Saturday, October 31, 2020


 Never had I heard of “well-being economics” in the past.  Now I have in this essay.

Dirk Philipsen  is an economic historian and wellbeing economics advocate who teaches public policy and history at Duke University in North Carolina. He is also a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

Here he is in person:

Suspicious me, I don’t think you’ll read this essay yourself, so I’ll cherry pick.  This is useful in part because it is a survey of writing that supports and guides what is “well-being”, quite in contrast to golden toilets and bezillion dollar debt paid for with one’s soul.  Each section is from this essay at different points.

In preindustrial societies, cooperation represented naked necessity for survival. 

We likely fear, with good reason, that, in all the self-promotion, we can no longer rely on others to be there for us, to provide us with consistent work, a stable community, a bit of love and kindness.

Most definitions of mainstream economics are based on some version of Lionel Robbin’s 1932 definition as the ‘efficient allocation of scarce resources’. —Not surprisingly, the guiding star for success, of both policymakers and economists around the world, is a crude, if convenient metric – GDP – that does nothing but indiscriminately count final output (more stuff), independent of whether it’s good or bad, whether it creates wellbeing or harm, and notwithstanding that its ongoing growth is unsustainable.

In reality, we collaborate, organise together, show love and solidarity – as the Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom documented in her book Governing the Commons (1990) – in the process invariably creating common rules and values that organise communal life.

The particular version of the ‘private as property’ likely has its origins in the Roman empire. It comes with the notion of absolute dominion – denoting one’s right to have full control over one’s property. Initially, such dominion was exercised by the male head of household, over both things and people.

In order for the law not to put its boot on your neck, your theft has to come at white-collar scale and the sanction of power.

No bodies were ever more violated than those brutalised as slaves or serfs, all in the name of profit and – as authors such as Kidada Williams have documented in painstaking detail – sanctified by a vicious regime of private property. Racism, as thinkers from C L R James to Angela Davis to Barbara and Karen Fields remind us, is an essential building block to the system of private capital.

Over generations, open theft of common heritage became disguised as private property, hiding behind legal contracts and the cold fiction of money as wealth.

Legally ‘set free’ to sell their labour power, the landless were instead reduced to a state of abject poverty where they became the unwilling ‘masses’ populating the satanic mills of early industrialisation – freedom as a choice between misery or death.

Grounded in extraction and exploitation, capitalist progress carries mounting violence and destruction in its wake. The flipside of civilisation, in Walter Benjamin’s words, appears to be ‘a document of barbarism’.

‘We do not have to escape from the Earth,’ as the environmental activist Vandana Shiva exhorts us in Oneness vs the 1% (2019), ‘we have to escape from the illusions that enslave our minds

And yet, our dominant economic systems continue to follow colonial extraction and brutal exclusion, in the process creating two organically related, existential problems: the perpetuation (and in some cases intensification) of poverty, and the violation of the biophysical limits of our planet.

I wonder if the real tragedy of the private lies in separating what can function only when together, in the process excluding, individualising, destroying, alienating and, in consequence, undermining the innate creativity and resilience of a necessarily complex system of interaction – between human and human, and between human and nature.

There is one diagram in economic theory, writes Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics (2018), that ‘is so dangerous that it is never actually drawn: the long-term path of GDP growth’.

In The Value of Everything (2019), the economist Mariana Mazzucato points to an underlying flaw in thinking: ‘until now, we have confused price with value’. Economists and policymakers have created a system disconnected from the real world that privileges market transactions over our personal and planetary wellbeing.

We have an economic system, reflects Lorenzo Fioramonti in Wellbeing Economy (2017), ‘that sees no value in any human or natural resource unless it is exploited.’ The result is what the medical historian Julie Livingstone calls ‘self-devouring growth’. The triple challenges of climate change, pandemic and systemic racism highlight the deeper systemic defects.

Why not imagine a grown and healthy adult who is no longer prisoner to the regimen of ‘ever more calories’ – a mind liberated from ‘the love of money’ that the sustainability economist Tim Jackson envisioned in Prosperity Without Growth (2009).

