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This 2014 excerpt of Alternet, Feb 21, is by Mike Lofgren, a former congressional staffer on both the House and Senate budget committees, possessing a top secret security clearance.
The Deep State operates regardless of who is formally in power.
President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets; because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.
Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct “dragnet” surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant, and engage in witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, the chief executive displays intimidating force of militarized federal, state, and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama starts wars without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress; he forced the landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory.
We have heard very little from Republicans about these actions — with the exception of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, too, permit perjured testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.
When there was heated debate about the budget crisis, our government committed $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, the government has spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of seventeen football fields for the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text.
There is another government behind the one visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s a hybrid entity of public and private institutions. Its operators — the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders” — mainly act in the light of day.
“Groupthink” — the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers — is endemic to Washington. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and it is not a career-enhancing move to question the mission. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet they simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate. It is easy to grow immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.
The Deep State is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Justice Department. We also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions, and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008 retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: all that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet.
What is euphemistically called private enterprise is an integral part of its operations. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top secret clearances — a number greater than that of top secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business.
Wall Street supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. They’re too big to jail yet the justice system has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants.
General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance; General Petraeus’s expertise in these areas is unclear; his ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. He also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is the preferred charm school of the American oligarchy.
Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market; but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA’s bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters — if an American “jailbreaks” his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use another service provider than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen’s vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device.
Washington, the headquarters of the Deep State, has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion. Within the Beltway itself, the richest metropolitan area in the nation, virtually every time there is a severe summer thunderstorm, tens — or even hundreds — of thousands of residents lose power, often for many days. There are occasional water restrictions over wide areas because water mains, poorly constructed and inadequately maintained, have burst.
As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, the gears of the hybrid state mesh. But when one house of Congress is taken over by the Tea Party, life for the ruling class becomes more trying. Sequestration, the government shutdown, and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium.
Also, Silicon Valley is losing billions in overseas business from companies, individuals, and governments that want to maintain privacy. For high-tech entrepreneurs, the cash nexus is ultimately more compelling than the Deep State’s demand for “patriotic” cooperation. Even legal compulsion can be combatted: unlike the individual citizen, tech firms have deep pockets and batteries of lawyers with which to fight government diktat. Silicon Valley is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State. Some tech firms are moving to encrypt their data.
Ed. Notes: The above is how nations shed their empires. Afterwards, the ordinary people are better off. Check out the regular citizens of former European powers that have lost all their colonies. Without its huge parasite — the military/industrial complex that President Gen. Dwgiht Eisenhower warned Americans about — perhaps America can get back to being the beacon of freedom and progress for the lagging parts of the world. We can stay number one in exporting pop culture, if the world still will want it, and forget about being war mongers.
This 2014 excerpt of Salon, Feb 21, is by Falguni A. Sheth.
The Obama administration resorts to incarceration (John Kiriakou), mock trials (Chelsea Manning), or no trials (Barrett Brown), rescinding passports (Edward Snowden), coercing other sovereign states to incarcerate challengers to its power (Yemen/Abdulelah Haider Shaye), and killing citizens and foreigners alike without review or impunity (whether by drones or financial starvation).
The FBI stands above the law and does not answer to any authority when they outright lie or make deliberate misrepresentations about what kind of operations they are or are not conducting. The Executive Branch enjoys extraordinary immunity from punishment when incredible abuses of power are committed and cases on torture, warrantless wiretapping, or spying are brought forward in court.
AG Eric Holder promised that he would not claim the state-secrets privilege to hide wrongdoing, incompetence, inefficiency, or embarrassment. Nor would he invoke it to “prevent or delay the release of information the release of which would not reasonably be expected to cause significant harm to national security.” Clearly, Holder lied.
Holder’s behavior and that of many of his colleagues in the Obama administration, such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, indicates that they have no problems with lying about government practices, evading demands for evidence, or concealing violations with law.
The Obama administration has claimed the right to kill American citizens without charge or trial. That’s not an abuse of power. It’s a complete usurpation of power; it’s the monopoly of power.
Ed. Notes: The question that needs to be addressed is not whether the Obama administration is interested in holding itself accountable but whether we are interested. If so, the way to challenge the state’s political power is to challenge its economic power. That is, shrivel its power to tax and subsidize however the politicians see fit. Instead, restrict government to recovering our common wealth, the values generated by society, which typically attach to land, resources, or more precisely to locations, and to disbursing discretionary public revenue to the populace in general via a Citizen’s Dividend. Humans won’t be taxpayers so much as sovereign citizens. It may be scary to live under a government out of control but at least there’s something you can do about it.
This 2014 excerpt of the AP, Feb 20, is by Josh Boak.
The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities. The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average.
Many sources of both economic growth and income inequality have co-existed near each other for the past 35 years.
There’s something of a relationship between economic success and inequality.
Ed. Notes: Why’d Henry George even bother to write his classic, Progress and Poverty, back in 1879, people have so thoroughly forgotten his lesson. Of course there’s a gap. It’s because Ricardo’s observation about income distribution is a natural law, and natural laws (like gravity) are not so easily violated. The only way there couldn’t be a gap would be if the value of land — which is highest in cities where income is highest — were to be recovered and shared, something any city could achieve using its powers of raising revenue and disbursing revenue. So, unequal cities, what are you waiting for? George won’t be writing a sequel.
This 2014 excerpt of Poor as Folk, Feb 19, is by Jenn, posted Jupiter Sinclair.
Today, I did something I never thought I’d do. I yelled at my son for being hungry. He’s just a kid, a 7 year old who is full of energy and constantly growing. I didn’t have enough food for anyone to have extras. Everything has to be rationed.
