article forgets that this practice goes back even to Ultima Online, and in some cases further back even to text-based MUDs. But it's still an interesting situation -- I wonder how long until banks setup shop inside the virtual worlds and create regulated exchange rates. What could it possibly be based on?
    I believe Second Life and Project Entropia both have bank managed exchange rates.

    There are other similar phenomenon such as e-gold that are equally as frightening.

  13. #43
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo
    How do you define the problem? What would you do to change it?
    Like this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Problem Definition
    Consumerism as the basis for an economy has problems; that among these are dwindling and wasted resources, the breakdown of human connectedness, and the certain consequence of an ugly period of adjustment that must accompany its falling from grace.
    I'd start with a resource that impacts human connectedness. I'd develop a plan for dealing with that issue. Then, I'd sell the plan so that most folk join in the implementation. And I'd use the 'system' to make it happen knowing full well that using the system reinforces the system. It is also the one certain peaceful mode of changing the system.
    To make a plan, I need to know what the end state looks like. For example, saying I want the world to be oil independent says nothing at all and makes the task of removing the dependency improbable if not impossible. So, here's what I think the end state looks like:
    A steady-state population spread out more or less evenly across the globe with water, food, and shelter available to all. Human connectedness depends upon meeting survival needs, safety and security needs.
    Consequently, the first order of business is to work on the global water supply, i.e., making the water supply global. Why is it first? Because the world can exist with little or no oil, not comfortably, but it can exist. It cannot exist without water. On the other hand, if water was not an issue in the Middle East or Africa or the Outback or the Sonororan Desert or the Gobi, then food might be less of an issue. If food is less of an issue, then shelter becomes more manageable. When shelter is manageable, people have time to begin considering the fact that there are other people in the world.
    So, my first priority is making it rain in places where it doesn't often rain. My next priority is working the water purification issue to make all water usuable. And my third priority is cleaning up all the fresh water sources on the globe.

  14. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Like this:

    I'd start with a resource that impacts human connectedness. I'd develop a plan for dealing with that issue. Then, I'd sell the plan so that most folk join in the implementation. And I'd use the 'system' to make it happen knowing full well that using the system reinforces the system. It is also the one certain peaceful mode of changing the system.
    To make a plan, I need to know what the end state looks like. For example, saying I want the world to be oil independent says nothing at all and makes the task of removing the dependency improbable if not impossible. So, here's what I think the end state looks like:
    A steady-state population spread out more or less evenly across the globe with water, food, and shelter available to all. Human connectedness depends upon meeting survival needs, safety and security needs.
    Consequently, the first order of business is to work on the global water supply, i.e., making the water supply global. Why is it first? Because the world can exist with little or no oil, not comfortably, but it can exist. It cannot exist without water. On the other hand, if water was not an issue in the Middle East or Africa or the Outback or the Sonororan Desert or the Gobi, then food might be less of an issue. If food is less of an issue, then shelter becomes more manageable. When shelter is manageable, people have time to begin considering the fact that there are other people in the world.
    So, my first priority is making it rain in places where it doesn't often rain. My next priority is working the water purification issue to make all water usuable. And my third priority is cleaning up all the fresh water sources on the globe.
    How would you measure the improvement?

  15. #45
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I suggest we all strip naked, fornicate wantonly, eat fruits and vegetables that grow naturally, eat peyote mushrooms whenever we choose, live communally without any papers from the local city hall, forget about money and labels and status symbols (other than the obvious under the circumstances described) and want only what we need to accomplish the above.

    Wow! Sounds like the 60's.

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