It could be a life as imagined by theorists such as adrienne maree brown in Emergent Strategy (2017) and the young activists of the International Indigenous Youth Council, the Movement for Black Lives, Fridays for Future, the Sunrise Movement or the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. People in such groups are imagining life within stable and healthy communities, respectful of difference.

German millennials have called out their elders with the missive Ihr habt keinen Plan (2019), or ‘You Don’t Have a Plan’, and then set out to construct a vision that holds promise for future generations. The public intellectual Rutger Bregman asks us to finally stop defending the indefensible. His book Utopia for Realists (2017) is grounded in a profound realisation: many utopias are more realistic than current reality.


Each of these paragraphs is excerpted from a narrative essay in Aeon, whose goal has been to lift up the thriving and vital set of ideas that have been growing all along in contrast to the demonic ideas that came out of the rubble of the Soviet Union and the satanic practices of the worldwide mafia.  Reading the books listed here will take a lot of time and effort, but will reveal that MAGA is a perverse scam that finds you more valuable dead than alive, as long as they have their golden toilets.

Friday, October 30, 2020


 Once again my house is warm and not just because as soon as the new wall furnace was installed the weather was forecasted to go up to the Sixties, after having been at seven degrees below zero when I had no furnace.  Although, considering the obstinacy and freakiness of this new climate, nothing is impossible and all is poised for surprise.

Getting the right furnace and getting it here was the easiest part.  I bought it from Northern Tools, normally serving the east, but it came via Fed Ex while I watched the GPS progress: about a week to cross the continent.  More than a week for the installer and Northwestern Energy to get it in.  It was a half-day job.  Originally.

It wasn’t personal, but a good example of what happens when everything is controlled by massive monopoly corporations acting to maximize their profit and minimize any exposure to things going wrong — not because their deranged management failed to act but by pinning it all on the little dispensable guy who does the work.

There is a second scandalous story but it was earlier and will require some research.  Simply, it’s about pretending to “help” old ladies with low incomes while exploiting them.  I’m including the unknown reader out there who sent me a heater without asking, claiming as reference a deceased writer who exploited vulnerable women, and burdening me with the task of what to do with the damned thing since I already have three electric heaters but can only use two at a time without blowing a fuse.  But this other earlier story is not about him.  He’s irrelevant.

The High Line, named for the railroad that was built just south of the Canadian border, is a spread-out area served from Shelby, a major port of entry, by AllSeason, a franchise that does HVAC.  The Shelby manager is Peder Underdal, a Norwegian very tall man (think Max von Sydow) whose pedigree goes back to the first settlers along the High Line and Marias River.  They may have been escaping the extreme cold resulting from volcanic action that veiled the sun and prevented crops in Europe in those early years.

This is Peder’s grandfather’s obit, which is like a condensed “Montana” novel, though much is left out.

Peder is an honorable and laconic man.  My guess is that when he’s under stress he says even less than usual.  Maybe he even turns off his cell phone.  But once the furnace was safely working, he relaxed a bit and told me the above story with great pride.  The family ranch is vast and historic, including ancient camp grounds like Willow Rounds and the location of the Baker Massacre.  It’s mostly used for grazing.  Don’t tell the Blackfeet.

Northwestern Energy bought Montana Power some years ago and has set about dismantling every human aspect of it.  We used to have a rep living right here in town who shepherded us along to keep us safe.  When any subject is brought up on the internet, other mentions of that subject are sent afterwards.  I now have a huge collection of gas explosion stories, not just the gallery in Bozeman that recently blew up, killing the manager.  Of course, the line to my neighbor’s house already sent up a little geyser of hissing gas that meant the whole line had to be dug up.  Luckily, it was detected before a flame was near.  A gas leak is what exploded in the Scriver Museum of Montana Wildlife a few decades back.  

Thus, I have insisted that no more gas appliances be installed under my house.  The wall furnace is gas because electricity is not dependable here.  Hurricane winds and deep cold tear down the electrical lines and it is not feasible to bury them.  There is a wind farm of huge turbines a few miles from town but luckily none has fallen or given anyone cancer. The electricity it generates cannot be accessed locally.

