Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Wall Street”

It’s OK to be Food Secure – Roger Ingalls

Have you seen or read the weather reports coming from America’s heart land? Heat and lack of rain are playing havoc with the crops. The prices for corn, soybean and wheat have jumped over the past two days (5.5%, 3.6% and 3.1% respectively). This may seem like a small increase but when you consider that 70% of everything we consume uses these three commodities in some way, it is a significant jump. Hot, dry weather is expected to stay with the nation’s breadbasket for awhile which may further impact crop yields and prices.

Picture from Standeyo.com

To those who understand our so-called modern food system, it’s obvious that we, the consuming public, have lost control of the basic necessities we need to sustain ourselves. The enticement of farm subsidies has created a corporate rush to drive out traditional local farmers. We now have consolidated and centralized mega-farms all practicing similar techniques. This lack of diversity exacerbates weather related events leaving the public at risk (food shortages and high prices). In addition, food prices are no longer solely established by supply and demand. Since deregulation under the Bush administration #2, it is now legal to speculate on food commodities in ways similar to stocks, hedge funds and oil which further drives the price of food. Yes, Wall Street is now gambling on our food. Lastly, corporatized or industrial farming is fossil fuel intensive so food prices are tied to oil and natural gas.

So how do we take back control of our food? This is really an economic and marketing question. We need to develop a substitute food system with value that will motivate consumers to switch.

It just so happens that an alternate food system does exist and has been successfully implemented in an American country very close to our border. Cuba had a farming system similar to the US, Europe and other industrialized nations but they relied on imports from the Soviet Union for oil-based pesticides, natural gas based fertilizers and diesel for transportation of goods from farm to city. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, Cuba’s supply of fuel and fossil-derived chemicals dwindled to near extinction. Fortunately for the Cuban people, their government saw what was coming and developed a smart strategy to replace industrialized chemical farming. They rolled out a farming system based on biological fertilizers, biological/cultural pest control and implemented it right in the cities. Essentially, they created organic urban farming out of necessity. Here are a few amazing statistics and other information:

1)       With a workforce of approximately 4.8 million, they’ve created 350,000 new jobs.
2)       Local production of fresh vegetables increased a thousand fold, yields per square meter increased from 1.5 kilograms to 25.8 kilograms.
3)       Food production is local so transportation is eliminated, food is fresh and harvested when ripe and not chemically gassed to ripen as with industrialized farming.
4)       Diets and health of the Cuban population improved, food is nutrient rich and free from toxic petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers.
5)       Urban farmers earn more than government workers and are as respected as doctors.

By duplicating something similar to the Cuban urban farming method we can take local ownership of our food, create jobs and enjoy healthier, tastier food. Just as important, we reduce the risk of shortages and high prices by decoupling food from the oil industry and speculative gambling by financial institutions. Urban agriculture is formed on multiple locations and managed by many small companies or sole proprietors. This creates additional diversity in produce and farming methods, thereby further improving food security.

Take a few minutes and really think about this organic local food system. It’s not a backward approach; it’s scientifically progressive with a thorough understanding of biology and how a living ecosystem really works. Imagine the positive benefits this would bring to your community: healthy food growing in every available space, people working and food secure, produce businesses or co-ops within walking distance for most everyone, a thriving self-made community.

It’s OK to say no to 1940s industrialized chemical farming practices, it’s OK to say no to market manipulation by financial institutions and IT’S OK TO BE EMPOWERED!

America Gets Punk’d – Roger Ingalls

Have you ever wondered why so many federal laws are passed that favor large Wall Street-partnered corporations while little gets done to protect or improve the well-being of real people? Essentially, it comes down to who is drafting the bills that get introduced to Congress.

Most Americans have a very rudimentary understanding of how an idea or proposal becomes law unless they’ve extended their studies on the subject. A few may remember the simple sidewalk diagram, shown below, that steps us through how a bill becomes law; however, many more of us will recall getting educated by the cool Schoolhouse Rock song I’m Just a Bill.

The process of how a bill becomes law isn’t an issue. Our real focus should be on who is behind the introduction of a new bill, who is writing it and where do they come from. These more pertinent issues (questions) aren’t normally discussed in school or often mentioned in mainstream media. We wouldn’t want the general populous becoming too educated, now would we?!

