The Lycian Way II (The Cost of Being Alive)

Here is another one from the archive of hand written notebooks.  It is also a chapter in a new book I am working on about traveling in the Middle East.

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The Lycian Way II (The Cost of Being Alive)

Patara, Turkey  March 2013

Everything is free… Nothing is free…  Aye… there’s the rub; the fine line which fractures humanity.  The question arises every single day.  Why do we have to pay money for food and shelter?  The spiritual traditions tend to teach the opposite…love your neighbor; practice compassion, the golden rule.  For me, at least, the spiritual traditions are but metaphors to describe an instinct that is real and present in all humans.  Indeed, to push the concept into the realm of the radical, I would even suggest that the instinct is not just a human instinct but rather a fundamental force in the formula of the whole darn universe. The prophets call it kindness or love.  Scientists call it entropy… the opposite of energy.  The truth is; humans and all living things have a communal or social instinct.  

No doubt, we have an individual instinct too.  The other side of the equation.  The energy that opposes the entropy.  The two forces counter-balance one another and free will comes forth from the center. Unfortunately, these days, civilization is way out of balance.  The controlling economic system penalizes the social instinct and rewards the selfish instinct.  As such, finding that middle path in between love of self and love of others can be rather difficult.  In other words, it’s not always easy to “be nice.”        

As the cold rain pours and the harsh wind blows outside, we are warm and cozy inside with candle lighting and amazing food.  Ms. B and I are in the common room of a guest house on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We are the only guests so we have the place to ourselves. But then, an angry young woman comes forth from the storm to interrupt our private romantic dinner. I am correct in my guess about her nationality. She is American.  She is mad because she had arranged a free place to stay in the nearby village of Alinca but found the house closed, locked and empty upon arrival.  Furthermore, the Turkish cell phone she bought for the trek is not functioning so she can’t call her friend back in Fethiye to find out why the house is locked and nobody’s home.  The blowing wind and rain is a nightmare outside so she can’t set up her tent.  She desperately needs a place to stay.

“No worries,” I tell her, “they have plenty of room here.  It’s only 40 lira (20 bucks) with dinner and breakfast and the food is really amazing.”

“But I don’t have any money with me,” she says.  “I was planning to stay everywhere for free.”

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The Imaginary Revolution

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If you can imagine how something is possible there is always a chance that it will happen.  Even if the odds are significantly against it.  So imagine, if you will, a non-violent economic revolution…

How deep do I have to dig in order to explain the concept to the average reader? For me, at least, it is completely comprehensible. It seems so simple. All it has to do is unfold like a lotus flower. Why can’t everyone understand? It is a philosophical revolution. Collapse the old metaphor and replace it with a new one.  The “survival of the fittest”story is way too simplistic and one-sided.  Ecological interdependence is a much more realistic explanation of the observable world.   Down with the linear mechanical system that seeks only to win the competition and up with a dynamic organic system that seeks to live well within a healthy ecosystem.

Every cell is part of a tissue but is also an individual cell. Every tissue is part of a body, but is also an individual tissue. Every body is part of a community but is also an individual body. Every community is part of an ecosystem but is also an individual community. Every ecosystem is part of the whole planet earth but is also an individual ecosystem.

The dynamic relationship between the individual and the community. Therein lies the essence of free will. Therein lies the foundation for an economic system that makes sense. Communism/Socialism is a broken concept because it subordinates the individual instinct to the communal instinct. Capitalism/Corporatism is a broken concept because it subordinates the communal instinct to the individual instinct. Dynamic/Organic economics seeks the middle path between the two.

Capitalism is yang and Socialism is yin.
A healthy economic system is based upon the interdependence of both concepts.

Can you see the light yet?

Sometimes it acts like a particle and sometimes it acts like a wave.

Decentralize the power structures
And
Localize the economic system.

It’s not that complicated. Start with the first principle. A dynamic relationship between the individual and the community. Interdependence. Freequality. That is the foundation… the building block… The organizational structure (government) for a healthy community (state) grows out of that concept.

Dynamic/Organic Economics. (A Manifesto)

The first principle of organic economics is that all humans have an economic right to food, shelter and basic healthcare. Any government that does not guarantee those basic economic rights to all humans living within its jurisdiction is not a legitimate government.

It’s not welfare. It’s not an entitlement or a handout or charity. It’s a right. Everybody gets it. It’s your foundational bargaining position, human dignity, that allows you to participate in the free market.

