June 4, 2011

Dead: My safe and secure future

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:27 pm

I just went camping up near Yosemite and nearly froze my [bottom] off there, spending three whole days huddled under multiple sleeping bags and madly wishing that I was back home.

“This has been the worst winter that I can ever remember,” said one old-timer we met up near Groveland. “Snowdrifts piled up higher than the barn and then we got an additional 55 inches of rain after that.” And it’s still raining here. And it’s wet. And it’s cold. “Climate change?” Ya think!

Climate change is turning out to be the biggest issue of my lifetime — even bigger than World War II. And it’s the biggest issue of your lifetime too, like it or not.

If every single car, truck, airplane and military vehicle in the world that uses gas, coal or electricity for fuel were to stop running completely and forever by midnight tonight, then perhaps we might stand a chance of, er, “weathering” out climate change.

But you and I both know that abandoning the world’s love affair with carbon emissions just ain’t gonna happen.

When Chris Hedges recently interviewed environmental expert Bill McKibben, McKibben stated that, “…the scale of change we are now talking about is so great that no one can adapt to it. Temperatures have gone up one degree so far and that has been enough to melt the Arctic. If we let it go up three or four degrees, the rule of thumb the agronomists go by is every degree Celsius of temperature rise represents about a 10 percent reduction in grain yields. If we let it go up three or four degrees we are really not talking about a planet that can support a civilization anything like the one we’ve got.”

But let’s forget about climate change for the moment and move on to another dreary subject — the Federal Reserve Bank. While I wasn’t busy huddled miserably inside of my soggy blankets next to the raging Toulumne River last weekend, I was out searching for gold. This area around Highway 120 is a part of California’s fabulous Mother Lode — which produced 50 million dollars worth of quality ore just between 1848 and 1852, during the space of only four short years.

If I too could find just a few big chunks of gold up here, then I would never have to rely on those rascally thieves at the Federal Reserve Bank and their phony printed money ever again.

Did you know that the State of Utah just passed a law designating gold as being legal tender as well as an investment asset? This means that if you spend your gold coins in Utah, you won’t get hit with any state capital gains tax.

According to International Business Times, “[Utah's] Legal Tender Act of 2011 allows U.S. minted gold and silver coins to be recognized as legal tender in the value that reflects the market price for gold and silver.” So by encouraging the use of gold and silver as well as paper money, Utah is trying to make sure that when the Federal Reserve’s money-bubble inevitably bursts, at least one state will be relatively safe from the fall-out. And if I can only lay my hands on a few shiny nuggets up here on the Tuolumne River, then I will be too!

So. What is the moral here? “If folks stopped driving cars, causing no climate change nightmares to happen, and I had no dependence on the Federal Reserve, then my whole future would be safe and secure”? Sure, why not. But then my whole future is already all safe and secure anyway — no matter what happens to our economy or to our planet.

“Why is that, Jane?” you might ask.

“Because sooner or later, we’re all gonna die. And Death is the great leveler. After you’re dead, then nothing else matters. Can’t get much more safer and secure than that!”

“But, Jane,” you might reply, “aren’t you being really rather pessimistic today?” Yeah. But since stopping climate change is apparently not an option and our so-called leaders are happily continuing to rape the economic future of our children, do I really have any other reliable choice?

PS: After I’m dead, I plan to spend my winters in Puerto Vallarta on the beach getting warm again, and spend the rest of the year eating hot caramel sundaes at Fentons and gourmet dinners at Chez Panisse — because when you’re dead, you can’t contract diabetes or put on any weight. And I also plan to haunt the halls or Congress and Wall Street, crying, “Shame! Shame on all of you! You coulda done something to save the planet and you didn’t.”

PPS: As long as I’m being completely pessimistic, here’s another amazingly sad fact that I just learned from a local health department official. Did you know that if Americans continue to eat in the future in the same manner that they are eating now, children born after the year 2000 will become the very first generation EVER to die off before their parents do. Yes, you read that right. Chances are really good that your kids are gonna be buried in their graves before you are.

And it will be us at the cemetery, mournfully placing flowers on our dead children’s graves — instead of the other way around.

The average American eats a half pound of sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup per day — and that statistic even includes averaging in all of us health-conscious types who honestly try to resist the sugar temptation. A half-pound of sugar a day per person? Yikes! This means that one in three children born since 2000 will succumb to diabetes. And it also means that, as gross obesity becomes more and more common, a whole big segment of the next generation will be falling prey to heart disease, stroke, liver and kidney failure, whatever — and dying like flies.

