Environment

We humans have become increasingly aware that we live in an environment not as a dominating owner but simply as just another renter who tends to trash the apartment. Perhaps it’s the global warming issue that helps with human awareness; perhaps it’s the growing scarcity of food resources for the planet; perhaps it’s the cost to farmers when they plow the soil which strips the fields of all nutrients and plants, especially in regions where there are strong winds that carry away the soil farmers just tilled and fertilized and put weed killer down – producing poor yield in the fall.

Evidence of growing awareness is all about. TV broadcasts about gardening, farming, waste management, and collaborative sharing with the environment are frequent. Extension agencies, libraries and garden clubs sponsor programs about collaborative gardening. Mariner has a relative whose hobby is planting colorful plants around the base of trees along New York streets; mariner has a friend who has decided to let violets stay in the lawn. And mariner himself is tinkering with a number of collaborative projects in his own garden.
֎ One example is the cursed Creeping Charlie, a very rapidly spreading weed that defies elimination. It still is a killing pest in the lawns but in some garden beds mariner has decided to experiment with Creeping Charlie as the ground cover to keep other weeds out and at the same time add to the décor of the garden. It turns out that Charlie has taken hold of his new job with relish. Not even the dreaded crabgrass can sprout beneath a robust covering of Creeping Charlie. In fact, mariner is saving money because he doesn’t have to buy mulch for those areas.

֎ Another experiment is mariner’s tolerance of a rambunctious mole. He must protect against the mole’s burrowing in vegetable beds where seedlings are emerging but otherwise he has let the mole venture about. Tolerance by the mariner is an experiment to see how many Japanese beetle grubs can be eaten; mariner has many fruit and ornamental trees on a property surrounded on all sides by large concrete pads and accompanying large garages. All beetles come to mariner’s garden.

An unexpected reward is the mole gradually aerates the lawn. Typically, a lawn keeper occasionally will need to rent an aerating device to pull plugs from the lawn so it can grow and accept water. Mariner keeps his lawn a bit high (another anti-weed collaboration rather than performing the typical buzz cut) so the lumps from the mole burrowing aren’t noticeable.

Mariner has mentioned in past posts that his town has lawn Nazis. It is of a different spirit, certainly not one of collaboration with nature but comparatively speaking takes more time, labor and cash to maintain. This difference between collaboration with and dominance of nature has existed throughout history from the first scraping of the ground to cast wheat seeds to the large open mining pits and deliberate elimination of forests today.

In just a few years many farmers have proven that any way to collaborate with the environment is more productive, less expensive, saves waste and is good for surrounding atmosphere, water and wildlife. One common practice by farmers that has been implemented for many decades is a natural easement by creeks and rivers rather than plowing closer to the water’s edge.[1] It is entertaining to work with nature as a partner – both existentially and philosophically. What projects does the reader have?

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] An excellent documentary on collaborative farming, ‘Kiss the Ground’, is available on Netflix but the reader must search ‘The Littlest Farm’ – the title is in error. The Littlest Farm also is an excellent film about how a family uses nature to transform virtual wasteland into a productive farm but mariner could find it only as a rental or purchase. 3 minute trailers are available online for both films.

The good old, old, really old days

Mariner officially retired from his professions around the age of sixty-seven. He can’t speak for other retirees but he has drifted away from modern innovations and new technologies. Each year he finds himself respecting minimalism more. Not so much a minimalist as it relates to the arts but more like Jacob Amman, the founder of the Amish movement who lived before the Industrial Revolution; more like homesteaders living only with biodegradable resources. If mariner were still within the normal age span of a Homo sapiens, he might just go out of town somewhere, buy a few acres and adopt a pre-industrial lifestyle.

Mariner speaks to his predispositions as a preface to the movement by the Indian government to eliminate small farm, one family economics in favor of industrializing agriculture. 300,000 farmers marched in protest and continued to harass the government by blocking public roads and other public services. Unions representing 14 million truck drivers support the farmers. Further, the corporations would dictate prices – a move that would starve out small farmers (Just like the US poultry industry today). The sudden lurching from a small farm culture into a corporate-driven culture in less than two years adds to the consternation.

