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Thursday, August 7, 2014
To, Leticia Van de Putte ,
(I'm still a little unclear as to how to pronounce your last name.)
First , let me assure you that you and Ms. Davis already have my Vote.
I'll never vote Republican, even though most of our local elections are decided in the Republican Primary(which sticks in my craw.).
The local economy is something I think about, a lot.
I have some suggestions:
1. We should include Definitions of such words and phrases as “small business”, and “Entrepreneurial-ism”. Forty years of Right Wing Mindfuck* has perverted the Language...especially in regards to Economics, and Government and all things “We, the People”. When Raytheon is considered a “small business” and when AMD is considered a “small farmer”, something is askew in our definions.
In my on-line wrangling with the Right**, I long ago learned the hard lesson, that, especially when Econ. Is the topic, you must Define Everything....or Create New, Descriptive,Terminology, to replace the Poisoned Old.
Both of these avenues are quite tedious, and often overwhelming...but I've had much better luck when I employ them.
2. Local Local Local.
Decentralize, Democratize, People Size,”Small is Beautiful”.
Our current paradigm is a strange combination of “Capitalism”, , Manorialism, and Hydraulic Despotism, which is perfectly content in the fog of meaningless rhetoric and confusion.
Under the reign of “Free Market” Fundies, we have witnessed the decline of what freedom we had in the working side of life.
Barriers to Entry;
In the form of Tax Codes, Regulations and “Industry Standards”( and other euphemisms)....We have fenced ourselves out of making money.
Out here in Mason County, we have a lot of Poor People....even our “Rich Folks” are Poor, compared to Houston, etc.
And yet, we Import almost everything we need and want from outside the county.
I use the grito, “Toilet Paper as a Cottage Industry”.
There are a million things we could do, policy wise, to undo the eternal drive for Bigness.
Economies of Scale, Vertical Integration...all those sorts of thing...have, perhaps, gone beyond their usefulness. Monolithic Business Models had their uses, but at some point, the Cost Benefit Analysis of such Fictions starts leaning more heavily on the Cost-Side.
I think we've reached that point.
Sure, some things are probably easier to do, and more efficiently, by these means...but even those should be reined in,lest they get unmanageable and unaccountable.(we have the results of the 40 year experiment, all around us)
(I can go on for days on this subject. Call me anytime.)
3. We should probably figure out how to stress the fact that “Free Markets” only exist by virtue of Government, and that a free-for-all is anathema to Liberty, and to Civilisation itself. Similarly,I'm with Oliver Wendell Holmes,(paraphrasing):”Taxes are the Fee I pay for Civilisation”. That's a message that unambiguously counters the whole “Taxes=Theft” nonsense that the Thieves and Bandits have convinced us of.
4. We lose something like 40% of the electricity generated in Transmission.
It's just radiated into the air. This alone would indicate that the current model of Hydraulic Despotism should be scrutinized. A few giant powerplants,dams and such, run by giant Corps(e) and “Quasi-Governmental Entities”(LCRA), plugged into an aging and overworked Grid made of Wires, is hardly the most efficient or robust way to do things.
Since we'll hafta re-build the grid at some point, anyway...why not re-build it smarter? Build it like the Internet/Web...a million “Nodes”, a million little Powerplants. A falling tree or ice storm will never again take out whole regions.
When folks do talk about this, it's usually in regards to Solar. Wind should not be forgotten...and I mean the small to medium size windmills. Few people, out here at least,want one of those giant windmills in their neighborhood. They understand that any electricity generated thus, will likely benefit folks in the city. The necessary powerlines are ugly, too.
But I find a row of little windmills appealing. Make the rules for Grid-Tie-Ins lean towards the small. The very large will be fine, I assure you.
A concurrent investment in appliances and such that take 24-48 volts, rather than just 110/220, would be a job incubator, as well.
We shouldn't continue to neglect the potential of Methane...every living thing is a potential source of Energy. Landfills, Sewer Systems, Septic Tanks, Compost Piles, Feedlots...all emit Methane...which is just the non-fossilized version of “Natural Gas”. We all produce it, every day.
