Thursday, September 30, 2010


Dumbnesia (dumb + amnesia) is a common form of inability to comprehend our world combined with the inability to remember important facts and events that would help us understand.

Do you occasionally suffer from dumbnesia?

Most likely, when you do, you don't realize it.

Dumbnesia is a most insidious condition that is very difficult to heal because it combines colossal arrogance with extraordinary gullibility to the extent that the victim thinks they know everything when actually they don't know shit.

Dumbnesia is very difficult to cure, because the victim only trusts those who want him or her to remain in a vulnerable condition for exploitation. For example:

Disproportionate tax giveaways to the super-rich have been touted as good for the economy – because the rich are expected to spend their new-found excess wealth, and that wealth will someday “trickle down” onto the rest of us. Therefore:

If you haven't realized that the Bush tax breaks for the rich are effectively just another replay of “Trickle-Down Economic Theory” (which is effectively piss on the poor), you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

Luckily, once you do realize the obvious, you have been cured – for the moment. New strains of dumbnesia pop up every day. Here are some examples:

After 30 years of declining real incomes for the middle class, if you still believe that the “invisible hand” will somehow make things all better; you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you haven't figured out that the phrase “less regulations and less taxes” really means let the powers that be take whatever they want and keep all the profits for themselves, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you believe that “free market economics” is so righteous that it is better for someone on the other side of the world to essentially be a slave than have someone here with a good job, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you believe that privatizing social security won't lead to what happened to your 401K in 2008, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you believe, after 30 years of U.S. jobs being transferred to other countries and small businesses being gobbled up by monopolies, that Obama should have fixed it all in 2 years, you might be suffering from dumbnesia. (By the way, technically, he has. The recession is over.)

If you don't remember that the same "news" people who were claiming that Barack Obama was a militant Christian are now claiming that he is a secret Muslim, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If, after Fox contributed one million dollars to the Republican Party (and has helped numerous Republican candidates collect campaign contributions on their “news” shows), you still believe that Fox News is “fair and balanced”; you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you still believe that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum”, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you aren't convinced that the millions of dollars that the fossil fuel industry spends on mass media advertising hasn't influenced news reporting of the BP oil spill (or reporting of efforts in Congress to do something about it), you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you still aren't convinced that emitting millions and millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year is bad for the climate, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you still haven't noticed that renewable energy generation has been effectively suppressed for the past 30 years (with multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded subsidies to the fossil fuel industry), you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you believe that militarily occupying multiple Middle Eastern countries somehow reduces terrorism, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

If you have been convinced that killing people in Far-off-istan is more important than saving lives of the ill here at home, you might be suffering from dumbnesia.

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Of course, dumbnesia is not the only affliction out there. A far more dangerous condition, known as apathesia, is even more common.

Apathesia (apathy + amnesia) is a stupefyingly mindless condition commonly seen in zombies. The symptoms of apathesia are a combination of a sense of powerlessness and lazyness. (Which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense.)

Do you suffer from apathesia? Here are some symptoms:

If you believe that the best way to deal with those who suffer from dumbnesia is not to vote, you might be suffering from apathesia.

If you believe that all you have to do is vote for the right candidate, and this (superhero) candidate will fix it all for you, you might be suffering from apathesia.

If you just quietly accept that a corporation is a “person” and the millions they spend to influence elections are just this “person's” opinion, you might be suffering form apathesia.

If you make no effort to find alternatives to just spending your money on the very products or services sold to us by the very companies who are obviously ripping us off, corrupting our government, stealing our common resources, and poisoning us with pollution; you might be suffering from apathesia.

After 30 years of concentration of wealth, the monopolization of everything, the exportation of America's manufacturing sector, the privatization of the commons, the disintegration of our government's capacity to function, and the inability of our civilization to deal with such perfect storm “end game” issues as global warming, over fishing in the oceans, overpopulation, resource depletion, and innovation suppression – if you still believe that somehow things will all just fix themselves without your help; you might be suffering from apathesia.

If you are convinced that the collapse of everything is inevitable – so you may as well just stay wasted, watch mindless TV shows, play video games, focus on your hobby, be a lazy ass, or take whatever you can with no regard for anything but immediate gratification; you might be suffering from apathesia.


