Sunday, March 24, 2019

Denial: The River of No Return

Recent events started me thinking about the level of insanity that makes up much of today’s political discourse. Sure, politics has always been a little bit crazy, but in today’s politics, the crazy is off the charts. What’s worse is that on those very rare occasions when the crazy lets up, the stupid takes over, thus ensuring that the assault on those-who-are-not-the-elite continues uninterrupted and unabated 24/7. Relentless bullshit, in other words, most of it from Republicans. That's not to say that Democrats haven't dished their share.

No one can legitimately deny that we live in troubled times, or that ours is an overburdened planet in imminent danger of environmental breakdown and, on multiple fronts, ecosystems collapse. Day by day, our environment becomes more toxic and less able to support a broad diversity of life; numerous species face extinction. Day by day, our politics becomes more about corporate profits and less about the needs and well-being of we, the people. Day by day, our political leaders, at the behest of corporations, drag us ever deeper into a dystopian nightmare.

Unfortunately, too many of us live in willful and open denial of the foregoing facts and thus impede the implementation of rational programs and policies that would help humanity avert the long-predicted environmental and social catastrophes that loom nearer every day.

While most people agree that humanity faces difficult times ahead, few agree about the sources of those difficulties, and fewer still agree on possible remedies, or even if there are remedies. Experience shows us that before you can fix a problem, you must first understand the problem. Too many of our elected leaders lack the imagination, vision, courage and integrity needed to move us away from the capitalist paradigm and toward a more inclusive system that rewards individual effort rather than individual wealth.

 Increasingly, the U.S. is a country in economic, political and social disarray; its economic problems are intractable―absent radical change―and the good times like those we enjoyed in the middle third of the twentieth century are never coming back. The choices now are to abandon capitalism and change to an entirely different economic model to save people and the environment, or engineer a die-off of 4/5ths of the global population to save capitalism. A third choice--the least desirable of all--is to maintain the status quo and continue on with business-as-usual, in which case it all comes crashing down in the not too distant future as a prelude to a major extinction event.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coming up Short

The Trump Administration, in its entirety, is proof positive that the Peter Principle is the real deal; not one of Trump's Cabinet-level appointees has the knowledge, the experience or the dedication and commitment needed to effectively lead the department that he or she was appointed to run. The same can be said for all of his other appointees, as well.

When Trump promised to drain the swamp (quite likely the only promise he ever kept), he didn't make clear his intention to drain it directly into his administration. However, that's exactly what happened, and as a consequence the government of we, the people, is in grave and imminent danger of becoming a government of they, the corporations.

When corporations are given license to operate free of regulations and restrictions, it's only a matter of timeand not a very long timeuntil entire ecosystems collapse; many are already on the brink. Only a short time remains before irreversible tipping points begin their fatal plunge; this is the amount of time we have remaining in which to save ourselves. The longer we delay, the less certain survival of the humanand otherspecies becomes.

What global leadersand global citizens, as wellneed to understand is that humanity is on a collision course with extinction. Every day we delay in taking the necessary actions to avoid this fate brings us one day closer to the end of everything.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

An Open Letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Dear FCC Chairman Pai:

Stop the incessant push to restrict Internet access by creating “fast lanes” for wealthy subscribers and “slow lanes” for everyone else. The Internet is more than just a channel for commerce; it's also an important channel for public communications that serves society on many levels. Citizens are not well served by regulations that favor the wealthy over the non-wealthy by restricting and/or limiting Internet access for an entire class of citizens. The way I see it, Chairman Pai, is that your primary responsibility is to the people who pay your salary, not to the corporations that pay you bribes.

Please do the right thing.


Phil Hanson

Thursday, March 23, 2017

We Have Met the Enemy

One of the most appealing things about modern society and all its trappings is that irony abounds. While capitalist systems devour themselves, the global human population goes farther into serious overshoot, and the global ecosphere trends toward chemical imbalances that will destroy its ability to support life, it seems illogical to assume that the very things that brought the world to this ignominious state of unwell-being will somehow save us from it. Absent radical changes to the economic, environmental, political and social policies now in effect, we’re toast.

Monday, March 6, 2017

About that Wall

Our so-called president is delusional if he thinks that just because good fences make for good neighbors, high border walls make for good allies. History shows us that high walls create bitter enemies, and exist as much to keep resident populations inside as to keep invading hoards out. Walls breed fear and distrust.

Rather than building walls, we should be tearing them down and building friendships, instead. Tackling global problems arising out of for-profit capitalism requires global cooperation, which is most easily obtained by gaining trust and forging friendships among nations. At a time when humanity stands on the brink of ecocide, putting up a wall is about as stupid as it gets.

Of course, every stupid idea deserves a silly rhyme to commemorate it. This one's based on a children's classic:

Grumpty Trumpty built a high wall,
from which, soon after, he took a hard fall.
Not all of his minions, nor all of his kin,
could put the Pumpkinf├╝hrer together again.

