Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Riff on Alternative Economics

Found this, “Local Utopia as Unobtrusive Resistance: The Greek Village Micro-Economy “ by, Marina Karides
Florida Atlantic University

After the Intro, and then the few paragraphs of rather dry econ-speak, we get to the Meat…Alt Econ.

“Historically, individuals and communities in the global South have developed through independent action solutions to the ecological destruction, poverty, and unemployment wrought since colonialism.
These efforts have significantly increased, and were first conceived as traditional or “backward” and anathema to development (Geertz 1963), and later as part of the informal sector (Portes 1983). Over the last several decades of neoliberalism these same activities are considered emblems of entrepreneurship. “ (1)

….as well they should be.
I’m thinking, while reading this, in the context of my Disappointment with the Capture of Libertarians, by the Corporate Model. (Corporation’s very existence is dependent entirely on Government, from courts to rules and regs, and enabling legislation). This is Germaine, because for all of the hollering we heard, starting in 1980, about Deregulate! Free the Market!!....the most important Market Entities of all, Families and Small Business(not Raytheon) have seen their Economic Activity increasingly Regulated…often out of existence. This is among the reasons I left the  Libertarian Party.
I’m also thinking (becoming a trend) about Mason…what’s wrong with it, and whether or not it can be modified for the better.(2)

“The astounding growth of alternative economics in the last decade is also distinctly informed by popular rejections of work and careers that are regulated and organized for capitalist production, hierarchical, and punitive. Formal jobs, often in urban environments, require such a commitment of time, mind, and physical presence that many who enter into one aspect of alternative economics or another are choosing to do so for the sake of having some personal control in their everyday lives. Actors in both the global South and North are acting, in Harvey’s (2000: 235) phrasing, as “insurgent architects” who attempt “to shape their own beingness,” not condemning themselves to work paths set out by pre-existing structures and values. “ (1)

 The Current Paradigm almost ensures that we will work ourselves to death, with little to show for it.(we, here, meaning Po Folks). Even when one is able to get a small business going, and get out of Wage-Slavery(3), often one finds that it’s not really worth it.
This state of affairs seems to be regarded as perfectly natural, for a place like Mason…way out here, in the Wilderness.
I don’t think that’s quite as certain a thing as is commonly thought.
Localism, again!
I envision Toilet Paper as a Cottage Industry!
(I’m only a little hyperbolic, here.)
We Import far too much, from outside…and, in exchange, Export our Wealth, what there is of it.
A lot of this is Habit…left over from the glory days (Clinton), when there were lots of Jobs and Opportunity, and more Relative Wealth. A lot of it is, also, due to the Walmartisation of the , formerly, Local Economy.(this is well documented)
Still another factor is the Corporatisation, overall , of the American Economy…Rules and Regs written Of By and For Giant Multinational Fictional Persons.(see; Acres USA, and Ch. Walters, for application to Giant Ag, vs the Extinction of “family farms”)
Why isn’t there Mason-Produced Beef, Chicken, Pork(feral hogs, anyone?), Goat, Lamb and Fruits and Veggies on the shelves at the One Store?
The answer, of course, is the nexus between the Corp Ruled Market Structures, and the Corp- Benefiting Regulatory and Tax Structures.
For the Meat, there’s nowhere to legally, economically, or efficiently slaughter and process. Too much BS for anyone to want to even try to do that.
For Fruits and Veggies, it’s all on the Corporation that operates the Store. When it was Super S, they told me I’d hafta take my Produce to the Warehouse in Houston (!!) if I hoped to have anything over a tiny amount in the store.

