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Well I’ll Be Fracked
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Well I’ll Be Fracked

Life is a balance. The only difference between any two people is their sliding scales of ability, interest, feeling, and focus. We have civilization to thank for the fact that those values can have immense differences—when we were savages, or cavemen, or whatever, we could only differ in so many physical and mental ways. Now that we have created a ‘world’ of artifice, people can be as different as beggars and billionaires. Are those two types really that different? Of course they are. Money is everything in modern culture. To have a near-infinite amount is an experience that is light-years away from knowing what living on an insufficiency of funds feels like.

We used to be just rich, poor, and middle class—there was no denying that rich people got a lot of favoritism, that poor people were greatly neglected, that the middle class was the norm. But now we have the super-rich and the illegal alien, and everyone between those extremes isn’t the ‘norm’ anymore, it’s the gladiator ring where everyone is desperate to move up, terrified of falling down, and fighting like hell to stay where they are.

There’s no sense of balance anymore—bigger and bigger tragedies can befall us without our knowing who to blame or who to look to for help or justice. Responsibility just doesn’t fit into an optic-cabled, speed-of-light, digital, global business environment.

There is something called ‘fracking’ which, apparently, uses underground pressure to force up natural gas. It sounds like incredible science at work—but it is something else, as well. People have begun to complain of earthquakes allegedly being caused by nearby fracking operations. Others have complained that their kitchen sink faucets have become flame-throwers. From what I understand, the pro-fracking businesspeople are actually challenging these accusations.

I’m in awe of such bluster—imagine if someone started drilling near your home, and soon your neighborhood is suffering from hitherto unheard of earthquakes! Can you imagine the cojones on a guy who looks you in the eye and tells you it hasn’t anything to do with the pressurizing gas he’s pumping belowground? Not to mention stonewalling on responsibility for people getting their hair singed when they light a match near their kitchen sink! That’s the kind of imbalance that arises when a corporation is granted the rights of a person, even though its ‘conscience’ is a highly-paid legal department.

So much of modern business seems like those scenes in crime dramas when the criminal sneers at the cops in the interrogation room and says, “It doesn’t matter what I did—it only matters what you can prove.”

There was a time in the past, I think, when people were too dangerous for a criminal to sneer at after he’d got off on a technicality—he still had to leave town fast because everyone knew he was guilty and they weren’t above a well-deserved tar-and-feathering. It is a sign of our modernity that, in our time, a courtroom acquittal has the moral high-ground and anyone disputing it is a vigilante.

We don’t see this as a problem—the wealthy can hire armies (not ‘a small army’, mind you—just armies) security personnel (rent-a-cops) and intelligence networks (dressed up as industrial associations and research projects) with more financial backing than the typical squad of our own U.S. Special Forces commandos. Some of the satellites looking down on us are proprietary, meaning they aren’t available to our government, only to a single corporation. Then there are the business/industrial lobbyists—when are we going to realize that lobbying is only ethical when it excludes the moneyed interests and allows only non-profit organizations to impress the people’s needs on our legislators.

But I’m really just spinning my wheels here—this country is too big. It cannot be encompassed by an encyclopedia’s worth of text. Let me just say this: If money is the only thing that matters, then we are all slaves to it. If we condone the wrongs of a corporation because they pay our salaries, then we are inviting them to take the throne. If we are reluctant to conserve our natural environment because it would have a terrible impact on our economy, then we are placing the iron collars around our own necks. If we allow soulless, mindless corporations to make all the important decisions, while we are being distracted by the circus called “U.S. Politics”, then we are shoving the stake into our own breasts.

I see no solution. As I mentioned earlier, this country (not to mention this globe) is too big. It can’t be turned on a dime or stopped with a ‘whoa’. The media was more help when it was just newspapers, broadcast TV, radio and movie theaters. The effect of the digital culture has been to both disperse the attention into a hundred different interest groups and to reduce the value of professional media by mixing it with a froth of DIY-ers and pusillanimous pundits. Nowadays, one can chose one’s truth by the channels one watches.

Insanity used to be a simple thing—if a person was not seeing things the way we all did, they were not sane. If a person was insane, Walter Cronkite or Johnny Carson would let us know. If some business or other was hurting people, a few nights on the primetime news would destroy their business overnight.

But now, one is only insane when one is different from ‘our group’, whatever group that might be. Accusations against rival politicians are lies by the opposition’s standards and gospel to the supporters. If you’re insane to one group, you can go shopping for another group’s reality—and usually find it, no matter how insane. ‘Terrorists’ for example—only insane to the people they don’t know—totally sensible to the rest of their group!

For years I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think of an effective countermeasure to the omnipotence of money. There is only one—and it has very low odds of succeeding. We have to stop spending money. We have to create surreptitious bartering networks—anything aboveboard would get taxed into the system, only reinforcing money’s power. But on the down-low, we could string networks of food, clothes, transport, and other bartering guilds that would facilitate the barter of unequal products until it was only slighty less trouble to use actual money.

Once these communities began to ally themselves with each other, we could create entire regions of zero commerce—it would lower our standard of living something fierce. But it would leave corporations without a penny. Of course, the IRS might be hurt by these actions—but then again, the IRS was supposed to be a temporary emergency measure, since taxing the citizens’ income is expressly prohibited by our Constitution. So, to heck with them anyway.