Mariner remembers in the 1960’s – 1970’s when his county in Iowa suffered a similar decline in farm population and a real estate market that forced small-farm land to be sold to larger, industrialized farms. In 1960, the average acre of land in his county cost $223/acre. In 1975 the average acre of land cost $965/acre. The price of land alone eliminated small farm economics.

The cultural side of agricultural industrialization is mariner’s town. In just ten years, the town went from a bustling, positive society to the beginning of a commercially dying town. In 1960 the county population was 44,207; in 2018 the population was 34,055. The largest cities in the county have roughly the same population over this period. In other words, something like 10,000 people from rural areas have disappeared.

Mariner’s home town is close enough to the cities to survive as a bedroom town with many farm family retirees but the vitality, the agricultural smell of its commerce has disappeared. Mariner’s wife and neighbors remember in the 1960’s everyone knew everyone else; that is not the case today.

Mariner visited his auto repair shop in town the other day. He and the owner reminisced about the old days when one could grow their own automobiles – otherwise known as horses and mules.

To all supernumeraries, the world grows more alien by the day.

Ancient Mariner

 

As the World Turns

One of the characteristics of life today is that there is a sense among people around the world that something just isn’t right. The global nature of this uneasiness makes it difficult for each citizen to identify cause and effect and to take some reasonable action to set things right.

֎ One of the most notable in its cause and effect is the uprising in 31 democratic nations, including the U.S., of rebellion against the government. The nature of rebellion can lead to disruption of government oversight or even to organized and deadly attacks on government. Already many important nations have suffered a collapse in democratic government that has been replaced with authoritarianism.

֎ Another international crisis that slowly increases is the amount of resources available to sustain the world’s population. The most notable evidence is the slow accumulation of excessive wealth for the elite around the world versus growing poverty and public stress. The community of nations has been derelict in its obligation to ‘change with the times’ as today’s economies begin to falter under the imbalance of global resources and its effects.

֎ Still too political for its own good, the response to global warming and climate change remains inadequate. Most scientists doubt that any meaningful effort this late will slow warming for the next century. The primary cause and effect is the relocation of tens of millions of citizens around the planet who will (and are) suffer from sea rise, loss of potable water, disruption of lifestyle and jobs, and massive migrations much larger than migrations away from violence and collapsed economies that occur today.

A tie-in with the global resource issue will be the stress on virtually every large agricultural area in the world. Even the United States will have to deal with crops grown in the Dixie region as the weather there becomes more like Arizona and New Mexico.

֎ Finally, but probably not least, is the massive destruction of the planet’s ecosystem by the human species. The ‘intelligent’ humans have learned how to steal and ravage Mother Nature for human convenience and profit. Mother Nature, however, can be a bitch and will deal with imbalances in her desire to keep a balanced environment.

The point is this: Because of technology, industrialism, class discrimination, resources, weather and everything else, humanity has reached a point where individual nations can no longer solve global problems. The requirement to feed the world requires an international consortium of super-nations that can address the economic stress.

Already China has begun to move in this direction by creating closed supply chain relationships with other nations; interestingly, the idea of a super-American nation comprised of Canada, Mexico and the United States has been around for well more than a century. Unlike the European Union, which tried to sustain nationalism by allowing each nation to keep its own currency, the new consortiums will operate as one nation with one ‘dollar’ used in a common economy.

The pandemic has expedited these issues to the very front of our twentieth century society’s attention.

The future is in the hands of the electorate. Has anyone seen Chicken Little?

Ancient Mariner

On Being a Stick

A stick always has two ends – if it has been broken from its tree. When it is attached to the tree, it is part of a larger presence, something that has evidence of a higher calling as part of nature. It is true that the branch (it is not a stick until it is separated) or even the entire tree may be dying or dead. Still, there is an aura of purpose, a part of the grand scheme for the planet’s biosphere.

Is the human species a stick or a branch? There is much evidence that humans have ceased being a branch; humans do not enhance the growth of the biomass, its natural balances or its evolutionary progression. The only human value to the world’s natural environment is species decomposition as mulch for the planet’s grand scheme, the same as a stick.