When I asked for someone to turn off my gas meter because nothing was drawing on it, the man who came was named Blake, according to the tag on his crisp uniform.  He was more English and talkative, explaining as he went.  The meter was ancient and leaking gas.  Replacing it with a new one was a horrendous job but he was tough and tenacious enough to do it.  In the end he was not so crisply clean.  He locked it before he left, explaining that only after he approved any new appliances could it be turned on. His code was very particular.

So that was the new problem: playing tag with schedules, commitments and emergencies in a territory that takes an hour to drive between towns.  After days of this I broke.  Weeping with misery, frustration and terror as I feared a winter with no furnace, I think I finally became real to these two men.  They made it their business to get here at the same time and get the job done.

Yesterday I stood behind the screen door and listened to Peder and Blake visit as they met for the first time.  Both explained the interferences that had so complicated everything.  No one apologized.  It just happened.  Both felt badly that there was so much SNAFU.

In the meantime the role of the women in the offices was to keep track and assure me everyone was doing their best.  It took a while for me to find the emergency number for NWEnergy.  I think they don’t like to admit that there ARE emergencies -- if there are survivors.  The first woman I dealt with was reasonable and helpful.  The second woman the next day was the same though I had to explain everything again.  The third woman wanted to know whether I had a second house to stay in.  She also wanted my “Sosh.”  She was a mush-mouth who talked very fast and had trouble with her computer.  These women work from home, because of the pandemic, so they have no one else as in an office to help them.

The town had no interest in what was happening to cause so many trucks to be parked at my house.  There have been such trucks at most houses all summer.  Many people here feel that secrecy is the only safety and that people who know what you’re doing will only attack and criticize.  Across the street my best neighbor, a contractor, left for Phoenix in a giant recreational trailer.  


San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to ban gasappliances in new and significantly renovated city buildings. It's just the beginning, officials say: The board also passed a law to give incentives for all-electric construction, paving the way for a possible gas ban in all new buildings this year.Jan 19, 2020

Thursday, October 29, 2020


Fresh out of seminary in Chicago, from 1982 to 1985 I served a coalition of four Montana fellowships which were the Unitarian Universalist solution for congregations too small to be considered “churches.”  They met in homes, like the earliest Christians, or in small public spaces like schools or the buildings of larger denominations.  Someone brought along the symbolic chalice with a flame in it.  I carried with me a glass compote, normally used to serve marmalade, with a fat candle in the middle.

In those days they told us that only two or three in a thousand people were naturally UU’s so, for example, in Valier pop.300 there would be only a third of one person to be the basis of a congregation.  We’ve over-achieved, since I’m an entire person.  In fact, I’ve spoken to several people in town whose thoughts are very much in line with UU ideas.  They are usually “unchurched”.

The Missoula congregation was housed in a building that once belonged to Leslie Fiedler, a renegade free-thinking academic who had sold the UU’s the house in hopes of offending the mainstream.  The congregation had a taxation problem in that the top floor was a kind of apartment which one set of leaders offered free to a woman who had been abused.  Their idea was that it was a charitable refuge.  The tax people thought otherwise.  It was a stalemate until she moved out for another reason.

If she had been the minister, that floor of the house would have remained non-taxable.  In fact, the next minister did live there.  He was a retired single man without much income nor many needs.

In 1988 I walked out of service to UU congregations, asking myself as Judith Walker-Riggs puts it, “What did we think we were doing?”  She was born the same year as me but had been ordained fifty years earlier.  She did a lot more than I ever thought of, but I was beginning to think I was just unsuited for ministry.  I came back to Browning where I had spent the Sixties, my happiest years.

The Methodist congregation had just lost its minister once, and then lost the replacement in a matter of months.  So they asked me to take the pulpit for a year for the payment simply of living in the parsonage to keep it tax free.  It was a good year, but I still didn’t think I was a natural minister.

