On Morality

Back in August mariner wrote about Mark Boyle, an economist who decided to live without money for three years. A quote from the August post is repeated below:

“. . . surprisingly, over time I found my reasons slowly change. They now have less to do with saving the world, and much more to do with savoring the world. The world needs savoring.”

Boyle’s change in mindset from fixing what is broken to preferring an existential experience has lingered in mariner’s mind. Boyle’s primary point in the book is that the farther the distance between genuine reality and manufactured reality, the more human judgment becomes dysfunctional.

Is Boyle’s philosophical assumption the reason for 7 billion humans around the planet to simultaneously experience political imbalance, diminishing natural resources and an unstable atmosphere?  Do the political and religious trappings of religion prevent savoring the spiritual core of faith?

Mariner is sensitive to Boyle’s assumption on four occasions:

  • Ordering a meal from a kiosk in McDonalds instead of experiencing a very brief subconscious gratification from interpersonal engagement.
  • Similarly, in the supermarket having to be one’s own cashier eliminates brief conversations that engage human awareness and even enjoy a shared accomplishment of the task at hand.
  • Watching individuals of all ages avoid human contact at meals, family time, taking breaks at work and even interacting with the dog they are walking. Why? Smartphone.
  • Institutions of religion – particularly Christianity – behaving in grotesque ways that are in direct violation of Jesus’ mandate to love others by personal commitment.

Even the wonderful experience of purchasing online diminishes the need to do human things like walk, talk, make real-time-on-the-spot decisions, experience the weather, and identify with nature. Avoiding these small experiences denies exercising judgment in existential circumstances – Boyle’s point is that our unpracticed, hands-on judgment becomes warped; our individual liaison with reality is not properly understood.

Mark Boyle’s ‘savory’ experience was his daily connection with an undisturbed Mother Earth devoid of any intrusions by the industrial and technological revolutions. Not having to see the world through steam engines, computers or mechanized destruction of the habitat enabled him to see how ethics and morality are derived from intimacy with one’s surroundings. The purity and simplicity of Boyle’s experience with nature allowed a moral attitude to develop between him and his environment.

The insight is that presumed reality bears presumed morality. As we sit in comfortable chairs at a dinner setting and eat pigs we haven’t watched spend their entire lives in tortuously small cages, our morality about eating pigs is indifferent to a reality we do not know. Building dams on salmon rivers produces massive amounts of electricity for millions of people but having no awareness of salmon reality, there is no moral compunction to deal with the salmon’s world. Consequently, salmon is an endangered species.

On the other hand, the Native American Hupa tribe has a direct relationship with salmon and is aware of the stress on the species. The tribe leads the fight to save the salmon. Their reality shapes their morality.

Agreeing with Boyle, mariner’s assumption also is drawn from a popular college text, ‘Situation Ethics’ published in 1988 by Joseph Fletcher.  Fletcher suggests that certain acts – such as lying, premarital sex, adultery, or even murder–might be morally right, depending on the circumstances. Hotly debated on television, in magazines and newspapers, in churches, and in the classroom, Fletcher’s provocative thesis remains a powerful force in contemporary discussions of morality.

In other words, presumed reality bears presumed morality. Is the world’s problem that we don’t have a common reality? For example, as resources grow scarcer and oligarchs grow wealthier, does that represent two different realities, therefore two different moralities? Does a meta creature have the same reality as a homeless person? Do coral reefs have a different reality than a person driving a car?

Ancient Mariner

Is there a shift in the wind?

֎ It seems that the latest polls – and a few primaries – suggest that the democrats may be more successful in November than was imagined just sixty days ago. Don’t bet money yet but the election may be more interesting than expected.

One situation that is giving democrats a larger than expected victory is rank voting. In Alaska especially, Donald-backed Sarah Palin did not survive to run in November.

If you aren’t sure what rank voting is, mariner posted a detailed explanation back on April 22 called ‘Rank Voting – 2’. Type the title in the search box on the Home page.

A lot hangs on whether the economy is decent until November. Any disruptions will have an effect on a cautious electorate. Otherwise, the polls suggest that an unusually large number of independents and young voters prefer the democratic side.

It is obvious that the abortion issue has stirred dust as far as voters are concerned but Donald himself is having difficulty with his appointed preferences in tossup states.