Unfortunately, on its path to mulch, the human stick exudes bile and poison and extinction to any environment around it. As Roundup is to vegetation, humans are to the environment.

The mariner, in spirit at least, has evolved into a minimalist. Three cheers to the ten million homestead families in the United States alone who have chosen to escape from the grist mill of human economies and who have returned to living only as the world around them will tolerate. Three cheers for the Amish who have sensed a limit to what nature will tolerate. There is no profit in nature, only balance. Ignored by the human species in pursuit of profit, the planet will tolerate only so much. The human species may end up being mulch, like a stick.

It is proven that humans alone are responsible for the extinction of 16,000 species since 1850. It is the combustion engine and energy production that has led to climate change, with seas rising more rapidly every year and forcing devastating shifts in weather patterns around the world. Human efforts in chemistry have improved war to the extent that a nuclear bomb can eliminate life, human and otherwise, in an entire city in one day.

Finally, artificial intelligence, a human contrivance, likely will eliminate the independent spirit of the human species. As independence fades, mulching grows nearer.

Ancient Mariner

 

Earth Overshoot Day

Yesterday, July 29, was Earth Overshoot Day. Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) is that day in a calendar year when humans have consumed what the planet can restore in one year. With very few exceptions, each year since 1969 a new record has been set in that EOD happens earlier in the year. In other words, during 2019 humans have consumed in seven months what it takes the planet a year to replace.

Do the math. This can’t go on forever. In 2019 humans consumed planet resources at 1.7 times what the Earth can provide. All the environmental programs in the world can’t keep up at that rate. Even mariner’s beloved Chesapeake Bay, a cornucopia of sea life, is threadbare from excessive fishing.

Many of the resources similar to those in the Amazon rain forest cannot be restored even over generations. Fresh water, that is at least somewhat potable, is becoming too scarce for society to survive in certain regions; the fastest growing landscape around the world is desert.

It’s not just creatures and environment. Bauxite, the principal ore for aluminum, has about thirty years left at today’s consumption rate. Even Helium provokes concern not that it will be depleted but that the availability already is close to consumption. There may come a day when one will not be allowed to fill balloons with Helium!

In the United States and perhaps in all the industrially developed nations, consumption has spoiled a majority of the citizens. Mariner remembers in his childhood the first time he had three different fresh berries in his cereal at one time. Folks get used to abundance. It is interesting, too, that part of the role of progress is to keep abundant consumption easily available.

EOD, among many issues, has made citizens aware of wastefulness. The use of cows to provide protein is a popular issue. Raising cattle requires land, machinery, feed, and time that far outweighs the cost of “ourselves eating the grass in the first place”; using the grain family to provide protein is immeasurably more efficient – why let the cows eat it first?

Large corporations like Proctor and Gamble are actively looking for a replacement for single-use plastics. There is so much waste in the US that it has been shipped to a half dozen other nations for processing. The volume is so great that these countries have stopped receiving US trash. What will the US do with it? The sensible answer is to stop producing it.

Other than surrealistic agronomic solutions to offset wasteful consumption of the environment, other than preventing mining, deforestation and excessive entrepreneurship to abuse the biosphere, EOD can be extended purely by self-conscious conservation. Is someone enjoying being too fat – beyond normal body types? Contribute to extending EOD by eating less and stop consuming frivolously – that includes all of life’s purchases not just food. In mariner’s town, every family seems to own at least five gas or electric yard toys. Could a little more elbow grease push the EOD later in the year?

Mariner’s mind wanders speculatively. Today, environmentalism, eliminating gourmand behavior in everything, and commitment to a better world by every definition can significantly delay the Armageddon of a world consumed.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Good and Bad

֎ A number of polls suggest that Democratic voters now consider climate change to be a top-tier issue, as important as health care. Perhaps even more remarkably, the party’s presidential candidates seem to be taking that interest seriously. Jay Inslee has staked his candidacy on the issue; Beto O’Rourke has used a climate proposal to revive his flagging campaign; and Elizabeth Warren has cited the warming planet across a wide set of her famous plans. Three cheers for the electorate.