The trouble is in the idea of the INSTITUTION, the church.  To most Americans church IS religion; religion IS about God and nothing else; religious leaders don’t need any college education — just to be inspired.  That’s the formality.  The reality is more like being a bingo-calling, potluck organizing, funeral whitewashing, figure of propriety with no power.  Americans can’t distinguish between power and emotion, nor between money and success.  

My education was in terms of Comparative Religion and History of Religion in many different places under many different circumstances.  Churches were not necessary, God was not a useful concept, personal virtue was not the same as beliefs, ritual ceremonies were startling, and religious institutions that collaborated with the state were often murderous, justifying genocide on ground of heresy.

When people’s horizons only went as far as the next mountain or river, this was pretty easy to manage.  Today, I had a conversation with a clerk at the local momandpop in which he told me that had once attended a divinity school, then when God evaporated went to a biology degree and taught science.  He compares his outlook to Buddhism.  

This is not unusual, in fact it is common among youngsters and those who accept modern science, finding it far more awe-inspiring than even social change or individual therapeutic stances.  “Spiritual but not Religious” is a category used in titles and to describe organizations.  How does the government either tax or exempt people who are “spiritual” but not institutional?

It’s just part of the chaos swirling this collision of galaxies one of which belongs to those white-haired “believers” in a construct that is now obviously as much governmental as religious versus a construct that has nothing to do with buildings or ordination of clergy?  All the time the bullies were trying to make people believe in dogma, they were off somewhere else watching the skies.  We used to joke that it was hard to get UU’s to join congregations because they didn’t like coming indoors.

But if everyone is a free-thinker who doesn’t bother with paying taxes because there’s nothing to tax except their ideas, then what is there to exempt?  No longer can the government fiddle the definition of religion in order to use taxation as a control.  Will the mega-churches based on capitalist success still survive if they are defined as NOT religious but only hiding behind the concept?

If charitable organizations as well as religious bodies qualify as doing good to society and therefore deserving tax exemption, why can’t individuals?  Why isn’t taxation exempted for truly spiritual people?  And why do we continue to consider Mother Theresa spiritual when she hoarded a fortune she could have spent on sick and starving children?

Society is not rational.  Most individuals get their ideas about huge moral issues from stories told by the media which is controlled by rich people who secretly think MORE of Mother Theresa for hoarding, that she had discovered how to monetize sick and dying children.

These days I’m not taxed because I’m below the poverty line.  It’s hard to know whether this is a praiseworthy restraint on my part, or simply beneath contempt.  It gives me freedom to explore “spiritual” matters and even question what that is?  What IS the meaning of life?  I get 1,000 readers a day on this blog, but they are not a congregation.  I am ordained, which means only endorsed by the UUA as recommended by the Montana fellowships of 1982.  Some grew, one died, most don’t believe in God but consider themselves religious, and only two have buildings on which they pay no taxes.  Some of them think that as citizens, they ought to.  None has a lot of money.

If more info is wanted, this is interesting, but the guy is way behind the times.  Most lawyers know nothing about religious thought at the leading edge.  Nor are "writer's rooms" any smarter. 


Decades ago when I was the education coordinator for Multnomah County Animal Control (Portland, OR) I attended a conference about animal law sponsored by Lewis and Clark Law School.  This slightly eclectic private law school has an excellent reputation and is located near Lewis and Clark College, which is similar, but not the same.  Both claim to be “global.”  This was how they approached things like the traffic in exotic animals as well as urban dilemmas about animal bad behavior.

One of the most impressive speakers introduced us to the idea that the big “macro” laws like constitutions and treaties, often have less to do with justice than the “little” laws framed as administration or regulations, often changed or initiated or abridged without any notice or even particular rationale except for economics.  Many of these apply to capturing, buying, selling, welfare, disease control and so on — all about the pet trade, or the unsophisticated countries where a rhinoceros horn is a prestigious dagger, or a bear gall bladder is supposed to cure something or other.  Many of these seemingly inconsequential rules guard against dangerous things we encountered, like the fellow who kept a tiger in his yard or the elephant that went rogue in Hawaii.