The religion of capitalism is built completely upon the myth that the working class job seeker has bargaining position. But in reality, the worker does not have bargaining position. That is what the revolution is all about. If you guarantee economic rights you change the nature of the relationship between the employer and employee. The authoritarian hierarchy becomes a dynamic balance.

The theory of organic economics argues that the best way to give workers back their bargaining position/economic freedom is through the “democratization” of currency flows.

Presently, most, if not all, governments on the planet earth use some type of oligarchic linear money supply system. The currency supply is controlled by an elite central government and distributed to the population through a variety of trickle down mechanisms. In the US, they use a mechanism called fractional reserve banking. Private banks who borrow from the Fed are allowed to create money as credit and lend it out to people or institutions. In other words, when new money is added to the system, it is always given to people or institutions who have money in the first place. In other countries, the government or central bank creates the currency and passes it directly to its closest friends and relatives who then pass it down to the general population. Some governments may try to distribute currency in a way that is beneficial to the general population while some governments don’t seem to care about the populace at all. Either way, it is always a downward distribution from government insiders (bankers) to citizens.

In order to transform(revolutionize) the economic system, we must stop adding new money to the system through private banks. Outlaw fractional reserve banking. Private banks can only lend money they actually have. Instead, add new money to the system using the principles of organic economics.

In organic economics, all citizens have equal access to the circular flow of currency. Money is a function of the fair market value of food and shelter and basic healthcare within the jurisdiction that the money is distributed. It’s a mathematical equation with the community and the individual on opposite sides of the dynamic balance. There is no secret cabal of decision makers who get to decide who gets what. Money is automatically distributed according to the principles of the system. Every single person gets the exact same deal. You don’t borrow money from the oligarchy based upon your “credit rating”. You receive your fair democratic share of economic rights within the community/state where you live.

The formula itself is fairly simple. At the beginning of each month, each individual in the community/state is invested with the fair market value of food, shelter and basic healthcare in the currency of the community (how big the community? A small state? Hmm…). In exchange for that monthly investment, each individual agrees to respect the basic property rights (possessions) of other participants in the system and to contribute 50% of everything they earn (in whatever currency) on the free market back to the community/state at the end of each quarter or each year. The important thing is that money flows back and forth between community/state and individual as economic value is continually used and created.

In the confusing language of the punditocracy, you might say that everybody gets welfare (even billionaires)and everybody pays a 50% tax (even billionaires). But in organic economics, welfare is an investment in an individual and not a stigma because everyone gets it and taxes are a return to the community and not a punishment because they are based upon an agreement between people instead of imposed by psychopaths who want to fight more wars.

Do you get it yet? It makes sense. Economic democracy. Dynamic work relationships. Organic economics.

The non-violent economic revolution starts now!

This essay is not copyrighted, please feel free to share it or copy it or paste it or plagiarize it or send it to anyone and everyone.

Thanks, and have a wonderful day.

 

A Post Modern Christmas Story

If the truth is relative, the new “travel story” you are about to read is relatively true. Nevertheless, it is also “fake news”. The narrator and the characters depicted are creations of the author’s imagination. The events which unfold may be “universally true,” but they are not exactly objectively real. I like to believe that it is some kind of neo-mythology which I call “living fiction.”

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Winter Solstice… 2016. Ms. B.’s Dream…

“I dreamed we had another child. I was in TJ. Max.. Little a. was walking around ahead of me and I was carrying an infant in my arms.  She was a baby girl. Little a. is quite a bit older in the dream than she is now. At least kindergarten maybe even first grade. The three of us are walking around TJ Max. Little a., the baby, and me. You aren’t there. You are probably out building a stone wall or something. So there we are in the middle of TJ. Max when all of a sudden, the lights go out…”

If you have been reading my stories for a long time, you may be aware of my annual ritual. I started doing it 22 years ago and I find the process incredibly rewarding. At the end of my stone work season every year (early November), I go cold turkey and give up my four favorite indulgences… Coffee, alcohol, weed and ice cream. The first week or so is a bit of a challenge for the body and brain but after that, it just feels healthy. I continue “the cleanse” throughout November and up until the Winter Solstice so it usually lasts somewhere between five and six weeks. I like to think of it as a re-boot for my system. For metaphorical reasons, I complete the ritual at the exact moment of the winter solstice and it always seems, somehow, symbolic. I pour a strong cup of coffee and season it with some Irish cream. I pack a pipe full with some good local homegrown and consume the combination when the earth hits that special spot in the great rotation. I say my little poem and then see what happens…

