Daily Digest

Daily Digest 10/28 - Poverty Snapshots In Suburbs, Recreating A Real Gold Standard, Will Economic Growth Destroy The Planet?

Friday, October 28, 2011, 9:43 AM
  • Japanese farmers protest against possible trade pact
  • Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs
  • Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have A Good Side?
  • What The Wall Street Protestors Are So Angry About
  • Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation’s Income, Study Finds
  • Recreating A Real Gold Standard
  • Soaring U.S. Wind Power Sector Growing Nervous Over Tax Incentives
  • Will Economic Growth Destroy The Planet? 

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Economy

Japanese farmers protest against possible trade pact (guardia)

Joining the free trade initiative would help Japan's auto and high-tech exporters compete in the global market, but would deal a blow to its well-protected farming sector by opening the door to cheaper overseas farm products.

About 4,000 people rallied in Tokyo, holding signs saying "Protect Japan's land and food" and wearing headbands with the words "Absolutely against TPP".

Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs (snorris302)

“The growth has been stunning,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, who conducted the analysis of census data. “For the first time, more than half of the metropolitan poor live in suburban areas.”

As a result, suburban municipalities — once concerned with policing, putting out fires and repairing roads — are confronting a new set of issues, namely how to help poor residents without the array of social programs that cities have, and how to get those residents to services without public transportation. Many suburbs are facing these challenges with the tightest budgets in years.

Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have A Good Side? (Phil H.)

I’m sure whoever’s idea it was has been sacked. Along with all the llama trainers.

What The Wall Street Protestors Are So Angry About (ScubaRoo)

Let's start with the obvious: Unemployment. Three years after the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is still at the highest level since the Great Depression (except for a brief blip in the early 1980s).

Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation’s Income, Study Finds (jdargis)

The report, requested several years ago, was issued as lawmakers tussle over how to reduce unemployment, a joint committee of Congress weighs changes in the tax code and protesters around the country rail against disparities in income between rich and poor.

Recreating A Real Gold Standard (June C.)

As the subtitle suggests, the plan is based on replacing national currencies (the dollar, euro, yen) with the non-national, neutral asset of gold as the world’s reserve money supply. Nations would settle international payment deficits and surpluses in gold rather than paper-based currencies. This would have the effect, principally on the U.S. as the issuer of two-thirds of world reserves, of removing the debt overhang which has made trade deficits, government overborrowing, and hot money bubbles the way of life. Depending on whom you asked, the dollar standard was an “exorbitant privilege” (French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing) or an upgrade (Citibank financier Walter Wriston). Decades of financial disorder have now made it clear that it is actually an “insupportable burden” as Lehrman puts it.

Energy

Soaring U.S. Wind Power Sector Growing Nervous Over Tax Incentives (James S.)

In the quarter to the end of September, a total of 1,204MW of wind capacity was installed across the US, taking new capacity installations for the year to date to 3,360MW – up 74% percent year on year – and the industry total to 43,461 MW, representing some 20% percent of global capacity, AWEA said Tuesday presenting its latest data.

Environment

Will Economic Growth Destroy The Planet? (woodman)

Economists love economic growth. It's an essential driver of rising living standards. But on today's show, we wrestle with a question we've heard a lot from our listeners: Is economic growth bad for the planet?

We talk to one economist, Herman Daly, who argues that economic growth is in fact environmentally unsustainable.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

24 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
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Breaking News: 110 micro Sv/h in Setagaya, Tokyo

Breaking News: 110 micro Sv/h in Setagaya

Quote:

In Setagaya, Tokyo, ward mayor held an emergency press conference at 10PM, 10/28/2011. They announced that they measured 110 micro Sv/h near a supermarket, "Powerlarks Setagaya" in Setagaya Yawatayama.