If however, you are beginning to realize that the secret to life is for us to give a damn, you are on the road to recovery.


If you have any dumbnesia/apathesia jokes/comments of your own, please add them in the comment section and share them all with your friends.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Tell You... We Don't Get No Respect

Greed has not always been king.

Many Native American cultures found greater status in what they gave away than in what they had.

As an example: my Newe ancestors always shared what they hunted. And consequently, the man who brought the most meat home for the group had the highest status. People paid attention to, respected, and even honored him because sometimes, when they needed it the most, he fed them.

...Imagine that. Living in a society that respected the philanthropist more than it did the capitalist. Hey wait a minute – that's true now too.

Yes... Most of us admire Bill Gates now far more than we did when he was a cut-throat capitalist.

Which means maybe we've overlooked a critical characteristic of our culture. It is an honorable act to help others and the community. So, it should be an honor to pay taxes. I know this may sound hokey, but think about it. Our tax money goes to keep our communities healthy, safe, and functional. We should be proud of that. We should be proud of our contribution.

So why does it seem like there is no pride in paying your taxes in America? I suspect because there is no recognition. Consequently, there is no honor. Taxes are just a bill we pay.

We should at least get a certificate of recognition.

And the biggest taxpayers should get public recognition.

We honor our Veterans for their contributions. It only makes sense that we should also thank those taxpayers who have done their duty for their community and country – even if it is just by paying for it.

This should be a no-brainer. I couldn't possibly be the first person to think of this:

We could publish a public list of the top 100 taxpayers in our community, and the top 1000 taxpayers in our country. And we could even have another set of lists of people who pay the most proportional to their income. Now that could be something worth bragging about. Or at least; that should be something worth thanking them for.

We should publicly bestow some honor to those paying the most taxes. By doing that, we would provide an incentive to give more. Right now, the only incentive is to reduce one's taxes. This is dysfunctional. We have essentially rigged the tax game such that the only way to win is not to pay taxes. Which has led us to where we are at – with the most powerful “Americans” manipulating our government into setting up the tax laws such that they pay the least taxes.

This idea of mine could be a simple change – that doesn't require any significant expenditure. People can recognize or ignore it. Taxpayers can play along or continue what they are doing. There would be no requirements or new laws. Participation could even be voluntary.

Imagine this: What if America were to learn from Native Americans, rather than consider EVERYTHING about our cultures quaint and simplistic. As far as I know, there were no taxes levied in pre-European America. And yet, people helped each other. They did so because it was the right thing to do, and because they got recognition.

Nowadays, our tax money goes to projects we don't believe in and our only thanks is another bill next year.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Billions in Corporate Welfare... to Poison Us

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released the “Western Wind and Solar Integration Study” which concludes that up to 35% of America's power could be generated with renewables without extensive additional infrastructure.

NREL has also tripled our nation's potential wind resource estimates. With current wind technology, America can now potentially generate 37,000,000 GigaWatt-Hours of electricity per year. This is over 10 times what Americans currently consume.

A Duke University study has found that solar power is now cheaper than new nuclear power. And Vice President Joe Biden has predicted (after consulting with top scientists and industry executives) that within five years, solar power prices will be on par with grid (coal-fired) electricity.

And don't let anyone tell you that renewable electric power can't be stored either. Nuclear power plants have been storing energy in pumped water reservoirs since the early 1960's.

Solar and wind energy generation's time has come.

So, why are they building 30 new coal-fired power plants in the U.S.? Because this is the coal industry's last chance to make a multi-billion dollar killing. We have been fooled into thinking that fossil fuels are cheaper. This is a lie. Not only is the price of coal bound to go up, but there are enormous hidden costs (including subsides and more subsidies). Think about it. Just because what you pay at the pump or on your monthly bill now seems cheaper, doesn't mean that is all you pay - or will ever pay.

The National Academy of Sciences has published a study, requested by Congress, that concludes that use of fossil fuels for power generation results in $120 billion dollars a year in hidden costs associated with pollution's effects on human health, crops, timber yields, and other areas.

Of that $120 billion dollar figure, coal fired electricity plants generate over half the damages – which, at the moment, they are not liable to pay. You are.