Let there be light shining in the darkness
Let there be hope in a world of despair
Let there be wonder in the face of confusion
Let there be laughter filling the air…

This year, my timing is exceptional. I awake without an alarm clock at 5:22 am and the solstice is scheduled for 5:44 am.. I have plenty of time to prepare my provisions. To make matters better, I saw on the Internet that there is some kind of eclipse this year so it is theoretically the darkest night in 500 years. That should set the stage for a particularly powerful experience. Ms. B. and little a. are still sleeping when I awake so I crawl quietly from beneath the covers and head to the kitchen.

My concoctions are completed by 5:43 am and I go outside to the back porch. The morning is shrouded in absolute darkness. I sit on the back step, look up at the darkness and wait for the magic moment. I drink my coffee, alcohol and cream; puff the pipe and say my poem…
Let there be light…
I sit for a few minutes sipping my warm beverage and breathing the sacred air. Then I go back inside. Just as I reach my chair in the kitchen I hear a voice call out from the darkness…

“Da Da,” says the voice.

Obviously, it is my daughter, little a., and she has awoken in bed and requires attention. This is a fairly common occurrence in our home. I wake up before dawn to write but my fiddling around in the kitchen disturbs the little one so she gets up to interrupt my imaginary world. Sometimes Mama can nurse her right back to sleep but more often than not, she wants to know what Dada is doing so she comes out to see. Lately I have discovered that if I go back to bed and lie down next to them while Mama nurses, little a. returns to slumberland a lot faster and easier so I can go back to my stories sooner. So that is what I usually do.

Mama (Ms. B.) passes through the kitchen on her way to the bathroom. “I know you are enjoying your ritual,” she says, “but she’s been awake for a while now.”

So I leave my place in the kitchen and go back to the bedroom to lie down next to her. “Calm down Sweetie Pie,” I say, “dada’s here. You can go back to sleep now.” A few moments later, Mama comes back to bed and starts nursing her. As the three of us are lying there in the darkness, Mama tells me about her dream.

“I dreamed we had another child. I was in T.J. Max.. Little a. was walking around ahead of me and I was carrying an infant in my arms. She was a baby girl… So there we are, the three of us, myself, little a., and the baby, looking at the merchandise when all of a sudden the lights go out in the store. Fortunately, I have a flashlight in my pocket and I turn it on. We don’t take any merchandise but instead start making our way to the exit. Somewhat strangely, there are no other customers in the store. We reach the checkout line and it is empty. There is not even a cashier. It’s when we reach the exit that I have the realization. As we step outside into the sunshine, I reach down and grab ahold of little a.’s hand. Oh my gosh, we are going to have another baby. And that’s when I wake up.”

“What do you think Dada?” she continues, “what does the dream mean? Are we really going to have another child? What should her name be?”

“Well,” I answer, “if little a. is five in the dream and she is only 18 months now, we have a few years to think about it?”

I can hear Mama  smile and chuckle in the darkness but she doesn’t respond verbally to my statement. She continues nursing quietly as her and the little one drift back to sleep. Meanwhile, I lie there peacefully and think randomly about the symbolism of the dream.

I can’t help but wonder if she turned on her flashlight in the dream at the same moment I said my poem on the back porch. Ha ha. TJ Max., the lights go out… how perfect. The metaphor is so full of hot air, it pops like a ripe balloon… Mama and I have an amazingly good relationship. I love her and the little one with my whole heart and soul and I would do anything for them. Nevertheless, the universe is necessarily constructed of opposing forces so we do indeed have occasional issues. Actually, I would say that we have one underlying issue that shows itself in many different ways. The issue is a simple one. I have an aversion to “owning stuff” that is almost pathological. I believe that globalized consumer capitalism is a disease that is destroying the planet. In my theoretical revolution, I want humans to stop “buying” things from the “corporate empire” and start trading useful and beautiful things with each other. I realize, of course, that my imaginary revolution is really just a dream and I try to not be an extremist about it. I sometimes even compromise and “buy” a few “necessary” things from the corporate empire. Nevertheless, it is something that drives me just a little bit crazy. If human beings do not give up their crazy consumerism, the whole darn planet is certainly doomed.

