As reported in the Goat and other publications, the oceans are getting more acidic, the ice caps are melting, the weather patterns are changing threatening agriculture across the globe, and everything connected with Man is about to come to a terrible crash between the years 2025 and 2050. We?re seeing the trouble in Africa, where war and water shortages are moving hand in hand, in Australia currently going through the worse drought they?ve experienced in a thousand years, in Asia, North and South America rivers dependent upon glaciers are going to be running dry.
Of course, the people who will get screwed the hardest are all in third world countries but one must remember that the third world is where we get all of our cheap ass shit from. The US certainly isn?t manufacturing much of anything, we?re just buying tons of stuff made on the cheap overseas. Much has been made of China slapping up a new coal burning power plant every week, but all of that energy is going towards manufacturing goods sold in the US. Do they contain lead? Are they toxic in other ways? That?s hardly a concern for the US consumer who values price over quality. Poison is one of the trade offs we have willingly made in order to get stuff cheap.
But cheapness is in the eye of the beholder. While millions of people across the globe either directly or indirectly work for Wal-Mart, the Waltons have become the richest people on the planet. Great wealth made from the slave labor of others -- a very old economic model, one that the US at least gives lip-service to opposing, but it is the corner stone of our obsession with wealth.
To use some easy numbers, let?s say we have a CEO of a US firm that sells shoes making $50 million a year. The shoes are being made overseas by women and girls getting paid around a dollar a week. Millions of pairs of shoes are shipped to the US and distributed to various stores. The shoes cost 25 cents to make, once material is added to the labor cost. Another 75 cents per pair was spent in getting them from the Third World to the US. Now the big expenses come in: paying some kid with a degree in Art History $7.50 an hour to stand around and sell a pair or two of shoes at $120. Or more. And no one sees anything wrong with this. No one mentions that maybe the CEO should only get $5 million a year and that $45 million could be spent improving the lives of the people who actually make the shoes, or even for the poor kid with the useless degree who is currently selling them. What if the CEO was forced to find a way to live off only one million a year? Or 750 thousand? Or even less than that? Then even more money could be sent downward to other people.
Maybe if the CEO instead of making 50 million a year, made only 500 thousand a year then the shoes could be made in union shops here in the US instead of overseas in slave camps. Squeezing the CEOs of the land, forcing them to return their outlandish salaries back to the company they are suppose to be running would be the first step in curbing the tide of trash we consume.
We throw away so much plastic, there is a mass the size of Texas churning in the Pacific gyre between San Diego and the Hawaii Islands. It is a product of our plastic culture, this garbage mound at sea. It is slowly getting broken down to the point that plastic particles out number the amount of plankton in the Pacific. With over fishing alone being a major problem, the plastic particles are being ingested by everything resulting in starving marine life. And that?s just in the Pacific. There are other plastic gyres around the world.
Getting the gyres cleaned up is going to be expensive, but the choice of not cleaning them is total disaster at sea. Plastic bags need to be stopped by everyone, everywhere. Using hemp to make grocery bags would the smart thing to do and plastic bags should be phased out as quickly as possible. That alone won?t stop everything, but we need to be using less plastic. During the 1960?s the big selling point on the plastic bottle was it wouldn?t shatter when dropped. We need to return to glass recycling and deposit bottles. Getting peanut butter and jelly back into glass containers is not overstepping anything. Eliminating the little plastic ?water bottle? would be major step forward, protecting the planet from a product that is all marketing and no value. The use of plastics and over-packaging must come to a halt. The plastic shells many items are in to prevent shoplifting need to be rethought since they don?t prevent theft and end up swelling our landfills.
Biodegradable hemp packing might be the solution. From hemp we can also make clothing and paper, reducing the reliance on cotton which is agriculturally expensive and wasteful to grow and maintain as well as stopping the planting of ?paper tree forest? which are harmful to wildlife. Yes, this means that marijuana might be easier to grow too, but by decriminalizing marijuana and regulating it the same way alcohol is regulated, the use of industrial hemp and the legalization of marijuana is not going to turn the majority into a bunch of pot heads any more than liquor stores and bars have turned the majority into drunks.
