(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

How to Know if You Are Dead or Not (Part I)

Posted on: Mar. 16, 2016  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: General

By now, if you are reading this I am most likely dead.  Back in July of 2014 (Autopsy: The Death of You), I said that things must change or we would all face dire consequences.  Well, I can’t say for sure what it is that got me, perhaps it was a simple as an algae bloom that poisoned some shellfish that did me in.  Or just your run of the mill toxic threat come true or the next poison extracted from below the earth’s surface.  Perhaps I just died off like one of those thousands of endangered species who keep ending their days on earth each day.  Perhaps it was more of a biblical type situation such as where I got done in by a flood, wildfire, or drought.  It was easy to deny that something was about to get me and that the problem wasn’t so severe.  Was I a victim or part of the problem?  If you are not reading this then you are most likely dead too.  It wasn’t like a dramatic nuclear bomb blast that got us all but more insidious than that.  Now, because of all this lack of courage to change on all our parts, it turns out that humans will be the next fossil fuel.

I was raised by good parents to always think things will keep getting better which was probably because I can remember the days when they actually did.  What qualifies for “better” now is something akin to the software on your phone which must constantly be replaced because the old version is so outdated.  The arts have kept pace over the years and, in fact, TV is probably way better, but only in time saving technology and artificial intelligence have we seen real improvement.  The flip side to that is that how many jobs have been lost due to technology improvements.  Also, how many incomes have been lowered as skilled jobs have been replaced with lower skilled and lower paying work.

Am I glorifying the past?  Yes, I remember a day when there was much more outright prejudice and hatred and now there is much more toleration of race, gender, and sexual inclination but down deep it is still tough to be different when it comes to those things.  It seems like outright prejudice is making a comeback in the 2016 presidential race though.  No matter what, however though, we all have joined together in one thing and that is being powerless.  I used to feel that I had some say in things that matter or that common sense would eventually prevail but was that before I had to agree to the terms of their way or the highway contracts (“this limits our liability”) and money as influence in the form of free speech.

I raised my children to try and be fair to others while, at the same time, being skeptical  of someone’s intentions in case another person might try to take advantage of them in the form of that person’s own best interests.  It seems like no one has time anymore to be helpful to others or altruistic.  Now, with so many youth not being able to find a job, having a job and being underpaid for it, unrewarding work, or most everyone living paycheck to paycheck, it has become every person for themselves.   I do not have a great answer when my kids complain that they might as well just “drop out.”

Once the institutions in a society become corrupt though, the only way for change to come about would be from the bottom up.  The term “grass roots” seems ironic since in California drought territory, the actual grass roots dried up and died too.   Corporations are great at paying high executive salaries and bonuses, bribing elected officials with campaign contributions, creating think tanks and lobby groups to support their positions, and making profits whose byproduct will produce a hundred years of hurricanes and droughts by selling their soul for the next good quarterly report that they can show to shareholders.  As long as regulation, redistribution of wealth, and taxes are pejorative, then the narrative is being hijacked and children and future generations are being victimized.  Some say the costs to fix climate change are too high or will hurt the economy and yet each large weather disaster can come to a cost of a billion dollars and they are becoming more frequent.  The first place to start paying for these disasters is to tax the polluters responsible for the climate change in the first place.  Even more disturbing is that many of these polluters have been getting government subsides all this time so the next place to go would be to get rid of their subsidies.  If some poorer consumers are hit harder by changing the rules that perhaps that needs to be taken into account in the form of tax breaks or other initiatives.  For us common folk though, most people will sacrifice if they think that the rules are game and the game itself is not stacked against them.  When we demand better air quality though, the corporation packs up and looks for cheaper labor and less restrictions.

Most climate change deniers do so not out of not believing the science is wrong but rather a smoke screen for not wanting to pay for any changes or they fear that the economy could makes new winners and old losers.  The reasoning is that regulations hurt the free market.  First of all, does a free market mean you are free to dump waste into the atmosphere?  Next, the market is as free as a chicken is to demand we all become vegetarians.  If the market is free than why are billions of dollars spent in the form of lobby groups and campaign contributions to get the rules bent in a special interests favor?  What the truth is about markets is that achievement, money, status, and power are antithetical to communal action.  Communal action is the only way for change to happen but that possibility has been hijacked by moneyed interests.  No free market, libertarian ethos, or billionaire entrepreneur will save this day.  Speaking of free markets, do we really think that free markets in the way of cap and trade can make a difference toward the types of changes needed around climate?  It is the free market that got us here in the first place.  The larger picture is not just the one issue of fossil fuel usage but the larger economic issue of a consumption and wealth driven world.

We do not seem to question how we see the world anymore.  What is broken is how the narrative plays out around consumption.  The narrative that we can dominate the world has proven that the rats cannot run the sewer.  Consumer culture argues for less local goods which leaves products that increase pollution since they have to be shipped all over the world in order to get a cheap price while the incentive is to make those goods not last longer and not be local.  Being addicted to food that comes from other parts of the world, driving everywhere to buy things, and flying at the drop of a hat, as well as houses much too large for the occupants are all part of status quo for the unchecked consumer society.  We all know the drill.  To get out of this pattern means to change our cities in order to have houses near work, accessible bike paths, low-energy homes and efficient agriculture, and pedestrian areas and shops along mass transit stops.

In a global world, production is measured by how much is consumed, traded, and exported which all is antithetical to the planet’s health.  You might be wealthy enough to avoid living by a mine or oil spill but no one can escape the effects of a changed climate.   Perhaps some entrepreneur thinks there is a great business opportunity in all this though to sell fire extinguishers, better sunscreens, earthquake supplies, and the new waterless diet fad.  We all know that more consumerism certainly cannot get us out of this mess.  In Part II, we will discover why I died and whether to tell if you have.

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