The National Academy of Sciences further estimates that future damages from climate change could potentially more than double that $120 billion dollar a year figure – just in the United States.

So, what are we going to do about that? Well, the American people voted for President Obama. This should have been a clear message to the administration that we no longer want to have to put up with the Bush Jr./Dick Cheney energy policies. ...Now, in case you didn't know; the Environmental Law Institute has estimated that between 2002 and 2008, roughly $72 billion dollars in fossil fuel subsidies were paid by the American taxpayer. Ouch!!! (That's over 5 times the subsidies for renewables (omitting the corn ethanol boondoggle which, of course, the corn industry pushed for)).

So, why are we American taxpayers subsidizing the fossil fuel industries?

The fossil fuel industries are full of highly profitable established companies. They don't deserve subsidies. Taxpayer funded subsidies should help America. And in the long run, these subsidies aren't helping America.

Over the past decade, the five largest oil companies (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell) made more than $750 billion dollars in profits. That's three quarters of a trillion dollars in profits!

And yet, on June 15, the U.S. Senate voted to continue big oil's $35 billion dollars in subsidies. Every Republican Senator and 21 Democrats voted down Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) amendment to the IRS code which would have used $25 billion of the saved money to pay down the deficit and $5 billion to encourage energy efficiency. Considering the fact that the Stimulus Bill subsidies for renewables are about to expire, this is all the more unconscionable.

Nonetheless, as huge as the subsidies are in the U.S., that's only a fraction of the world's fossil fuel subsidies. A comprehensive assessment, titled “The Politics of Fossil-Fuel Subsidies”, issued by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has shown that worldwide, our governments are handing out subsidies of over $500 billion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry! (that's over 12 times the world's subsidies for renewables.)

With over half a Trillion dollars in subsidies a year, it is no surprise that the energy and transportation industries are literally dominated by fossil fuels. How can any industry compete with an established industry that gets half a trillion dollars in subsidies – and doesn't have to pay for most the their environmental damage and essentially none of their health damage?

It's obvious: Our governments are out of touch with reality, incapable of change (even if it is a matter of survival), and overwhelmingly controlled by corrupting influences. This is not just a U.S. problem – far too many countries all over the world are puppets to the fossil fuel industry.

These dysfunctional governments have forcefully taken our money, in the form of taxes, and given it away to the least deserving. The fossil fuel industries don't have any emerging fossil fuel energy technologies that will make our lives healthier, safer, more sustainable, or less expensive in the long run.

(Someone is bound to bring up carbon sequestration at this point. But that's not a functional emerging technology, that's an attempt to mitigate the effects of an old dangerous polluting technology. Besides, carbon sequestration is just a boondoggle to spend our tax money to make the fossil fuel industry look more environmentally conscientious – while they keep right on polluting without carbon sequestration.)

No, no, no... This is the worst decision in history! For our half a trillion dollars in subsidies, all the fossil fuel industries have to offer is more of the same - air pollution, oil spills, scarcity, cost increases, war, and climate change. And worse; with all those mind-bogglingly huge subsidies, they can make sure that the competing companies with emerging technologies that actually will make our lives healthier, safer, more sustainable, and less expensive in the long run never get a fair chance to compete.

That's about as far from a free market as we can get.

But we don't really need a carbon tax – at least not yet.

We definitely don't need cap and trade (it will just make the banks rich).

We absolutely need to stop giving subsidies to some of the richest companies in history – NOW!

However; this won't happen until we fix our governments.

If we do nothing, it could mean the end of both democracy and free markets.

This is even a matter of life and death.

No living entity can survive for long if it cannot adapt to a radically changing environment. No society will last if it cannot stop poisoning itself. No species has much hope if it destroys its own niche.

There is a cancer growing within our civilization.

This cancer is thriving on undeserved subsidies.

If we stop the corporate welfare to the very industries that suppress innovation of healthier technologies, we can begin to adapt to our changing environment.

I believe that humanity still has the ability to think our way out of this predicament. But we have to use that ability. As of now, we're just waiting for the fossil fuel industry to make it all better for us. In case you hadn't noticed by now, they won't.

We have to take the initiative.