.” Yet by virtue of scale and intention, small and micro- enterprises operate outside capitalist principles of mass production and consumption and centralized bureaucratic control, offering environmental viability, autonomy, and creative expression in one’s work.” (1)
Here, they’re talking about the Black and Gray Economies…in Mason,from Dope, to Tamales, to Yard Work, and Handymen….and Garage Sales.
City/County could encourage Cottage Industry, including Ag. First, by resolving to keep their fingers out of the pie…Tax the Imports. Regulate the Imports(aside from necessary, but unobtrusive Health/Environmental Concerns).
Second, by following the trail blazed by a couple of towns in Vermont(4)…essentially going around the State and Federal Governmental Regs that are at least one of the Roots of this problem.

More:” To locate small shops, farms, and artisanal enterprises in a framework of resistance to capitalism and social inequality, it is worth resuscitating Ivan Illich’s (1973) position for “tools that guarantee the right to work with independent efficiency” that is in advance of but consistent with the current growth of alternative economic studies. In Tools of Conviviality, Illich (1973) builds an argument against industrialization or large-scale production in which workers are no longer directly in control of their labor or “tools” such as technology, production facilities, or systems of decision-making. For conviviality to occur there must be “autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse among persons with their environment; and this in contrast with the conditioned responses of persons to the demands made upon them by others” “(1)

 Remember, lest I be labeled (again! Sigh) a Rabid Marxist, that when these folks say “Capitalism”, they mean, for the most part, “Corporate/Monopoly Capitalism”…the Walmart Model.  Remember, too, that Adam Smith advocated against such Behemoths, as detrimental to Liberty and widespread  Economic Prosperity. His “Wealth…” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments”, along with Marx’s “Das Capital”, were evangelism for the widest possible Distribution of the Means of Production.
Diversity = Robust Stability = Multiple-Redundancies.
Economy as Ecosystem.
These same ideas may be familiar, to folks who remember the early 70’s…Back to the Land, etc.
Those efforts, back then, were subverted politically, pooh-poohed rhetorically, and undermined economically(by the above mentioned means). Instead of pursuing such Egalitarian endeavors, we instead went whole hog in the other direction…Reaganomics, Supply-Side, “Neoliberalism”.(5) All of these are of a piece…they describe a System where Large is Beautiful, and the only thing that matters is Profits.
Look where such Wild Eyed Utopian Experimentation has gotten us!(6)

We must begin to Think about these things…instead of continuing to merely beat up on the Victims of Neoliberalism.(all of Us, but especially the Poor)

2 I’ve got around 20 Word Docs, in progress, on numerous topics of what I consider to be of Local Concern…attempting to leave Campaign Season(and rhetoric) behind.(snort)
Remember, my usage of Right/Left is of my own Taxonomy,….and Not about Political Parties. Machine (Matrix, Leviathan, Corpo-Governmental Nexus, whatever) …Leans Rightward…towards the Large, Wealthy and Powerful.   Phaoronic Hydraulic Despotism, as business model of Empire.
or get a job in town.

6 by just one metric, Real Wages have stayed the same or Fallen, Relative to Inflation, in this same period…while Prices for Everything have risen enormously.

