Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Dock of the Bay

If you sit and watch, you begin to see a virtual swirl of existence. The cacophony of all of it tends to totally occupy our senses. What means this impingement upon our health of this strange malady called "swine flu"? When will the markets reach bottom and bring the cooling winds of economic recovery? What about energy and the lack thereof that we try to grasp and connect to the lack of economic growth and its resultant lack of jobs?

Some of the people still think in classical terms: Terms such as this is just a temporary slowing of the economy; we will be saved by technological breakthroughs that will permit a return to the past where labor and capital continue the minuet of getting, giving and using limited resources; and that only thinking despairing thoughts will prevent this return to "normalcy."

Too often we tend to misaim the power of positive thinking. Thinking positive about the future is essential to our survival and creation of the different order which will come despite protests against it. Thinking positive must be used in realistic terms, however, to realize the full value of that intellectual tool. Despite the desire to obtain great monetary wealth to which some people still direct their energies, a better practice might be to think realistically in terms of shelter, food and medical care for ourselves and our loved ones.

Instead of taking great joy in spending our life energy in climbing a corporate ladder by selling intangibles, there is an undercurrent flowing that says these activities are not better than the entrepreneur who seeks to grow food on smaller plots of land, or raise fish, chickens and another animals in a harmonious cycle where all of the activities complement each other.

Speculation, whether in real estate or stocks, is the epitome of greed and brings a veritable feast to the drive within the human animal to outcompete the rest of the herd of humankind. It also brings great pain since speculation is nothing more than the capturing of life energy of human participants through their exploitation of finite resources until there is no more energy to capture or resources to exploit. The great "ponzi" scheme then collapses. Eventually, the resources expire or the needs of the population that drive speculation begin to dwindle as population stops growing.

Sitting on the dock offers a great view of the goings and comings of humankind and beautifully illustrates the futility of speculation. The ocean and cool breezes remind us that the best things in this life are free.



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is here. Garden planting time has arrived. Already the squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are sprouting. Now the digging of holes for transplant of these vegetable plants is upon us. It is a good time and a time for reflection.

My hand guides the spade as it uncovers the leaves and digs the holes, and a sense of doing something productive blossoms deep inside. For one dark moment, I think of the past; the paths not taken. The ghosts of departed friends and loved ones rise from my memory for a moment. Introspection is not all bad, but too much can be bad for the best of us. It is best to look ahead even though that future path is much shorter than it seemed at previous planting times.

What is ahead? Will the current economic depression run its course to a return of the ways of years past? If not, will the new order that emerges bear any resemblance to the capitalistic economy of today? The answer to these questions is one worth pondering.

America is the undisputed leader of the modern world. Like the rest of that world, we are going through a bad time. We take great and justified pride in our newly elected national leadership. Finally our leader speaks and points to the problem. It is energy, he says. We nod in total agreement. Our economic system is locked up and credit needs to flow again, he says. Some of us wonder what this means and its connection to energy. Some even turn their heads away as the leadership asks and receives money to fund some needed projects to employ citizens. Many more become rightfully concerned as sums of public funds go to what we perceive as undeserving recipients like banks and officials of the financial oligarchy.

The largest concern is whether the need for economic growth espoused by the leadership means a type of growth that bears the same markings and characteristics of the system that resulted in the present disarray of greed and disregard for the planet's resources. Many citizens think so and disillusionment is growing.

An agrarian past grew to an industrial present and ultimately to the physical and moral bankruptcy of the world economy as resources were devoured by an ever growing population. A future looms and the major concern is what will it look like?

Before we grow too impatient with the leadership of our nation, perhaps a view of transitions in the past is not out of order. Remember that those changes did not happen all at once. There was resistance to change. Wars were fought. Pestilence entered our world and took away many a poor soul. Ultimately though, the evolution of change made its inexorable way forward and those who stood against it perished.

So it is with the present situation. Old ways of thinking must and will change. Some of the change will result from enlightening of individuals. Some of it will sadly result from deathly struggles resulting in the obliteration of those who refuse to change. Technology will provide some light for the way forward. As always, the future is there. The question is whether we in a collective sense shall shape it, or be shaped by it?