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Ten ways to turn from a consumer to a producer

Growing up in America, my generation was taught that any and every need could be met by a particular product or service, all of which were just waiting to be purchased. To afford these purchases as part of a "lifestyle," the proper career path for middle class people was to attend college, learn an intricately detailed specialization in order to make a salary, and buy whatever we might need or desire, from childcare to lawn services to fast food to psychiatric services.

While specialization can certainly make economic sense, the pendulum swung too far. We grew up to be thoroughly knowledgeable in a very narrow field, yet helpless and unempowered in every other walk of life, at the mercy of a cheap-energy growth economy supported by underpaid or slave labor and ongoing environmental destruction. While we grew up believing that having the money to purchase all of our needs equaled independence, many of us have learned that we've inherited a thinly-disguised dependence on the vast, complicated systems needed to support us.

 

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-10-28/ten-ways-turn-consumer-producer

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Re: Ten ways to turn from a consumer to a producer

While specialization can certainly make economic sense, the pendulum swung too far. We grew up to be thoroughly knowledgeable in a very narrow field, yet helpless and unempowered in every other walk of life, at the mercy of a cheap-energy growth economy supported by underpaid or slave labor and ongoing environmental destruction. While we grew up believing that having the money to purchase all of our needs equaled independence, many of us have learned that we've inherited a thinly-disguised dependence on the vast, complicated systems needed to support us.

Very well said

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We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes

 

We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes

 
 
 
 

http://moneyland.time.com/2011/10/24/why-were-paying-more-to-drive-than-were-spending-on-taxes/

By the time the costs of gas, insurance, tolls, parking, and car payments are added up, the average American family spends more on driving than on health insurance or taxes. And for the bulk of society—those who use cars every day to commute, drop the kids off at school, and run errands—it seems impossible to trim the high costs of transportation in any substantial way.

These are the main findings of "Energy Trap," a new study conducted by the non-partisan New America Foundation.

Generally speaking, consumers scale back on purchasing products and services as they get more expensive. What we've seen over the past few years, however, indicates that people need gasoline so badly, and driving is incorporated so deeply into every part of modern-day American life, that demand remains quite high even when gas prices spike. When gas prices hit $4 in 2008, demand dropped by just 3%.

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Car-Sick

 My ex's sister is Lynn Sloman, the author of the wonderful book, 'Car-Sick, solutions for our car addicted culture'

From a review on the wonderfully named www.makewealthhistory.org "The first observation to make is that much of our car use is simply complacency. Half of car journeys are under two miles, and 80% of them could be done by bike or bus. “Driving has become the normal, habitual, expected means of transport, and other options are not even considered.” Getting people thinking about travel is a good start. We take our cars for granted so much, just asking the question of how you will get somewhere is a step in the right direction.

Information is another crucial factor. Public transport, when considered, is often too easily dismissed. A survey in Darlington got people to estimate journey times and costs, by car and by public transport. People overestimated the public transport journey time by 70%, and underestimated the car journey time by 26%. They also overestimated the ticket fare by 21%, and underestimated the cost of going by car by 58%."

Lynn lives in the deep countryside of Wales, without a car, from where she runs her international consultancy, Transport for Quality of Life, consulting to may European countries about changing their cultures to kick the car habit.  Of course much of the problem is town planning, but the problem can, and is, being tackled.

Another great book is 'Energy and Equity', by Ivan Illich, where Illich puts forward a profoundly grounded argument for a world wide 24km/hr speed limit.  How is this little fact....  the most efficient animal on the planet is a fish, living and moving as it does in zero gravity... however, a human being on a bicycle traveling less than 24km/hr is more efficient than a fish, we become the most efficient travellor on the planet.  That blew my mind.

We have the technologies at hand.  The techno fixes are at hand.  The required fix is a cultural fix.

Ps. Matrix, the company I help manage, Food Connect, is supplying food to the Brisbane Occupation.  We are approaching our farmers and some, not a lot but some, are donating produce.  We are adding food from our food bank.  Have you visited?  There are now well over 40 tents. In this article the police actually paraise the protesters.   I love the spin that in Sydney and Melbourne it was the violence of the protesters that ended the occupation.  It will end the same way here, I have no doubt.  I say that as an ex-member of the Qld Police Service.  