But, again, small is beautiful. Currently, it's rather easy to get a million dollar digester...given the funds...but all but impossible to purchase a small or medium size model. Wouldn't want Exxon to have to compete with an almost free and abundant resource.
5. Need I point out that the Rich and their Corps(e) and Hedgefunds and whatnot....and every other business in Texas... enjoy the protection of their own Unions?
There's one in every County...it's called the Chamber of Commerce.
There are many others, of like ilk...the numerous business roundtables, and Associations...all of these are Unions for the Owners.
The National Restaurant Association actually teaches it's members how to screw their employees, minimize taxation, bust what regular unions remain, and get around the various regs... they also lobby government.
And yet the Employees of those Member Cafes and Greasy Spoons are all but forbidden such collectivization.
To my knowledge, no-one else has taken this tack, that if businessmen can get together to work collectively for common ends, then so should their employees...or any other group.
It's only fair.
It ain't “socialism”, it's cooperation.
6. Drilling down on #2, as it pertains to Agriculture and the Food we eat...
Way out here, we can either drive 100 miles round trip to HEB, or settle for substandard, overpriced near-compost for our fruits and vegetables.
We can do the same for meat, driving past 10,000 sheep to purchase high dollar mutton from New Zealand.
But even at HEB, the produce and meat comes from far away...often overseas. There's more than a thousand cattle that comes through Mason's stock yards, every week...and I am free to purchase a steer..but then what?
The only butcher who is allowed to handle such a job is 40 miles away, and exorbitantly priced.
Federal and State Rules forbid small abattoirs and slaughter facilities.
“For safety”....but the big meat packers are hardly bastions of responsibility, when it comes to food safety...neither are the large growers and fruit and vegetable combines and wholesalers.***
And besides...with inevitably rising fuel costs, the 3000 mile tomato, or the lamb-chop from Australia should be in the process of being replaced.
Again...all these Poor People, nothing to do but work at Dairy Queen...so many surplus parts.
But I am forbidden from selling an Egg, anywhere but from my front door. If I wish to sell to the grocer, legally, I need millions of dollars in “liability insurance” and those good old economies of scale.
Otherwise, the local grocer will not purchase my eggs...or my fruit...or anything else....no matter that I produce a superior product.
The whole thing is designed to exclude the Small...and that should change.
7. Perry and the Gang have made a whole bunch of Taxpayer Money available, at low, low cost, to already rich men, and the Fictions they hide behind.
It would be swell to see similar efforts to provide Capital and Exemptions to the other end of the economic ladder, instead of the usual bitching and insults about “lazy poor people” and what passes for “welfare”. Here, again, there is abundant proof that, per Adam Smith, a more widespread distribution of the Means of Production is much better...for everyone...than Concentration of same into as few hands as possible. That radio preacher you're running against should not be let off the hook when he poo-poohs reality in service of his utopian fantasy.
And that, my friend, is what it all boils down to...Mythology vs. Objective Reality.
The latter is firmly on our side...they have nothing at all, save hot air and hollering, strangled 'facts' and charts held upside-down.
I'll stop there, but know you that I could go on and on. There's much to talk about, but we keep letting the greedheads and their vicious pets drive the conversation...and they always ask the wrong questions. It is their Goddess-given Right to believe that the Earth is Flat...but we are not obliged to let them teach Geography.
I understand that we are at a disadvantage, but I'm past tired of being all but unrepresented, and poor , and unable to do anything about it.
Keep kicking ass, please.
“I'm with you in Rockland”****,
*I use this word after a lot of thinking on the matter. The Ontological Crisis we are currently mired in, didn't just happen, after all...
** I spent a number of years studying the American Right..reading all of their foundational texts, and lurking in their Fora.
Their Dark Magicians have done a masterful job of making great swaths of the American People believe in all manner of insane and dangerous things.
*** I have been in and around all aspects of food production and preparation...from soil to plate...for most of my life.
**** from Alan Ginsberg's 'Howl'.