Below is an interesting flowchart describing how a bill is written in today’s corporate-dominated political climate. Call it Bill Drafting 101.

This flowchart highlights one of many reasons why we need campaign reform. Aides that have worked for or associated with a corporation should not get hired by politicians that have accepted contributions from that corporation or its funded special interest group (PAC, Super PAC or similar). There should be a five year conflict of interest waiting period.

American Idol finalists Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez getting Punk’d by Ashton Kutcher on MTV would be funny but Americans getting punked by politicians and their financial sponsors is criminal.

Bankrupt Earth – Roger Ingalls

Today, humanity is using 50% more resources than the earth can sustainably provide. By 2030, the world will require the equivalent of two Earths to sustain current levels of population growth and resource use. Even more shocking, if all countries consumed like the U.S., we would need four Earths to sustain current levels of resource burn.

World economies emulate the U.S. system which is based on infinite growth and consumption. Earth is a finite planet floating through space; therefore, the infinite growth scenario is an inevitable dead-end street.

picture from animal.discovery.com

There is no magical American bullet or militant-might that will fix this problem. There are no leaders stepping forward to forge a new path. We are now a government of, by and for the corporation and corporations are judged and rewarded on their ability to grow, consume and hoard. Power lies in the hands of big Wall Street massaged corporations and they will not deviate from their current path because doing so means a transfer of power. Why would these corporate Gods give up their power? They will never do so willingly.

Shamefully, history defines humanity’s quest for greed, power and eventual destructive fall. Given this, there is only one true solution; we must bankrupt the earth and deplete it of all economically viable resources as fast as possible. Let’s join forces with the current power structure and fast track the death of a balanced planet. When Earth dies – as we know it – so will the power that killed it.

This is not a sad ending; it is a rebirth. From the ashes a smarter humanity will rise.

Protesting by Lawsuit: Politicians and Wall Street Sued – Roger Ingalls

Middle-class America has taken hit after hit for the past thirty years. It’s time to fight in a manner recognizable by the political liars and financial bullies. Perhaps we should protest by suing (en masses) congressmen, presidents, banks and related financial institutions.

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AMERICAN MIDDLE-CLASS HOUSEHOLDS

Plaintiffs,

v.

UNITED STATES CONGRESSMEN (from 1980 to Present), UNITED STATES PRESIDENTS (from 1980 to Present), ALL BANKS RECEIVING BAILOUTS (from 2007 to Present), and MAJOR CREDIT RATING AGENCIES

Defendants

CAUSE of ACTION

  1. Since 1980, plaintiffs’ wealth has transferred to Wall Street, big businesses, the rich, banks and other financial institutions due to legislation enacted by Washington politicians.
  2. Since 1980, Presidents and Congressmen have breached campaign promises and oral contracts presented to plaintiffs during election cycles.
  3. Presidents and Congressmen have created legislation favoring Wall Street, banks, big business and similar entities as compensation for heavy campaign financing.
  4. Since 1980, Congressmen and Presidents have enacted legislation deregulating the financial industry.
  5. Banks engaged in reckless business practices that caused the financial crisis starting in 2007 to present. These reckless practices had a negative and catastrophic impact on the worth of plaintiffs’ assets.
  6. Banks and credit rating agencies established relationships that enabled faux-positive grades on toxic financial products.
  7. As a result of defendants actions referenced in items 1 through 6, plaintiffs’ owned assets and ability to grow wealth have greatly diminished.

WHEREFORE, plaintiff demands judgment against defendants as set forth below:

  1. Compensatory damages of $10,000,000,000,000.00;
  2. Cost of suit; and
  3. Such further relief as the court may deem proper.

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It would be interesting to see how the financial industry and elected officials respond to this type of political activism.

Any law professors or students out there willing to take on a project like this? Facebook and Twitter are a great way to spread the word, gather plaintiffs and get public endorsement.

Let’s send a message they understand.

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Roger Ingalls is well-traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Occupy Gardens – Roger Ingalls

There’s a new movement in town and it’s a good one. Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Gardens is plotting to hit the ground planting this Spring. The goal is to create urban gardens and feed the hungry.
 
 
This is the perfect protest. It slaps Wall Street, banks, big business and their political cronies right in the face. An alternative means for people to provide for themselves or others is not what these debt creation Czars want.

