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The truth about organic produce and pesticides
The Agriculture Department recently released the latest measurements of pesticide residues in our food, in the form of the 2016 Pesticide Data Program results, so it seems timely to talk pesticides and organics. And bias. I’ve been following these issues for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of evidence that organic foods have lower levels of pesticide residues than conventional foods, so I was surprised to read a two-part analysis on Forbes.com by Steve Savage, a conventional-side plant scientist I know and respect, showing that the number of residues, and the amount of pesticide in those residues, were virtually the same for organic and conventional foods. What could be happening in our food supply for the difference in pesticide levels to narrow so markedly? That would make an interesting column, I thought. https://preview.redd.it/05jubiabpgz01.jpg?width=1484&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7ba89ed8d419460b642faa86c40a0e2e8f87a583 So I started asking people, but nobody had a good explanation. There’s no evidence for widespread fraud (although there’s evidence for some), and the only other explanation was drift. Because organics are often grown in the proximity of their conventional brethren, drift happens. But that’s an awful lot of drift. And then I talked with Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. She’s also a data geek, a woman after my own heart, and she had actually tried to replicate Savage’s results. She couldn’t. So I figured I’d better try to do it myself. And I couldn’t, either. The reason we couldn’t was that Savage’s data were spectacularly wrong. He reported that conventional foods had an average of 3.1 different pesticides, and organic had 2.6. The real numbers, which I downloaded the entire residue database to get, are 3.2 for conventional (okay, that’s close), and 0.8 for organic (definitely not close). I called the USDA to make sure I hadn’t screwed something up, and it confirmed my numbers. This was an honest mistake, and when I pointed it out, Savage immediately checked for himself, confirmed the error and set about retracting the articles. He told me he felt terrible for getting it wrong. When I make a mistake — and we all do — I find it to be just about the most humbling experience going. And, naturally, the mistakes we make tend to be in a direction that supports our worldview. Savage is vociferously anti-organic (he boycotts it and works as a consultant for the conventional sector), and perhaps that made it easier for him to believe what his bad data were telling him. Now that we know what isn’t true about pesticide residues, let’s move on to what is. One big shortcoming of the research is that some of the most-used chemica\ ls — on both conventional and organic farms — aren’t tested for. Copper sulfate is used widely as an organic fungicide, and I haven’t been able to find any data on residue levels. Glyphosate, the most-used herbicide in conventional agriculture, is just beginning to be tested. (It’s not in the USDA data, but California testing found that of 308 samples, only four had residue, all well below legal limits.) The vast majority of the substances the USDA tests for are only used in conventional agriculture, so it’s not surprising that conventional foods have more residue. I’d love to see a truly comprehensive study of residues. (If you’ve got one, send it my way!) Still, I have never seen an analysis comparing conventional and organic that didn’t conclude that organic foods had significantly lower pesticide levels. The key question, of course, is whether that matters, and this is the crux of the disagreement over residue levels. There’s no question that pesticides can be toxic to people, and farmworker exposure is a serious issue. But levels in food are very low, and the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (along with many toxicologists I’ve spoken with over the years) say you shouldn’t be concerned about them. Not everyone has faith in those assessments, and skeptics often point to the fact that our government agencies haven’t done the kind of testing that can predict the potential danger from long-range, low-level risk from a mix of many chemicals. There are two ways a mix of pesticides could be dangerous. The first is if they have synergistic effects — that is, the result of the two or more chemicals together is different (and worse) than the results of each individually. The second is cumulative, the long-term exposure of low doses over time. I spoke with David Eastmond, toxicologist at the University of California at Riverside. “We have seen synergistic effects,” he told me, “but they’re uncommon-to-rare, and they happen at high doses.” A 2008 report made the same assessment, as did University of Copenhagen professor Nina Cedergreen , who published a recent paper on the subject. We should be more concerned with the cumulative effects, the paper concluded. The EPA does require testing for chronic exposure, and it takes into account the exposure we get to chemicals with similar modes of action, but it is, of course, impossible to test every combination. Cedergreen wrote to me in an email that the disentangling of the effects of pesticides in humans is “very difficult” but that they’ve given it a shot. She co- wrote a paper, published in January, that concluded that the cumulative risk to your average Danish adult from pesticide exposure was equal to that of drinking one glass of wine every three months. I’d sure like for someone to do the same assessment for Americans, but this gives us an idea of the magnitude of the risk. There is, however, one class of pesticides that came up as a concern over and over, in my reading and interviews: organophosphates. It’s a highly toxic class of chemicals, and the EPA has already restricted the use of some of them. One, chlorpyrifos, has been the subject of a battle between environmental groups, which want it banned, and the EPA, which doesn’t. Unfortunately, the USDA testing doesn’t have large enough sample sizes to tell us which foods are most likely to have residues, but overall organophosphate use has gone down in the United States. In the 2016 data, only one out of about every 300 samples tested had chlorpyrifos residue. It’s certainly possible for pesticide residue levels to be high enough that they pose a health threat. But in high-income countries, where these things are regulated and tracked, it’s unlikely. Not only should American parents not worry about feeding our kids fruits and vegetables, we should also try to get them to eat as many as possible, conventional or organic. But the risk isn’t zero, and our ability to assess it isn’t perfect. “The issue of residues is very emotional,” says Nate Lewis, organic farmer and farm policy director for the Organic Trade Association. “It’s a futile effort to try to convince a consumer they’re wrong about their choices.” Although farmers, both organic and conventional, are using pesticides in compliance with the label, and growing safe