• 201606.14

    The world is burning

    It’s true. The world is burning, both literally and figuratively.

    Climate change

    Global warming is a real problem. We’re in the middle of a human-caused mass-extinction and our planet is being trashed by our burning of our favorite fuel source, yet we have people in high places in our governments who not only refuse to acknowledge the issue, but actively fight against it. As if turning your back on a Tsunami will stop the inevitable.

    Those who deny climate change will be dead in the geological blink of an eye (or even sooner, we can hope), leaving the next generations to inherit the consequences. What does this mean? Droughts and famine, mainly. The thing is, we are already seeing these. California is in the middle (or the beginning?) of a horrible drought. The 2015/2016 El Niño gave us a few showers, but pathetic in comparison to prior years. This is not isolated. Many other regions are experiencing unprecedented drought conditions as well.

    So what? Well, when you have drought, you get lack of food. Without food and water, the next step is civil unrest. This isn’t a theory. When people can’t eat, they get pretty pissed off.

    The free market will save us. Right?

    Let’s leave the stupid climate for a minute. Let’s talk about the world economy. Now, just about ever major country is based off of a capitalistic growth economy. What does this mean? It means that if you don’t keep shoveling coal into the fire, the fire dies out. So in this example, coal is people working, right? Sorry, no. Coal is people. A growth economy requires more people. More and more and more people. The problem is, the planet’s resources can’t support the amount of people we currently have, much less more of the wretched things. So we have an economy that is betting on resource exhaustion as a method of self-sustaining. On top of requiring more people, many of our wonderful growth economies are built on top of the fact that there is cheap labor in other countries.

    Here’s a pattern. We want something built cheaper. We build factories in <insert developing country here>. <Developing country> has so much capital pumped into it that prices rise and their standard of living starts to match the guys on top. Ahh, peasants and their desire to be kings! Suddenly, the factories are more expensive to operate. <Developing nation> starts enacting regulations (gasp), and sooner or later, the poor underdogs who run the multinational corporations are in search for <next developing country> to exploit. Won’t someone think of the shareholders??

    Their business model is sound, though. At least, their business model is sound assuming you have endless developing countries to exploit. What happens when the last stable, developing country decides to charge the same to operate your iPhone factory as the factory in the United States? Well, the iPhone jumps from $650 to $3000. The shitty plastic trash bin you used to pay $3.99 for is now $59.99!! Your McDonalds cheedburger is $24.99. Sacrilege!

    Suddenly our consumeristic growth economy becomes a…well, what the hell happens now? We don’t have a name for it because there is only the growth economy. Anything else is filthy communism. Nobody wants to talk about any other form of economy besides a growth economy, as if we can grow forever.

    Univeral contants, anyone?

    Seriously, though. We have a growth economy. Growth requires resources. This is not an opinion, this is a universal constant. In order to grow, a system needs an influx of energy from some external source. Resources. What happens when we run out of these resources?

    Economic collapse. The engine stops, and because nobody is willing to talk about what this means or what happens next, it’s going to be a painful process.

    So???

    Let’s tie this all together: climate change is going to be displacing millions of people in coastal areas as ocean levels rise. At the same time, droughts and famine are going to become much more common. Our global economy, which requires growth, and more growth, oh and some growth, will stop growing roughly around the same time the droughts and famine happen.

    Increased population density, compounded by extreme resource limitation (food, water, etc), compounded by economic collapse leaves us with a near human extinction. What drought and famine doesn’t do to us disease will. Viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria love sickly people living in close quarters!

    The next 100 years will certainly be an interesting time for humanity.

    I’m not saying these things because I hate humanity. I’m saying these things because I love humanity. I think we’re pretty cool. We’ve accomplished much more than many other ape species, probably. A few of us have even evolved passed our ape nature. There’s something here worth saving. I just hope the good parts survive, and the climate-change-denying, growth-economy-touting simpletons die a slow, horrible death.

    Sleep well!

    Comments
  • 201002.23

    California Proposition 16 - "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act"

    With a name like "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act," you know there is an ulterior motive. We already have the right to vote, right? In fact, we do. So what is Prop 16, really?

    Prop 16 is designed such that before a city or state entity buys a section of power grid and resells that power to its residents, it must hold an election and get a 2/3 majority vote. While it may seem nice to have the voters decide on whether or not a government entity should be spending their money, it actually doesn't make sense. The reason is the expenses involved in NOT allowing the entities to do this.