Deregulation in the early 2000s now allows investors to treat food staples like crude oil and corporate stocks. Wall Street is getting their grubby little fingers around the world’s food supply and playing the speculator game by betting on the price of hunger. We’ve all felt the rise in food prices and it’s not all tied to bad weather. The wings of Wall Street greed are spreading.

Growing food in cities and suburbs will bypass the industrial food system financed by money Czars and will have a positive impact in the community. Here are a few examples:

1)      The organic garden foods will by healthier and tastier.

2)      Growing your own food creates a sense of well-being and empowerment.

3)      Home and urban gardens have a net-positive environmental impact, whereas, industrial farming is disastrous to air, water and soil.

4)      Decentralized food systems (localized) eliminate food deserts and improves security.

5)      The benefits from urban farming are numerous.

Planting season starts in a few months so prepare for a new movement. Occupy Gardens is in the planning stages but appears to be well organized; it should have good traction and big teeth.

As you start Spring cleaning this year, set aside those old gardening tools, seeds and buckets and donate them to the movement when it hits your town. Grab a few bags of new seed and spend a few hours planting with the Occupy Gardeners. You’ll feel good.

Peas be with you.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Gold Standard Hogwash – Roger Ingalls

The country’s sad economic state has renewed the cry for a return to the Gold Standard. A significant percentage of the population as well as presidential candidates are endorsing this form of monetary system. Fiat Money Systems are used by most countries (including the U.S.) which normally require tight regulation and active monitoring to thwart abuse and corruption. The recent financial crisis was caused by conservative policies that deregulated the banking industry which opened the door for unethical practices induced by greed. Wall Street’s failure to “self-police” has rekindled interest in the Gold Standard.

It is my belief that moving to a precious metal standard will not fix problems facing the people of this country (USA) or the world’s masses. It may unify currency across the globe but it’s still just another form of money significantly controlled by the wealthy few.

If we’re going to entertain the idea of changing our monetary system, let’s go all out. Let’s develop a system that empowers today’s masses and future generations. Let’s create a system that produces wealth based on conservation, cooperation and increases with the participation of many.

The basis of life is energy. Every life force needs some form of energy to exist. Therefore, a true and unifying currency would be some sort of energy unit, such as a Joule or Calorie. The value of energy is understood in the U.S., China and even aliens from outer-space would understand its worth.

I realize that this initially sounds like a wild idea but think about it for a few minutes and it starts to make sense. Keep in mind that all forms of energy are somehow derived from the Sun. Oil, coal and natural gas are fossilized ancient life forms that once received energy from the sun. Even elements used to create nuclear power owe their existence to solar activity.

This blog site (leftcoastvoices.com) will post more on energy unit currency in the near future but in the meantime, here is some information that will hopefully inspire you to think more about the subject:

  1. Mother Nature takes the path of least resistance because it conserves energy.
  2. Calories are a form of energy unit. There are 90 calories in a large head of lettuce and 540 calories in a Big Mac. The current price of lettuce is $2; therefore, a Big Mac should cost $12 in a true free-market.
  3. The energy from one gallon of gas in equal to 408 man hours of work. The minimum wage in CA is $8 so a gallon of gas should cost $3264.
  4. If energy was priced appropriately, conservation would be adopted quickly.
  5. If energy was priced appropriately, food would not travel the average 1500 miles it now takes to get to your dinner table. Lettuce grown in CA would not be shipped to New York.
  6. A monetary system based on energy will automatically promote sustainability in all aspects of human existence.
  7. Humans consume food energy and transform it into mechanical energy.
  8. People working together cooperatively are more efficient and can produce more (community).

A Gold Standard is hogwash. An Energy Standard would promote human equality, builds community, protects the environment and create a happier existence. A system like this brings to light the true cost of energy and inherently promotes sustainability through local production. Local production creates local jobs.

Of course, big business, Wall Street and the banks would never allow a conversion to a monetary system that draws attention to conservation. They need debt to create wealth.

More to come!

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Redefining the U.S. Government – Roger Ingalls

Picture from theviewspaper.net

How would an honest educator define the current U.S. form of government to a body of students? This is the question I’ve asked myself while trying to fall asleep, night after night. The key word in the above question is “honest”.