There was nothing I could do to change it in that moment. My anger turned to worry, another constant feeling in my daily life, as I wondered if this would create food issues in my child. Will he be afraid to eat, knowing that we might not have enough the next day?
I am college educated, degreed, and I have held a professional license. I have been working since the age of 18. Until now.
I have saved my kids Halloween candy for times when my blood sugar gets too low after a day of not eating because I can’t afford enough food for 3 square meals for the entire family. Having my heat set above 60 degrees is a luxury. The needle on my gas gauge is constantly hovering at E. We wear our clothes several times before laundering because we can’t afford the the washing machines. The thrift shop is damn expensive.
It’s not that anyone should be judged for why they are poor, but people naturally ask, mostly out of curiosity and sometimes to find information to justify their lack of care for our situation. My husband lost a fairly good job. His period of unemployment meant we burned through our savings and our emergency fund. While I am still unemployed, my husband is currently working three jobs. Two of them pay exactly minimum wage. The third pays just above that. He is constantly applying for jobs on a weekly basis, as am I. He would often work nearly 30 hours in a row, come home to sleep for a few hours, then go back for another cycle of 30 hours. It’s been brutal on his health and our family.
The changes to one’s mental health when living in poverty can be astonishing. I suffered a miscarriage years ago and I knew anger and sadness then. I didn’t think I would feel such strong emotions again. I was wrong. I am angry I’m not good enough for proper employment. I’m angry my children are living through this. I am angry at my husband. I’m angry at Christians who preach against me. I’m angry at politicians who vote against people like me. I’m angry at a society that views me as a leech.
Now I’m jealous at anyone who can afford to buy $15.00 jeans on sale at Old Navy. Where I would once say, “oh, those boots are cute,” I am now filled with plain old bitter envy. An acquaintance said to me recently, “You actually look like a poor person.” My husband took to wearing black shorts under his pants (also black) so the holes wouldn’t be a noticeable.
I’ve been jealous that friends can do wild and crazy things like buy a full tank of gas, get new brakes for their cars, buy a pack of toilet paper, eat.
I took my children to Ikea. We weren’t there to buy anything. It was damn cold, we were tired of being cooped up in the house, and there weren’t many options for a free place to play. Ikea has a play zone for my older child. My daughter is more than happy to walk around the store, sitting on sofas and chairs. I bought my kids lunch. As they ate, I would steal a bite here and there. That’s when the tears, which I fought very hard to hold back, started to flow.
I’m constantly weak. My husband is a very strong man, but he has lost an alarming amount of muscle and strength in the past year. The two of us are constantly exhausted. Part of that is the hunger, part of it is emotional.
Hopelessness is unbearable. I was once someone that my friends would always look to for a positive thought and encouraging word. Fear is constant. I’m afraid of opening my bills to find new late fees. I’m afraid of losing utilities. I’m afraid of being evicted. My tail light is out; it’s terrifying. We don’t have the money for a new tail light. Our cops here are very good at pulling you over for broken lights, outdated stickers, etc. Weather is terrorizing; jobs can be called off due to snow or ice.
Poverty is isolating. Friends eventually fade away because they think you’re ignoring them when you constantly turn down their invites to dinner or events. Your children’s social lives suffer – you can’t afford to send them to many birthday parties or playdates. Trips to zoos, museums, and other fun places with admission fees are extremely limited.
Friends try to help you, fix you now, get you to shut the fuck up about being poor. It’s hard for others to hear that you don’t want to get up in the morning anymore, that you just want to end it all. Many friendships have been strained by poverty.
However, no one can be as hard on you as you are on yourself. I spend hours per day telling myself how much I suck. If only I had done this or done that. I know our circumstances were beyond our control. I know how hard we try every single say. But, it doesn’t stop the shame.
I sit here now, writing this at my desk that is piled with overdue bills. I have multiple windows open on my computer – several for job applications for me, several job applications for my husband to look at once he’s home from work, a few for charity searches, another for prayer requests, and another for a site that offers emotional support and solidarity for people like me.
I hope to eventually write about how we struggled, survived, and came out on top. Until then, be nice to the poor folk. You can have all the assumptions in the world about how they got there, how the feel, how much they “take,” but you can never really know their true story.
Ed. Notes: Poverty does not show someone is worthless, prosperity does not show someone is worthwhile. Indeed, one’s material success is due far more to one’s economy’s success than to one’s personal attributes. Now you can become very comfortable as a sales person, a programmer, a college dean, etc, but not too long you could not.
While personal attributes should determine how high one’s income can go, they should not set how low one’s income can go. Everyone should receive at least a share of society’s surplus, of the worth of Earth. On that income floor, people can build themselves up into higher income earners.
But as long as the economy keeps automatically generating a surplus, nobody should ever suffer materially.
The violence in Ukraine demonstrates once again the failure of centralized democracy. Whenever we see masses of people protesting and rallying in the city streets and squares, it shows that the structure of government has failed. The prime purpose of democracy is social peace. The mass demonstrations show that the people cannot express their views and make policy decisions through the formal channels of government, so they take to the streets.
When government fails, there is another path towards political change: civil disobedience. Rather than massing in the city square or taking control of government buildings, the protestors can stop obeying the government. They can stop paying taxes and stop obeying unjust rules. Civil disobedience is how India won independence and the US civil rights movement ended segregation. Today, protestors use social media to spread the message. Some activists will be put in prison, but there is not enough room to put half the population in jail.
The conflict in Ukraine originated in the 2010 election for president, in which the opposition accused the winner of fraud. The protests began in November 2013, when the president switched from making a trade agreement with the European Union in favor of a pact with Russia, which provided aid to the government of Ukraine.