    Think of it this way. A government agency spends some of your tax dollars buying up sections of the power grid. Money lost, right? Not necessarily. After they own that part of the grid, they start charging you for the power they give you. Great, so they spend your money to charge you money...but wait, there's more. Because the government entity is essentially a business at this point which provides a service and charges for that service, it's making money back. On top of this, the residents now have a choice of who they get their power from. This is known as "competition" and is the leading force against monopolization in any industry. If a market segment is profitable, doesn't it make sense for the government to capitalize on that market segment?

    Now let's look from another angle. You are a taxpayer (I'm assuming) and you want to make the final decision about whether or not a section of power grid is bought. This is great, but your local government spends a lot (I mean, a LOT) of money without your express permission because we as a city/state/country give our government that power. We elect people to handle this in our stead because we are busy and don't have the time to make every decision collectively. That's how a representative republic works (no, the U.S.A. is not a democracy, sorry!!)

    So why bother holding an (expensive) election so the govt. entity can spend more money petitioning and explaining to you why it's good that they actually make money? Especially when they're spending your money on lots of other things, all the time. Holding an election to give a local government entity the right to actually turn your tax dollars into profit (or at least offer you lower prices on energy) seems like a waste of time, no?

    So where did this bill come from? If you read the Wikipedia page, it's obvious: PG&E. Now, I have nothing against these guys. They do a great job, and obviously they're just protecting their interests. They do not want the government competing with them, which is why thus far they have donated $6.5 million to the campaign, and have stated they plan to donate up to $35 million total. They obviously have a vested interest in forcing local governments to get 2/3 support in elections (which is very, very hard to do).

    By voting "Yes!" on prop 16, you gain absolutely no more rights than you had before, you only make it harder for local and state governments to turn your tax dollars into something useful: cheap power for you. The name "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act" is a misleading name designed to dupe the voters (that's you!) into voting for higher energy prices and less competition in the energy market.

    It's important that our local governments are accountable for the money they spend, but passing highly targeted, specific bills that force them to ask, nay, beg, the voters for approval on everything they spend money on slows (if not stops) progress and makes our government much less useful...after all, we're already electing them and paying them to decide where our money goes. Doesn't voting on every single issue defeat the purpose of appointing representation?

    Also, if the residents of a city really do not want the government spending their money on buying areas of power grid, they can get a ballot intiative (which takes a handful of signatures) and vote on it themselves.

    Comments
  • 200909.07

    Gay marriage - and you!

    We've all heard of proposition 8 in California...the ban on gay marriage. It was a dark, bloody political battle that ended in tears, anger, but also joy and a feeling of sanctity for those that won. Let me say that I do not support prop 8. Not because of the rule itself so much as it being a constitutional amendment, not a law. The very document that lists the rights of the residents of the state of California was amended to tell a specific subset of people that they cannot partake in a religious ceremony that binds them for life.

    I don't support state-sanctioned gay marriage. Not in any way shape or form. I don't think the state (political state, not geographic state) has the right to marry two men or two women. Neither does it have the right to marry a straight couple though. Marriage, although deeply ingrained in our society, is a religious ceremony. It's a dance two people do to signify their unending commitment.

    The state has absolutely no business supporting this ritual. I believe separation of church and state has been defiled by the state taking it upon itself to say who can marry and who cannot. Is that not up to the specific religion the couple in question are marrying under? What moral right does the state have to support a religious ritual and then only for a specific set of people?

    I believe the state has overstepped its bounds. I believe the state, as it already does, should allow civil unions between partners, giving them the applicable tax breaks they would receive as a married couple, but not marry people. Marriage is a religious institution and as such should be completely unrecognized by the state.

    Note that this would solve all conflicts surrounding marriage. Two gay men can get married at the devil-worshiping, blood-drinking, child-molesting church down the street, and Mr. Conservative who goes to the bread-eating, jesus-praising, child-molesting church up the street doesn't have to recognize the two gay men's marriage. It didn't happen at his church or under his rules, so in his mind, the marriage can be null and void... but the state gives the two gay men their civil union, and then politely bows out of the conflict, letting the upstanding Christian and the society-destroying gays fight it out between themselves.

    Everyone wins, and the state can wash its hands clean of all moral conflict surrounding a religous institution.

    Comments