That is, if climate change and the Federal Reserve Bank doesn’t do them in first.

PPPS: Here’s some good news for a change: After having been closed for remodeling since February, Ashby Nails is open again! According to traditional Chinese medicine, every season has a color that goes with it, so now my toenails are all sparkly and GREEN. I am so totally chic now, you’d better believe it. Thanks again, Kim.


May 18, 2011

Protesting the Federal Reserve: Yet another good reason to buy gold (and silver)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:37 am

The inspirational message from my Franklin Planner today was a quote from Frank Garbutt. “The man who questions opinion is wise; the man who quarrels with fact is a fool.” Right on!

And today I also went off to a local college commencement exercise which was very deeply moving and inspiring. One of the main speakers brought tears to my eyes as she talked about some of the things that her great-grandmother, an ex-slave, had taught her. “My great-grandmother was a midwife in her community and every few months when the circuit-riding doctor was due for a visit, she would hang a white towel in front of the homes where sick people were in need of the doctor’s attention. And I also have always tried to do this — to attempt to point out where help is needed.”

Well, obviously somebody needs to hang a white towel in front of the capitol building in Washington DC as well — because, right now, America needs all the help it can get!

A friend of mine who serves in Afghanistan recently came home on leave and he told me about the difference between corruption over in Afghanistan versus corruption here in America. “In Afghanistan everyone makes payments under the table — but here in America, if anyone wants do do something corrupt, they just pass a law to make it legal.” Oh yeah.

And I bet that you know what he’s talking about too — so-called “campaign contributions” from mega-corporations that coincidentally result in IRS loopholes and ERA pollution waivers in their favor; “legal” gifts from lobbyists to our congressional representatives; all-too-common stories about developers who have been granted eminent domain after greasing the skids just a bit, zoning laws that favor the upper classes; expensive parking tickets for not bribing your meter maid in a timely-enough fashion; massive bank bailouts; war-profiteer contracts for out-dated weapons we don’t need; gross subsidies to nuclear power plant owners because no one else in their right mind would insure these walking death-traps; prisons and schools run for profit at the expense of the community that pays for them; the Federal Reserve’s love affair with Big Banks at the expense of us little guys; our brave military sold down the river and forced to become corporatists’ hired guns — the list is endless. Yes, baksheesh is alive and well here in America. Ours is possibly the most corrupt country in the world.

Anyway, while I was driving to the commencement ceremony today, I passed a sign in somebody’s window that read, “Get rid of the Federal Reserve. Bring back the Greenback.” Believe it or not, that’s easy to do.

The old greenbacks were the paper dollars that had their value backed up by either gold bullion or silver certificates — not like this post-modern play-money crap that the Fed keeps telling us is real. But we don’t have to wait around for no stinking Fed to bring back the greenback. We can bring it back ourselves. All we gotta do is go out and buy our own gold and silver.

The Fed might not be backing up our dollars. But we can do it ourselves.

Not only that, but silver is now selling at almost $36 an ounce. Remember back when GOLD was just $36 an ounce? Gold is now $1,500 an ounce. So. Buy it. Use it. Love it! Screw the Fed.

PS: The commencement ceremony today was totally lovely. There were hundreds of hopeful graduates, their faces all lit up with pride and hope. And it broke my heart to even think about what their future will be like — with approximately a hundred thousand dollars worth of student loan payments hanging over each of their heads and no jobs in sight.

Maybe the graduation present that these wonderful and hopeful students need most is to have Washington give them a bailout on their loans. America’s students obviously need a bailout far more than Big Banks and Big Oil. Plus America definitely needs lots of smart and hopeful young college graduates — far more than we need another handful of greedy rich bankers and a few more slick oil-baron billionaires. That’s a fact!

But then, like it said in my Franklin Planner today, “The man who quarrels with fact is a fool.” And America certainly has more people in our government, our media and our financial institutions quarreling with fact than ever before.

PPS: Every day I try to meditate for nine minutes. For the first three of those minutes I cogitate on the Past — everything from early childhood triumphs and disasters to George W, Bush and Attila the Hun. Then for the next three minutes, I think about the Present — which is usually rather boring.

And for the last three minutes I try to imagine the Future. At first I just dreamed up easy stuff — like trying to win the lottery or that my car would actually make it to Camp Tuolumne over Memorial Day. But now I’m getting really good at imagining a bunch of even better versions of the Future: World peace, happy children, honest government, free university education and single-payer healthcare, an end to pollution, socialism for everyone and not just the rich, and everyone following the Golden Rule.

