Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Balmorhea

Sunday, January 30, 2011. Last week Leah and I traveled to Balmorhea and purchased twenty acres of irrigated land. I hesitate to speak of this for fear that I could start an exodus of people to my little oasis, but the fact is, I don’t own the place. The place owns me.

This is a dream come true. If you read Contrabando, perhaps then you’ll know why.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to live in Balmorhea or Piedritas, sister cities to the North and South of the Big Bend, the home of my heart and soul, but being able to participate in their resurrection and continued struggle to survive is a blessing, even if from a distance.

I’m well on my way toward having spent all my money and I must say it feels good.

Praise God.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spread the news

James Howard Kunslter is one of the best informed voices out there. Here's an interview from the nation.com. Well worth your time.

Here's the video, sans text. Or go to the link to watch, if you prefer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Headed to Balmorhea

A song for the road. Y'all be good. OK. So you can't be good. Do the best you can, when you can. Lord have mercy on us.



And something to brighten your day, before I leave:

Only 47% of working age Americans have full time jobs.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

China and the current economic climate

This article goes a long way toward explaining the current economic conditions we face--stagnant wages and growth in the midst of rapidly increasing commodity prices.

If you live in the US, it will only get worse.

hat tip, Collapsenet

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My own personal Jesus

Jesus came first as a lamb. The Jews, expecting a savior, couldn't or wouldn't recognize him. He will return as a lion. And Christians can't or won't recognize him when he does. I tire of a bunch of whiney ass wimps and cowards using my savior's name. I tire of worthless praise songs emanating from lying lips. For some, he will come like a thief in the night.

Johnny Cash sings it better than I can say it:

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still,
Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still,
Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still,
Listen to the words long written down, when the man comes around



At the appointed hour, violence won't be the problem, it'll be the cure. We had the choice. Peace or violence. We chose violence. Mercy (foregiveness) or justice (judgement). We chose justice. The die has be cast. We are to be judged by the same standard by which we judge others. Quake in your boots boys. This is going to get nasty.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This will not end well

Sabbath morn, too damned early.

I’ve watched the scenario play over and over again. Almost without fail, one of the first things a Mexican migrant wants is a car. If not, then a pickup truck. He arrives penniless and takes a job doing hard manual labor. He sends money home. Over time he learns skills and begins earning more money than his family needs at home. So he buys a cheap very used vehicle. Then the problems begin.

He probably had to borrow a bit of money to pay for the vehicle, which eats into the weekly check. The cost of gas eats more money than he anticipated. Then something breaks. Something always breaks. Parts are expensive, the labor of skilled mechanics even worse. But he manages, just barely, between used junkyard parts and the pooled efforts of friends and a shared assortment of tools.

He gets caught driving without a license. Maybe he surpasses the speed limit, or fails to use a turn signal. A deer rushes out in front of the vehicle or the inspection sticker expires. The vehicle isn’t in his name. He may or may not have insurance, but if he does, it’s not in his name and he has no drivers license. If he’s lucky, the cop writes a ticket and lets him go. If not, the vehicle gets impounded and it’s off to jail.

By now, there’s no money left to send home, but rather than get rid of the car, he tries to make things right. He pays the fine, drives more carefully. The car breaks down again. Got to keep the car. Got to fix the car. Can’t get to work without the car; the car, before he eats, before he sends the money home, he’s got to feed the goddamned car…

The syndrome applies elsewhere.

Take the traveling musician. He may start out playing near home, earning a hundred bucks in tips in a night, but he soon saturates the local market with his medicine and decides to expand his market. Which means travel. Not only for his body, but also his instruments and perhaps a couple of friends and their instruments too. So he buys an old used van. After fixing this van and dumping all the extra hundred dollar bills he can muster on parts, fuel and mechanics, the plan dictates something more modern. More modern comes with larger payments, perhaps less frequent breakdowns, but the breakdowns suffered—and breakdowns will be suffered—are more costly on an exponential scale. There’s the wreck, the roadside bust. New tires. The band gets tired of sleeping in a van and doing without showers so there’s motel bills and restaurants. If successful the van turns into a quarter or half million dollar tour bus, or maybe two busses. And these eat all the money. No matter how big the act, they eat all the money. When the bus is too slow, plane rides fill the void. Faster and farther in less time, more gigs, less road time. Got to feed the fucking airlines, don’t we?