Mama sort of agrees with me on an intellectual level but she certainly has no pathological aversion to owning stuff.  She is not exactly a materialist but she does like a few “things.” She also receives subliminal corporate propaganda when on social media and occasionally tells me about their official response to my doomsday narrative… Technology can save us from ecological destruction. If we just consume environmentally  responsible products, we can keep right on consuming.  Materialism and saving the planet are indeed compatible if people will just learn to buy responsible stuff…   Mama also sort of likes to shop a little, little bit. Now it is, of course, the holidays, so most of what she buys are presents. But her buying instinct is rooted in kindness towards others so I can’t really blame her. Nevertheless, it still makes me shake my head in frustration. How much more “stuff” do humans really need?

Anyway, as I lie there in the darkness thinking about all this, little a. releases herself from Mama’s breast and rolls towards me. She is sort of asleep now with her eyes closed but she still wiggles and squirms. She reaches out and grabs my arm with her warm tiny little hands and calls out a single word from deep within her subconscious, “Da Da,” she says. In response to her voice, something triggers inside of me and all of a sudden, the story of Mama’s dream makes perfect sense…

Having a child is the most optimistic thing that humans can ever decide to do. It’s a hopeful bet on the future of the world. Realistically, in my logical brain, I don’t think the future of the world looks very bright. The objective data suggests that corporate capitalism is on a collision course with oblivion. Unless the imagination revolution somehow manifests, there is not going to be a world left to raise children in… But Mama’s dream gives me hope. It is a beautiful prediction of an idyllic future. Yes, that’s right. There is still hope. It is possible… The lights will go out on the corporate empire and Mama will have the inner light to lead the little ones outside. The future is still bright.  We will raise our children in Paradise…

All of a sudden, I feel a slight kick in the ribs. Little a. has rolled over and made herself comfortable lying perpendicular with her head on her mama’s belly and her feet towards me. She is sound asleep now in the darkness but still manages to call out two more words from deep in her subconscious. “All done!” she says.

“You’re right Sweetie Pie,” I whisper, “the story is all done. I should get out of bed and go write it down.” As I climb from beneath the covers and make my way to the kitchen, however, I have one last thought. I realize the answer to Ms. B.’s question. “Well, obviously,” I say out loud, “her name shall be little c.” But Mama  and little a. do not hear me because they are sound asleep.

A Modest Proposal

This week’s episode is transcribed from my archive of handwritten notebooks.

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A Modest Proposal

Istanbul, Turkey; February 2013

The rock is special.  I found it at Wadi Rum when I was camped alone on a sand dune in the middle of nowhere.  It sparkled in the setting sun and grabbed a hold of my attention.  Its crystal structure bent sunlight into all the colors of the rainbow.  It looked, quite literally, like a droplet from heaven.  I even thought it might be a diamond.  But now I’m not so sure.  In the plain light of day and the harsh glow of fluorescent light, the stone does not look so magical.  It’s still nice and all, but I have my doubts.  It might be technically worthless.

Nevertheless, my plan is to give it to Ms. B..  Ideally, the presentation of the rock should be both dramatic and romantic so that she remembers the experience for the rest of her life.  A spontaneous overflow of emotion would be nice. Perhaps even some tears of joy.  I’m hoping to push the metaphor of our love story long into the future and the rock giving game as a symbol of commitment is a human tradition that goes way way back into the past.  The modern world has, of course, spoiled the narrative with crass commercialization, sentimental clichés and legally binding contracts but the underlying story is still a good one.  Two individuals decide to become a single unit… a couple… a family.  It’s a radical move.  It’s an optimistic bet on the future of the world.  The giving and accepting of the rock is the moment of destiny; the climax of the love story.  It is the moment when the happily ever after begins…

 Welcome to Istanbul!  There is a convenient metro station below ground at the airport.  It is cheap and efficient so that is the route we take into the city center.  Ms. B. is exhausted after 20 hours of travel time from New York via Amsterdam.  Dinner time now in Istanbul is breakfast time in New York and poor Ms. B. has been up all night.  I, however, am as chipper as cricket in a field of flowering clover.  It was a short two hour hop to get here from Amman, Jordan and I had a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast.  I was also here in Istanbul a couple of months ago so I know my way around a little.