The protests in Ukraine were intended to be peaceful, but mass protests often become an attractive nuisance for provocateurs. When a small minority of protesters start throwing rocks or fire bombs at the police, that becomes the signal for the police to use lethal force, and then the protestors return fire, and the result is violence and death. Peaceful civil disobedience is decentralized and does not provide such a venue for the chaos makers.
Ukraine is the largest country that is entirely in Europe. It was in the Russian Empire until the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, when it became an independent state. It soon became a republic within the USSR. The Soviet structure of councils and republics served to preserve the identity of Ukraine, which even had its own membership in the United Nations, and achieved independence with the break-up of the USSR in 1991.
Now, in February 2014, following the failure of government repression, the Ukrainian parliament has dismissed the president, restored the 2004 constitution, freed the previous prime minister, and appointed an acting president. The agreement between the government and the opposition was facilitated by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Poland and a representative of the president of Russia.
The national anthem of the country is “Ukraine has not yet perished.” Millions of Ukrainians died during the years of forced collectivization under the Soviet Union, and more millions, including many Jews, were slaughtered during World War II, but the Ukrainian identity has persevered. Ukrainians now have a unique opportunity to reshape their future.
Some of the conflict in Ukraine comes from its ethnic mix. The westernmost part of the country was part of Poland prior to World War II, although that territory along other neighboring areas had been Ukrainian previously. In 1954, the Crimea was transferred from the Russian Republic to Ukraine. The eastern half of Ukraine is culturally Russian; the main religion is Eastern Orthodox. The western part is ethnically Ukrainian and Catholic, and the people of western cities such as Lviv identify with Europe. Ukraine needs to restructure its governance as well as its economy in order to achieve social peace and prosperity.
Ukraine has a centralized government, but also has 24 provinces, plus the nominally autonomous republic of the Crimea, and two city districts, Kiev and Sevastopol. The democracy of Ukraine can become more authentic by decentralizing the governance into a federation of its subdivisions. An association agreement with the European Union should reduce trade barriers, while the Ukraine should also pursue free trade with Russia and its other neighbors.
The economy of Ukraine suffers from its oppressive tax system. The new tax code adopted in 2011 has 18 national and 5 local taxes. The major taxes include corporate and personal income taxes, a value added tax, and excise taxes. But there is also an economy-friendly, though small, land tax, and royalty taxes on the extraction of natural resources. The current tax rate on corporate gross income is 16 percent. The value-added tax rate of 17 percent is imposed on the sale of goods, including imports. There is also a high social security tax of up to 49.7 percent.
Ukraine’s land tax is paid by the owners and users of land. The tax rates depend on the use of the land. For pastures, the rate is one-tenth percent of the land value, and for farms the rate is three-hundredths of a percent. There are also local real estate taxes per square meter of dwelling space with the tax rate from 1% to 2.7% of the monthly minimum wage.
The Ukranian tax system has been criticized for its complexity, its disincentives to labor and enterprise. and its inducement for tax evasion. Ukraine has the potential to become a great agricultural and industrial economy, but its tax and regulatory policies have been holding it back. The Fraser Institute’s index of economic freedom calculates Ukraine’s level at 6.16 on a range from zero to pure freedom at 10. Out of 152 economies, Ukraine ranks 126 in economic freedom, near the bottom among the countries of the world. The Heritage Foundation index also ranks Ukraine as “repressed,” especially low on investment freedom and freedom from corruption.
If Ukranians seek prosperity, they would be wise to eliminate all their taxes other than the land tax and also enact national and local pollution taxes. The land value tax should be uniform for all land, based on its current market price or rent when put to its best use, regardless of its current use. The elimination of the other taxes would stop tax evasion and liberate the underground economy.
Ukrainians should stop blindly copying the dysfunctional tax system of the European Union and adopt a modern 21st century public finance system suitable to the global economy and Ukraine’s position between Russia and the EU. They can avoid either joining the EU or a Russian-led Eurasian Union by legislating free trade with both regions. They should enact domestic free trade by avoiding the taxation of labor, enterprise, and produced wealth. With rising public revenue from land value, and with rising wages, Ukraine could reduce its social security taxes until the government either funds pensions from land rent or replace government pensions with private retirement accounts.
Land-value taxation would also promote a decentralization of governance and a reduction of corruption. The land of Ukraine is rich and can well support its public finance, and let Ukraine to not just avoid perishing, but to flourish.
This 2014 excerpt of Common Dreams, Feb 17, is by Andrea Germanos.
Toxic chemicals including some pesticides and solvents may be behind the increasing number of cases of neurodevelopmental disabilities—including autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—among children, researchers warn.
The findings are presented in a study by Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai published online Saturday in Lancet Neurology.
“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis. They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes,” said Grandjean.
Manganese has been linked to diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills, and solvents have been linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, the authors write.
The effects of neurotoxicity can be society-wide, the authors note, as loss of IQ points may bring down earnings thereby affecting GDP. They can be costly as well; for example, the annual cost of lead poisoning in the U.S. is $50 billion, while behavioral problems associated with neurotoxicant exposure could also require special educational services and may even lead to incarceration, the authors write.
“The presumption that new chemicals and technologies are safe until proven otherwise is a fundamental problem,” the authors write, adding, “Voluntary controls seem to be of little value.”
To confront this silent, global pandemic, the authors urge an international strategy that takes a precautionary approach to fully evaluate new chemicals before they hit the markets. Testing on industrial chemicals and pesticides already on the market should also take place, they say.
Ed. Notes: Businesses would be sure to make sure that their products are safe if we didn’t grant polluters the limited liability they now enjoy in corporate charters. It’s another huge favor that governments grant to those who’re most dedicated to grabbing a buck, whether by hook or crook.
