Monday, February 9, 2009

A Time for Mind and a Time for Peace

Yesterday in church I received messages that were healing to me. I also saw the effects of, to put it vaguely to protect the privacy of others, God’s influence on people’s lives.

I have studied mathematics and physics at their deepest levels and I know that they are absolutely reliable, they never error and never fail. But as nourishment for spirituality, which is a practice that brings joy to my life, mathematics & physics are empty and void. Intellectual pursuits are useful and fun, but do not and cannot stand alone as something that can bring out the full richness of being alive.

The intellectual lifestyle demands evidence and proof of all things that are to be believed and therefore embraced. But as a sword will help you to prevail in battle, it must be sheathed in the company of friends; even the Shaolin monks must put aside their training for a time and find inner peace. When does one sit and lay still by the running brooks? In my mind’s eye of meditation, a Shaolin monk once told me, “Anything you can do in a frenzied way, I can do better with inner peace”.

The Biological Economy or Where has all the money gone?

If we could find the right metaphor, the right way to understand the economy, then we would all agree, we would know what to do. It is our relationship with the earth, what we plant, what we reap, and how we live healthy and live free as a civilization. You and I are the cells of a living organism, the human species. We rely upon the earth, but we also rely upon each other.

The problem with the economy is that there is a world wide recession. A recession is when the economy is going into shock; it turns cold, clammy and loses consciousness. Shock occurs when there is not enough blood reaching the cells and tissues of the body. Blood is money; money is the blood of the economy. Money is the transfer system that replaces bartering; it allows us to get what we need to survive. The US treasury serves a similar function as the spleen. The spleen produces hemoglobin and stores the excess; the US treasury prints money. There is a shortage of money out there. Where is the money? Why isn’t it circulating? Can we spend money into the economy, get the economy flowing, and then tax it out before inflation becomes a problem?

Money is just like blood, money flows throughout the economic organism. But they flow for different reasons; reasons that we need to pay close attention to. Money flow obeys the laws of Need and Greed. The healthy economy has both in well balanced amounts. Need and greed are why we find jobs, work hard, and think up ways to improve the economy…

The paradigm that the federal government has to balance its budget, and eventually pay off the debt, is faulty. Can you guess why? It’s not because they have superior fire power. The federal government, specifically Congress, has the constitutional authority to print money. You and I have to balance our budgets; state and local governments have to balance theirs. But the Constitutional responsibility to coin money and set its value is subject to a more abstract balance. The inflation rate must always be kept low enough that life savings of workers must not be wiped out. Simultaneously, there must be enough money flowing in the economy to sustain low unemployment. In the same way that your spleen produces and regulates the amount of hemoglobin in your bloodstream, so too must the US Treasury regulate the amount of money in the economy.

What do we have in common with cells of an organism? Cells serve some greater purpose to the whole organism of which they are apart; they manufacture proteins, provide protection, and other stuff. These same cells rely upon the blood stream which provides nutrients, oxygen, and removes waste products. In the same way, each of us serves some greater purpose to the whole of the economy. But we also rely upon

Let’s treat the economy like an electrical circuit. For some strange reason, the dollars that start out in our wallets - flow; it flows back to the banks and to the IRS. It flows to and from businesses and corporations. It also flows from those who are poor accumulators of wealth to those persons/organizations/banks/governments who are excellent accumulators. When banks are the primary suppliers of money by providing loans, they generally get back all of the money plus interest (except for what is lost). I don't think it makes sense to give the banks money because it shorts the circuit.

If the economy is like the human body, what do you do when blood is not reaching some part of the body? Either you clear the blockage, or that part of the body will die. If it's the brain, it's called a stroke, etc. The economy is the same way. If money is not being spent into the economy, then where is it? Is economic fear causing people not to spend? Are we all just nervous nannies creating our own financial problems? In the body, the spleen creates red blood cells and stores excess. Does this remind you of anything? US Treasury printing money? Banking system?

Socialism is a philosophical doctrine that seeks to (1) control the means of production and (2) create an egalitarian society where everybody is equal (even if their not). I’m not advocating control or egalitarianism. I’m also not advocating pure capitalism a.k.a. Laissez Faire economics. But wouldn’t it be better to use elements of both philosophies to create a self regulating economic system that can keep all of its elements, all of its “cells” alive and healthy? It is usually the callous, cold hearted economic Darwinists who are too comfortable with their own financial blessing who would say: if those lazy bums can’t make it on their own, then maybe they should fail and be out on the streets!! Ha ha ha, that means more money for me!!!! But this is where EVERYBODY gets confused.

Using the biological metaphor as a map to a more stable, yet highly adaptable, economy, the goal is to create financial health and abundance not just for most talented, not just for the most blessed, but for everyone. DON’T YOU LIBERALS AND CONSERVATITIVES slip back into your preconceived notions, your stale nineteenth century thinking that creeps out of its coffin like some undead Karl Marx or Herbert Hoover. Go bury your old socialism and incorrect beliefs about capitalism in the cemetery where they belong!!!!