The metro journey to the Sultanhamet neighborhood takes a bout 45 minutes total.  We have to switch from tram to train about halfway there.  On the train we have seats.  Ms. B. leans into me and rests here head on my shoulder as we exchange a few words but the train is crowded and the scene is not appropriate for much conversation.  She nods in and out of consciousness as we communicate non-verbally.  Ten thousand miles from my apartment on a subway in a foreign city but with Ms. B. asleep on my shoulder, I feel right at home.  After we switch to the tram, however, we no longer have seats.  It’s very crowded and we are lucky to find space to lean our backpacks against a center pole.  We hold on with one hand each as the tram rumbles slowly through the busy city.  Ms. B. keeps blinking her eyes open.  She looks dead on her feet… like she might collapse.  I look around at the many passengers on the crowded tram car.  Ms. B. and I are both rather blonde and we definitely stand out amid the dark haired, olive skinned locals.  Nevertheless, there is no sense of stress, discomfort or anxiety.  The other passengers pay us little mind.  Tourists with backpacks on their way to Sultanhamet is a fairly common sight on this tram.

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The Mythology of Money

The Mythology of Money

You learn the myth at a young age and it is continually reinforced on your consciousness for the rest of your life. It is the background illusion that makes day to day existence possible. It is the story that holds up the system. They teach it in school and on television and in the movies. If you do not believe the story, they will say you are crazy. Atheists don’t believe in God, but they believe in the myth. What is the myth? Money is a real thing.

Yeah, well, so is God… sort of… metaphorically speaking. The belief in God was real enough to serve as the foundational principle of an economic system that lasted for hundreds of years. Religion was the glue that held the economy together. Nowadays, the belief in God is optional. Instead, the belief in the reality of money is the foundational principle of the economic system. The myth of money is the glue that holds the modern economy together.

According to the myth, money is a thing out there in the world that humans can gather or collect or earn or find. Some people or institutions have lots of it, some people have smaller amounts and some people have very little or none. The story, however, is a little vague in explaining how people ended up with the money that they have now. Some people suggest that the present distribution of money is the result of evolution (they earned it in the great competition) while others suggest that it is the result of God’s plan or design. Really though, they tend to avoid the topic all together. You cannot even mention it in polite society. You can, of course, argue until you are blue in the face about the re-distribution of money. Liberal vs. conservative…. But you can’t talk about the distribution of money in the first place. We are just supposed to accept the reality that there are trillions and trillions of these things out there called money and some people and institutions have it and some don’t. That is just the way it is. You better believe it.

But what if you don’t? What if you don’t believe the myth about money but instead understand the truth about money.

In reality, money is the symbolic representation of your legal right to use economic value within the jurisdiction of the government that backs the money. In a democratic society, the value of money would be determined by an agreement between citizens. In other words, money is part of a social contract and it is used as a tool to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. As such, all citizens have access to the flow of money based upon the same basic formula. But I do not believe any such democratic society exists anywhere on earth. Instead what we have is oligarchic money supply systems. Money is used as a weapon to enslave the masses instead of as a tool to facilitate fair trade.

The same structure is used by nation states all around the world. It was originally designed by the Roman Empire and was modified by the Europeans but it is now the Americans taking the lead in spreading it world wide. It is THE mechanism that allows for the domination of indigenous local cultures by the global corporate culture.

Every nation state has an evolving amount of economic value available within its borders. In other words, old economic value gets used while new economic value is created. The distribution of money determines who gets to use the economic value that is available. A central authority controls the money supply. Theoretically, they add new money to the system by investing in projects for the benefit of the nation and subtract money from the system through taxes. Through the investment in certain activities and the taxation of other activities, the central authority shapes the economy, culture and way of life of the nation state. That is called government. It is the way things work.

Sometimes governments are monarchies, sometimes governments are dictatorships and sometimes governments are nominal democracies or republics. But it doesn’t matter. Money is always created at the center and passed downward to the citizens. If you ever run for state or federal office here in the US, it soon becomes apparent that your primary mission as a senator or congressman is not to make laws but to beg for money from the central authority on behalf of your district.

But if money is the symbolic representation of your legal right to use economic value, why is it distributed to the state or district from the outside instead of created within the state or district itself? Seem like a strange question? Can we get to the root of the question. Where does money come from? How is it made? When new money is added to the system, who adds it and who gets it? New money is obviously added to the system all the time. How much is a loaf of bread? How much was a loaf of bread ten years ago or twenty years ago?

