I've been quiet online for some time, but not inactive. It's time for a house-cleaning blog.
I'll be in Spain in December. Please read below for details.
I continue to write memes. You can follow them on Twitter.
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While I religiously vote in the general election, I have rarely voted in the midterms. Part of the reason for that is that I moved around so much in my life, requiring a new registration in a county I would end up not living in by the time the election rolled around. Now, I'm here to stay in Luna County, and I will be voting next week.
Whatever your political inclination, it's apparent there is a big disconnect in our political process. I happen to feel that, at this point, the system is bankrupt in so many way it's hard to have faith in the workings of government. I am no fan of the Democrats, but the degree of insanity emerging from the right is downright frightening.
It may be that the likes of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck have wreaked more havoc than this fragile country could endure. Or it may be that the spineless Democrats are too in debt to the rich to do any good or give a proper counter-offense against the more offensive elements of the far right.
Another thing I do religiously is read Paul Krugman in the NY Times. Though he is a Noble Prize winning economist from Princeton, and has been consistently right in his economic prognostications, not enough people in positions of power listen to his advice. Though, it seems Obama is just now beginning to do something about China's rogue economic policies -- something Krugman has been warning about for a long time.
Krugman probably votes Democrat to avoid the greater of two evils, so to speak, but in this case the difference is between routine political corruption (the left) and mass insanity. If the Republicans/Tea Partiers win this midterm, it stands to good reason that our extremely fragile economy will take a nose-dive.
What I fear most is deflation. This is coming from a community-developer that has spent this summer spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, mostly borrowed, to get the community up and running. While the NRCS will be paying off a good chunk of it, we will still owe over $300,000 (exact figure not known yet) by the end of the summer. Termed out to 20 years, it's a pretty good chunk of change the community will need to pay every month. Of course, we will soon have an income.
But deflation is the kiss of death for our expansionary economic system. We may not like the way things are in our corporate-run world, but deflation is probably not be the best way to get to the way we want them to be. Again, it comes down to the pain. How much pain can we endure before the mass insanity hits the streets.
I'm hoping it doesn't hit the voting booths on Nov. 2. If you're sane and reading this, please vote. If you're insane, I'm happy you have the right to vote, I'm just not too thrilled about the diet of misinformation out there that has contributed toward the insanity. But one thing I've learned from reading political blogs is that the country is so polarized at this point that one pretty much can only preach to the choir. If any trolls are reading an opposing writer, it's to get information on the enemy. So, far be it from me to try to cure the insane.
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Of course, that was what GWR was all about. And by extension, the community had a lot to do with opening the door to people, sane or otherwise, so they could work out their ideas of self. I've met some wonderful people and some loose cannons. I've seen serious determination and reckless behavior. I thought I saw (read) it all during the years online when I welcomed input from anyone, but I never cease to be amazed -- in both inspiring in disappointing ways from the people who visit. I suppose it's the world that's made up of gems and lemons, and most of the time you can see the gem in all despite the madness that, on occasion, may emerge.
All in all, I'd have to say that I haven't yet worked out the kinks in the actual "community" part of the community. The kinks in the self-sustainable agriculture, despite being in the desert, turn out to be a lot easier to maneuver around. It's my nature to trust first and ask questions later, but that doesn't seem to work. SRF required that I spend two weeks at the Hidden Valley center before I could apply for longer stay, but it felt like a formality. Like them, I am more than happy to have the help and more than willing to help out.
The issue, from the standpoint of supporting the community's growth, is that it's hard to get useful volunteer work from short-term visitors but long-term stay is not reliable, and my experience has shown that it is folly to trust in a proposed future. Again, it comes to falling back on the corporate model, which isn't very community sounding but is resilient enough to handle most of the craziness people can come up with.