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/brisbane-occupiers-protest...

 

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I doubt that...
DamnTheMatrix wrote:

We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes

While the costs are high, I doubt most people spend more to drive than on taxes.  My primary vehicle, a gas hog at 15mpg, costs about $0.57/mile (that's vehicle cost, insurance costs, maintenance, gas).  That number is probably a bit high since I allocated the full cost of the vehicle into the miles driven so far (ie. no deduction for residual value of the vehicle). I also drive less than the average/year so my insurance costs are higher/mile ($.05) than for someone that drives more.  So figure most people probably cost about .50/mile to drive.

So, the average driving distance/year for American vehicles is about 12,000 miles.  So that works out to about $6K.  I can say I pay a lot less for heath insurance, but a lot more than that in taxes (income tax, sales tax, property tax, gasoline tax (included in the cost/mile calculation above) licensing fees, etc).

Unfortunately public transportation is not necessarily cheaper (but often more convenient).  This is a bit out there on of the comments, but it shows how much you pay with public transit systems.  This article, has an interesting graph showing cost/passenger mile for various Subway systems about the US.  It ranges from about $0.31/mile (NYCT) to $0.78/mile (Baltimore).   It would be nice to see a much newer version of this table - it shows passenger/mile costs for variouis public transportation systems around the country , most are much higher than driving - and at thats in 1996 pricing!

So while we may pay a lot for driving, unless you going to walk or bicycle, you are not going to get away from the cost of transportation.

 

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the European crisis explained

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The European Banking Crisis: Assessing the Damage and a Look Ahead

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a two-part series on the European banking crisis.

Related Links

Europe faces a banking crisis it has not wanted to admit even exists.

The formal authority on financial stability, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde, made her institution’s opinion on European banking known back in August when she prompted the European Union to engage in an immediate 200 billion-euro bank recapitalization effort. The response was broad-based derision from Europeans at the local, national and EU bureaucratic levels. The vehemence directed at Lagarde was particularly notable as Lagarde is certainly in a position to know what she was talking about: Until July 5, her title was not IMF chief, but French finance minister. She has seen the books, and the books are bad. Due to European inaction, the IMF on Oct. 18 raised its estimate for recapitalization needs from 200 billion euros to 300 billion euros ($274 billion to $410 billion).

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Tests underway

The 1MW cold fusion plant is being tested.

Edmond Storms indicates the customer might be Federal.

My fear is a wet job.

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Lawrence H. Summers....quote

 

 

Thanks to Zerohedge for finding this quote from Lawrence Summers.

 

"The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much borrowing and lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more borrowing and lending, and more spending. "

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rhare wrote: DamnTheMatrix
rhare wrote:
DamnTheMatrix wrote:

We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes

While the costs are high, I doubt most people spend more to drive than on taxes.  My primary vehicle, a gas hog at 15mpg, costs about $0.57/mile (that's vehicle cost, insurance costs, maintenance, gas).

That sounds way too low......  as an income tax deduction, I am allowed to claim $0.74/km ($1.18/mile!) by the Australian Tax Office for my 2 litre car that does 35MPG (at least the way I drive it)....

http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/content.aspx?doc=/content/33874.htm

Rates per business kilometre

Engine capacity

Cents per kilometre

Ordinary car

Rotary engine car

2010-11
income year

1600cc (1.6 litre)
or less

800cc (0.8 litre)
or less

63 cents

1601cc - 2600cc
(1.601 litre - 2.6 litre)

801cc - 1300cc
(0.801 litre - 1.3 litre)

74 cents

2601cc (2.601 litre) and over

1301cc (1.301 litre) and over

75 cents

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Government subsidy at work....
DamnTheMatrix wrote:

That sounds way too low......  as an income tax deduction, I am allowed to claim $0.74/km ($1.18/mile!) by the Australian Tax Office for my 2 litre car that does 35MPG (at least the way I drive it)....