They play the same game in every country I have ever traveled in. You can trade US dollars for the local currency on the black market or at banks or public exchanges. Many foreign currencies have lots of zeroes as governments and central banks add more and more currency to their system without increasing economic value inside their jurisdictions. This causes inflation as each individual piece of currency is worth less and less. Some governments even have to subtract zeroes from the currency because at some point it becomes ridiculous. I once paid 38,000 Zimbabwe dollars for a fast food cheese burger in Harare.

I have not yet visited a nation state that has a democratic money supply system. In my experience, there are only oligarchic systems. Money is created at the top and passed downward through the channels of the hierarchy until it eventually reaches the general public where it gets passed around. The relative cost of things in each nation state is dependent upon the amount of currency getting passed around and the availability of economic value. Behind it all is the US dollar.

The Bretton Woods conference after WWII, established the structure that essentially rules most of the world’s economic value today. Under this structure, the IMF and World Bank treat “independent” nation states in much the same way that the Federal Reserve treats the different states and communities in the U.S.. With the power to tighten or loosen the money supply and the means to direct currency flows, the central authority imposes poverty to guarantee compliant laborers and access to natural resources for multi-national corporations.

It doesn’t have to be that way. People could stop believing in the oligarchs’ money and create democratic money to pass around instead. With universal access to basic economic rights, people would have an economic incentive to work together in voluntary associations and co-ops to make their communities and the world in general a better place instead of being forced to get a “job” in order to survive.

In the last thirty years or so, the oligarchs in charge of the money supply have used the mechanism of “financial services” to direct excessive amounts of currency flow towards national security (war), fossil fuel extraction, information manipulation (propaganda) and domestic security (prisons and police). If you want to “succeed” in the modern world, those are good industries to get a “job” in. The troubling world we are living in today is largely the result of those unwise investments.  The direction of currency flow towards the above mentioned “investments” was not somehow the manifestation of the people’s democratic will.  It was the decisions of the oligarchs because they wanted to exert more control over “citizens/subjects”.

What is the difference between democratic money and oligarchic money? Democratic money is based upon a social contract between the people participating in the economic system. Oligarchic money is created by governments and corporations (banks approved by the fed) and lent with interest to the people participating in the economic system.

Democratize the money supply!

The non-violent economic revolution starts now…

This essay is not copyrighted. Please feel free to share it or send it or plagiarize it or copy and paste it or spread it to others in any way you see fit.

Thanks and have a wonderful day.

Standing Rock

Standing Rock

The line is drawn, what side are you on? Do you believe in democracy or corporate capitalism? You can’t believe in both because the two concepts are contradictory. There is no such thing as a corporate capitalist democracy and the tragedy now unfolding at Standing Rock demonstrates that ugly truth. The water supply of 16 million people is threatened for the sake of corporate profits. In response to that threat, the people have made every possible objection through so called democratic channels. They have petitioned the courts and overwhelmingly contacted their “representatives”. They have held rallies and waived signs. They have made phone calls and written letters. They have even placed their bodies peacefully in front of the threat as water protectors. If this nation state was even remotely democratic, the pipeline would already have been cancelled. But as the standing rock controversy so clearly demonstrates, we are subjects of a corporate state, not citizens of a participatory democracy. Voting is a game designed to distract people from the reality that would otherwise be obvious. The government serves the interests of capital not the interests of citizens.

Nevertheless, all is not lost. We just have to engage the opposition on the proper playing field. Stop pretending that the government can or will save the day. Smiling Barry doesn’t give a potato about you and your water supply. Neither does the Trumpster or the department of injustice or the corp. of engineers. They don’t work for you. They work for the corporate state. The theatre of operations is capitalism not democracy so the only thing that counts is profits. As such, if you really want to help the cause of Standing Rock, you have to go after the profits. Accordingly, there are a few substantial things you can do.

1. If you have money or investments in or through Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America, Chase, or any other institution that is invested in the Dakota Access pipeline, take all the money out today. It would be helpful to write a nice polite letter to said institutions explaining why you are removing the money. You could put the money in your local credit union instead, or in a different bank or in your mattress or in a hole in your backyard. You could even send some of the money to the water protectors. The reality is: If you are writing letters or making phone calls to “representatives” in government and you still have money in these institutions, you are fooling yourself.