Narrative Spaces, Political and Ethnic Implications of a Built Environment

A little light reading, this morning…lol.
I think about Mason, and the various Neighborhoods.
Old Barrio, New Barrio(I didn’t invent these terms, or their Connotations 1)…the “Historical District”(from the Square, to the Fort)…what I think of as the Rich Hill…and, way out East, where the Feedlot is, what I think of as a sort of Redneck Barrio,lol…(Confederate Flags).
There’s no hard and fast  exclusivity…it’s difficult to generalize…there’s plenty of diversity in all these Neighborhoods…( except for the Rich Hill; I can think of no Po Folks, up there)
Diversity based on Ethnicity/Race, as well as Wealth(or it’s Lack).
This town is steeped in History…although, I glean that it’s only thought about in a rather anodyne, superficial way; as in the general habit of ignoring the Hoodoo War of the Civil War Era, that still festers, under the surface.
Since I’ve been in the (“new”) Barrio….what Officialdom refers to as “The North Side”…I’ve sort of been thinking about these things; but never in a cogent way…until I read this paper, today.
We have 2 bridges over the creek, to get to Town…and an out of the way low water crossing…and an old, condemned bridge, that they have failed to replace, despite having the Funding all lined up, as of several years ago. If one wants to travel North...or get easily from the Barrio to the part of town along the Brady Highway, one must go to the Square. I don’t know if such Channeling is intentional(there’s little evidence of that level of Intelligence), but it does have an effect. Too, the lack of that bridge further isolates the Old Barrio, especially disconnecting it from the New Barrio…and making the Old Barrio, now, effectively, at a Dead End…that area is, for all intents and purposes, a Collonia 2. Shitty Sewer System, shitty  Water Lines, shitty roads, shitty drainage….forgotten. It’s also where the poorest residents live…including the Immigrants, both legal, and illegal. 2 cops can cordon off that neighborhood.(it takes 4 to  ineffectively block egress from the New Barrio….many more for the other, more white neighborhoods).
Again, I don’t know if it’s intentional…but there it is.
 Even unintentional channeling and barricading(dare I call it “Ghetto-ization”,lol 3) has an effect, even if it’s largely unconscious.
Now…how to fix this?
Build the Bridge…the “planned” new one, connecting the   Pontotoc Street to that part of Spring Street that goes from the Creek, to Dairy Queen…like the Minutes from the Council, several years ago, indicated was in the works(including Grants, etc)…but, for some unknown reason, was stopped.
With the recent Economic Decline, I have noticed a lot more folks walking…mostly to the one Grocery Store, away on the South end of Town. Aside from the Square, there are no sidewalks to speak of….and only that green bus thing for “public transportation”.
I have considered, for this reason, opening a “Bodega”, here in the “New Barrio”…but have not…due to my Disability, and lack of Funds… the State Regulatory Labyrinth…as well as the Byzantine and Unwelcoming City Government. (4)
The recent talk of sidewalks…building new, and rejuvenating/modernizing old…has been specifically focused on the Square…not on where they are needed by Po Folks.(the Poor don’t shop on the Square)(5)
Similarly, I have considered a Taxi/Rickshaw/Mule-Cart Service…specifically for Po Folks to get from their far-flung homes, to the one, single store.
Fuel Cost negates the Taxi Idea…and I suspect that there’s Imperial Entanglements to consider(Permits/Insurance/Licenses) ….perhaps if I had a place for a Mule…
These are things clattering around in my mind…I can’t help but Observe…
“About 15.9% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 19.7% of those age 65 or over.”(from Wiki)
Almost a Fifth of the Population are below the Federal Poverty Line….interestingly, my little family is not (!?), which should be a good indicator of the (dis-)Utility of FPL(Ha! 6)…
In other words, the Poor are much more numerous in Mason, than the Official Numbers indicate.

1  I use this word as I’ve heard it used…meaning “Neighborhood”…stripped of any negative Connotations….where one can hear Conjunto, and smell Barbacoa, on any given Sunday.

2  I use this in it’s broadest sense…
4 the City, likely unconsciously, maintains an adversarial  hostility to it’s poorer patrons…especially regarding the myriad permits and zoning ordinances. The Zoning, specifically, appears to have been lifted, entirely, from Austin, or somewhere…and has little real applicability to Mason. This is a whole other subject, of course…but, one example: Electrical Work. Folks I know(Po Folks) cannot afford an Electrician, due, in part to City Requirements for contractors…and cannot afford the Code Requirements…which, according to electrician friends, are  overkill, and needlessly expensive. These requirements are sold as necessary for Safety. However, the actual effect, is that Po Folks learn to live with the ancient wiring and screw in fuses(1950’s),  that are already extant…and utilize “power strips” and extension cords for any needed modifications…the Inspectors are seen as Intrusive, and Nit Picking, and Not On Our Side. This is hardly in the service of “Safety”.