Follow the money, see where it goes. Like hemoglobin that passes through the blood vessels carrying oxygen or co2. From your wallet to the store or the government, it moves like fluids in a circulatory system. Follow the money, as if it were passing through veins or capillaries that can shrink or expand to sustain the whole economic organism. Where there is health, then every cell, every member of the economic system serves its function and enjoys the fruits labor. Those who cannot contribute enough will experience some of the stresses, but they should not be dismissed, they should not be destroyed. We cannot dig a big hole and throw grandma in it because she can’t work. But is it too much to ask everyone who can contribute to give an honest days work? And what about those who want to enhance their skills, who want to go to school and serve the economic organism in some greater way? Kudos to them and kudos to the American people who see the need for educational funding.

We are already an economic organism. Much of what is needed has already been put into place. One of the biggest problems right now is the intense stress of keeping one’s job without enough ability to make the world economy better.

My point is that you cannot blindly leap towards the extremes of either socialism or Wall Street greed without becoming the virus, the very cancer that eats away and eventually kills the organism called the economy.

The Global Warming Debate

The melting of the polar caps is a sign that Global Warming is occurring. Given that we may have a manmade CO2 problem, there is a need to work towards a solution. But environmentalism is tricky to implement; there are so many ways it can be done wrong; there are pitfalls to its implementation that you need to know about. There are also win-win ways to implement environmentalism that are good for everyone.

Basically, any environmental idea that when implemented, add beauty, efficiency, enhances quality of life and/or solves other problems represents a desirable approach to environmentalism and the easing of global warming. But solutions that create stress, anxiety, waste time, money, and productivity, and hinder our lives should be avoided as mistakes we don’t want to make. In the extreme, a heavy-handed environmental dictatorship that murders millions of CO2 generators is a possible future. Consider yourself warned.

The solution I recommend is relatively easy to implement. It is a viable, low tech first approach that anyone can do to lower CO2 levels. It comes out of science and it’s called photosynthesis. Simply put: plant trees. Trees absorb CO2 and give us O2. All plant life acts as a sink to carbon dioxide and removes it from the air. So how many trees should we plant? Covering the whole earth with trees and forcing mankind back into the jungle would be too many trees. In contrast, an occasional plastic tree in an office building would be too few. We need to balance the world’s industrial output of CO2 with enough trees, forest, and plant life to sink out the excess CO2. With a Federal tax credit, small gardens in office building, malls and factories would not only remove CO2 from the air, but would enhance beauty and quality of life for onlookers. Another benefit would be to create new jobs for gardeners and laborers (tree planters).

There is another idea that could alleviate some of the need to cut down trees for paper. It is very technical and not yet cost effective. By using polystyrene spheres as computer controlled pixels on flexible yet durable “video paper”, the pages would fill a computer shaped like a book. A stencil would allow writing on the “video paper”; the processor would interpret and convert it to a text file. These “Intelligent Interactive Books” would ease the need for paper, pens and pencils by storing non critical information electronically. It would be larger than hand held blackberries, but smaller and lighter than laptops. Obviously, some needs still require paper.

To pursue a harmony with the environment, I would recommend a gentle nudge of economic incentives and a voluntary cultural shift. Don’t buy house plants if you don’t want to. But when you are ready and want to become closer to nature, than bask in its gentle embrace and find your center. Plant trees or create a garden if you want to.

But there is a great danger on the horizon that is poised to derail, entangle and draw into a quagmire any Environmental strategy that is launched with the unrestrained hand of the Federal government, and forced down the throats of Americans and other nations. The delicate weave of industry and jobs makes it possible to survive and prosper in an uncertain economy. But to bluntly pile on “carbon taxes”, ethanol substitution, and “cap-and-trade” paperwork is to tear and break the fibers that tether us little folks to our jobs. A carbon tax removes money from the profitability margin, but does not produce or improve anything of noticeable significance. The legal requirement to substitute ethanol, produced from corn, drives up food prices and inadvertently worsens starvation. “Cap-and-trade” forces the endless accounting of every last liter of CO2; it burdens industries with more legal requirements to follow, but adds neither productivity nor improvement to quality of life. If we’re not knee deep in melted glacial waters, then we’re knee deep in IRS paperwork; which is worse? We need to be careful that the solutions that we try do not produce unintended consequences that are worse than the problem. We do not want to cure a headache with a hammer.

What about those who don’t believe in man made Global Warming? If you have to threaten nations and/or American citizens with force to get them to plant trees, then maybe the lesser of two evils is to be knee deep in water because the polar caps melted and the ocean level rose. But the absence of bad weather does not improve the governance of a “save the world” tyranny too expedient to observe human rights and liberties.

What about deforestation of the rainforests? What about the expansion of human civilization? It would be a terrible mistake to force a reduction in human population, to “trim the herd”, in order to “Save the Earth”. To believe that Environmentalism requires the death and destruction of humanity is to unknowingly argue that Adolph Hitler was an Environmentalist who destroyed factories and eliminated 60 million CO2 breathers. If harmony with nature cannot be achieved compassionately, with our values of human and civil right intact, with our freedom and democratic values upheld, then either we will repeat the holocaust or we will be admonished by the earth. The need for new wisdom is at hand.

To all of you who think that humanity is a scourge, a plague or something that will perish from the earth, you are wrong and your error filled belief is hereby cast into the volcanic furnace of creation, incinerated. Mother Nature is two billion years old and has made no mistake. Allow me to let you in on a secret; humanity is the product of the Divine and the biological. Right now it may not look like a pretty picture, but human civilization is only seven thousand years old and is still being forged in the furnace of creation, its purified and perfected nature has not yet been fully realized.