Government subsidy at it's finest.  I can assure you my numbers are correct.  I have all receipts.  Even then just some quick math and you can show a good estimate that is in the same ball park:

Item Cost
Car $20,000
Maintenance (5%/yr for 8 years) $8,000
Gas (100,000 miles @ 20mpg @ $4.00/g $20,000
Insurance ($50/month for 8 years) $4,800
TOTAL $52,800

 So at $52,800 for 100,000 miles = $0.53/mile.

 

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rhare wrote: Government
rhare wrote:

Government subsidy at it's finest.  I can assure you my numbers are correct.  I have all receipts.  Even then just some quick math and you can show a good estimate that is in the same ball park:

Dunno about that...  motoring probably costs more here.  Our gasoline is currently $6/gallon (I buy 98 RON @ $6.27)

I only paid $3500 (used) for the car so depreciation will be negiligible...

Insurance on my car is more like $600/yr

Tax is $650/yr

4 services (which I do myself) ~$75 x 4 = $300

The last two tyres I bought cost me $500 fitted and balanced (they were premium tyres) and in 12 months I bought $800 worth!

One new battery every three years = $50/yr

15,000 miles @ 35 MPG = 430 galls of gas @ $6.27 = $2700

Total expense/yr = ~$4700

I only travel 15,000 miles a year, so the car costs me, so per mile cost is ~31c/mile

But then I'm a scrounge and do all the work on the car myself.  And it's 17 years old.

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rhare wrote: So, the average
rhare wrote:

So, the average driving distance/year for American vehicles is about 12,000 miles.  So that works out to about $6K.  I can say I pay a lot less for heath insurance, but a lot more than that in taxes (income tax, sales tax, property tax, gasoline tax (included in the cost/mile calculation above) licensing fees, etc).

Do you pay a lot less for yourself for health insurance or for your family?  If it's less for your family, I'd be very interested in who you are obtaining your health insurance from and what is included in your policy.

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Uranium detected in fingernails of person living in Tokyo

Breaking News: Uranium from finger nail of a Tokyo citizen

Results from a German analysis...

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We Pay More to Drive Than We Spend on Taxes or health ins.

Whether true or not, what's the relevance?  I spend more on driving than I spend on beer.  That may or may not be a tragedy. 

 

 

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driving cost

 

The current business rate is 55.5 cents per mile

http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=240903,00.html

Though I can calc a  lower rate when I'm using the Prius I still run the numbers in my head quite often to decide if a trip is worth it to me.  If we had to feed dollar bills to our cars every couple mileswe might be award more of the true cost!

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Sorry no good deals for family health insurance...
ao wrote:

So you pay a lot less for yourself for health insurance or for your family?  If it's less for your family, I'd be very interested in who you are obtaining your health insurance from and what is included in your policy.

Just myself, it runs about $130/month.  I recently changed because I discovered I was paying $300/month for the same policy.  That is a policy that has a co-pay for basic stuff, a prescription plan, and a $5,000 deductible for anything above office visits and prescriptions.

However, as a business owner I can tell you when we started in the mid 90's we were able to provide full coverage for our employee and their families, but by mid 00's we could barely afford the employees and that was with them having to pay some.  I can tell you that a lot has to do with state mandates about what must be covered for everyone - I can't get a policy that doesn't have mental health, maternity care, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, ... I have only a few select insurers to choose from because governments limit my choices to only those that the state has decided to approve.  I know some people head to Mexico for dental care because of the costs.

I do feel for anyone who has a family because they probably do pay more for health care than driving! 

If you can afford to only go with catastrophic type insurance and pay for everyday medical treatment, and you are willing to haggle it might be worth forgoing HMOs and PPOs - you have to find doctors that are willing to give big discounts if they don't have to deal with health insurance plans.  I know there are some cash-only type clinics that make basic care affordable.