– – – –

֎ Forget Donald’s public display of attention-getting rhetoric. His real damage is occurring in his cabinet – which isn’t eager to have attention brought to it. Every sector of the cabinet is on a destructive warpath against civility, science, housing, environment, business regulations, domestic fairness and Obama. NPR did a special report on Donald’s war against the poor. Mariner provides an exegesis below but he seriously encourages the reader to visit the NPR article. (https://www.npr.org/2019/06/11/730639328/trump-wants-to-limit-aid-for-low-income-americans-a-look-at-his-proposals?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190611&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews&utm_id=39748169 )

Food aid

Trump Signs Farm Bill, Backs Rule Sidestepping Congress on More Work for Food Stamps

◾ The Department of Agriculture has called for stricter enforcement of a requirement that able-bodied adults work, volunteer or get job training for at least 20 hours a week to continue getting their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, after three months. 750,000 SNAP recipients will likely have their benefits cut off.

 

Payday loans and Debt Traps

◾ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed rescinding an Obama-era regulation that would require payday lenders to determine whether a borrower has the ability to repay the loan. That regulation was intended to prevent low-income borrowers from becoming saddled with ballooning debt because payday loans can carry annual interest rates of 300% or more.

 

Trump Administration Considering Changes That Would Redefine the Poverty Line

◾ The Office of Management and Budget is considering whether to recalculate the official poverty line using a different inflation measure.

 

Fear of Deportation or Green Card Denial Deters Some Parents from Getting Kids Care

◾ The Department of Homeland Security has proposed limiting the ability of immigrants to get green cards if they receive government benefits, such as SNAP or housing aid. Social service providers have already seen a big drop in immigrant families signing up for assistance, including Medicaid and SNAP, because of fears that it could hurt their efforts to get green cards or become citizens.

◾ President Trump signed a memorandum May 23 calling on federal agencies to enforce a law requiring those who sponsor green card holders to reimburse government agencies for the cost of any public benefits used by the immigrant.

 

Housing

Proposed housing Rule Could Evict 55,000 Children from Subsidized Housing

◾ The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a rule that would deny housing assistance to families with one or more members who are undocumented immigrants. The administration notes that those in the country illegally are not eligible for housing aid, although HUD now prorates rental assistance for such “mixed status” families to take that into account. By HUD’s own estimate, 55,000 children who are either citizens or legal residents could lose their housing as a result of the move. Critics call the proposal “cruel” and are waging a vigorous campaign to block it. HUD Secretary Ben Carson defended it, saying that “it seems only logical that taxpaying American citizens should be taken care of first” and that the change would provide more aid for needy Americans. However, HUD’s own analysis concludes that the rule would lead to fewer people getting housing aid and to an increase in homelessness. The public comment period for the proposed rule runs through July 9, but House Democrats are trying to prevent HUD from enforcing such a rule.

◾ The Agriculture Department is expected to propose a rule later this year similar to HUD’s proposal, to restrict the use of rural housing assistance for households that have one or more members who are undocumented immigrants.

◾ HUD has proposed that the operators of federally funded homeless shelters be allowed to determine which services transgender individuals can use. Operators could base their decisions on their religious beliefs, among other factors. Critics say that if the rule is adopted, transgender individuals could be kicked out of shelters or forced to use ones that serve a gender they do not identify with. HUD Secretary Carson had assured lawmakers at a congressional hearing May 21 that he did not anticipate eliminating Obama-era rules that protect transgender individuals from housing discrimination, and lawmakers were angry to see the proposed rule on a list published by the administration the following day. Details of the rule are expected to be made public later this year for comment. About 1 in 5 transgender individuals experience homelessness at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

 

Shots – Health News

Federal Judge Again Blocks States’ Work Requirements For Medicaid

◾ The administration has approved waivers allowing eight states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, although legal challenges have blocked such efforts in Kentucky and Arkansas. The administration argues that the requirement will encourage people to join the workforce, but opponents say that instead it will deny low-income families much-needed medical aid. About 18,000 Arkansas residents lost their Medicaid coverage when the work requirements went into effect in that state last year.