2. Put your body on the line. Go to standing rock to join the water protectors. Do not take this action lightly. It is not a “free speech zone,” a pep rally or a rock concert. It is an occupation.. a resistance to corporate power. The situation is escalating and becoming more dangerous by the day. If my information is correct (it may not be). Energy Transfers is contractually obligated to complete the pipeline by December 31. If they do not complete it by then, the amount of money they charge for gas flowing through the pipeline will be subject to market price instead of the contract price agreed upon when the pipeline project was begun. Since the price of gas has fallen from almost a hundred dollars a barrel to less than fifty, that’s a difference of billions of dollars. In other words, if they can’t get it done by the 31st, the project will no longer be economically viable and will probably get cancelled. If the water protectors can hold off the black snake for that long, they may very well win the battle. (Of course, smiling Barry will probably step in and take credit for cancelling it with some bullshit rhetoric about democracy, but the real reason will be economics). Anyway, because of the fast approaching deadline, the corporate state has issued a notice of eviction to the water protectors for December 5th. They are threatening to arrest and forcibly remove the water protectors on that date. With billions of dollars on the line and thousands of protesters, things are likely to get very very ugly. If you are going to Standing Rock for the month of December, I commend you for your bravery. But please, understand the consequences. The stakes are very high and so are the risks. But no matter what you do, stick to the stated principle of the water protectors and practice non-violence. Violence causes more violence. If you think that you can out shoot or out gun the corporate state, you are a fool. You are playing into their hands. The only method that can possibly win is non-violent resistance. Be especially aware of the agents of empire who will undoubtedly be sent to infiltrate the water protectors and use violence so that the state will have an excuse to respond with violent oppression. That is the way the corporate state operates.

3. Send money and/or supplies to the water protectors at Standing Rock if you can’t go yourself. The front lines of any battle always need supply lines and thanks to modern technology, you can probably help the water protectors by sending them financial or material support from the comfort of your living room. However, as the situation continues to escalate, the corporate state will do its best to blockade such supplies and if you do attempt to provide them with financial assistance you will probably end up on corporate state’s database of uncooperative serfs.

4. A radical non-violent strategy: Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing through six consecutive presidents (democrats and republicans), the U.S. economy has undergone a process that can best be described as financialization. The end result of that process is that most ordinary Americans don’t have much financial equity anymore. The amount they hold in bank savings accounts is minimal so the big banks won’t give a shit if a few people remove their savings and put it in a credit union instead. The facts on the ground are: most Americans have debt and a credit line instead of substantial savings. Access to capital is based on how much you can borrow rather than how much you have. They call it leverage in the business world. Anyway, the point is… millions of Americans have credit cards (junk bonds for little people) issued by the above mentioned institutions (Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America and Chase, etc.). On those credit cards, they have an outstanding balance, a monthly payment that includes interest and available credit. The easiest thing you can do and the least you can do is transfer your credit card balance to an institution (your local credit union or a different bank) that is not invested in the pipeline. While such an action is beneficial and the right thing to do, it won’t effect the bottom line of the big banks by too much because the institution you transfer to will have to pay off the big banks. If you really want to threaten the financial well being of the big banks, I would suggest organizing a nationwide boycott of monthly payments on credit cards. Send your monthly payments to the yet to be established, “Standing Rock First Amendment Legal Defense Fund” instead. Make a photocopy of your check and send the photocopy to the big bank in question along with a letter that says something like this: “Pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Citizens United, it is firmly established in U.S. Law that the payment of money is a form of political speech protected by the first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I believe it is fundamentally wrong to use my money to invest in an oil pipeline that threatens the water supply of 16 million people. As such, I am choosing to direct my monthly payments to the people protecting the water instead of to the people threatening the water. If you do not fully credit my account for this payment or in any way damage my credit rating for this action, I will consider it a violation of my first amendment rights and pursue legal action for compensatory and punitive damages against you.”

This is, of course, a very risky strategy for an individual to pursue. If only a couple people did it, they would simply lose their credit cards and ruin their credit ratings as the big banks would simply ignore the letter. While the proposed legal action under the first amendment and Citizens United is theoretically possible, it would be a very long and time consuming court battle and lawyers don’t usually work for free. If, however, several hundred people or several thousand people could be convinced to participate, their monthly credit card payments could be pooled by the “Standing Rock First Amendment Legal defense fund” to pay the lawyers to bring the first amendment case against the banks. I, personally, have the Internet organizing skills of a Neanderthal and my time is fully occupied chasing a toddler. But if someone out there is skilled in that department, I would encourage them to start a petition or a group or whatever organizational form they can think of to get people to sign up for such a boycott. Ideally, you would want to get as many people as possible to sign on in advance and have everyone send their first amendment letter instead of payment on the same day. Actually, the mere existence of a large enough number of people who are willing to participate would apply significant economic pressure on the institutions in question.