How can we evolve government from its historical role of favoring insiders to defending the rights of all? Let’s demand that governments defend one of the most basic rights of all — our right to a fair share of Earth’s worth: a Citizen’s Dividend from the value of land and resources (a la Alaska, Singapore, etc).
Once that demand becomes part of the public debate, that’ll totally shift the paradigm, the prevailing worldview, so imposing harm on others for profit will no longer seem normal while benefitting equally from nature and society will become the new norm.
This 2014 excerpt of Ecoshock, Feb 19, is by Alex Smith (no relation).
Despite snow-storms on the East Coast, or relentless cold in Wisconsin or Winnipeg, the planet is much too hot in other places.
If the temperature is below zero, can we call it a heat wave? We can if we are talking about the Arctic circle in winter.
You probably heard it was warmer in Homer Alaska one day in January than it was almost anywhere in the lower 48 states. The same Polar Vortex that brought snow storm after storm to the central and eastern part of North America kept a big sweep of Hawaiian air running over Alaska. World-known dog sled races were cancelled or shoved somewhere else. A series of avalanches – that’s melting unstable snow in January – closed down major highways. Places like Nome, Seward, and Homer hit all-time record highs. Kids all over Alaska were out in shorts. Backyard barbecue parties returned.
That was all part of the same weather system that delivered the drought to California and record high temperatures. San Francisco was more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than a normal January. On the 15th and 16th, the temperature rose to 73 degrees, 22 C. Sacramento set more record highs in January 2014 than at any time in it’s history.
Elsewhere in the North …
All-time-record monthly warm temperatures have been observed at many sites in the Siberian states of Yakutia and Kamchatka. Oymyakon (various spellings) saw its temperature rise to a February record high of -12.5 °C (9.5 °F) on February 9th. Oymyakon is normally the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth, – 67.7 °C (-90 °F) set on February 6, 1933 (almost exactly 80 years ago).
It was the same in January on the other side of the world (where it’s summer).
Australia had day after day over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 38 degrees Celsius. Nights that don’t get much cooler. The resulting bushfires spread became so big they created their own weather systems complete with dry lightening storms, causing more fires. At least 400 people have died from this recent heat wave. Heat is now a leading cause of death in Australia.
Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo experienced its warmest January on record with a daily average maximum of 31.9 °C (or 89.4 °F). Normal is about 28 degrees C for that time of year. Then it got hotter in Feburary, around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or 35 degrees C every single day for the first week. That’s before you figure in the high humidity which made it all unbearable.
In Buenos Aires, it was above 30 degrees C, at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit, every day of December, and most days of January. With the humidity, it felt like the mid-40′s, or 113. In late January the temperature adjusted for the humidex reading was 47 degrees, or 116.
The world has not warmed by much, as a global average. But the poles have warmed more than anywhere else. When there is a smaller difference between the poles and the equator, there is less to drive the Jet stream from West to East. Instead the Jet Stream takes huge bends, almost blowing north to south. It gets stuck in those bends.
In Great Britain, a satellite photo shows a series of giant lakes where the southern English countryside used to be. The high winds and record-setting storm surges are changing the British coast line. A couple of weeks ago, an amateur fossil hound uncovered the remains of dinosaurs, formerly embedded in a sea side cliff. Others found evidence of humans living in Britain at least 800,000 years ago. Two weeks later, rising tides swept those footprints away.
Ocean currents change speed. When fast and choppy, they capture some air and its carbon; when slow they release carbon. This process and the melting methane clathrates could bring on an even bigger warming jolt as soon as later this year.
Ed. Notes: Since humans have taken most of the buried carbon (fossil fuel) and stuck it into the atmosphere, something had to give. How could anyone think that altering the composition of the atmosphere would have zero effect? That’s what’s caused global climate change before, over the past hundreds of millions of years.
The good news is, what humans have broken they may be able to fix. How? It’s not relying on techno-fixes like solar panels and fuel cells. It’s relying on social justice, specifically economic justice, meaning a just distribution of the economy’s output. Don’t tax the wages of labor. Don’t subsidize the operations of capital. And do recover and share the value of land.
When owners must pay Land Dues or land taxes, they take less and use what they take more wisely. When residents receive a rent share or Citizen’s Dividend, they’re enabled to invest their talents in discovering new efficient machines and new waste-free lifestyles of more play and stronger human ties. Geonomics is not widely known yet but these blinding snow-storms could open more eyes.
This 2014 excerpt of The Guardian, Feb 18, is by Luke Mansillo.
Australians are routinely being told that hefty mining taxes would hinder the country’s exports of coal and iron ore. However, mining giant BHP Billiton recently increased its profits by 83% to US $8.1bn. In spite of this enormous growth, the company only paid US $29m in minerals resource rent tax (MRRT). As it stands, the tax is in no way making BHP uncompetitive.
Unlike Australia, Norway has kept their resource extraction “rents”. Norway has a 78% tax on oil and gas revenues – unlike Australia, where the effective tax rate is a mere 13%. $60bn from gas sales to continental Europe is annually deposited in the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund. The fund has 5.11 trillion Krone (AU$930bn), or twice Norway’s GDP.
Norway’s example demonstrates that, after 20 years, private companies will remain and continue to make a profit – with margins reduced.
But while Norway has been prudent with its resource bounty of $185,000 for every citizen, Australia has not.
It is not xenophobic to believe that Australians should receive the maximum benefit from their property. Australia’s mineral wealth is owned by the Crown; the Crown holds those resources in trust so they may benefit citizens. Those resources ought to be exploited by the Australian citizenry because they belong to them.