Given that the US imprisons more people than any other nation on the planet, and that most of them are behind bars due to draconian drug laws, making marijuana legal is the first step to ending the corrosive war on drugs. We are currently warehousing the poor in prison because we have no jobs for them. But once CEOs are making less and work in the US once again becomes the smart way to do business, various factories and mill work will return to the country. Former prisoners, working poor, high school drop outs could have a work option as opposed to the zero option they have now.
Education should be guaranteed right, and study after study shows education begins in the womb. There should be free prenatal care to every pregnant female. There should be free health care for everyone, and by free, that means everyone pays into it. This one of the things taxes are designed for. We currently spend over a billion a week in losing a war with Iraq. Clearly, that money could be better spent on life instead of death. Certain behaviors, like smoking and excessive drinking, would limit some of your options but would not deny everything, which is our current system, run by and for insurance companies, not doctors or nurses.
More money and time is wasted driving to and from work than ever before. The solution is simple: get people and jobs closer together. Cities would have to become a bit bigger as the suburbs are abandoned. Make mass transit not only affordable, but practical. A bigger mass transit system means more people needed to run it. Cars are still being made that show it can run as high as 120 MPH, at least on paper. What on earth for? No one needs to traveling that fast unless on a railroad track. Most city driving could be handled by electric cars for those people too afraid to get on a bus. A top speed of 50 MPH is sufficient for just about everything except emergency vehicles. All of this is designed to get the use of gas and oil much lower. Bigger engines could be run off hydrogen peroxide, no need for phony bio-fuels or other petroleum based hydrogen cell cars. The only thing lacking in a perfectly functioning non-internal combustion engine car is political will.
It is high time to publicly fund elections, close down K Street and the thousands of lobbyist and to have elected officials who do more than try to raise money for their next election. We need to totally remove the special interest money from the political spectrum. Every presidential election is more expensive than the last, and many times more. They leap up in cost exponentially, beyond all reason or expectation. Much of this is due to the total commercialization of the political process. But if every candidate was allowed free air time, and guaranteed equal time to the airwaves that are publicly owned, the cost of these elections would drop down to more reasonable levels. Since the networks have become private enterprises out to sell a product, debates should be returned to the control of a not for profit group, like the League of Woman Voters who once upon a time dared to ask candidates actual questions.
But all of this is just hot air without a massive will of the people to actually give a rat?s fuck with what?s going on. We could take back our airways, demand better food for our school children, demand health care, demand a clean and better future, but the first step is to demand to be heard. And that?s perhaps the hardest demand of all. Fussing about stuff is the Goat?s main goal. But there are real solutions out there too. We need to start taking more chances, start willing to risk our necks for what we believe in or be revealed as a people who believe in nothing.
There is every indication that global warming is moving faster and will be worse than most scientist want to believe. Reports keep coming up that the human race will hit a brick wall around 2050, or sooner depending on how events now beyond human control play out. It is possible that tipping point so often warned about has been passed and that even the most radical changes in our collective behavior will not stop a cataclysmic reduction in ALL life on the planet. Knowing this, can we continue to move on mutely? Can we continue to ignore all evidence of impending doom, distracted perhaps by the latest shiny new fad toy?
Still, at this late date, with Bush continuing to have his way over the most spineless Congress in memory and with zero faith in any of the candidates clamoring to replace him, there is hope. There must always be hope. As long as we breathe it is not too late. As long as we can feel it is not over. We can still stand up, roll up our sleeves and try something impractical. Let us become unreasonable men. Let us become crazy and crackpots. Let the future be hopeful and not filled with despair. We can still think of a better world and stumble towards it, scrapping our knuckles against heaven and laughing with wild abandon because we dare to dream.
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