֎ Another issue that is growing rapidly is climate change happening across the US west. Small towns already have rationed use of water; some literally have so little water they depend on government and charitable organizations for water.

On the other side of the crisis, Mississippi and several other southern states are suffering from record breaking floods. A skeptic could poo-poo the shifts in weather as just an unusual year except that the entire world is having a weather related crisis. For the moment, Pakistan has the worst case. The nation’s economy and human wellbeing have been stopped dead as mountain glaciers melt so rapidly the lower rivers can’t handle the flood.

Let’s hope Mother Earth holds off on more tragedy until after the election; sooner or later the US economy will have to accommodate a growing cost caused by a warming planet.

֎ Does the reader have a pseudonym? Mariner’s is pink dot.

Ancient Mariner

Mother Earth is calling in the big gun

Has the reader ever heard of CMEs? CME stands for Coronal Mass Ejections. This is an event that occurs on the Sun. Most folks are familiar with sunspots as a phenomenon. Sorry to mix metaphors but sunspots are like big blisters that eventually pop and spray massive amounts of energy. Each sunspot is larger than planet Earth and can be as big as Jupiter.

When a sunspot bursts, the radiation escapes the Sun’s gravity and travels across the Solar System. The reader may recall a small CME disturbance last March when the northern skies were alive with an impressive display of Aurora Borealis; the display was caused by a CME that had minor interference with Earth’s magnetosphere – although southern Africa did have a momentary blackout of its electric utility grid.

Statistically speaking, a major hit by a CME occurs every 150 years or so. The last one occurred 150 years ago . . . The only electric grid back then was the telegraph. It took a few weeks to repair the grid.

Today, the entire world is wrapped in electrical grids. Consider local utility grids, corporate network grids, telephone grids, satellite grids and Internet grids. Where it took only weeks to restore the old telegraph grid, it may take several months to repair today’s grid laden world.

This statistic has not gone unnoticed by Mother Earth so add CME to climate change.

Have a fun Labor Day!

Ancient Mariner

The new law firm takes over

In a recent post, mariner used a metaphor suggesting that Mother Nature was taking over the issue of disarray in the human world. Here is an example of Mother Nature taking charge of economy, agriculture and civilian priorities:

AXIOS – “The heat wave roasting China is setting records for its reach, with an area equivalent to California, Texas and Colorado experiencing high temperatures exceeding 104°F.

Why it matters: At 71 straight days, the heat wave and drought have no parallel in modern record-keeping in China or around the world, Axios Generate co-author Andrew Freedman reports.

More than 260 weather stations saw their highest-ever temperatures during the long-running heat wave, according to state media reports.

The severe drought has throttled back China’s hydropower production, leading the government to cut power to key industrial hubs.”

So it isn’t only Europe, the United States and the Middle East having their toes put to the fire, it includes China and Southern Asian nations as well. The use of heat, storms, flooding, shifting weather patterns and drought are Mother Earth’s legal documents ordering humans to cease and desist. Fresh water is increasingly scarce; worldwide, industry and agriculture are suffering economically.

We have only begun to see disruptions to housing markets and other fiscal practices. It won’t be long before nations of the world have to stop profiteering and fighting wars in order to commit resources to Mother Nature’s style of reform.