But we are discovering now how crucial these “rules” are to the Covid pandemic and the right to vote.  By fiddling with requirements and time-limits, the results of national elections can be controlled.  This is the level of law that Trumpists want to destroy — the regulators, the administrators, the inspectors whom they see as obstacles to profit.  Profit is everything, beyond honor and unforeseen consequences.  Something as simple as a plain cloth mask is demonized all over again.

At one point the wholesaler in North Central Montana who supplied bread to the local momandpop store decided it wasn’t worth his while to drive to such a small place.  No rule stopped him.  But when someone local thought this might be a good opportunity to start a town bakery, a storm of health regulations and stipulations about commercial bakeries hit that person.  I’ve been waiting for someone to invoke them against Folklore Coffee, which is Starbucks-level quality but a small local startup business.

At one point in my clerical specialist role for the City of Portland Bureau of Buildings, my daily task was to update the city regulations that we kept on a long windowsill because there were a dozen books and they constantly expanded.  Every day I took some pages out and put a handful of new pages in.  I expect that by now the books are online and posting them is a second chore, because the physical books need to remain.  Even the cloud can be hacked.

If you’ve been following, you know that I’ve had no furnace for weeks, getting by on portable heaters and an electrical mattress pad that the cats love.  Regulations and standards are crucial to gas installations because of the potential explosions like the one that demolished a gallery on the main street in Bozeman, killing the manager.  One or another restriction has constantly tripped a new delay on my furnace, day after day, from ancient and leaking gas meter, to not working on weekends, to a deadly storm that took the temp to seven degrees below zero, to not having a small part on hand, to using a nonconforming pipe (flexible steel-reinforced) that would not be approved outdoors in order to deliver heat — it’s been grueling.

Montana is a state that attracts law breakers because, true to form, our legislators — like Daines and Gianforte — feel free to ignore laws and strangle media people who oppose them.  Gas installers here don’t necessarily need anything in the way of qualification or training, unless they might belong to a franchise that asks for that in case of lawsuits.  Our MD’s can escape monitoring of lawsuits, and competing versions of low-level health care abound.  Partly it’s residual defiance from frontier days — which is how the dubiously motivated love to frame it — and partly it’s that the population is increasing and the technology is out on the edge, no longer about a guy with a strong back and an idea about resources.  And SURPRISE!  The “Indians” are still here and smarter and more powerful than ever.

Funny regulations persist about buggy whips or something else obsolete.  Trump thinks women still stay home and wash the dishes by hand.  Legislators, esp. the Repub Senate, are so old they can hardly see to read, but they run young cynical staffs who search endlessly for loopholes and evasion.  The Rule of Law is a concept that is mocked.

When rationally worked-out standards and limits are developed, that’s one  thing.  Add the lawyer’s jots and tittles, and that complexifies it more.  Add to that the politically lobbying people who want something, and the system becomes nearly paralyzed.  Thus, sunset laws.  

My life was changed by Mike Burgwin’s organization of a citizen panel to rethink the County animal control laws.  I was the reference librarian.  Mike deliberately asked for all points on the spectrum of people with opinions, from those who hated and feared dogs to those who believed dogs were people.  (He left off Graziella Boucher, an ancient woman who was a little loopy and claimed her husky was a wolf.)  Francis Smith, an honorable lawyer who raised beagles, took on the chair and guided us ably.  In time, after much passion and puzzlement over things like how long a leash should be, the group wrote an excellent document, used as a pattern in many places.  It was for me a marker for hope.

We are not raising the kind of people who can do this.  Instead, we have teens who think their high school handbook is a video game to be outwitted and that the point of sports is only to win, regardless.

So some joker on the Mexican border imported protected parrots by duct-taping them inside the hubcaps of his car.  When border inspectors found them, the joker’s defense was that there was no rule against taping birds inside your hubcaps.  They were very dizzy and not all survived.  Does there have to be a rule?  Evidently.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


Yesterday was my birthday.  Thankfully no one noticed except my passive/aggressive cousin who does what will annoy a person by covering her rage with propriety.

