Friday, October 30, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Know I Have A Compass Here Somewhere....

Between 1949 and 1956 China, a nation of hundreds of millions, transformed herself from the semi-feudal wreckage of decades-long warfare to a stable society providing at least sustenance and governance to all. This in itself is remarkable, but even more remarkable is the manner in which it was done- by the largely verbal and person-to-person transmission of homilies, just as the simple maxims in Mao's Red Book had served the Red Army.

And you have to ask yourself, how far adrift had that society gone, that the simple imposition of common sense and some rule of law could create such a striking change?

And then you look at our own society, with the airwaves ruled by the ranting of insane rightwingers, and a Congress soundly rejecting the progressive views of the citizens, and you start to realize how far adrift a society can go- before the big crash.

The problem is not that there are no precedents for an oligarchy ruling by gangsterism and mob violence. The problem is that there are all too many- and they have all ended badly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Almost Writes Itself

Storyline for a book or screen play-

The US and Canada, determined to maintain the intensely suburban lifestyles only they enjoy, are hoisting an 18-mile pipe into the atmosphere to pump sulfuric waste from the Alberta oil sands into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun and threatening crops worldwide. The other nations of the earth join together in an effort to stop them, an effort made difficult or perhaps impossible by the two oceans defending the North American continent and the military pre-eminence of the USA. Plot, counterplot, and battle unfold under eerie orange skies.

How can this not be thrilling? And how can it not contain numerous women in shorts because of the heat? Move over James Bond, there's a new storyline in town.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who's Crazy Now?

"Stiff competition from thousands of America's mom-and-pop marijuana farmers threatens the bottom line for powerful Mexican drug organizations in a way that decades of arrests and seizures have not, according to law-enforcement officials and pot growers in the United States and Mexico."

That's the lead paragraph in a recent article about the failure of the law enforcement approach to drug regulation.

Let's be perfectly clear- putting the police in charge made things worse, exactly as predicted by every major study over the course of a century. They have made things incalculably worse, costing the US economy at least $3-$4 trillion as they became cruel and corrupt in the pursuit of their prey- enough to have built every mile of limited access highway in the entire nation.

And all that needed to happen to put us on the right track was to protect a small, but unusually energetic, portion of the population from the predations of the police. So much for the media image of the spaced-out stoner- it seems these "laid back" dopers have accomplished in a few years a goal that has eluded the massed efforts of all of the police forces of North America for half a century.

Could America's pot smokers have a little respect now? Probably not, in a nation whose main commerce is the marketing of artificial distinction. You can't turn the ship on a dime, but at least now the shining beacon can be clearly seen. Having predicted this outcome 42 years ago, I do not stand corrected. And it feels damn good.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cutting the Gordian Knot

The great evil of our Senatorial system is that industries can buy, on the cheap, Senators from sparsely populated states. Buying the Senator from Montana costs only a fraction of what it costs to buy the Senator from New York. In this way, industries can block needed change by buying three or four Senators, or even, if needed, ten.

The only way out of this is to restore simple majority rule in the Senate, making it more expensive for industries to buy enough Senators. Certainly, requiring them to buy 11 Senators will not bankrupt them, but it would be a good deal more expensive for them than buying one or two, as they have done with Senator Baucus.