How will the Cheeto Burrito* pay for his Great Wall? Slashing social benefits for the 99% and giving huge tax cuts to billionaires are my two guesses.

Projected to cost a minimum of $15 billion, Trump's Folly could easily exceed $25 billion when the costs of defending lawsuits and typical cost overruns are factored in. That's a lot of money to commit to a project that is almost certain to be reversed by the next duly elected U.S. President, who is absolutely certain to be smarter than the current one.

*Kind of doughy, full of shit and sprinkled with Cheeto dust (among other things).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fear and Hatred Never Sleep

If it were possible to determine sexual orientation at the fetal stage of human development, you can be sure that abortions would not only be legal in the states now seeking to outlaw them, but for certain fetuses they’d be mandatory.

Religion is the stimulant that keeps fear and hatred alive and awake. Fear the gay, fear the different, fear the other, andabove allhate, hate, hate everything you fear.

No wonder that increasing numbers of people are turning away from religion. Genuinely moral people can neither abide the bigotry nor the hypocrisy.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Classy Comparisons

Who knew that reviving a blog can be harder than building a new one from scratch? To ease the task and mark the beginning of my return engagement with Frieddogleg, here’s an inspiring 3-minute video that compares middle class to world class (with mellow background music that makes your meager time investment even more worthwhile), and subtly suggests in a tangential way that by changing your life you can help transform the world.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dear John (an open letter to Oregon's governor)

Dear Governor Kitzhaber,

Really? The public soundly rejected SB 633, so you'll just shove it down the public's collective throat anyway?

GMOs are an economic dead-end, and the companies that seek to peddle that particular brand of snake oil to the public know it. If GMOs had real commercial value, the public would be clamoring for them, not trying to get them rejected; if GMOs had anything of value for the public, companies like Monsanto wouldn't be engaged in endless rounds of expensive litigation and/or legislation involving their ill-conceived products. Allowing the planting of GMO seeds anywhere in Oregon without strict conditions attached risks irreparable harm to Oregon's agricultural industry and permanent changes to its ecology. Please, don't go there.


Phil Hanson

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Capitalism: A Criminal Enterprise

The problem with seeing the world in terms of money is that you miss the world.

Apparently, that’s a prerequisite of the capitalist mindset. Given the choice between a healthy environment and a healthy bottom line, the committed capitalist will consistently choose the healthy bottom line. If the choice is between clean, pure water that communities depend on for life support and hydrofracked natural gas to sell on the open market, they’ll go for the money, communities be damned. If they must choose between healthy ocean ecosystems that benefit all life and a temporary supply of cheap fossil energy to sell on the open market, they’ll choose the money without a thought that a collapsed ocean ecosystem will eventually doom us all. In any situation where the choices are sustainability or short-term profits, diehard capitalists take the money and run.

Such is the allure of the dollar sign, that seductive icon of wealth and power and international symbol of greed. In musing, it seems probable that dollar signs are to human eyes as blinders are to a horse. Blinders keep the eyes focused on what’s immediately ahead while allowing the wearer to avoid sight of anything in the least bit scary, disturbing or unpleasant. Dollar signs enable capitalists to ignore global warming and deny climate change while they go about their daily business of converting essential wealth into short-term profits.

Capitalism, which pits the wants of a few against the needs of the many, depends primarily on theft for its success. It starts with the theft of the land, followed by the plundering of natural resources in and on the land and in, on or under the oceans, the theft of workers’ time and labor throughout the full range of production processes and, finally, the theft of environmental services and of taxpayers' dollars allocated to clean up the mess capitalists leave in their wake. Without theft, capitalism really doesn't work very well; it’s just not profitable.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Truth of Consequences

“In the last two years, reported sexual assault cases in the military rose from an estimated 19,000 to 26,000. Last year, the number reached an estimated 71 cases a day.” ―Heidi Heitkamp

Consequences? There are all kinds of consequences, some good, some bad, some intended, some not. What are the consequences of raping a fellow soldier? Well, there’s the loss of trust, the loss of comradeship, the loss of unit cohesion, the loss of unit discipline, the loss of respect, the loss of military pride …. So many losses and not a single win. Everyone loses.

The U.S. Military is rapidly gaining a reputation for being a place where the hard-up go to get laid. Until there are real consequences for rape in the military, expect an increase in sexual assaults each and every year; without consequences, bullies with poor impulse control feel free to participate. In the meantime, military rape victims ought not hesitate to frag their rapist at the earliest opportunity. (Note: For the best outcome, this should be done in an actual combat setting to provide cover for plausible deniability.)

Assuming that all of the people who actually have the power to stop sexual assaults on fellow soldiers―the would-be rapists, military commanders and members of the three branches of government―eventually come to their senses and collectively act to end rape within the military’s ranks, what kinds of deterrents might they use to ensure compliance with anti-rape regulations among the rank-and-file? What punishment might they use to bring home the consequences to those who would victimize their comrades-in-arms?

Does life in front of a firing squad sound too harsh?