 

Census citizenship question

GOP Redistricting Strategist Played Role In Push For Census Citizenship Question

◾ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has proposed adding a question to the 2020 census asking whether an individual is a U.S. citizen. The administration says that it needs the information to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, but opponents believe that the real motive is to diminish minority representation. Civil rights groups argue that the question will discourage immigrant and noncitizen households from participating in the census. The result would be an undercount, especially in areas with large immigrant populations. Opponents of the change say low-income communities would be harmed because the census numbers are used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid, including many safety net benefits. They’ve challenged the citizenship question in court. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in June.

 

Overtime pay

Labor Department Rethinking Obama-Era Overtime Pay Rule

◾ The Department of Labor has proposed increasing the wage level below which workers would automatically be eligible for overtime pay on time worked over 40 hours a week. The Trump administration would raise the current $23,660 a year threshold to $35,308, which would make an estimated 1 million more workers eligible for overtime. However, the Trump proposal would replace an Obama-era rule that would have increased the level to $47,476 and covered four times as many workers. That plan has been blocked in court, in part because of strong opposition from small businesses, which say it would impose a big financial burden. The public comment period on the Trump proposal ends June 12.

 

This is just the wellbeing of the poor. Obviously sympathy has no place in governance of the public. A similar litany of Donald’s cabinet can be written for banks, the environment, public land and parks, taxes, corporate regulation, humane farming and an isolationism that diminishes the nation’s wellbeing among nations.

Ancient Mariner

What lies ahead

Mariner recently posted a metaphor relating the status of the United States, its culture and its economy at war with itself. This cultural war is the result of inadequate regulations on wealth. As if this were not enough, another war is horning in on the citizen’s awareness: Artificial Intelligence (AI) – but even more so the domination of daily, personal human life by computers.

Artificial Intelligence will displace our need to perform mundane tasks, even sophisticated tasks. The hidden agenda is that using AI, corporations will know so much about our daily activity, preferences, illnesses, and common daily behavior that computers will decide how much insurance will be available at what cost, how much salary will be permitted, what we can eat, buy or have access to. Where we are permitted to live, how much housing cost we will be allowed and what medical insurance we may have based on our daily behavior, all will be based on monitoring our lives in minute detail. In short, computers will control our choices in life and our routine behavior – the concept of privacy will disappear.

The simple conveniences of talking to ECHO or similar devices will do us in. The data tracking behind ECHO will capture every instruction, every activity, and every movement of daily activity into a complex database that will determine who you are – statistically. Not so much who you are as an individual but who you are compared to everyone else. You will be allowed behaviors commensurate with your statistical relationship with the population – statistically.

Perhaps younger generations see no problem being defined as a statistic somewhere in a database. Mariner is of an older generation, perhaps one that has lived too long given its genetic foundations. Mariner still has a unique persona with its own consciousness, intellectual awareness and the idea that he can be who he wants to be in society. While statistics may describe him, they do not create him; free will is still a dream with which he can build his life.

Ancient Mariner

 

A Great Tomorrow

Scientific American magazine published its annual ‘top 10 technologies to change the future’ – ideas that are poised to transform society! Mariner remembers when Neil deGrasse Tyson had his first series on the Universe; He spoke fondly of that moment when the Earth becomes Planet One – a world of peace and unity. It is the vision of the magazine and Neil and other scientists as well that science and technology will solve our human problems. These moments are pleasant to read or envision. Full of hope and absolute belief, it seems our walk into the sublime is a short one on a sunny day.

Just last night mariner watched Frontline on PBS. It was about the 1 in 5 children in the United States who live below the poverty line. It was difficult to watch perfectly normal and bright children be crushed by the brutality of our dollar-hungry society. Must we wait for Planet One before children who live in rented slum motels can register to go to school? They have no permanent address so the children can’t register. Tragically, these children know their plight, its unfairness, its wall that cages them in nothingness.

Hasn’t science and technology provided the capabilities today to allow every child born to experience a normal childhood? Yes, they have. Then what is wrong? What is wrong is science has little to do with issues of sociology, racism, class brutality, not enough to eat not because science hasn’t provided better crops but because human abuse doesn’t feel responsible to see to it that everyone has an equal chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Isn’t that idea part of the Declaration of Independence?

