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Blog item: Anyone Looking for Optimism?

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7 comments, last: Oct-12-2008   Add a comment   Author:  PT (Oct-8-2008)    Play a Video
Categories: Philosophical & Quality of Life, Sustainable Living

Breathe in... breathe out. Breathe in... breathe out.Yes, there are linked environmental, energy, and biodiversity crises looming.  On top of that we now have a world falling into financial disarray (apparently, although the final word has not been said about that).  But that has barely scratched the surface of what is important.

We have each other, and we have our own selves.  Isn't that what it is all about?  In our "finest hour", to use British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's words from World War II, in our finest hour won't we rise to the occasion?  I think we will.  We will remember that the best things in life are free.

Communities of people, whether joined by geography (that is, your neighbors) or joined by social group (religious, political, and so on) will draw closer together for mutual support.  Is it possible that we need a reminder of the basics?  What made the World War II generation the "greatest generation" (hopefully they did not make up that name for themselves!) so great was the experiences of the Great Depression as well as the struggles against Nazism and Fascism.

In addition to people banding together, many struggled in their inner silent world with fears of losing loved ones in combat, fears of hunger or starvation, and doubts about what kind of government would control their future world.  And although the great majority survived through those times, such profound struggles shaped to some degree the consciousness of the 1930s and 1940s, and on up to today.

We are an even wiser society overall today, in some ways, with better understanding of human rights and dignity (despite the abberation of our current US government).  We know that racial, gender-based, and to some degree we know that sexual-preference based, discrimination are wrong-headed and damaging to societies.  Truly, we are also infected with a consumerist, materialist way of life as a society.  So is it possible that we need the coming challenges in order to shake up that weakness of materialism that has clouded the great lessons we have learned in the second half of the 20th century?

The challenges we in the early 21st century are facing and will face are still unmeasured, but there are rumblings in the distance.  It is still too early to be sure whether there is a tsunami being sensed by us from afar, or whether it is just an ordinary rainstorm that we need to endure.  But there are enough warning signs that we must give careful thought to what is coming next.

In that context, there is something I want to share with you.  I heard it on the radio this morning: one listener gave as her answer to the economic crisis: "Breathe in... breathe out.  Breathe in... breathe out."  These are words with which I am familiar from years of my own life, and I know we should keep them in mind while others, and we ourselves, are going on about interest rates, sub-prime mortgages, and the credit crunch, on top of the heightening worries about global warming and peak oil.  These words are not just words, but are an expression of a centering and letting go that we can exercise so that the problems of the entire world do not overcome the best qualities in our own minds.

I would certainly recommend reviewing any investments you may have for suitability in the coming markets, and it would be wise to consider your financial and environmental behaviors and their impact on others as well as on yourself. It would also be kind and noble to do something to help others, whether in your neighborhood, or as part of a larger social action or cause.

But while doing all this, for the greater good of ourselves and others, let's not forget this from time to time: "Breathe in... breathe out.  Breathe in... breathe out."

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Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Oct-12-2008)   
Business taxes are never paid by businesses. They are paid by customers.
The beauty of underground transactions is that they don't produce the amount of carbon as big box stores with lights, parking lots, and air-conditioned malls. If some drug dealer makes a million bucks selling crack, he's going to use that money to buy chrome wheels and the sales tax gets paid. A corporation will just move their operations overseas and skip out on the tax by producing in another country.
The source of the carbon problem is the desires of consumers. If you think that advertising 'creates' those desires at will, then you have to believe that we are manipulated in other ways, also. If you think people have as much free will as they are taught and told by pundits, then you have to lay the burden directly where they can make decisions at each transaction.
In order to enforce a carbon tax effectively, you need a "one world government", and that is what we DON'T want: absolute power and all that. A sales tax can be implemented one country at a time, and easily modified as conditions change. A carbon tax requires high complexity, high enforcement costs, and international cooperation in an increasingly distrustful world full of lawyers.
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Oct-12-2008)   Web site

I have to say I am not versed enough to weigh the consumption/sales tax against the carbon tax. A big advantage of a carbon tax could be, for example, that it is levied at the business level, while consumption tax would be partially at the consumer level. We all know what an underground economy is - and it is easier to hide person to person transactions or small business to person transactions than to hide manufacturing assembly lines and the carbon or greenhouse gases they produce.

I know that several prominent economists including George Soros favor the carbon tax. And I think that if the goal is to push towards lower consumerism, it will finally need to come from inside the individual. We simply need economic tools that support better behaviors.

