New Economics? Is there another way?

I like some aspects of free markets.  As a craftsman who has made a living at times in my life building and remodeling houses, I like the idea that I can trade my time and skills in a relatively free manner for money or other goods that I want or need.  More and more I find I don’t really want too much stuff.  I have a houseful of stuff.  It comes and goes.  I don’t buy much in the way of new stuff.  We are awash in consumer goods in the US and if you turn off regular television and cable and stop reading the newspaper, your consumer programming falls away pretty fast in my experience, so I just am not all that familiar with the stuff that the consumer culture thinks I should be craving.

I think consumer culture and rampant capitalism is the downside of the free market.  I like Medicare.  I like Social Security.  I like public education.  I think it should be free and include higher education.  I think that means I like socialism.

But try to sell socialism to the US electorate with the consumer capitalists in charge of the media.  It’s going to be a tough sell.

I am throwing up this piece by Gar Alperovitz.  I will watch it in a day or two.   Maybe he has some thoughts about new economic systems that I will find appealing. Maybe you will find something here also. Hope so.

Gar Alperovitz – Our Time in History: The Possibility of Fundamental System Change from New Economics Institute on Vimeo.

Ocean Report

A couple of items on things oceanic came to my attention this week.

NYT had a story on collapse of the cod fishery:

The Shocking News About Cod

The ideal fish for human consumption would mature quickly and reproduce in staggering numbers.

Courtesy Wiki Commons NOAA

This does not describe the Atlantic cod. Cod mature late — at 4 to 6 years old — and they can live as long as 25 years. Female cod do, in fact, produce astonishing numbers of eggs. But older cod lay two or three times as many eggs as younger cod. This means that a healthy cod population must include relatively large numbers of older fish.

For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

A recent survey of cod catches in Northern Europe shows exactly the opposite. Extrapolating from survey numbers, scientists at a British government fisheries agency estimate that there are nearly 200 million 1-year-old cod in the North Sea but only 18 million 3-year-olds. As for older cod, the numbers are shocking. The survey team estimates that in 2011 there were only 600 12- to 13-year-old cod, a third of which were caught, and not a single fish older than 13 has been caught in the past year.

Read the whole article?  Important stuff.

Paul Pickett in Oly shared this new NOAA app that shows sea level rise and coastal impacts. We have been talking in Oly about actions by the Washington State Department of Ecology.  DOE has blocked a shoreline plan in Jefferson County that prohibited pen fish farming.  This is the industrial practice of raising fish such as Atlantic salmon in pens.  We don’t healthy fisheries if we can raise fish to eat in pens.  Ecology is also stepping in on the the Olympia shoreline plan in ways that may help the Port of Olympia and thwart environmental action that has wide public support.  We are talking in Olympia about how regulatory agencies can be captured by the industries they regulate and what we can do about it.

I think we have to ask the right question and that question is “why would regulatory agencies thwart reasonable environmental actions?”  The answer is profit, capitalism; economic interests are in control and dictate to us all.  Disaster capitalism.  Disaster, capitalism.  Disaster. Capitalism.

Here is the sea level rise app.  NOAA is not a regulatory agency per ser, more of a pure science agency.  It’s harder to capture science agencies than it is to capture regulatory agencies who are able to weigh science against economic interests.

It’s kind of tragic and ironic that we are both depleting the ocean and increasing the ocean’s coverage of the planet at the same time. The Greenland ice cap is melting.  Start looking hard at the sea level rise application and plan accordingly.  There are going to be some opportunities for profit in the coming troubles.

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer

NOAA Coastal Services Center

Features

  • Displays potential future sea levels
  • Provides simulations of sea level rise at local landmarks
  • Communicates the spatial uncertainty of mapped sea levels
  • Models potential marsh migration due to sea level rise
  • Overlays social and economic data onto potential sea level rise
  • Examines how tidal flooding will become more frequent with sea level rise

Overview

View the current status of the tool.

Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.

Launch Now

Acknowledgements

The NOAA Coastal Services Center would like to acknowledge those organizations that provided direct content used in this tool or feedback, ideas, and reviews over the course of the tool’s development. Specifically the Center would like to acknowledge the following groups.

Here is the link to the main page for this NOAA app.

Open versus Closed Societies

Let’s assume that a person really wanted to understand a foreign philosophy, a different way of setting up a society.  If that was the case, I would recommend listening to Suzanne Guerlac talk about the philosophy of Henri Bergson.  Thinking in Time

This is a dense program, but Suzanne is articulate and the interviewer asks probing intelligent questions, so if you have an hour where you really want to listen closely, I heartily recommend this program.  It is especially powerful when Suzanne starts talking about how the evolution from a closed society to an open society is not an easy evolutionary transition, that Bergson thought it would take some sort of fundamental change in way of being to occur.  Imagining that sort of thing is difficult.  Yet those moments occur.  Think Solidarity in Poland.  Think the fall of the USSR, the sudden destruction of the Berlin Wall.  In those moments, I suspect that an open society emerged, however briefly, before a closed society reasserted itself.  Fits and starts.  Evolution and change may not be orderly.

So, open societies.  What would that look like?  Listen hard to Guerlac’s discussion of love and livingness as something new, not love that arises with an object that is loved by a subject who loves, but when love arises in reference to all living things.  Pretty amorphous stuff.  And for those of you who need a lot of structure, this is not going to be your cup of vegan broth.  But if you want to stretch a bit, and you want to commit the energy, I think this program will stretch you.

Against the Grain appears to be a wildly intelligent program.   My friend Gar Lipow is the latest guest.  Gar is talking about climate change and economic exploitation.   Suzanne is so last week.

If you make it through the Open Society talk and thinking in time ala Bergson, and you want to think more about open societies, you could check out the mp3s at Audio Anarchy  .  The Anarchy Tension series is a good place to start if you have an open mind.  You may come to the conclusion that this is simple utopian sophistry, that might be true, but it may also be true that if/when an open society emerges, this could be one of the ways that it will happen.  This might be the shapeless shape of a certain kind of open society.

See some of you there.