5 Admittedly, the sidewalks around the Square are piss-poor; especially if you’re disabled/wheelchair-bound…but this is of concern to tourism, tourist-related businesses. and to those residents who can afford to patronize those businesses.
6 This is why the various Agencies,(Foodstamps, Medicaid, etc) now use things like “130% of FPL” as criteria for Eligibility…even the Government realizes the disutility of those numbers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thank you, Mr Spielberg

“The whole fabric of southern society must be changed, and never can it be done if this opportunity is lost. Without this, this government can never be, as it never has been, a true republic.” –September 6, 1865 (Thaddeus Stevens) 1

The new film, “Lincoln” (which I haven’t seen, it’ll come to Mason, eventually), will  have Us talking about these things for the next year, at least.
How fortuitous, that such topics as Slavery, Lincoln, the all-but-forgotten Thaddeus Stevens 2, and the Unfinished Civil War, will be on the Collective Mind of America,  in these first years of Mr Obama’s second term.
These things will, perhaps, draw out the NeoConfederate Sympathy, that lines the dark underbelly of the Right…the Racism, loudly denied, despite all of the Evidence; the whole mess of “the South will Rise, again”…entailing the Revenge Fantasies of the American Right; “Heritage, Not Hate”, and other similar nonsense; and the Politico-Historical Reality of the past near-fifty years, of an actual resurgent South, begun with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”….which has had the effect, in the real World, of Dixifying the whole country.
That the Civil War is Unfinished may come as a shock to many of my neighbors.
Consider that, if it had been finished, decisively, there would have been no Jim Crow, no Segregation, and no need for the Civil Rights Movement, a Century after  Lee Surrendered.(the South Lost…try to remember that.)
Even now, fifty years after that dark time of fire hoses and dogs, set upon Black Americans…and a hundred and fifty years after the “end” of the Civil War, there are Public Figures still calling for repealing parts of the Civil Rights Act…of Undoing the Fourteenth Amendment….let alone screaming about Secession whenever they don’t get what they want.
An uncomfortably large portion of Americans speaks in Coded Language about Race, and we all know what they mean…but when the rest of us call them forth about their  Not-So-Hidden Racism, it is they who accuse us of “Playing the Race Card”.
The Unfinished Business of the Civil War is a large part of the Surreality we are surrounded by, in 21st century American Politics.
I hope that this film is as good as the few clips I’ve seen would indicate…We need to have these discussions. The Racists must be confronted, and called out, at last…then, perhaps, We can move forward.

2  Thaddeus Stevens is one of my minor heroes…minor, not because of his stature, or influence, but due to my arbitrary ranking system, and the relative dearth of information, here, in Texas.I am very happy to see this man, finally, portrayed in film as the Giant he was.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Constituencies, real and imagined

Our Government no longer listens to Us.
This is a Bipartisan Statement…or should be.
It’s one place that everyone, from Tea to Commie, should be able to agree.
The other side to this is, of course, the Power and Influence, of Big Money… especially Corporations.
My Rep’s Aide says that “Corporations are just People”….implying assent to the idea that Money is Speech, and muddying the fact that, under current Law, Corps(e) are Persons, in their own right…..
( if this is the case, then why can’t I join and effective Union(I’m in “right to work” Texas), which should  enjoy the same Rights?  Unions in Texas are, under this argument, being Denied their First Amendment
The above Links are to Folks who are trying to do something about all the corruption and shenanigans that go on so routinely in DC. I support these efforts.

In addition to these Necessary Things, I have long been an advocate for Smaller Polities…which means More Representatives. It’s silly to expect One Representative to “Represent” hundreds of thousands of  Constituents. Heaven forbid, that more of those Constituents actually Get Involved!
I have had in my mind a sort of Political Experiment…where one would spend a few years basically hollering…calling and writing letters to their Rep….make note of the response, if any.(non rubber stamped responses, and the like); then, for the second part of the Experiment, one would Donate a large-ish sum to the Rep’s Campaign…and make note of the response, if any, thereafter.
My Hypothesis is that the second time period would garner a far more tangible, as well as personal, response, than the former.
Some would say, I guess, that it’s a good thing that I possess insufficient Funds for such an endeavor…