The U.S. is no longer a true democracy or republic. Our government has latently morphed over the past 30 years into a dual-form system. It’s similar to the Constitutional Monarchy found in the United Kingdom except the power and ceremonial aspects are reversed.

In a modern Constitutional Monarchy, the democratically elected politicians are the true governing body (Parliament, Congress, President, Prime Minister…) and the Monarchy or Royal Family act as ceremonial figures.

In the current U.S. form of government, elected officials are a ceremonial by-product of a ritual balloting process that provides no positive impact on the voting public. Casting a vote is now just a feel-good public ceremony that pays homage to the concept of democracy.

Unlike the United Kingdom, a group-Monarchy or, more accurately, Plutarchy is the real governing power in the United States. Elected politicians are controlled by the wealthy for the wealthy. They’re influenced and financed through campaign contributions by famous and influential individuals, CEOs, corporations, financial institutions and Wall Street players. Essentially, politicians are personal policy generators for the wealthy few.

Accurately defining our current form of government: Pseudo-Democratic Plutarchy is a form of government in which power effectively rests with the wealthy via financial control over political candidates and propaganda means (Main Stream Media). The wealthy finance their desired group of candidates which effectively pre-selects favorable agents. The final selection is left to the voting public in a ceremonial pageant resembling a democratic election.

Pseudo-Democratic Plutarchy: A product of conservative deregulation.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Wall Street – A Long-Term Occupation? – Tom Rossi

The Occupy Wall Street Movement, which significantly includes Occupy Oakland, Occupy San Francisco, and many other locations, is facing its biggest test, so far – winter. Not just the season winter, but a variation of the proverbial, “winter of (our) discontent.” 

I had written before that the movement’s only weapon was persistence, and this of course implies a measured amount of patience (but not complacency). Without a doubt, the goal of the “forces that be” is to make the Occupy movement into a fad, and then make it go away. The weather will test the resolve of Occupiers and we shall soon see if it’s a fad or not. Here’s a hint… it’s not.

But what might turn out to be a bigger threat is impatience – both on the part of city governments and Occupiers themselves. Cities all over America have used various tactics, including ridiculously inappropriate force, to “evict” Occupiers from the camps they have established as bases from which to get the issues noticed. Some of these tactics have been just effective enough to diminish the potential impact of the camps, even if they still survive through mutation and adaptation.

The impatience of the cities (and the police), along with the lack of any observable improvement in the ways in which our country operates, has led to some impatience among the Occupiers as well. This was inevitable, but this winter will be the test. If the movement survives, it will take root and become legitimate.

Occupiers are essentially the Rosa Parks of our time. Any observer of the civil rights movement will tell you that her brave moment sparked something incredible. But her courage certainly didn’t accomplish anything overnight. The civil rights movement has been decades in the process and is by no means over.

During World War I, as the opposing forces dug into trenches in France, the Allied forces had presumed that those positions would be fleeting – that one way or another, things would change soon. The Central forces, on the other hand, assumed there would be a long, drawn-out battle. As a result, the Allies lived the entire time in mud, with diseases like trenchfoot all to common, whereas the Central trenches were relatively luxurious, with electricity, etc. If the Central supply lines had not all passed through a bottleneck that was vulnerable to an Allied attack, the war could have dragged on for years longer with an unknown result.

Get comfortable. This will be a long, bloody (not literally, I hope) fight. Occupiers have to find the balance between imperative and acceptance. The change demanded by the Occupy Movement will take decades. It will involve fundamental shifts in ingrained patterns of thought. It will involve wresting power from the powerful. Who could have thought this would be easy?

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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Occupy a Political Party

Last Wednesday, I shared my concerns for the sustainability of the Occupy movement as we see it now – without an agenda, a strategic plan, or a leadership structure. I suggested that an agenda be built around the demands suggested by Roger Ingalls.

This past weekend, I suggested to a friend of mine that the biggest challenge should possibly be bringing the Occupy moment, with its agenda and values, into the Democratic Party.

A Leadership Is Needed

He strongly protested. “Barack Obama has failed us,” he said. “The democratic leadership is part of the 1%,” he declared. “Once we join the system, we will be compromised and become a part of it.”

I tried to take him to task. I don’t believe Barack Obama failed us, I think we failed him. We created a mass grassroots movement to sweep him into office. We cried with pride at his inauguration, and then we went out for sushi and two years later, the Republicans were in a position to block everything the President had talked about during the heady campaign days.