Ancient Mariner


Possible tools for HORSE #3

It is interesting to notice how this horse race has an all or nothing air to it. HORSE #1 has democracy at stake. Intensely focused social and political resources must be expended, to borrow an abused phrase, to make America great again.
HORSE #2 has economic survivability at stake. As the 21st century moves forward, civilization will become more extreme in its relationship between have and have-not nations. Already 793 million humans are starving to the point of death, severe malnutrition and stunted bodies. Already out of 43,000 multi-national corporations, 40% of the wealth rests in the hands of only 147 of those corporations.
Human society has hidden much of its economic imbalance by over indulging in the consumption of Earth’s resources – fossil fuel, over-fishing the oceans, destroying forests to plant crops, leveraging limited elements on the Periodic Table, etc. The resources have become scant enough to threaten national stability around the world. HORSE #2 has the difficult task of redistributing wealth in an oligarchic, grow or die world.
Taking a look now at HORSE #3, the planet has no judgment with which to modify or improve its condition. The planet, from an unusual perspective, is just another orphan in the Milky Way not allowed opinion or input into how the orphanage is run.
What tools might humanity use to counter such huge, automatic, astronomic rules?
Probably the most important tool is to realize that humans live in the same orphanage. (Suddenly, a new metaphor emerges; mariner can’t help it!) In other words, planet Earth responds only with cause and effect options. Humans have given HORSE #3 Carbon Dioxide, which amounts to Furosemide (Lasix), also called “doping”, in horses. Now the Earth is running a lot faster than it usually does. So, not being too intellectual, humans should stop doping Planet Earth with Carbon Dioxide. But humans have a flaw: humans can make decisions without facts.
Today, it is the fossil fuel industry, the logging industry, the computer industry (computers are in the same class as automobiles when it comes to releasing CO2), the plastics industry, et al who make decisions about Carbon Dioxide. Asking these industries to stop releasing Carbon Dioxide is like asking the reader to stop urinating.
In this respect, all three horses are using the same equipment to win the race: Politics and money. Planet Earth, however, has an unmeasurably large bankroll with which to raise the stakes (another metaphor: poker).
To win or at least tie in this race, the US stable must expend unknowable amounts of money, must overcome the fleabites of prejudice and greed in society, and must acknowledge from the heart that they do not own or control the biosphere.
Ancient Mariner

HORSE #3 at the starting gate

Mariner has leaned heavily on the horse race metaphor. It helps provide direction and simplifies objectives. The element that changes dramatically when HORSE #3 enters the race is the track itself. It has been easy to correlate the requirements for winning with HORSE #1 and #2 – they are owned by the same stable: The United States. The track is identical for both horses. HORSE#3, however, is owned by a different stable: Planet Earth. The track is unfamiliar to the US stable. Given today’s circumstances, to win the race the US stable must run on an unfamiliar track.

There are familiar attributes in HORSE #3. All three horses are focused on consumption of resources; all are concerned about survival; all are concerned about the grand order of things. What distinguishes each horse is the manner in which each horse runs the race.

HORSE #1 runs by modifying legislation, shoring up cultural unity and establishing common purpose.

HORSE #2 runs by investing in financial partners who will comprise an international market/GDP liaison.

HORSE#3 runs by utilizing planetary resources such as atmospheric temperature, biosphere adaptation, weather patterns, tides, volcanoes, earthquakes and similar physical characteristics. (When evaluating HORSE #3, there is a tendency to push measurement to infinity, that is, one feels the urge to jump off the track and frolic in the infield. If one’s thoughts seem to require a consultation with Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein or Harry Emerson Fosdick, the scale is too grand.)

Perhaps not very scientific but the three-horse race is all about the fact that the US stable has been borrowing hay from the Planet Earth stable and not ever paying for it. The cost to run this three-horse race is very, very high; without a good racing strategy, the US stable (and other national stables) could go bankrupt.

Addressing the issues more directly, humans have been releasing carbon dioxide in volumes so huge that they have interrupted the naturally very slow Carbon cycle typical of the Earth’s planetary behavior. Spiking the planet with Carbon Dioxide is like giving someone methamphetamine. Consequently, glaciers are melting, oceans are rising, air is heating, weather is changing dramatically and earthquakes are more active.[1]

֎ The planet is so energized that in the US alone 162 million people — nearly 1 in 2 — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water. 1 in 12 Americans in the Southern half of the country will move toward California, the Mountain West or the Northwest over the next 45 years because of climate influences alone.

֎ Eight of the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas — Miami, New York and Boston among them — will be profoundly altered, indirectly affecting some 50 million people.

֎ Ten fastest-sinking coastal cities (2015 to 2020)
Tianjin, China 5.22 cm per year
Semarang, Indonesia 3.96
Jakarta, Indonesia 3.44
Shanghai, China 2.94
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2.81
Hanoi, Vietnam 2.44
Chittagong, Bangladesh 2.35
Kobe, Japan 2.26
Kerala, India 1.96
Houston, USA 1.95


To translate the impact into dollars, the cost of repairing damage from hurricanes, floods, fires and drought in the US has risen. Climate change has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $350 billion over the past decade, according to a report released last year from nonpartisan federal watchdog the Government Accountability Office. By 2050, that figure will be $35 billion per year. Costs include clean up and disaster assistance caused by flooding and storms, which are set to increase under rising temperatures. Not taken into account are the shifts in climate which will severely impact agricultural production.