Ed. Notes: It’s not just exhaustible natural resources that should enrich the populace but the more familiar surface land, too. Have owners pay in Land Dues and have everyone (owners included) receive rent dividends. Doing so is not only fair. It also makes taxes and subsidies far less excusable. And it — geonomics — has worked wherever tried.
This 2014 excerpt of TakePart, Feb 18, is by Willy Blackmore.
The fight over GMO labeling isn’t the first regulatory battle Monsanto has engaged in over the course of its 112 years in business. From PCBs to DDT to Agent Orange, the chemical company turned ag giant has manufactured numerous products that ended up all but disappearing — if not being banned outright — following high-profile public debates about environmental and health concerns.
You don’t have to look much farther than the boardroom to see how deeply entrenched Monsanto’s ties to the rest of the food industry are: Janice L. Fields, a former president of McDonald’s USA, and C. Steven McMillan, a former CEO of Sara Lee Corporation, both sit on the board of directors. Other board members have ties to Procter & Gamble, Lockheed Martin, and Microsoft.
Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. They presided over multiple universities in various senior positions, including South Dakota State University (with whom Monsanto has a significant research agreement), Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute and Washington University in St. Louis…. The prevalence of Monsanto’s directors in these highly influential positions begs a closer look at how they’re able to push the pro-GE agenda within the government and influence public opinion.
Ed. Notes: Monsanto is hardly the exception. Every major corporation has its directors serving as directors on other company boards, rich foundation boards, executive advisory councils, as university trustees, intermarrying themselves and their children, etc. It’s the way of the world. It’s well documented in Who Owns America by G. William Domhoff.
It has its roots — both historically and even today — in capturing the vast stream of money paid for land and resources. If ever the hierarchy is to be toppled, then reformers will have to redirect that flow of “rents” to the accounts of everybody. Government would have to quit being the handmaiden of the elite and instead use its powers to tax or charge fees or institute dues or lease public resources at full market value in order to recover these socially-generated values then disburse the raised revenue as dividends to the citizenry in general.
More equitable distribution of society’s surplus will provide a foundation for a more equitable society, minus the concentration of wealth and power.
BTW, there is a petition to pass a law to require truth in the labeling of food which would require Monsanto’s customers to reveal the GMOs on shelves in grocery stores, in case you’d like to know what your eating.
This 2013 excerpt of Clawback, Feb 17, is by Greg LeRoy.
A large national poll of independent business owners finds that cutting taxpayer subsidies to big business is their top-rated public policy priority. And a smaller survey of high-growth entrepreneurs finds that the last things they are concerned about are low taxes or business-friendly regulations.
Nationwide, of 2,602 small business owners said the public policy change that would most help their business was “eliminate subsidies for big companies.”
Of the fastest-growing companies in the United States, only five percent cited low taxes and only two percent cited regulations as a reason for choosing their location. Before starting their company, they moved to a city of one million or more because of personal connections and quality of life. Their most critical business reason for staying was a pool of talented labor, followed by access to customers and suppliers.
Ed. Notes: In the US, regulations are not as big a problem as in the nations listed by deSoto in his work on capitalism where people must wait years for permits. That said, even if most businesses here don’t run into trouble, some still do, and none should.
Instead of regulate and permit (or not) and otherwise interfere, governments could instead get out of the limited liability business. To minimize liability and ruinous lawsuits, business would conduct its affairs safely and buy sufficient insurance coverage.
And to attract talented labor, customers, and suppliers, there is something any town can do to make itself such a destination city. It’s something cities across the Pacific used to help themselves become the Asian Tigers. And that is, shift the property tax off buildings, onto locations. Then to pay the higher “land dues”, the owners quit speculating and develop their sites. The development stimulates the local economy and the second wave of businesses that fill the new structures keep the good growth going.
This property tax shift does not directly fall on new businesses but it does create a context that favors start-ups. Indeed, in the recession before last, the Australian towns that taxed land not only did not lose businesses but actually added them! Good ol’ geonomics worked again!
So smart taxes and efficient land use matter, as does eliminating the financial favors for bigger insiders.
This 2014 excerpt of Seeking Alpha, Feb 16, is by Craig Pirrong.
Elon Musk is the founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX (space exploration). All of his companies were heavily dependent on government subsidies and support. This support socialized the potential losses, and allowed Musk (and other major investors, notably Goldman) to capture the upside.
If his products and business models were so great, visionary Musk could succeed on his own, by attracting private capital.
SpaceX is dependent on government contracts, given that a very large fraction of space launches carry government payloads. This is something different from Solar City and Tesla, where the government is providing subsidies but not receiving any product or service in return. But still, it means that Musk depends crucially on cultivating government support.
A firm does not succeed or fail at winning big ticket contracts on the basis of the superiority of its product, but instead on the basis of its ability to influence politicians and bureaucrats. And a lack of scruple is often a feature, not a bug in that regard.
SpaceX was looking for a commercial launch site, and seeking state subsidies in order to build it. The company has been playing states off against one another, looking for tax benefits. Musk focused on one of the poorest parts of Texas – Brownsville – and dangled the prospect of a mere 600 jobs, in exchange for $20 million dollars or so in tax benefits. Some of which will come from the taxpayers of that very poor community. The state legislature has succumbed.
Ed. Notes: There’s long been a refrain in economics and business: The way to make a fortune is to rake in the public’s money and to slough off your costs onto the public. Don’t pay for your pollution; let others do that. And, classically, capture the socially-generated rental value of land, while unconscious society sits idly by not even aware of what they’re losing.
Ordinary people will fight each other over wages and jobs but not over locations and their rents (only the elite know enough to wage those battles). In this regard, regular people are much like the species of lizards that live on the cliffs of South America overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but in reverse. The lizards fight each other over nesting spots but when a seagull comes and eats the eggs, the lizards don’t defend their own offspring; they just blithely sit there watching the next generation go down the gullet of the seagull. The lizards are not evolved enough to understand what’s happening to their progeny, to their species.