 

 

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Children go without food so DamnTheMatrix can drive cheaply.....
Woodman wrote:

Though I can calc a  lower rate when I'm using the Prius I still run the numbers in my head quite often to decide if a trip is worth it to me.  If we had to feed dollar bills to our cars every couple mileswe might be award more of the true cost!

For everyday trips I don't worry about it, I'm just aware of it, but when it comes time for long distance trips you quickly discover it's almost always cheaper to fly and rent-a-car or taxi it on the other side.

osb272646 wrote:

I spend more on driving than I spend on beer.  That may or may not be a tragedy. 

So sorry, you need to step up to wine (or much better beer).

DamnTheMatrix wrote:

I only travel 15,000 miles a year, so the car costs me, so per mile cost is ~31c/mile.

So you essentially are getting an $0.87/mile * your tax rate subsidy from your fellow citizens.  Does that seem right to you?  Doesn't that kind of go against your thoughts about clean energy and sustainability?  What about the poor children who don't get government assistance so you can drive? ...Sorry - just had to yank your chain - I don't get to use the who will look out for the children line much...

 

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rhare wrote: So you
rhare wrote:

So you essentially are getting an $0.87/mile * your tax rate subsidy from your fellow citizens.  Does that seem right to you?  Doesn't that kind of go against your thoughts about clean energy and sustainability?  What about the poor children who don't get government assistance so you can drive? ...Sorry - just had to yank your chain - I don't get to use the who will look out for the children line much...

 

Dead right.....  it's a reward for living within my means.  It's a reward for driving an older/smaller car, slowly enough to substantially exceed its rated fuel economy rating, and doing all the servicing myself.  That mileage rate is set only because the guvmint WANTS people to buy large BRAND NEW gas guzzling cars (which BTW need tyres that weigh twice as much as mine and cost twice as much too!), support the industries that service them, all totally unsustainable enterprises... even if you happen to be selling solar panels like I was.

In any case, I've given up working again, I've got too many other things to do around here.  And doing unsustainable things just depresses me no end..  Last year I earned $8640 in takings.  I will be able to claim ~12,500 km @ $0.76 = $9500 for a dead loss of ~$1000 (round figures) and that's before even claiming for fuel!

Just shows what I think about working for the Matrix......  Oh and I pay zero for health insurance.  But I don't burden the state financed system we have here because I look after myself, I'm healthy as, and I don't have the stress of having to work!

I don't understand the "poor children who don't get government assistance".  ALL poor children get assistance in Australia.  There are lots of reasons why Australia is a far superior place to the US.  And we do all that on a far far lower (doesn't even compare) budget deficit than yours.  Of course we don't spend half our GDP on armies and weaponry......

I really don't care any more.  It's all going down the toilet anyway, so what are you worried about?  Australia will be totally out of oil by 2020.  THAT's what really matters.  Everything else is a distraction.

I got a chook to kill.  Seeya.

Mike

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I was only joking with you, but....

 

DamnTheMatrix wrote:

Dead right.....  it's a reward for living within my means.  It's a reward for driving an older/smaller car, slowly enough to substantially exceed its rated fuel economy rating, and doing all the servicing myself.  That mileage rate is set only because the guvmint WANTS people to buy large BRAND NEW gas guzzling cars (which BTW need tyres that weigh twice as much as mine and cost twice as much too!), support the industries that service them, all totally unsustainable enterprises... even if you happen to be selling solar panels like I was.

So, in many posts you seem to advocate that the government has to be involved and is needed.  In other words you seem to generally take a Progressive political view.  So, how, when you clearly see the distortion of government, can you take that view on so many things?  In this particular example, if the governments just stayed out of the issue, the "correct" behavior would be naturally encouraged.  Buy an expensive gas guzzling car, and not take frugle actions, you have to pay for it.  Those that save come out ahead.  No government involvement needed.  It's just a perfect example of the distortions the government creates that lead to unsustainable environments.