Street Talk

JoshuaM  

If we do as you say and set up networks of barter, we may find that it is easier than one might think... I say this because many, many, people are already at the bottom of the ladder and have nothing to lose. There are those who would see their standard of living reduced a lot, but there are many like myself who would not. My intolerance of constitutionally violating business and government systems has driven me to the brink of civilization. I grew up in rural Alaska where I could walk 10 miles to a small town in one direction or walk to Russia or the Arctic Ocean or northern Canada without seeing another human if I walked in any of the other three directions. Granted, not many Americans have ever known that kind of seclusion, or peace, but those who have or those who want to can make or break these bartering networks. This is why: I already live without water, you cannot take it away. I already minimally use fossil fuels, you cannot put me into "fossil product withdrawal syndrome". I have no electricity and use the internet at a coffee shop, a tenuous but real utilization of "the system" I admit. I have less than 70 bucks to my name today and seldom more than 1000 dollars at one point, so that's not that far from zero... I have no bank accounts. I have no credit cards. I do not vote because I know it doesn't matter and only allows the facade to propogate itself. Who would be the presidential puppet if we could convince NOBODY to vote? Would the candidate's brother be able to continue to recount until they won, then? They would have to appoint a leader, which is what is happening now, anyway - but at least they would have to admit they are doing it! Did anyone read about Obama's recent slip up with the media to the Russion political rep? How likely do you think it is that the winner of this election is already a known result? As long as we allow them to lie to us, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves. But I digress... People like me would see our standard of living RISE from a natural bartering network, not fall, because we have already said "no" to their ideas and services until we are destitute. I simply cannot in good conscience particate in the lie anymore, at least not more than to provide the most basic necessities for my family. Does this mean I'm impoverished? Yes, the only real difference between me and a homeless person is a couple hundred bucks a month! Does it mean I go without? Yes, every single day! I already get more of what I need from barter than from currency exchanges, so to set up a network would only bring more of what I need into my life by providing access. People like me have more time and more skills than we have money, so labor and products would be easier to trade with for me than currency that I purposely keep to a minimum in my existence as a conscientious objector. Those like me would be able to function as the backbone and leadership in bartering organizations because the "change over" would be less damaging to our already meager lot. We also have more time on our hands because we choose time over money even if it means we fall behind the Jones's. Time with family, time with friends, time to research, time to think our own free thoughts. Time isn't money, it's a gift they take from us one second at a time until we are given it no more and our light perishes. You have given me food for thought. Maybe your notion is a big part of what we need?

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

JoshuaM, what an interesting upbringing--I've always been fascinated by Alaska. Your description of your chosen approach to the practicalities of life sparked a memory for me--I can remember some talk, right at the end of the Cold War, about how the Soviet was losing control because the populace, having been through horrible shortages, had made the black market a vital and necessary part of daily life. Of course, the other side of that is the Organized Crime Bosses in Russia became very powerful and were no more concerned about the people's welfare than the Soviet had been! So I suppose my barter plan has an equal blind spot--when we take power away from one group and give it to another, human nature guarantees that the new group will be changed by this--until they become no different than their predecessors. 'Power corrupts" is the terrible Catch-22 of modern society.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
JoshuaM  

The key I guess would be to not give anyone power over yourself. How to do that, I don't know. But the only power anyone can ever have over you is the power you give them (individually and en mass). I believe in regional governing bodies so the apple of consensus doesn't have to fall so far from the tree to hit the ground on target, so to speak. The target of course being the needs of the people, not the few. When you have people in DC telling native Alaskans how many caribou they can hunt per year it's hard to believe the local needs can be met. If you do not rely on caribou for feeding your family it's hard to understand or truly believe that need is real and impacting lives. If you buy your food from Walmart, aka Evil Empire, then you think maybe everyone should or at least could. But this simply is not true. When folks take back their rights, their freedoms, and their minds from those who tell them what to think, they are not FORCED to give power to the next guy who comes along. They choose to...out of fear of failure to create something beautiful and successful themselves, I guess. People just need to believe in themselves and have faith in their own ability to find their own path. Fear is your enemy.

  
  about 1 decade ago

I think that Life is a Pendulum that Creates "Life is a Balance". Each person is a part of that balance; where do we, as individuals, draw the line in tolorating inequities of any kind? When do we migrate to the other end of the see-saw. When is a "better idea" good enough to attract that migration? Okay, Christopher, are you happy now? You actually drew me in to say something... even if it is just to "ponder". :-)

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Yes, happy--and grateful (it means so much to know that someone is reading). I suppose 'ponder'-ing is my goal. If we look at most of today's crises, no easy solution presents itself. And democracy and complicated seem to be two things that are mutually exclusive. Modern debate requires in-depth analysis due to the complexity of the digital age--but elections are often won with 'sound bites' and other fragmentary responses to ills that need more than slogans to cure. The original Constitution included a head of state, to act swiftly when legislation was too slow to respond to threats. Maybe we've reached the point where we need a "Tail" of state, to consolidate complex issues into debatable fragments and to referee that process towards solutions. I nominate myself as the future "Ass Of State".

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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