Similarly, humans are not hardwired to be able to see the flow of rent, to see their loss of rent, to see who captures it, to see how social conventions like property, mortgages, subsidies, and tax breaks direct the flow of rent into the pockets of favored insiders. Hopefully, humans will acquire the ability to become conscious of rent out of innate curiosity and a sense of justice without having to wait for evolution to deliver the needed new neural connections in the brain. Which is the mission of this site, to somehow make rent and geonomics obvious to the curious and caring.
This 2014 excerpt of AP, Feb 16, was from Williston Herald and was circulated by ABC.
The rapidly growing North Dakota oil patch city of Williston has the highest average rent for an apartment in the United States. Oil field workers receive six-figure salaries that can bear inflated rent.
A 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Williston costs an average of $2,394 a month. The same apartment would cost $1,504 in the New York area, $1,411 in the Los Angeles area or $1,537 in the Boston area. Nearby Dickinson, N.D., ranks fourth on the list at an average of $1,733 a month. Chicago didn’t even crack the Top 10.
The population of Williston, in the northwest corner of the state not far from the Montana border, has more than doubled since the 2010 Census.
Many of the new apartment buildings feature mudrooms, where workers can remove dirty shoes before entering.
The oil boom may be around for the next 20 years because of the different levels of oil they now have access to through fracking.
Ed. Notes: What sets how much you must pay for land, something you usually pay for when paying for housing? It’s not the cost of land, since land has no cost, not being created by anyone. Instead, it’s how much users or occupants are willing and able to pay. It’s all laid out in the old Ricardo’s Law of Rent.
Also, the oil boom could bust any time, turning those boom towns into ghost towns. If fracking uses up to much water, or pollutes too much water, or burning oil worsens climate change to the point where people have had enough, then petroleum could go the way of whale oil.
That day of switching to clean, renewable energy could come sooner if governments were to switch to geonomics right away.
This 2014 excerpt of CounterPunch, Feb 15, is by Mike Whitney. It also appeared in OpEdNews.
Economic fundamentals played no part in the so called housing rebound. The economy stinks as bad today as it did four years ago when the government number-crunchers announced the end of the recession. The reason prices have been rising is because of the Fed’s fake rates and QE, inventory suppression, bogus gov mortgage modification programs, and speculation by Private Equity and investors groups.
The big PE firms made a killing, since prices soared 12 percent in one year. In some of the hotter markets, investors represented upwards of 50 percent of all purchases.
Sales are down, purchase applications are down, and the country’s homeownership rate has slipped to levels not seen since 1995, 18 years ago.
The Fed’s $1 trillion purchase of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and zero rates have done nothing to stimulate “organic” consumer demand. No “trickle down” at all. All the policy has done is generate a temporary surge of speculation that’s distorted prices.
Household growth of 448,800 in 2013 represents a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession.
Nearly half of college grads have been scrubbed from the list of potential buyers due to their burgeoning student loans which now exceed $1 trillion. These kids will probably never own a home, let-alone have a positive impact on sales in 2014.
The number of “seriously delinquent borrowers” has actually gone up in the last year. Not only that, but many of these people haven’t made a payment in more than four years.
The banks have been dragging their feet for 40 months now, slowing down the foreclosure process (that adds to the shadow supply of distressed homes) in order to push up prices hoping to ignite another boom. Now — after three and a half years of blatant collusion — they’ve done a 180 and started speeding up foreclosures. Why?
They think that “institutional investors” are going to call-it-quits and move on to greener pastures. That’s going to push down prices, which means they’re going to lose money. So they want to get ahead of the curve and dump more houses on the market before the stampede. That way, they lose less money.
Ed. Notes: Foreclosures are sad for families but part of banking as is but maybe shouldn’t be. Maybe banking should change. But change how?
First, trends in economies are not smooth, rising or falling evenly; it’s more like two steps forward, one back, or vice versa. What the writer above is noticing is a temporary correction that won’t last more than a few months. It fits right into the more regular 18 year cycle business cycle, or more precisely, the land-price cycle. That cycle could be flattened so there’d be no more recessions and foreclosures. How?
Remove the value of land from the price of housing. How? Get government to recover the socially-generated value of land. How? Tax locations. Institute land dues. Raise the deed fee. However. Just do it.
Then housing — minus any price for land — would no longer attract speculators, no more inflating its price. Land and housing would only reflect “organic” demand, to use the jargon above.
And BTW, while recovering the value of locations and resources, don’t tax anyone’s labor or capital. Those taxes are not fair and merely counterproductive. Sans such taxes, the value of land will be high in a healthy way, able to fund a dividend to everyone, the key feature of geonomics.
This 2014 excerpt of Weekly Wastebasket, Feb 14, is by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Congress mandated these sweetheart deals:
Agriculture Committee leaders jammed a trillion dollar farm bill through Congress last week that will increase taxpayer subsidies for agribusinesses coming off several years of record profits.
Shipbuilders want to build more ships or, at the very least, they want to modernize the current ships. Congress directed the Secretary of the Navy to upgrade one of the cruisers starting immediately.
Taxpayers across the nation spend more than $200 million each year so that a privileged few in just 117 communities can be guaranteed convenient air service. Taxpayers spend $3.9 million annually to subsidize air service from Presque Isle, Maine to Boston. Every time somebody flies from Lewistown, Montana to Billings, Montana, it costs taxpayers $1,905. A taxi for the two hour drive – at New York City taxi cab rates – would be less than $350.