So entry fees for this three-horse race are exorbitant. They are large enough for every nation on the planet to be forced to reassess budgets. What comes first, war or flooding? What is more important, plutocracy or feeding citizens? What’s more important, space budgets or rebuilding New York City and Miami?

Finally, given the objectives of all three horses, will the US stable win anything?

Ancient Mariner

[1] If the reader wants to have a deeper understanding of the Carbon cycle, check out https://www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/CarbonCycle

Possible tools for HORSE #2

There is precedent for a tool designed to develop the integrated marketing schemes that will emerge in the near future:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a proposed trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. Participants signed the agreement on February 4, 2016.

As written, the TPP had serious flaws that left human rights issues at risk. Congress was not willing to sign the agreement as it stood; renegotiation would be necessary. After taking office, newly elected President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in January, 2017.

The remaining nations signed a reworked agreement called ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (CPA) that went into effect in December, 2018. The eleven signatories have combined economies representing 13.4 percent of Global Domestic Product (GDP).

The issue at hand is the cost and political transition of such agreements. Every member nation must adjust government budgets, labor laws and have a member nation who can underwrite the cost of setting up productivity, legislation and buying off resistance. Without the US, the CPA moves slowly and cannot make competitive changes to the world market. Hence the importance of China, India and the US as anchors for these large international markets.

Using South America as an example, several dictatorships with failing economies must be rescued; several failed nations in Central America, the Gulf and Caribbean (including Cuba) must be propped up with renewed, functioning cultures and economies. This strategy cannot begin until HORSE #1 creates a more caring attitude toward South America and Hispanics in general. Today Congress and the President would rather spend billions on a failed and eternal immigration issue rather than go to the source nations and make them economic partners, thereby eliminating the cause of excessive immigration in the first place. China has a head start –

The race is on.

Ancient Mariner

HORSE #2 at the starting gate

When HORSE #2 is examined, one discovers that the three horses have more in common than expected and may, in fact, be traced back to the same genetic source. HORSE #1 is about democracy and HORSE #2 is about economics; both are about capitalism. Both are about the democratic ethics of a unified and principled nation leading the world in fair and equitable market management.

At the starting gate, a great deal can be identified about track conditions. China, with its Belt and Road economic strategy, is focused on smaller neighbors along the Pacific Rim and a large swath of Eurasia including several ‘stan’ nations. A sea version loops around India into the Indian Ocean and to the east coast of Africa – 60 nations in all.

India, troubled at the moment by conflicts similar to those in the US, eventually may get it together, displace China’s sea strategy and may even dominate the Middle East economy.

Europe and China are investing heavily in African commerce.

This leaves South America, Pacific alliances including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Mexico and Japan and presumably a greatly enhanced presence in South America as fertile economic ground to be developed by the US.

Coming out of the gate, HORSES #1 and #2 require a common unity of purpose. Winning the race requires compassionate assistance to potential nations; winning requires wise and significant investment in the economics of potential nations; winning requires an air of successful cooperation with fellow partners.

Does current prejudice against Hispanic people and governments help? Does pulling manufacturing back onto US soil help? Does prejudice against Asian nationals help? Does the frozen, nontaxable wealth of the oligarchs help? Frankly, if HORSE #2 has any chance of winning, it will be because HORSE #1 got wise and developed a unified and principled nation.

Mariner calls the big three nations the ‘Sumo League’. Each nation had better come to the tournament healthy, well endowed, and have its internal affairs in order.

Ancient Mariner

Possible tools for HORSE #1

[The reader may recall that mariner has decided not to bother with the ongoing drama and iterative accounting of every day, commercially sponsored, viewer-rating-hungry news. Instead he has chosen three critically important issues to review: 1, will democracy survive; 2, will the United States remain a world power in a new global economy; 3, what is the impact of global warming.

As is his wont, mariner has packaged the three issues in a metaphor as a three-horse race. Each horse receives a definition, current circumstances and possible impact on life in the US and around the world. To date, mariner has defined the three-horse metaphor and described the current circumstances of HORSE #1: Will democracy survive?