As we marvel at the potential of our future through science, remember that our main problem is us, not scientific inadequacy. No amount of engineering or visionary capability will alter the human condition.

Perhaps it is better to succumb to the intelligence and mental control of artificial intelligence rather than to sustain our own inadequacies.

However and nevertheless, let us admire the future in which we will live. Remain lighthearted and appreciative. Here are the ten technologies that will transform our society:

  • No one need be thirsty anymore even if one lives in a desert. Sunlight powers a water collector that produces enough water to sustain human life on a daily basis. Using Zirconium Fumarate, water is drawn from the air and collected for use.
  • Scientists will soon manufacture an artificial leaf that works exactly like a true plant leaf. The advantage will be the same as it is for a plant – Carbon Dioxide will be converted to hydrocarbons to produce energy. This means that fossil fuels will not be needed.
  • Artificial Intelligence soon will ‘see’ exactly the same as humans. This has significant advantages for security and precise viewing in the areas of medicine and other professions which require precise viewing of texture and color. Combined with convolutional neural network (CNN) technology, miniscule differences in faces, animals, or texture can be learned by the device without teaching it.
  • Traditional farming manages whole fields of crops. A new metering system manages crops plant by plant combining sensors, robots, GPS, mapping tools and high density data-analytics to provide optimum care and feeding to each plant individually – with no increase in human labor.
  • A ‘human cell atlas’ is under development which would map every cell in the body. This will enable researchers to track developing disease and other transformations such as aging or mental variations.
  • ‘Liquid biopsies’ will be more precise in identifying the presence of cancer and other defects in human chemistry. Today’s blood sample will be improved in sensitivity many times over to provide far more detailed data.
  • Improvements in catalytic converters will assure that every vehicle can run on Hydrogen gas. Fossil fuels will not be needed for any type of vehicle.
  • Vaccines will include DNA and RNA to more accurately control infectious diseases.
  • The new movement of building houses designed to grow gardens and otherwise have a ‘greening effect’ has moved to building whole blocks and streets with integrated growing areas more or less providing whole acreages for crops and atmospheric quality. One of the associated ideas is self-sustaining neighborhoods.
  • The biggie is quantum computing. Quantum computing is founded on quantum mechanics which does not search one solution at a time like current computer processing. Rather, it assembles all possible solutions at the ready and searches for the right answer along several paths at once. The intense processing requires cooling 100 times as powerful as super computers today. Obviously, the complexity of variables and other relationships in very abstruse problems will be solvable. The primary advantage is optimization beyond normal abilities even for super computers.

In the Frontline piece about children in poverty, mariner doesn’t see any solutions that will prevent an 8 year old girl from having to turn her pet dog over to a rescue center because she lost the house she lived in because they could not afford the rent.

Ancient Mariner

For Richer, For Poorer

Recently, the liberal economists and the conservative economists began expressing growing concern about the same thing: inequality. Virtually every validated and respected futurist, economist, even international banks, agree about the future: money is rushing faster and faster to only three sectors: manufacture of computers/information, international corporations, and banking/investment.

Mariner could toss lots of numbers and names of countries and corporations at the reader; that would take lots of words and trying to grow reader interest in a desert of information.

Though most readers are resistant to watching mariner’s Internet references, he implores the reader, he begs the reader, he insists the reader, he respectfully requests the reader watch an episode of Forward Thinking, “For Richer, For Poorer – the Dangers of Inequality” last broadcast on Bloomberg television June 17, 2016. In your search engine type:

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-17/forward-thinking-for-richer-for-poorer

Watch it in its entirety. It is not fake news; there is no special interest agenda; it is too complicated for politicians – that doesn’t mean it is too complicated for you.

Further, check your current Atlantic magazine for a review of what Donald is doing. Mariner will let Atlantic speak about the Donald in his stead. The reader also can read the articles at www.atlantic.com.