My wall furnace came last week but the installer has had one excuse and circumstance after another and so has the Northwestern Energy man who controls the meter.  No one felt very sorry until I said the cats were getting sick.  Old ladies are gonna die anyway.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


When I began this post, I had three “C’s” in mind: Capital, Credit, and Crime.  But the list grew and expanded until I’ve a riot of C’s, at least one of which only sounds like a C.  This is an eco-motivated exercise in logic based on survival, which is food-based and now endangered.

Here’s my list, so far:





Keeping Book











In the beginning people in the Mediterranean, esp. Egypt -- responding to the floods of major rivers that maintained fertility -- had invented the idea of owning a particular piece of land.  This territoriality is a basic motive of many living beings, even insects.  But the floods wiped out the markers, making it necessary to invent geometry to “survey” the land and reestablish the claims.

Then the need was for some way to keep track of production from that land, sometimes by using pebbles to mark the number of sheep or bushels of wheat, and then making marks on soft clay tablets.  \/////|||\\\  like that.   (See the cuneiform sample at the top.) This was especially vital if the original producer was going to convey the profit to another place where it was worth more, but needed a record, maybe putting a pebble per sheep into a bag.

Throwing away the marked tablets didn’t seem like a good idea, even after they had hardened, so they piled up and we still have some of them.  This was the early version of bookkeeping: stacks of clay tablets.  Very solid, very real.

Then came the idea of abstraction and the capacity of the culture to understand that one could simply symbolize units of wealth with numbers, so that a person could accrue the amounts of one’s production or works.  As often happens with abstractions, the numbers came to seem real — even realer than the actual entities they represented.

Next was the invention of credit, the idea that one could loan amounts with numbers only — no need to trundle over a wheelbarrow of carrots — and then the idea that one who loaned “money” should be rewarded with “interest”, a percentage of the amount of symbolism that was loaned.  Pretty soon those who had a lot of theoretical “money” discovered that they could live on the interest alone -- IF they had access to the profits of resources, "owned" the profits.  Resources — like productive land or special work — were still the basis of the symbols of money.  If those resources were destroyed or disappeared because of something like a change in the climate, then the “money” was worthless.  There was no profit.

Gambling is at the heart of much human behavior, as far back as hunting itself.  It seems capable of profit, but in fact it’s more often like walking all day and not spotting any thing to eat.  The other deceptive trick of pretending to have money is the practice of keeping chattel, whether slaves or family members.  Whole classes are defined by chattel-keepers as fair to profit from and treat like carrots.  This is now considered immoral, so it is often disguised somehow.

But slaves are human and have aspirations of their own.  This makes the chattel-keepers violently angry and capable of destroying their own theoretical source of profit.  The labor of African or Chinese or indigenous people, the profit of bearing children, and the value of the children themselves have been valid at some points of history, but now we rebel.

Lately we have discovered how to make consumers a better source of profit by organizing them into “silos” for purposes of advertising and convincing them that in order to belong, they must dress a certain way, smell a certain way, drive a certain car, and so on.  Advertisers work to stigmatize those who don’t fit the silo they are supposed to inhabit.  This can apply to citizens who vote.

Conformity is a great source of profit from sales.  But inventing conformity reveals NONconformity.  It’s possible to make a profit from that as well.  In fact, it’s a good source of renewal for the culture.  Nonconforming women who wanted jobs instead of babies, gave a new surge of profit to the economy and so did defining the category of "gays" in order to sell to them.  

Computers -- capable of handling incredible amounts of data, far beyond any cuneiform tablet -- open the way to creating many more clever ways to use the symbolism of money to support nations and the relationships between them.  We could pretend the value of things like writing or art and give nations the right to extend the rights to “own” such things.  Nations control the right to patent inventions, though such things as intellectual property are hard to enforce.  

Somehow the law makers were convinced to pretend that businesses were the same as individuals, maybe because once they were.  Today's massive international corporations exceed nations.  By allowing multiple ownership through shares, the moral restraints on individuals were replaced by the craving for profit, theoretical or not.