Some BLM offices let coal companies explain their low bids, and then accept them. The BLM collects lower royalty payments for coal because it doesn’t consider foreign markets, where coal is more expensive.
Such largesse is certainly not the way into any taxpayer’s heart.
Ed. Notes: Don’t you wish you could put a stop to such wasteful favors for insiders? To fix this problem, it’s not enough to criticize such subsidies in particular. Citizens must criticize the validity of subsidizing in general.
There’s never been a government that didn’t favor insiders. Indeed, that’s what government is for, to fleece the flock and feed the wolves. It’s always been that way and always will, until citizens demand a wholesale transformation of public revenue policy.
We need to make taxing and subsidizing relics of the past. Instead, our governments must recover and share society’s surplus, which is all of society’s spending for land, resources, and other natural assets that come into existence without the contribution of anyone’s labor or capital. It’s called geonomics and it would save citizens one heck of a lot of money!
This 2014 excerpt of Grist, Feb 14, is by John Upton, based on articles in Science and in Stanford News.
A new mega-analysis of 20 years worth of research suggests that the EPA is underestimating the fossil fuel’s climate impacts by 25 to 75 percent.
The problem with the EPA’s math doesn’t concern the burning of natural gas, which produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels (but way more than solar panels or wind turbines). The problem is in the leaky systems that extract and transport the fuel.
The EPA is severely underestimating the amount of natural gas that leaks into the atmosphere during drilling, processing, and distribution. Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates. And that’s a moderate estimate.
Natural gas is basically just methane. Methane is responsible for perhaps a fifth of global warming since the 18th century. Levels of methane detected in the atmosphere have been rising rapidly since 2007.
Ed. Notes: A huge hullaballoo is made about the discovery of fire but burning has been too easy for humanity for way too long. These natural gas leaks are just another reason for our species to change how it harnesses energy. We must use
sunlight for electricity to make artificial light,
fuel cells for electricity to power motors, thereby
reducing the need to burn whatever fuel to heat homes to a bare minimum.
Technologically, we could make such a shift today. What’s in the way is not a lack of new gizmos but the presence of political opposition. Government subsidizes the old ways and taxes the new ways, albeit inadvertently by making both labor and entrepreneurship more expensive than they would be sans taxes.
Thus if we shifted our revenue policy we could shift our energy technology and score another one for geonomics.
about the money we spend on the nature we use. It flows torrentially yet invisibly, often submerged in the price of housing, food, fuel, and everything else. Flowing from the many to the few, natural rent distorts prices and rewards unjust and unsustainable choices. Redirected via dues and dividends to flow from each to all, “rent” payments would level the playing field and empower neighbors to shrink their workweek and expand their horizons. Modeled on nature’s feedback loops, earlier proposals to redirect rent found favor with Paine, Tolstoy, and Einstein. Wherever tried, to the degree tried, redirecting rent worked. One of today’s versions, the green tax shift, spreads out of Europe. Another, the Property Tax Shift, activists can win at the local level, building a world that works right for everyone.
in part the Great Green Tax Shift maxed out. Economically, taxing pollution and depletion does reduce pollutants and extracts – and thus the tax base; plus such taxes are regressive, requiring a safety net. On the other hand, collecting site rent is progressive and generates a revenue surplus payable as a dividend to residents, which can serve as the safety net. Environmentally, taxes on waste and extraction do not drive efficient use of land, as does getting site rent.
of interest to Dave Lakhani, President Bold Approach (Mar 8) and Matt Ozga (Jan 29): “I write for the Washington Square News, the student run newspaper out of New York University. Geonomics seems like it has great significance, especially in this area. When was geonomics developed, and by whom?”
About 1982 I began. Two years later, Chilean Dr Manfred Max-Neef offered the term geonomics for Earth-friendly economics. In the mid-80s, a millionaire founded a Geonomics Institute on Middlebury College campus in Vermont re global trade. In the 1990s, CNBC cablecast a show, Geonomics, on world trade as it benefits world traders. My version of geonomics draws heavily from the American Henry George who wrote Progress & Poverty (1879) and won the mayoralty of New York but was denied his victory by Tammany Hall (1886). He in turn got lots from Brits David Ricardo, Adam Smith, and the French physiocrats of the 1700s. My version differs by focusing not on taxation but on the flow of rents for sites, resources, sinks, and government-granted privileges. Forgoing these trillions, we instead tax and subsidize, making waste cheap and sustainability expensive. To quit distorting price, replace taxes with “land dues” and replace subsidies with a Citizens Dividend.
Matt: “This idea of sharing rents sounds, if not explicitly socialist, at least at odds with some capitalist values (only the strong survive & prosper, etc). Is it fair to say that geonomics has some basis in socialist theory?”
A closer descriptor would be Christian. Beyond ethics into praxis, Alaska shares oil rent with residents, and they’re more libertarian than socialist. While individuals provide labor and capital, no one provides land while society generates its value. Rent is not private property but public property. Sharing Rent is predistribution, sharing it before an elite or state has a chance to get and misspend it, like a public REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) paying dividends to its stakeholders – a perfectly capitalist model. What we should leave untaxed are our sales, salaries, and structures, things we do produce.
more transformation than reform; it’s a step ahead. Harvard economics students this year did petition to change the curriculum, in the wake of the English who caught the dissension from across The Channel. French reformers, who fault conventional economics for conjuring mathematical models of little empirical relevance and being closed to critical and reflective thought, reject this “autism” – or detachment from reality – and dub their offering “post-autistic economics”. Not a bad name, but again, academics define themselves by what they’re not, not by what they are, unlike geonomists. We track rent – the money we spend on the nature we use – and watch it pull all the other economic indicators in its wake. We see economies as part of the ecosystem, similarly following natural patterns and able to self-regulate more so than allowed, once we quit distorting prices. To align people and planet, we’d replace taxes and subsidies with recovering and sharing rents.