Ancient Mariner

 

Nuance

The mariner has noticed, albeit casually over time, that one’s expressions seem to gravitate toward absolute values. He noticed this while watching a television show where a couple had to decide which of three houses they wanted to purchase. As the couple toured the three homes, both partners were wont to say, “I love this,” or “I hate this.” Yet, later in the show, these extreme terms were compromised in the final decision the couple had to make. Perhaps such extreme expression was a sign of undue prejudice – a desire to keep the world simple but at the loss of open-mindedness.

What if we consciously tempered our feelings by expressing a degree of appreciation or dissatisfaction rather than going for the absolute hate or love about what are actually mundane preferences. Would it hurt to say, “That’s nice but I would like to see something more green?” Studied measurement reflects a person who is capable of making a refined judgment without succumbing to an internalized and polarized opinion that has no ability to measure qualities other than egocentric comfort. Instead of saying “I hate that candidate,” would we have more self control, perhaps even empathy if we said, “I have some concern about that candidate.”

Speaking of candidates, Donald and Bernie have attracted followers – liberal and conservative – who have a common attitude: populism. Having populist followers is like owning two pit bull dogs. “Oh, they never bite; we even let the kids rough-house with them.” That may be the case. In fact, a tenant once had two pit bulls that were as friendly as puppies and always pleased to see the mariner but one can’t help seeing a judgmental attitude about them; Pit bulls tend not to have much reaction time between happy and attacking. Sort of like saying, “I hate/love that house” and “I hate/love the government.” Like pit bulls (or any pack of dogs), if one attacks they all attack. Populists require less provocation to incite mob rule.

Similar to a pack of dogs and those who say only “love” or hate,” populists are prone to over reacting and on the spur of the moment make foolhardy decisions that are untenable in principle. Remember when California’s citizens revolted against increasing property taxes by passing Proposition 13 driving the state to the edge of bankruptcy? Remember when KKK groups would hang African Americans for mundane behavior? Or our older relatives practiced genocide on Native Americans? Today, ISIS has vicious, torturous reactions very much like pit bulls. The US will never avoid wars until its culture adopts a more contemplative sense of self.

Still, as to followers of Donald and Bernie, someone has to attack capitalist greed and legislative incompetence….

REFERENCE SECTION

Many readers are from The Mississippi River Valley or the Ohio River valley – the center of US agriculture. A reader may either enjoy or be irritated by the following pass along. Nevertheless, mariner is entertained by devout republican capitalist farmers who cling to their liberal, even socialist farm subsidies:

From an article, “Spoilin’ The Broth”, by Bill Cook, in the Rockdale ( Texas ) Reporter dated February 11, 2016.

A letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from Jimmy Henry of Broken Arrow, OK –

Dear Sir:   My friends, Wayne and Janelle over at Wichita Falls, received a check the other day for $1,000 from the government for not raising hogs.  So, I want to go into the not raising hogs business.

I need to know your opinion on what is the best breed of hogs not to raise.  I want to be sure that I approach this venture in keeping with all government guidelines.  I would prefer not to raise Razorbacks, but if that is not a good breed to not raise, then I can just as easily not raise Yorkshires or Durocs.

As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I am not raising.  My friend Wayne is excited about the future of this business.  He has been raising hogs for 20 years and the most he ever made was $422 in 1988, until this year when he got your check for $1000 for not raising hogs.

If I get $1,000 for not raising 50 hogs, will I get $2,000 for not raising 100?  I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 which will give me $80,000 income the first year.  Then I can afford to buy an airplane.

Another thing, these hogs I’m not raising will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn.  I understand that you also pay farmers for not raising corn and wheat.  Will I qualify for payments for not raising wheat and corn not to feed the 4,000 hogs I am not going to raise?

I want to get started not feeding as soon as possible as this seems to be a good time of year to not raise hogs and grain.  I’m also considering the not-milking-cows business so please send me any information you might have on that.

I assume that the government will consider me to be unemployed from all this non-production, so I plan to file for unemployment and food stamps.

I eagerly await your reply,

Sincerely yours,

Jimmy Henry Henry Farms Broken Arrow, OK

  • Sometimes mariner is embarrassed by the inhumane pursuit of profit extracted from the bottom of the job market. He has insight into what indenture was like in the early days of industrialism. See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html?CID=4QXQY&nlid=74363051&_r=0

Ancient Mariner