Chris Hedges Speaks the Unspeakable

book jacket of Unspeakable by Chris Hedges on the most forbidden topics in AmericaChris Hedges, one of my favorite authors and thinkers speaks with David Talbot “about the most forbidden topics in America” in this new book series from Hot Press (Conversations). David Talbot is a fellow radical journalist who founded Salon and the Hot Books imprint.

This book, Unspeakable, by Chris Hedges (c 2016) is formatted with Talbot asking him questions and then transcription his replies.

This is not a fun read; he has seen too much death and greed and destruction. I am an idealist, so I guess I still have a spark of hope.

I did put this off for another day to read in full: it is bleak.

[note: this was written in August 2017 and I am not sure I still have that spark of hope. Subsequent events: #GOPTaxScam, the close contest for senator from Alabama where a sexual predator was deemed better than a Democrat, and the Democrats eating their own with the hasty and ill-considered holier-than-thou response to Al Franken’s juvenile sense of humor exceeds my capacity to believe that everything will be alright.]

He mentions the documentary Cowspiracy that I have heard about but could not bear to watch. I cannot bear many things these days, like the fact that:

Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes combined. Livestock, along with their waste and flatulence, account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. . . . (p. 139)

He goes on like this citing more statistics, including the stat that my theme reading on water issues already made me aware of: “It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk.”

Also, “Crops grown for livestock feed consume 56 percent of the water use in the United States.

Many things take more water than they are worth to produce. Ethanol, as I recall, was a big water waster.

So I’m just going to post this as is without more. It’s December now, and things have only gotten worse and worse. I may not ever feel emotionally strong enough to read this completely. Too much bad in the world.

People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities

book jacket people habitat nice photos of charming town sitesPeople Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities by F. Kaid Benfield (2014)

One thing that none of the pushers for multi-family dwellings ever address involves NEIGHBORS. Single-family dwellings are desirable over anything else — not because people have no interest in environmental impact — but because dealing with other people can be a nightmare. Thin walls are not funny in reality. ¬†Even single homes can have issues: Good fences make good neighbors!

Unless some law or soundproofing regulations or roving enforcers with martial arts skills are part of every multi-family dwelling, the problems of conflicts between people will still drive people who can afford it to buy single-family homes. Plus they are going to want big lots so there is distance between them and still noisy neighbors.

Continue reading People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities

The Truth about Socialism in America

book jacket featuring a graphic silhouette of the flag raising at Iwo JimaThe “S” Word: A short history of an American Tradition. . . Socialism by John Nichols (2011) makes the case for Americans to embrace the benefits of socialism for the common good. This book is worth buying as well as reading.

The Republicans and conservatives demonize socialism today without reason. With the fall of the communism of the Soviet Union, it seems like they need a new enemy to keep the war on truth, justice, and the specter of a hot war.

Seriously, how can anyone be against medical care for all? How can anyone believe that socialism means taking what little you have and giving it to (a) lazy, (b) immoral, (c) poor people and would destroy America?

Why do the haters of “socialism” find a political system that helps those in need survive, and maybe thrive, to be so despicable?

Continue reading The Truth about Socialism in America

Social Justice means support for “The Least Among Us” by Rosa L. DeLauro

book jacket with photo of authorThe Least Among Us: Waging the Battle for the Vulnerable by Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (2017)

This congresswoman really impressed me when I was watching some of the C-SPAN coverage of her passionate commentary in favor of progressive values and in support of social justice. I had hoped for better, gripping, passionate writing in her book but was disappointed.

It reads more like a memoir that I expected. I thought it was going to cover substantial policy discussions “in the weeds” as has become the commonly used gag-reflexing golf analogy. The presumably editorial direction to have chapters arranged by mostly repetitive use of “In Defense of” is tiresome at best.

Chapters like “In defense of children, of women, of the hungry, and so on, are presented recounting some of the legislative action and negotiating at the time, such as in 2008. Well, that was nearly a decade ago and I am not sure anything relevant can be pulled out of journal notes or other contemporaneous documents. I think her voice and her passion is important to hear. Perhaps she will write another, organized around policy issues, using her details of what actually happened in service of the bigger picture.

Continue reading Social Justice means support for “The Least Among Us” by Rosa L. DeLauro

Economism part 2 of 2

Tbook jacket for Economism red wth black Xhis is a continuation of a really long post posted recently. I have to take the book back to the library but can’t resist sharing some more of the book before¬†tomorrow.

Chapter 4 is titled “You get what you deserve” and encapsulates various justifications for inequality.

He starts with some stats on property and the fact that minimum wage is “below the poverty line for a family of two, let alone a family of four.” It would seem obvious, with companies making massive profits — or even small net profits — that the owner class could afford to pay more than minimum wage. Because like Chris Rock said, the fact that we have to have a minimum wage law at all means employers wouldn’t pay you at all if they could. And by gosh, they are coming after every labor law that ever was passed including or maybe especially minimum wage.

Through the “science” of economism, however, conservatives can “prove” that increasing wages will not reduce poverty, but will increase unemployment. The argument starts out flawed because employees have NO POWER TO SET WAGES unless they are in a union. Even then, employees must be willing to go on strike and try to cost an exploitive employer so much in lost profit that they will agree to pay fair wages. Being on strike requires back up funds, courage, and risk. People who were the original strikers risked their lives and were killed by POLICE for daring to demand living wages. That’s how bad American employers don’t want to pay wages: they would rather kill people that make a nickel less for themselves.

Continue reading Economism part 2 of 2