It’s interesting to compare the list of who gives money, and the list of  the Bills sponsored and co-sponsored.
There’s a lot of meaningless hay thrown to Tea, of course…but the substantive stuff seems to track rather nicely with the biggest contributors.
I realize that I am somewhat prejudiced against Mr Conaway….due to his long association with the Bush People….But I have tried to remain open-minded, and give him the benefit of the doubt. To his credit, many of my missives have been answered, in some form.
Still, the evidence, such as it is, indicates that those who pay, enjoy the Congressman’s attention.

Imagine if Mr  Mike didn’t have to pay so much for commercials(over Our Airwaves!)…that, alone, would free up a lot of his time…and at least do more than nibble at the need to raise so much money….thus  mitigating the appearance of corruption. “Free” air time could be provided…simply mandate it, and require the various Stations who Use Our Air, to run an equal number of ads for each candidate. The Air Time belongs to Us, to We the People…this could be like a Tax on Media. Simple.
Imagine, as well, if his Constituency included only a Fourth, or less, of the folks it includes, today…less money needed, and more access for constituents. Mason’s Rep, closer than 250 miles away, in Midland.

I think of Star Wars, and the imagery of the Galactic Senate…with today’s Tech, why is it so far-fetched to consider 2000 Representatives in the US House?
Or more?
Our system only works for Us if We participate.
Most reason, Why participate?! They will never listen to Me.
My Rep should be allowed to Listen to Me…currently, he is Not…due to expediency, and the overwhelming ratio of  him vs. 600,000 folks.
Article 1 of the Constitution  says, “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative...[5]” (from: )
Plenty of room, there, for Improvement.

FTA:” Then in 1929 Congress (Republican control of both houses of congress and the presidency) passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929 which capped the size of the House at 435 (the then current number), but allowed temporary increases upon the admission of new states which were to be reverted upon the implementation of the immediate subsequent census.
In truth, the rules prohibiting legislative entrenchment would allow any subsequent legislature (after 1929) to increase or decrease the membership of the House of Representatives if such legislature so desired.”
A Wiki Chart of  Population and Representatives
Congress could Change this.
They might , if We Demand it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Room Enough

What  conservatives  do not seem to understand, is that the USA does Not belong, exclusively, to them.
It never has, and it never will.
Of course, that is not to say that it, instead, belongs to their Opponents…
America Belongs to All of Us.
Black Brown White Yellow Red Pink and Purple.
Liberal, Conservative, Moderate, A-Political.
Gay, Straight, and all shades of Gray.
Racists and non-Racists.
Capitalists, of all stripes…and Communists, also of all stripes….or no stripes, at all.
It belongs to the Young, the Old, and the Middle Aged.
Rich, Poor, and all in between.
Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, and even Atheists!
The Intelligent, and the Stupid….and the merely Ignorant, and Misinformed.
All of Us, Every One.
This is the Ideal that the Founders had in mind…not as an accomplished Fact, but as the Ideal that We should work towards.
Diversity, Complex Relationships, between Disparate sorts of Organisms, as all Ecologists know well, is Essential to Healthy Ecosystems.
The Uniform field of Cloned Wheat is always less Robust, than the Chaotic field of Diverse Weeds, hence the need for tons of chemicals, in order to thrive.
We, as a Country, are Not becoming Less American, but more so.

                                                                         Relax, It’s not the End of the World,

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I'm a little worn out...election,season's change(Pain),etc...and cannot keep a train of thought.
So I'm off reading,both real books, and online...
I'm deciding where my focus should be.
On the one hand, I've given in to temptation, and started lurking in Right Wing Land(Jane Goodall) try and determine which way that lot will rhetoric, and philosophy, and possibly action. Very interesting things bubbling away in
On the other hand, there's Doom.
We Humans always....always...make the mistake of thinking that The Way We Do Things Now(tm) will continue on, indefinitely...that we are somehow exempt from History(or at it's Logical End).
This is a silly, and counterproductive, way of running a Civilisation, or it's various parts and pieces.
But we keep on doing it, anyway.