I can not prove which is better - I am clear that both ideas, carbon tax or sales tax, are better than the cap and trade shell game.
  
Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Oct-12-2008)   

It isn't that I dislike the carbon tax per se. I like the idea of social engineering taxes in general (call a pig a pig, lipstick or not). The stage that civilization is at, however, doesn't leave time for halfway solutions. We either acknowledge reality (all overconsumption is wrong) or we die off.
There isn't a lot of time to 'build a movement', especially when the System of systems has evolved to the point where it completely disarms movements either through its 'security' measures or simply by ignoring them, as with the war protests.
We shouldn't have lots of little movements. We should be working toward real understanding and changing our basic paradigms of behavior through direct taxation and anonymity of individuals. The carbon tax also continues the idea that there are 'good' people and 'bad' people, so some should be taxed specifically while others who enjoy the benefits of cheap manufactured items don't take the same hits. Some 'greenie' who rides their $2000 aluminum bike to work at an advertising agency that does propaganda for Monsanto should be taking a direct hit on the imported shoes, helmet, and tires, not some roundabout vague notion that the companies who make those things and transport them and are protected by our military will buy carbon credits or MAYBE pay a carbon tax to the Russian Mafia.
Now, imagine they pay their consumption/sales tax without anyone tracking who they are, and they collect a paycheck for the full amount of their productive work. No IRS, no tax collectors hounding individuals, just a sales tax collected at points of sale. Imagine how easy it would then be to start a business making windmills...
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Oct-12-2008)   Web site

There is some validity to what you say, but we all need to be careful about being too expert in our cynicism. To keep my reply short: yes, it is one-sided to only see the past as a better time, but the 1960s were better than the 1980s, despite the flaws of an airplane that can not quite take off.

Yes, we need to remake our value system to de-value consumption as a goal, I certainly agree. However, the carbon tax that you seem to dislike so strongly, based on a few of your comments here, can be seen as an overall societal effort to be closer to reality, and to reflect the desired downplaying of consumerism. Can you acknowledge that?
  
Comment by: auntiegrav (auntiegrav) (Oct-12-2008)   

I'm listening to David Sirota's book, "The Uprising", and most of it is pretty disheartening about the political arena. We have little influence on what politicians do or say, as they are only trying to become celebrities on the Washington talk shows that nobody but Washington watches (my wife always wonders why these Sunday morning shows are so important to Republicans when they are supposedly faithfully in church at that time...).

However, the cynical optimism which I did glean from Sirota's book is that it is no different now than it ever was, and the idyllic picture of the past that we have is a result of disinformation in history books and in the media that the "60's were a wonderful time of activism" (we have bigger protests now, but they are always portrayed as groups of '60's throwbacks), that the "'50's were a time of optimism" (everyone was terrified into doing whatever Eisenhower wanted, including several CIA assassinations and coup's), and that "The Greatest Generation fought for liberty and freed the world from fascism" (but first, the American power elite supported Hitler's corporate-friendly policies and sold or financed much of the technology and material to expand).

Things aren't all that different now, except the American Empire is bigger and the planet is fighting back.

We have to get rid of the baggage of our educations before we can really understand what needs to change. The free press isn't free, elections aren't effective, and perpetual growth is a bad thing in a closed system. Optimism that doesn't start by first acknowledging reality will only lead to more deceptive policies and inept actions.

The Carbon Tax idea is a good example: "If we just fix this one thing, everything will be ok." Meanwhile, the System of systems is busy at work bypassing your scheme with schemes of their own (government grants for hydrogen car development).

It's the schemes and the lack of real information and the religion of Want which fools people to work harder and harder to produce more and more to do more and more when the solution is usually for them to stay home, buy less, and turn off the lying media.
  
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Oct-9-2008)   Web site

Thanks, Walt. I checked your Web site... it reminds me of what in my mind were simpler, happier times for the USA and Europe... pick your favorite teams, watch the races. Too much is going on now, we will all need to keep our eyes open, read, and act to deal with some of the changes that appear to be coming. Hopefully there will still be time and place for games.
  
Comment by: waltwebb (Walt Webb) (Oct-9-2008)   Web site

Thought I would drop by and say hello. You have some really good content here and the issues are a real hot topic.

Walt AKA All Sports on the Web
All Sports on the Web

  
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About author/contributor Member: PT (David Alexander) PT (David Alexander)
   Web site: http://www.insightandenergy.com

Member: PT (David Alexander) My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.

Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.

I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.

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