I know I'm being short on details, and some of you are asking, "What happened?" Nothing serious, but someone was reckless and could have gotten very hurt. We avoided the worst this time, but the brush with disaster was enough for me to rethink opening the doors to long-term residency without proper vetting. What matters is that the community eventually attracts responsible people. The decision made early on to require the purchase of land seems to be right-on. Accidents happen, but in farming most can be avoided with common sense and a safety-first disposition. Even if someone who buys land turns out to be a nut, at least he or she knows they've only got their land or wherever else -- but not the community -- to be a nut on. It's protection going both ways. I know that means a lot of people won't be able to participate fully, but without an investment in the project and community process, I don't see that there would be much lifelong participation anyway.
The community's doors will always be open to visitors and guests, but, at least for now, I am not looking for long-term volunteers off the bat. I will also require references from people I haven't met who want to stay for more than a week. Long-term residency is possible, but only if it seems like a good fit after one or more shorter stays.
This policy will also protect not only the investment my family has made in the community, but the investment made by the people who have bought and will buy land to be part of the community process. Knowing all of these people personally, I know the last thing they want is to have their investment unnecessarily exposed.
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This summer, we spent over $600,000 on the agricultural systems. Whirlwind looks like another place. Deepwater looks like a different place. I'll post photos soon. Most of the heavy lifting is done, but a few jobs remain. And we have practically a forest to plant. We'll have everything planted, seeded, and online by the end of the year.
I need a vacation, and it looks like I'll be going to Spain from December 6 to the 15th. If anyone reading this is in Spain and wants to meet me, please contact Mario at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be doing a bit of touring with my friends there, who are also sponsoring the trip and setting up talks. But I suspect there will be plenty of informal gatherings in living rooms and cafes, so please contact Mario if you will be in Madrid or nearby in early December. I'd love to meet you.
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However this election turns, it will be interpreted as a referendum on Obama and the Democrats. The election of hope and "change one can believe in" is long gone and dead but it's still a far cry from the lunatic fringe who are slowly gaining center stage. I never thought I'd miss George Bush! Dr. Kurgman has explained nine ways to Sunday why we need more public spending to get out of this near-deflationary unemployment trap. He has great blogs full to explain in simple language why this is so, and why and how this is history's lesson. We need people in power who will spend the money and get the cash flowing again, and never mind for now the boogey-man of deficits. Elections are surely stolen, but only by shaving numbers. The more that vote, the more likely the will of the people is carried out.
The real threat, as I've argued over and over, is the diameter of the planet v. the appetite we have to multiply our numbers beyond counting. It is strange for me to find myself in the food-production business at a time when the real issue of our time will be food, the energy we use to produce it, and most importantly the life (carbon) we have in our soil. Whirlwind Community is designed around dirt farming. That means we farm to have rich soil, and let nature do the rest. Real wealth is down and dirty, in the microbes and organic matter. That makes food and wood and shade and wildlife-habitat and all-around quality of life. Farming via non-renewable energy consumption destroys the dirt and shows us exactly where our limits our, especially the limits of hubris.
We have no limits on actual currency or dollars. Just ask China. (That's a joke. In fact, China is out of control and needs to learn boundaries. But it's true. Money is not only debt, but debt is always a net zero because what's one person's debt is another person's investment. Excuse me if I don't get too worried over the human race owing X amount to itself. What is infinitely more worrisome is the present generation stealing from the future by multiplying out of control and burning a dwindling resource like there's no tomorrow. There is a tomorrow, but reckless behavior of this kind insures a very bleak one.
So ignore the talking heads who sound really serious when it comes to fiscal austerity. They might as well have Wall Street stamped on their foreheads. It's not often that doing something for your best personal interests is the right thing to do. In this case, people voting in the lunatic fringe are their own worst enemies. They need to be a lot more knowledgable so that they can express the full glory of their selfishness in a way that actually is self-serving. If unemployment goes down with Republicans in power, it will be in spite of their best efforts to ruin the economy.
Waiting for the hundredth monkey...