DamnTheMatrix wrote:

But I don't burden the state financed system we have here because I look after myself, I'm healthy as, and I don't have the stress of having to work!

Good for you, I commend you on your attitude, again, isn't your outlook also the desired behavior for all citizens in a sustainable future?  Doesn't having a government run "free" health care encourage reckless behavior.  It moves the burden and responsibility from the individual to other tax payers.

DamnTheMatrix wrote:

I don't understand the "poor children who don't get government assistance".

Not trying to get in a pissing contest. I was joking with you, notice all the smiley faces. It was in reference to when a Libertarian viewpoint meets a Progressive, the argument always come down to "but who will look out for the children".  Sometimes it's children, sometimes it's national parks, or highways, or whatever the progressive views as a need that can only be fulfilled by government.

DamnTheMatrix wrote:

ALL poor children get assistance in Australia.  There are lots of reasons why Australia is a far superior place to the US.  And we do all that on a far far lower (doesn't even compare) budget deficit than yours.  Of course we don't spend half our GDP on armies and weaponry......

Base on this, Australia has a higher per capita external debt than the US, and both the US and Australia have about the same amount of debt as a percentage of GDP, so I wouldn't get too snooty.  All the poor children in the US get assistance, despite much of the rhetoric, and government handouts are given in great quantity to those that don't.  Just look at all the Solar subsidies, driver subsidies (see above), housing credits, ... The list is very very long.

DamnTheMatrix wrote:

I really don't care any more.  It's all going down the toilet anyway, so what are you worried about?

I care because as long as people believe government is the answer to all problems we are setting ourselves up for some really ugly times.  It doesn't matter how prepared you are if your government decides it is going to take what you have to hand out to others.

 

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Re: I was only joking with you, but....
rhare wrote:

I care because as long as people believe government is the answer to all problems we are setting ourselves up for some really ugly times.  It doesn't matter how prepared you are if your government decides it is going to take what you have to hand out to others.

Can't we make a compromise here and when we talk about government, we mean "government of the village" kind of scale? This is getting really old... It's not like we'll be able to maintain the current scale of government anyway.

Samuel

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Large government death can be dangerous times.
guardia wrote:

Can't we make a compromise here and when we talk about government, we mean "government of the village" kind of scale? This is getting really old... It's not like we'll be able to maintain the current scale of government anyway.

No, because it's not the government of the village that I worry about.  If your village decides to govern poorly and abuse it's citizens you have the ability to leave (maybe unpleasant, but you have the choice).  It's the problem with the large governments - federal, world?  While you are right we can't maintain it, large government often become very brutal while trying to maintain power. 

I think the risk of a "government power struggle" is much worse than many of the other issues we face.  Large governments when their power is threatend often go to war. 

So I see several ways we can go about building a better future.  We can continue to give power to the large governemnts or we can choose to pull it back to the local community and individual.

 

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Re: Large government death can be dangerous times.
rhare wrote:

No, because it's not the government of the village that I worry about.  If your village decides to govern poorly and abuse it's citizens you have the ability to leave (maybe unpleasant, but you have the choice).  It's the problem with the large governments - federal, world?  While you are right we can't maintain it, large government often become very brutal while trying to maintain power. 

I think the risk of a "government power struggle" is much worse than many of the other issues we face.  Large governments when their power is threatend often go to war. 

So I see several ways we can go about building a better future.  We can continue to give power to the large governemnts or we can choose to pull it back to the local community and individual. 

But that's the thing, rhare, I don't think Mike is advocating for "large governments" either. AFAIR, he comes from the Transition Towns movement, which considers that anything else than very local governments cannot function.

The way I see it, he would like his "village" to offer free medical care, and you would want one without. That seems fair enough. As you say, this way anyone is free to leave, we have a choice...

Samuel

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