At this point the Rule of Law was invented, hundreds of years earlier than one might think.  Even after new nations (like the United Colonies of America) left Britain to escape oppressive Rules of Law, they established new Rules of Law and observed them because chaos (I didn’t put it on the list) decreases profit, becomes loss.  But the people who had lots of profit controlled the devising of the laws so that they favored the rich people.  When everyone else realized, there was major chaos.  Like now.

Then the truly greedy figured out “double-bookkeeping” — that is, the practice of keeping real profits a secret in order to manipulate the purported business in the eyes of government.  Now there was corruption of the Rules of Law by exempting some people or devising a parallel secret system.  And soon Crime ruled.

Now that you’ve followed all this, you’re ready to hear about “The Deficit Myth” by Stephanie Kelton which goes back to the original national fantasy of “money,” which is still marks on paper that might as well be on clay.

"Cities (Detroit) and states (Kansas) can run into big trouble when they're not bringing in enough money to cover their expenses. Every family sitting around the kitchen table understands these realities. What they don't under­stand is why the federal government (Uncle Sam) is different.


"To understand why, we go right to the heart of MMT. MMT takes as its starting point a simple and incontrovertible fact: our national currency, the US dollar, comes from the US government, and it can't come from anywhere else -- at least not legally. Both the US Treasury and its fiscal agent, the Federal Reserve, have the authority to issue the US dollar. This might involve minting the coins in your pocket, printing up the bills in your wallet, or creating digital dollars known as reserves that exist only as electronic entries on bank balance sheets. The Treasury manufactures the coins, and the Federal Reserve creates the rest.

Got it?  Money is only what the national government says it is.  Consider who we have been electing to that government.  There were moral qualms all along, but not until the “Rule of Law” turned out to be so easy it is to slant to the rich once you’re rich, did we realize that if you don’t pay any attention to the Rule of Law, you’re into Crime.  Nor are you much better off if your Rules of Law are slanted, unfair and not really representing much of anything except control of the process.  This is “the price of democracy is eternal vigilance” part.

Now what?  C what I mean?


Another good essay for thinking about this stuff:

Monday, October 26, 2020


 I had never seen a Walrus Stampede until the most recent David Attenborough film, "A Life on our Planet".  He does not shrink from the disastrous, but I had not expected to see these huge, seemingly invincible, animals forcing each other over a cliff.  They sure ain’t lemmings.  More like bison being pushed over a piskun in the early days of the Plains tribes.

(Watch the whole movie.  It’s worth it.  The walruses going over a cliff into the sea are close to the end, just before Attenborough switches from loss over to sources of salvation that might save us from ending the Holocene era with another end of life as it exists.)

If you don’t have time for a whole movie and must save it for later, here’s a vid of a news report.

Wikipedia says: 

“A stampede is uncontrolled concerted running as an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people in which the group collectively begins running, often in an attempt to escape a perceived threat.  Non-human species associated with stampede behavior include zebras, cattle, elephants, blue wildebeests, walruseswild horses, and rhinoceroses."  

Most recent stampedes among humans that involved fatalities have been related to religion, sports, or disasters, which are just various aspects of politics, which is the name for people struggling to come to terms with the resources in their ecology.  The policy version of a stampede is a political idea that actually damages or destroys the very thing it is meant to protect, like the goofy idea of “herd immunity” or the suppression of unwanted real science.

I didn’t know about “crushes”.  This the reason I do so much research — to learn about such subtleties.  Our urban populations are at crush levels.  So are immigrant camps across the world and the crowds waiting at the national borders.  Many die.

Crushes are very often referred to as stampedes but, unlike true stampedes, they can cause many deaths. Crowd density is more important than size. A density of four people per square meter begins to be dangerous, even if the crowd is not very large.”

Experts helpfully advise us how to know we are in a “crush.Most reported "stampedes" are better understood as "progressive crowd collapses": beginning at densities of about six or seven people per square meter, individuals are pressed so closely against each other they are unable to move as individuals, and shockwaves can travel through a crowd which, at such densities, behaves somewhat like a fluid. If a single person falls, or other people reach down to help, waves of bodies can be involuntarily precipitated forward into the open space."