In this post, mariner looks at possible tools and modifications that may sustain democracy, that is, lead to a win for HORSE #1.]

– – – –

Possible tools for HORSE #1

Mariner cited several social examples that showed it is not the high-standards of ethics and policy in the Constitution that steer the nation. In fact, dozens of local, unabashed selfish cultural standards control the US political world, ignoring both original and modified language in the Constitution.

Over time, Atlantic Magazine has focused on this issue from different directions. One very dramatic idea that may bring behavior of the US more in line with the spirit of the Constitution is to redefine the term ‘Republic’ in the phrase, “The United States is a democratic Federal Republic”. Today, the term ‘republic’ alludes to the independently and publicly ruled states that comprise the United States. Could there be regional ‘states’ that more closely represent the regional cultures that today ignore the Constitution?

֎ Mariner observes that the Indigenous Indian treaties set a precedent for this concept. Would it be better if Dixie had a treaty relationship with the US Constitution that would allow the region to manage its own culture? A good example already underway is abortion, clearly a different ethic depending on the region of the nation.

Regional history for the US is extremely different for different areas. For example, the racist south is steeped in slavery and defensive eras where Indians and Hispanic immigration were perceived as threats. Then there’s the cowboy west, based on cattle economy and scant law enforcement which still is reflected today (Change cattle to oil and one can understand the risk faced by Wyoming Representative Liz Chaney).

Certainly the West Coast has its own idiosyncrasies, much more liberal than the cowboy mountains. How about the plains which even today have a staid agricultural economy with a no frills culture? And of course the ancient Northeast with New York; big business is the standard and money talks.

֎ Another republic model to consider is the European Union. The historical difference is that nations in the EU already existed as independent nations and already ruled their own culture. The new piece was a common money system – the Euro. There have been issues as member nations have suffered economic ups and downs which stretch the financial dependencies between the members. Today, England is considering dropping out of the common euro because of an imbalance in costs and trade agreements. Germany as well complains about supporting the EU more than other members.

An interesting conjecture for the future if the US adopts the EU model: California alone has a GDP rank close to England’s. What if California became disgruntled and decided to leave the US economy and be its own independent country? Further, would the US regions, which differ mightily when it comes to GDP, have the same conflicts the EU has balancing economies? Roughly speaking, the Confederate states lag behind the Union states with 22 percent less GDP.

A political conflict is emerging as several eastern members, the largest is Turkey, are eroding the democracy requirement to be an EU member and introducing autocratic rule. Mariner definitely sees that happening among the red states in the US.

So mariner leaves the regional solution in the hands of the readers for further contemplation. Would allowing regional cultural management, that is, mini-constitutions, save the United States? Anti-abortionists and the Republican Party think so – even to overturning US Constitutional election language and eliminating open election of representatives to the Electoral College.

Next: HORSE #2 at the starting Gate

Ancient Mariner

The Bigger Race

You may have noticed a decline in the frequency of mariner’s posts. The truth is, his complaints, insights and speculations have become perpetually negative, repetitive and never have an opportunity to report progress.

Watching today’s borderless, endless dysfunction has way too many horses in the race, simultaneously using way too many tracks and is confusing because not all entrants are horses. So mariner has decided to keep track of a three-horse card on one track.


Will the United States survive as one unified and principled nation? The nation stands at the same precipice it has in the past when it formed a constitution with multiple personality syndrome, as it fought over slavery, and as the nation drifts apart again over deep cultural differences between red and blue. The trophy is constitutional democracy.


Will the United States be a strong world leader in economics and global communication such as to be one of the very few nations that will dominate the political and economic reality of a one-market world? The present state of human political life ignorantly is spinning into a near future of global starvation, greatly reduced farming capacity and collapsing natural resources. The trophy is international stability; how many nations will cease to exist or merge because of a permanently collapsed economy?


Current odds make this horse the favorite: global warming AKA climate change. Will the planet, tired of the fickle and self-promoting behavior of Homo sapiens, cause so much damage at the level of continent behavior, weather, intense storms, tsunamis and flooding that Horses #1 and #2 will not be able to continue in their present political/economic relationships? The trophy is humanism.

Ancient Mariner