Why did we let up? What on earth made us think that one man could change Washington? Where did we find the arrogance to think that the Republican machine would simply roll over and lick its wounds in silence?

As we celebrated the amazing Change We Can Believe In, and told ourselves that Yes We Did, the Republicans were plotting how to fight back. I don’t blame them; we would have done the same, no?

Whatever you might think of the Tea Party, they have galvanized the Republican Party. Whether this is good or bad, might be highlighted by who becomes the Republican presidential candidate. Actually it might be bad no matter who is voted in, depending on your political perspective. But for the Republican masses, they want the Tea Party behind the candidate, because these are engaged and empowered people.

So where do we take the Occupy movement? We take it into the Democratic Party and we decide not to hand over the keys. We become empowered partners who work not only for four more years of the most visionary and intelligent President that most of us can remember, but we fight on to give him a Congress that will work with him and not against him.

Occupy. Obama, Tea Party - somethings gotta happen!

There are those in the Occupy movement who will have trouble with this. They have worked hard to create a momentum based upon commitment and values, rather than power and ego. But their biggest test will be to continue to deny their own power aspirations and ego without getting disillusioned by entering mainstream politics.

This is a win: win for everyone who believes in a left or liberal agenda. For the Democratic Party to do this, they need an army of grassroots activists who are feeling empowered despite the blows rained down on us from Wall Street and big banks. They need the energy of the Occupy movement and the Occupy Movement needs a political party to let our President do what he set out to achieve.

Most of all, this is what America needs. It is what a sinking Europe and a poverty-stricken Africa needs. It is what those seeking to throw off the chains of autocracy and fanaticism need.

A strong, democratic, and moral democracy must emerge for the world. And it can begin with the next step that the Occupy movement takes. I hope they are willing to take that first step. And I hope the Democratic Party has a strategic understanding that they must welcome a new generation into their hallowed halls.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Occupy Anagrams – Roger Ingalls

The authorities in Oakland violently broke up the Occupy Protest and a handful of people got hurt, one seriously. Anger is everywhere. People are scared.

It’s been a troublesome day so let’s take a breath and not think about it for a few hours. Instead, let’s laugh at some Occupy Movement anagrams.

What is an anagram? It is a rearrangement of the letters of one word or phrase to form another word or phrase. A very simple example is rearranging the letters of “Evil” to get “Vile”.

Anagram: “Occupy Wall Street” becomes “Replace Slutty Cow”. Slutty Cow is a euphemism for politicians that prostitute themselves for corporate money. The Occupy Wall Street movement wants to replace the slutty cow.

Anagram: “Wall Street” becomes “Well Set Rat”. Well Set Rat is a euphemism for Wall Street fat cats that use tax payer bail out money to pay themselves big bonuses. They are well set.

Anagram: “Bank of America” becomes “Croak A Mean Fib”. Something a bank CEO does during a Congressional Hearing. They tell lies.

Anagram: “Bank of America” becomes “Fake Brain Coma”. Something bank executives do during a Congressional Hearing. Similar to pleading the fifth or using Reagan’s Iran Contra excuse, “I don’t recall”. They fake a temporary brain coma.

Anagram: “Bank of America” becomes “Mafia Con Break”. Mafia Con Break is a euphemism for a bank executive’s vacation.

Anagram: “Wells Fargo Bank” becomes “Grown Fake Balls”. Wall Street bankers know Congress won’t come after them for unethical business practices because elected politicians have grown fake balls.

Anagram: “Wells Fargo Bank” becomes “Legal Barf Wonks”. Legal Barf Wonks are corporate lawyers employed to keep bank executives out of prison.

Anagram: “Chase Bank” becomes “Bean Shack”. A Bean Shack is a place to store money.

Anagram: “Chase Bank” becomes “Bane Hacks”. The bane hacks on Wall Street destroyed the economy with reckless behavior.

Anagram: “Hedge Fund Manager” becomes “Greed-Fanged Human”. No explanation needed!

Anagram: “Bank Bailouts” becomes “Satan Bio-bulk”. Bio-bulk is a euphemism for feces.

Satanic poop is probably a good stopping point. I hope these anagrams made you chuckle at least once.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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