The first hand is given flesh by something the Odious Clown, Glenn Beck said, just after the election:beck, on the election
No need to lurk on Free Republic...unless, like me, you enjoy that sort of perverse Anthropological exercise.
The second hand....or at least the Thinking that goes with summed up , comprehensively, by one John Michael Greer (
The upshot is that the two could be connected....the Gun Nuts and Apocalypse Seekers, Tea in all it's forms, are already re-entering the Survivalist Mode that we saw in the 90's. The problem is their Approach...and the Belief Systems (Foundational, Unexamined Assumptions), that they use to arrive at that Approach.
Gearing Up for the "inevitable" arrival of Federal Troops(or Chinese, or UN,lol) in Mason...or Hunkering Down, so's the Forces of the Antichrist won't notice you....leads to certain forms of Preparation. Most of these Forms will be inapplicable to Real World Conditions.
That's where Common Ground can be found, I reckon.
They're right, about the fact that nothing lasts forever, change is inevitable, and we should expect large change in the near future...
They just have the Causes wrong.
Ergo, they're spending more resources on Bullets, than on Beans and Bandaids.
I think it would be in our interest to mitigate that trend...
Sustainability, for one, should be a focus of every little town and neighborhood...Got Garden?!
Got Seed Saving?
The Trucks won't always run, I'm afraid(Hurricane Rita)...the Grid won't always work(it's in a horrible state of disrepair)...and no one wants to Think about stuff like Triple Redundancy for Food, Water and Heat.
Doing nothing, despite the Logic of the Situation, will ensure Hell World....starvation, Warlordism, and all of that fun stuff.
I reckon it would also be a good idea to make some informal alliances with the 4 towns within 40 the event of a Catastrophe, a Collapse, a Sudden Systems Failure, it won't be the damned UN, let alone the Fedgov, coming to get us, matter the Fantasies of the'll be hungry folks from Menard.
Such tentative alliances must likely be Informal.....the current systems of governance Assume a continuation of what has gone before.
The City, or the County, will never even contemplate such things, until it's too late.
In a Perfect World, Decentralisation...Democratisation of Everything....should be a Liberal Thing...
With the Gun Nuts, et alia, relegated to the necessary tasks of Defense, and well under the control of non-Gun Nuts, et alia.
This is impossible with our current penchant, as leave such thoughts to the Right.
The phrase "Conspiracy Theory" should be stricken from the Lexicon...and a sober look should be taken at What Ifs...
Doomers call our current Paradigm, "Cornucopian".
Those don't really exist, I'm sorry to report...and Civilisations who, for a time, pretend to such nonsense, are doomed to Failure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Sure is quiet in Mason, Texas, this chilly AM.
Folks at the convenience store quietly huddled….
whispered, yet still feverish.
Almost No cars on the road.
Looks more like a Sunday, during the xmas break, than a Wednesday, in the first week of Hunting Season.
We stayed out at Mom’s(Mom-Sitting), and I honked the horn on the truck, around 11;30…
A momentary triumphalism, ere digging into the numbers.
Good day, all around, for us.
Found out the Lunatic Neighbor who’s been Prowling around Mom’s since at least 04, is being shuffled off to a home for Alzheimer’s Patients.
And, while it’s early days, yet…Dems may have their Reagan.
Tea will  Dry Up.
Obama’s Policies are vindicated.
And Marijuana, Gay Marriage, and Healthcare for All are well on their way to mainstream success.
I’ll lay around, today.
Perhaps stay sober for more than 2 1/5 months.
The Global Problems(Peak Resources,Climate Change,Peak Economics), are still there….
But there is, at least, a little bit of Hope to put under our hats.