On the farm, we had mules, then tractors. Then bigger tractors, combines, and huge arrays of specialized equipment. Always something bigger, more modern with greater capacity but always dependent on abundant supplies of cheap fossil fuel. Now they come with radios and air conditioners, satellite navigation equipment. Fuel became cost prohibitive so chemicals and genetically modified plants became the thing, limiting the amount of passes over the fields. But the chemicals are made from fossil fuel as well and any increase in productivity is soon factored into the price of the product derived. And the seeds are expensive as hell. They require a new breed of planting and harvesting equipment. A farmer has to farm more and more acres with larger and more costly machines. They all suck oil. They all displace human laborers. They have displaced virtually all animal power.

Perhaps the factory is your domain. It’s the same story there. Produce more and more with less and less in the way of manpower. Bigger factories, farther apart, making more product in one place and moving this product more miles to the final point of consumption. All on the back of energy derived from fossil fuels.

Even warmongers get in on the act. The bad guys shoot back so we need to wrap troops in big hulking chunks of movable iron. Better yet, why send in troops when I can sit in my goddamned cubicle and kill the bad guys with predator drones? But someone has to man the drone on the ground, in a military base, on foreign soil. Who needs a military base when we have aircraft carriers? But the enemy has missles. So the base it is. And the aircraft carriers stocked with planes also for those little countries without the bad ass missles.

We end up with cities full of unemployed humans surrounded by high tech gadgets in perpetual motion. Perpetual stinking, polluting, goddamned, senseless planet-killing motion.

We are on a suicidal trajectory.

I know this sounds ridiculous to most of you. That technology will save the day, once again.

You say we can’t live without all this shit.

Well, we can live without all this shit. In fact we did fine without all this shit until some one hundred years ago. I’m not saying all technology is bad. Just that along the way we have developed some very bad and unnecessary habits.

The entire human race can’t drive fossil fuel powered vehicles. And we all can’t fly around in fossil fuel powered planes. This is not a hypothesis, not even a theory.

It’s a fact.

Right now, many of you are being priced out of these luxuries.

Fences are being erected, ground razed, wars fought, animals slaughtered, and humans starved to maintain the right to drive and fly between climate controlled havens stocked with food and assorted luxuries for an ever-shrinking chosen number of humans on this planet. All the while, the world's population continues to grow. The only way this contracting community can maintain these rights is by denying these same rights to others.

Well, guess what? The others want to drive and fly too.

This will not end well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food safety, my ass

Here's a video interview of a local Texas farmer concerning the newly passed S510 Food Safety Act.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rain and fire

Sabbath eve, January 7, 2011.

It’s been a while since I wrote on a Sabbath eve. I just got in from shutting in the yard chickens so predators can’t get at them. Coyotes were howling; a thin sliver of a moon peaked through clouds as I walked back toward the house. I felt like the weight of the world rested on my shoulders.

I am told by mainstream media that our economy created 150,000 new jobs last month. Of course, that’s a goddamned lie. We’re told the unemployment number is now 9.4% or thereabouts, another goddamned lie. Took me all of ten seconds to look up the real number at shadowstats.com. The number is 22.4%. Almost one in four Americans that would like to be fully employed, aren’t.

Nate Hagens says people suffer cognitive dissonance—the inability to see and understand problems of such magnitude that there’s no apparent solution. Rather than accept that they must change their lifestyle, Americans walk around in a state of denial. The media feeds them soothing lies and positive forecasts which they swallow like a bunch of possums eating shit.

You’d think this being the beginning of man’s day of rest, a holy day, I’d be singing praises to God instead of walking around cussing mad, or if not mad, sad. Truth is, I think if I were God, I’d be damned tired of all these phony motherfuckers singing me songs, all the while refusing to do my will on earth, as in feeding my hungry, healing and caring for my sick, underprivileged and homeless children, and providing gainful employment to those needing jobs rather than hoarding wealth, kicking people out of homes, and devising ways to steal even more.

Friday is payday on our farm. Actually it’s supposed to be Saturday, but I finally broke down and started paying hands on Friday rather than having to listen to all the reasons they need their checks early. I’ve had extra employees hired lately; each week I think I’ll let them go. Then I hear all the trials they’re facing and watch how hard they work, and I just can’t seem to pull the plug. We have managed to pay the bills so far, but I don’t take that for granted. The day could come when the money is gone.

Breakdowns continue to plague us. The parts to fix the machinery are high and always getting higher. Fuel prices have risen above the $3/gallon range, pushing our real economy once again to the breaking point.

The day before Christmas we bought 24 cows and moved them to our Wrightsboro ranch. The place had not been stocked and was covered with tall dead grass. Two cows died unexplainably this week. An employee just called to tell me two more died today. These are young cows dying for no apparent reason. I don’t have a clue why they’re dying but I know one thing. You can’t make money raising calves when the cows die.