And I am also starting to wonder why all these things must be simply a figment of my imagination. Why can’t our future actually look like this? And, further, why aren’t we all raucously demanding a future like this instead of demanding the hellish nightmares currently being peddled to us by America’s oligarchs, Wall Street and Fox News?

Years ago I wrote a yet-unpublished book entitled, “Pictures of a Future World,” wherein, after centuries of self-abuse, the human race finally wises up and behaves itself. That’s the kind of Future I want!


June 18, 2010

The Tattlesnake – Hayward Ho, Joe Blows It, Michele’s Glow Dims and All That Glitters Edition

Why Ask Me? Thanks to Tony Hayward’s appearance before Congress, we now know the qualifications for a CEO of British Petroleum apparently are to be completely uninformed about your business and the details of the greatest man-made oil disaster in US history that your company caused. For maintaining this extraordinary level of blissful ignorance, Hayward was paid $4.7 million in salary last year. Note to BP: Seems like you could find someone just as empty above the neck for considerably less – I know several people looking for a job who know nothing about the oil business and would gladly accept $50K per annum to stay just as dumb as Tony.

Speaking of Tony’s eye-rolling Congressional performance, crackpot Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton, coincidentally the recipient of at least $27,000 in campaign cash from Big Oil, took the occasion to dump on Obama for making sure BP paid for its disaster with a $20 billion escrow fund (which Joe hilariously called a ‘shakedown’) and then apologized to BP for any inconvenience the people of the US might have caused the oil giant by holding them responsible for destroying the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 Americans and ruining the lives of millions of others. President Obama may not have had his finest moment in his speech last Tuesday, but with the opposition spearheaded by half-baked corporate cheerleaders like Barton; Mississippi Gov. Haley “You Sure These Here Tar Balls Are From BP?” Barbour; Louisiana Gov. Bobby “I’m Against All Federal Bail-Outs Except When My State Needs One” Jindal; Alabama Gov. Bob “The Oil Will Never Reach Our Beaches” Riley and other GOP space cadets echoing the same forehead-slapping “Let’s not be so hard on BP” line, Obama looks like FDR in high-gear in comparison. The delusional, pop-eyed, tongue-lolling crazy GOP is committing suicide in the Gulf States; seems like the political opposition could take advantage of that by running ads simply showing what the various Republican pols have said in defense of the hated BP, especially Barton. (Just imagine the spittle-flecked furor on the right if a Democrat apologized to BP.) But, then, these are today’s Democrats who have made ‘bipartisanship’ with the lunatic Republicans their religion. FDR would not have approved. (Incidentally, GOP House Minority Leader John Boehner forced Barton to apologize for his BP apology; even the Ohio SunTanMan knew what a stench of electoral defeat Strokin’ Joe’s words left in their wake.)

Speaking of losers, I think it’s a cinch that dipsy-doodle Republican wingnut Michele Bachmann will lose her bid for reelection in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District. Given a strong Democratic challenger (for a change) and the embarrassment she’s caused to her constituents by her public bouts of delusional babbling, paranoid hysteria, and defense of BP’s unethical and destructive practices, she may very well be retired to a Fox News berth, or a sinecure as a lobbyist for the Focus on the Family’s Anti-Woman League.

– Gold Rush and Bust: For those who think buying gold will be a hedge against disaster if the economy melts down even further, keep in mind it is just a tradable commodity like corn, and actually worse than corn because at least corn is edible. Gold is a soft metal not good for much except jewelry and spacecraft and the price is high only because, for now, there are more buyers than sellers. However, if in the future the number of sellers exceeds the number of buyers, the price will plunge, which is exactly what I think will happen as things worsen. Although most economists think there’s no chance the price of gold will drop precipitously, these are some of the same seers who thought real estate values would perpetually increase. Unless you can find a way to eat it or wear it for warmth, investing in gold is just another junk bond scheme where the little guy will end up holding the bag. (Gold purveyors are now Glenn Beck’s primary sponsors – what does that tell you?) As John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “In economics, the majority is always wrong,” and Galbraith has been proven right, again and again.

BTW, those who favor a return to the gold standard for US currency don’t seem to realize that the price of gold is unstable and fluctuates daily and, therefore, so would the value of the dollar. Besides, the US doesn’t own enough gold to make this a viable notion.

© 2010 RS Janes.

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