I should probably emphasize before closing that I make the above radical suggestion as an outsider rather than as a potential participant. I started practicing organic economics 22 years ago. Accordingly, I have no credit cards (only a debit card) and no “investments” in greed machines (corporations). If everyone listened to me, they would withdraw all their money from globalized greed machines (multinational corporations) and invest it in the communities where they lived instead. But that would be a non-violent economic revolution so it’s probably just a pipe dream.

Finally, I would like to say that my heart and soul goes out to the good people at Standing Rock. I am sending them my prayers, my thoughts, my good vibes and my positive energy. Thank you for doing what all the serfs throughout the country should start doing if they would only wake up and see reality. Resist the corporate empire with determined non-violence.

I stand with Standing Rock.

This essay is not copyrighted. Feel free to share it with anyone and everyone. Copy it or paste it or plagiarize it in any way you like.

Manifest Destiny

Hi everyone.  I’m back. This website is now renewed for another year and my stonework season is finished so I will continue again with weekly postings of crazy travel stories and radical essays.  This is a travel story from my archive of handwritten notebooks.

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Manifest Destiny

Istanbul, Turkey and Amman, Jordan; February 2013

The story is… We have been following each other around the globe for all eternity.  In 1992 I was in Costa Rica and in 1993 I was in Ecuador.  She was in Ecuador in 97 and Costa Rica in 99.  In 2001, we were both in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia).  But we didn’t know each other then.  It’s possible we collided inner-tubes on the river in Vang Vienne or shared a shisha lakeside in Phnom Penn but such encounters are neither documented nor specifically remembered. In 2004, we were both in South America.  She was traveling with her sister and I was on my way to meet an Argentinian love.  We knew each other then, but just barely.  Same hometown. Social acquaintances.  Friends of Friends.  We even exchanged a few e-mails.  Perhaps we will meet up in Bolivia.  But the timing didn’t work out.  I was in a hurry to meet the Buenos Aires Babe and she was on her way to Machu Picchu.  In 2007, we were both in Mexico at the same time.  We were pretty good fiends by then and I thought seriously about going to see her in San Miguel.  But she was involved with a friend of mine at the time and he was not with her.  Avoiding temptation, I went to Chiapas instead.  Then, of course, there was 2008-2009.  My harrowing trip through North Africa where so many things went wrong.  No, she was not traveling in North Africa that year.  She was home in Oneonta reading my travel stories about North Africa on the internet.  She was also the first person I saw on the streets of Oneonta when I returned from that trip broke, defeated and slightly traumatized.  She gave me a hug on Main Street and welcomed me home.  She offered to make me dinner some time for a proper welcome.  She was no longer involved with my friend.  I went to dinner a few days later.  And the rest, as they say, is history…

We’ve been together for almost four years now but I do not discard the possibility that we were together in past lives or future lives as well.  Sometimes it seems as if we have a connection that lasts for all eternity.  We’ve already been on a few long wanders together.  A big romp through Peru and Ecuador was the honeymoon trip and we also went on an extended journey through the campgrounds of the Southern United States.  She’s a good travel partner.  We always seem to find ourselves inside of fun little adventures.  This year, I came to the Middle East on my own for a couple months but she is meeting me for the second half of the journey.  These past two months of traveling is my longest time away from her since our togetherness began.  I just want to put my arms around her and give her a great big hug…

In two more days, I am flying from here in Amman, Jordan to Istanbul, Turkey in order to meet Ms. B.  Before I leave Jordan, however, I really want to see the ancient ruins of Jerash.  It’s only an hour or so away by public transport.

I set out after breakfast in the early morning.  Thankfully, I stop and talk to the guy at reception on my way out the door.  He tells me I want the north bus station for Jerash and he writes it down in Arabic on a piece of paper.  He also gives me a hotel business card with the name and address in Arabic. “If you get lost,” he says, “just give this card to any taxi anywhere and he will take you here.”

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