I called my cowboy friends and we have decided they're probably eating something poisonous, but once again, I don't know. We decided to try to gather and move them tomorrow morning. That will entail the rapid reconstruction of some makeshift working pens. This I do know. There's no market for cows that die in pastures and dead cows don't produce calves.

One part time Mexican hand working at a neighboring ranch told me he fears deportation, but has to drive anyway. He says the next time a cop tries to stop him he’s going to run. I tell him this doesn't seem like a good plan. He tells me the last three times he was stopped he got deported and it’s getting harder and harder to get back. That the last time a cop tried to stop him he ran his car off into the brush, ditched it and escaped on foot. The guy works his ass off, helping produce the food we eat. He's not a drug dealer. He's not a terrorist. He belongs to no gang. He has a wife. He has children. His wife and his children live here. His children are American citizens. He is not. He wants a job with modest pay. He lives like a hunted animal in these United States so he can stay with and provide for his family.

Like I say, sometimes it feels like I’m carrying the weight of the world and now is one of those times.

Rain doesn’t fall on one house, neither will the fire when it comes.

Prophets of doom

I don't know how long this will stay up. Watch it while you can.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Max Keiser on Wikileak concerning Monsanto GM seed

also contains an interesting interview with James Howard Kunstler:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wikileaks: US targets EU over GM crops

US embassy cable recommends drawing up list of countries for 'retaliation' over opposition to genetic modification.

Article speaks for itself.

Changing hats

In Texas, among cowboys traditionally we wear two kinds of hats: a straw in summertime and a felt hat in the winter. I was late switching to my felt hat this year for whatever reason.

A couple of days ago I put on a hat I don't much like and regret wearing. Maybe it was once of those Wisconsin cheese head things, or maybe a red plastic razorback hat. Might have been one of those UT faux cowboy hats. Not quite sure what came upon me but while wearing this ridiculous hat I offered suggestions about how we might fix the tax system. Now I look back and realize I was wasting my time. This system and our current style of governance will not be fixed.

I've a few friends I put stock into, seers, if you will. They've suffered visions of our future. Dark dystopian visions. Not The Road, but certainly something quite a bit tougher than the life we now live.

So today I'm discarding the ridiculous hat and getting out the black felt to prepare for a cold and dark winter.

I feel better already. Living in a fantasy doesn't work well for me.

Contrary to what you may be told, life isn't an endless summer.

Politics and or technology won't save the day this time around.

Please excuse the temporary bout of insanity.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kunstler's predictions for 2011

James Howard Kunstler has delivered his prediction for 2011.

It's a doozy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oil drum charts

Here is a thread of charts compiled by contributors to the oil drum.

Eye-popping stuff, some of it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A video worth your time

Tax reform ideas

I’ve spent quite a bit of time bitching about taxation of late, without offering what I think would be a better alternative. Here are a few ideas I’ve been batting around for several years now. They’re not fully fleshed out and I’m looking for feedback (positive or negative) and additional ideas on the subject.

First, I think we should abolish income tax entirely. People should be rewarded for working, saving and creating new wealth, not penalized.

Instead, the government should tax money when it’s spent, exempting essentials like food and minimal subsistence amounts of energy, water and shelter requirements.

All new automobiles should be subject to high taxes with luxury taxes applied to those with poor fuel economy or those considered luxury automobiles.

Flight taxes should be levied to the point of making air travel a luxury item.

Excessive use of gasoline and diesel should be subject to taxation (on the order of a couple of dollars per gallon). Perhaps citizens could receive rebate coupons for so many gallons per month and anything purchased above that minimum amount would be subject to the full tax rate.

Coupled with a plan to provide new public transportation systems and revamping our freight rail system, we can reduce our use of fossil fuels until viable alternatives present themselves.

Land should be taxed on a multi-tiered system, with a lower tax basis for land used to grow food and/or to produce other essential items, thereby employing people, while high dollar residences, rental property and non-essential resort-like properties should be subject to higher taxation.

Equity market income should be subject to taxation at reasonable rates, and so should capital gains at the time of sale or transfer of ownership.

Inheritance taxes should also be levied, but at reasonable rates, and with exemptions for smaller estates.

I think this plan encourages reinvestment and saving and discourages growth for the sake of growth. I also think it would curtail excessive energy use and driving for the sake of driving. We have a finite supply of fossil fuels left and it’s time to acknowledge that fact.

Edward Abbey once said, perpetual growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. I think he was on to something.

What do you think?

New addition

Bonita Ford delivered a healthy 9 pound 14 ounce daughter last night, just before the new year began. Nancy Jude Ford.

Welcome, little one.