a way to connect the dots. Making the cyber rounds is “The Cavernous Divide” by Scott Klinger, from AlterNet (posted March 21): “As the number of billionaires in the world expands, so does the number of those in poverty.” Duh. The yawning income gap is not news. Nearly every issue of our quarterly digest carries a similar quote. Yet the connection was worked out long ago by one of America’s greatest thinkers, Henry George, who labeled his masterpiece, Progress and Poverty. Techno- and socio-advances always enrich few and impoverish many. Yet progress also pushes up location values – the geonomic insight (is Silicon Valley cheaper now or more expensive?). Instead of taxing income, sales, or buildings, society could collect those values of sites, resources, EM spectrum, and ecosystem services via fees and dues, which would lower the income ceiling, and instead of lavishing corporate welfare, pay out the recovered revenue via dividends, which would jack up the income floor. Dots connected.
a POV that Spain’s president might try. A few blocks from my room in Madrid at a book fair to promote literacy, Sr Zapatero, while giving autographs and high fives to kids, said books are very expensive and he’d see about getting the value added tax on them cut down to zero. (El Pais, June 4; see, politicians can grasp geo-logic.) But why do we raise the cost of any useful product? Why not tax useless products? Even more basic: is being better than a costly tax good enough? Our favorite replacement for any tax is no tax: instead, run government like a business and charge full market value for the permits it issues, such as everything from corporate charters to emission allowances to resource leases. These pieces of paper are immensely valuable, yet now our steward, the state, gives them away for nearly free, absolutely free in some cases. Government is sitting on its own assets and needs merely to cash in by doing what any rational entity in the economy does – negotiate the best deal. Then with this profit, rather than fund more waste, pay the stakeholders, we citizenry, a dividend. Thereby geonomics gets rid of two huge problems. It replaces taxes with full-value fees and replaces subsidies for special interests with a Citizens Dividend for people in general. Neither left nor right, this reform is what both nature lovers and liberty lovers need to promote, right now.
not a panacea, but like John Muir said, “pull on any one thing, and find it connected to everything else.” Recall last month’s earthquake in El Salvador. We felt it and its formidable after-shocks in Nicaragua. Immediately afterwards, my host nation, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, sent aid to its Central American neighbor. The Nica newspapers carried photos of the devastation. They showed that the cliff sides that crumbled had had homes built on them while the cliffs left pristine withstood the shock. Could monopoly of good, safe, flat land be pushing people to build on risky, unstable cliffs? If so, that’s just one more good reason to break up land monopoly. What works to break up land monopoly, history shows, is for society to collect the annual rental value of the underlying sites and resources. That’d spur owners to use level land efficiently, so no one would be excluded, forced to resort to cliffs. To prevent another man-induced landslide is yet another reason to spread geonomics.
an alternative to conventional land trusts. Just as it seems some functions should not be left to the market – private courts and cops invite corruption (while private mediation is fine) – just so some land should not be left in the market. That said, sacred sites do not make much of a model for treating the vast acreage of land that we need to use. So the usual trust model, which is anti-use and counter-market, can not apply where it’s needed most. Trust proponents worry about ownership and control – two very human ambitions – but they’re not central. Supposedly, we the people own millions acres – acres that private corporations treat as private fiefdoms – and conversely, the Nature Conservancy owns wilderness the public can some places use as parks. So, the issue is not who owns but who gets the rent – ideally, all of us.
a neologism for sharing “rent” or “social surplus” – the money we spend on the nature we use. When we buy land, such as the land beneath a home, we typically pay the wrong person – the homeowner. Instead, since land cost us nothing to make and is the common heri-tage of us all, rather than pay the owner, we should pay ourselves, our neighbors, our community. That is, we should all pay land dues to the public treasury, then our government would pay us land dividends from this collected revenue. It’s similar to the Alaska oil dividend, almost $2,000 last year. Indeed, the annual rental value of land, oil, all other natural resources, including the broadcast spectrum and other government-granted permits such as corporate charters, totals several trillion dollars each year. It’s so much that some could be spent on basic social services, the rest parceled out as a divi-dend, as Tom Paine suggested, and taxes (except any on natural rents) could be abolished, as Thomas Jeffer-son suggested. Were we sharing Earth by sharing her worth, territorial disputes would be fewer, less intense, and more resolvable.
a manual. The world did not come without a way for people to prosper, and the planet to heal and stay well; that way is geonomics. Economies are part of the ecosystem. Both generate surpluses and follow self-regulating feedback loops. A cycle like the Law of Supply and Demand is one of the economy’s on/off loops. Our spending for land and resources – things that nobody made and everybody needs – constitutes our society’s surplus. Those profits without production (remember, nobody produced Earth) can become our commonwealth. To share it, we could pay land dues in to the public treasury (wouldn’t oil companies love that?) and get rent dividends back, a la Alaska’s oil dividend. Doing so let’s us axe taxes and jettison subsidies. Taxes and subsidies distort price (the DNA of exchange), violate quid pro quo by benefiting the well-connected more than anyone else, reinforce hierarchy of state over citizen, and are costly to administer (you don’t really need so much bureaucracy, do you?). Conversely, land dues motivate people to not waste sites, resources, and the ecosystem while rent dividends motivate people to not waste themselves. Receiving this income supplement – a Citizens Dividend – people can invest in their favorite technology or outgrow being “economan” and shrink their overbearing workweek in order to enjoy more time with family, friends, community, and nature. Then in all that free time, maybe we could figure out just what we are here for.