What can you do?  ”Get out of the crowd if possible, [if you feel you are] being touched on all four sides. A later, more serious, warning is when one feels shock waves travelling through the crowd, due to people at the back pushing forward against people at the front with nowhere to go.” 

Keith Still of the Fire Safety Engineering Group, University of Greenwich, said "Be aware of your surroundings. Look ahead. Listen to the crowd noise. If you start finding yourself in a crowd surge, wait for the surge to come, go with it, and move sideways. Keep moving with it and sideways, with it and sideways.”  This sounds a lot like the advice for escaping quicksand by lying horizontally and “swimming.”  But fire may be at your back and at your sides as well.

I’m using this as a metaphor for the Covid pandemic.  The best advice for surviving a “crush” is to always be aware of what’s going on, knowing what’s pushing from the back, knowing what’s blocking the way forward.  Former advice included getting up on a platform to look or mounting a horse.  Today a pocket cell phone can provide an overview.  A lanyard holder might be good to keep from losing this connection in a crowd.  Hope that someone is filming from a drone you can access.

Managing one’s mental horizon becomes more possible with a cell phone.  Most people think of the Covid precautions as local: the neighborhood bar or cafĂ©, the kids’ school, the hair salon  But much of the danger comes from delivery systems, international shipping, crippled manufacturing, world-wide strategy.  This is planetary.  

Dr. Fauci -- who needn’t worry about being fired anymore since he already is, without any loss of gravity and wisdom -- is suggesting that a mandate for masks needs to be national.  Maybe intercontinental.  States and counties can be irrational, making a scrap of fabric into a religious position, mostly one of dissenting, opposing, and resisting — trying to “nuke the whirlwind”.  Go back, go back, they cry like Luddites, trying to recover the identities they once had.

A pandemic is a mental “crush” fed by stampedes of herd thinking.  It’s a phenomenon as old as mammals.  Lizards don’t stampede.  They freeze and hide, like politicans losing power.  We could name them; we can still see their tails sticking out from under the rocks.

Whole cultures in the past have insisted on masks, and not long ago we reacted to that by forbidding them, so clearly masks are connected to politics, which wants to know everyone’s identity, much the same as everyone being required to be numbered.  “What’s your Sosh?” demand the smart alec clerks in offices, the ones too young to have seen anyone with their number tattooed on their arm.  

On the other hand, they say that if you are in danger of a disaster, it’s a good idea to use a felt tip to write a friend or family phone number on your arm to help with the identification of your body.  When the government uses CCTV cameras to identify people by face recognition, they do not reckon on masks, but almost instantly they were invented as distortions of appearance.  

Being unknown is a kind of power but it can be lost in a crowd.  It is also a source of unaccountability, so even as we force cops to wear body-cams, they learn how to cover their names with tape.  The individual human being who used to support law and order is now a ninja in an all-black uniform that covers the face and hangs weapons on belts around bullet-proof vests.  Indistinguishable from each other, a created species meant to cause stampedes, they duck-run in unison around our houses.

Death in a crush is caused by “Compressive asphyxia (also called chest compression)  which is mechanically limiting expansion of the lungs by compressing the torso, hence interfering with breathing.”  It’s like kneeling on a lot of necks at once.  Stampedes in hopes of crush are imposed on enemies and are criminally organized. The WH response to Covid is exactly that.  We speak of crimes of omission, which usually involve lies of omission.

The person writing in Wikipedia says that stampedes and crushes are often attributed to the brutishness or ignorance of the people involved, too dumb or wrong-headed to know better.  Trailer trash so dumb they vote for Trump and refuse masks.  Surely intelligence and planning, even simple awareness, can help prevent tragedy in this pandemic.  

Walruses who don't have enough safe places to rest because the ice has melted are as vulnerable as we are in this pandemic.  "Herd immunity" saves the few but forces all the rest to fall over the cliff.  There is no advantage.  No one can eat that many walruses.  Not even a polar bear.