food, he says, “If the consumer wants to choose something to avoid that [residues], they should be able to make that choice, right or wrong.” He goes on to say, “I don’t like the narrative that organic is pesticide-free. It’s not. They do use things that are toxic to the environment.” But Lewis has spent more than a decade as an organic inspector and farmer, and he adds: “I’ve seen that organic farmers are very judicious in their use of pesticides. Their goal is to choose the least-toxic approach possible to reduce environmental impact, and pesticides are a last resort.” Twenty-five synthetic pesticides are approved for organic use (compared with more than 900 in conventional ag), and the toxicity of all pesticides used is reviewed by the National Organic Standards Board. As for the health risk, “It’s critical you stop short of saying it’s going to be healthier for you,” he says. “We don’t know that.” I’ve spoken with Lewis several times over the years, and I admire his candor and circumspection. Given the human inevitability of mistake-making, I try to do likewise by keeping a mental Post-it note saying, “Hey, this might be the thing you’re wrong about.” On good days, it helps me be less dogmatic about the things I believe, and better at listening. On bad days, I just ignore it and dig in. On the whole, though, I think it makes it easier for me to be more generous in disagreement and harder to be seduced by things I wish were true, but aren’t. Source
Rachel Carson, who was born on May 27, 1907, and launched the modern environmental movement with her 1962 book “Silent Spring,” was a highly private person. But on one occasion she allowed an interviewer to ask, “What do you eat?” Her sardonic answer: “Chlorinated hydrocarbons like everyone else.” https://preview.redd.it/p0vnk9ipvuz01.jpg?width=1794&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=3fb71bc3afe6e8338aef62c813b229471588d4d0 Carson was referring to a family of chemicals used for insect control that included DDT, the principal target of her book. Even though Carson tragically died of cancer just 18 months after publication of “Silent Spring,” her best-seller had powerful and lasting effects. Congress moved to create a new federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, and two years later that agency banned DDT for agricultural use. Did “Silent Spring” also launch our modern organic farming movement, as many organic advocates and businesses often suggest? Actually, no. That movement began in Austria in 1924, led by a mystic philosopher named Rudolf Steiner. Organic farmers use no synthetic chemicals at all, but Carson found this approach needlessly strict. In my research, I learned that she favored a restrained use of pesticides, but not a complete elimination, and did not oppose judicious use of manufactured fertilizers – which are prohibited in organic farming. As a scholar focusing on food and agricultural policy, I respect Carson’s careful distinctions regarding agricultural chemicals. By not making these distinctions, I believe the organic farming movement has constrained its own potential not just to expand, but also to benefit the environment. An arms-length relationship When “Silent Spring” became a sensational best-seller, advocates for organic farming were torn at first over how to respond. The leader of America’s organic farming movement at the time was J. I. Rodale, publisher of a magazine he had founded, called Organic Farming and Gardening. Rodale was jealous of Carson for having made such a splash criticizing DDT in 1962, since he had made roughly the same case 20 years earlier in the second issue of his magazine, but to little notice. He also chided Carson for not taking on chemical fertilizers as well as pesticides. Rodale’s son Robert, who was editing the magazine in 1962, shared his father’s view that Carson was not fully on board with strict organic rules, but couldn’t resist trying to depict her as a supporter. He called her book a “masterpiece” and described her as presenting “the organic point of view.” Carson, however, intentionally distanced herself from the organic community. She refused to speak before organic groups, and on one occasion even canceled out of an event after learning J. I. Rodale had been booked on the same panel without her approval. Carson considered Rodale, who had no scientific training and very few scientific instincts, to be “an eccentric.” This he was. Rodale had once raised doubts about the value of the Salk polio vaccine, pushing for a dietary cure instead, and had argued that drinking artificially softened water would cause cancer. When researching her book, Carson did correspond with some followers of Rudolf Steiner, who shared incriminating evidence they had gathered on DDT, but she did not acknowledge their help in her book. Synthetic fertilizer boosts food production The organic farming movement was suspect in Carson’s eyes because most of its early leaders were not scientists. Steiner, the first prominent advocate for renouncing manufactured nitrogen fertilizers, was a mystic who believed in human reincarnation, the lost world of Atlantis, and an earlier lost continent named Lemuria. Carson, who earned a master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins University, disliked the nonscientific absolutes embraced by the organic movement. Instead she favored the central tenet of toxicology: It is the dose that makes the poison. In “Silent Spring” she framed her position on pesticides this way: “The ultimate answer is to use less toxic chemicals so that the public hazard from their misuse is greatly reduced.” When Carson testified to Congress in 1963, she said, “I think chemicals do have a place.” Carson rejected the organic proscription against synthetic nitrogen fertilizer for good reason. Interdisciplinary scholar Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba has estimated that without nitrogen fertilizer, 40 percent of the increase in food production achieved in the 20th century could never have taken place. Smil also has shown that for at least a third of humanity in the world’s most populous countries, the use of nitrogen fertilizer made the difference between an adequate diet and malnutrition. Farming without nitrogen fertilizer, using things like composted animal manure instead, makes growing food far more expensive. This is one of the reasons why organic salad mix costs on average 60 percent more than a conventionally grown mix; organic milk, 72 percent more; and organic eggs, 82 percent more. These high prices, in turn, explain why organic food sales make up only 5.3 percent of total food sales in the United States today, and why certified organic cropland makes up less than 1 percent of total cropland Environmental progress without organic Despite the small size of the organic sector, pesticide and fertilizer use have long since stopped growing in the United States, even as crop production has continued to increase. Total insecticide use peaked in 1972 and has fallen by 82 percent since then. Fertilizer use initially peaked in 1981, and applications have remained essentially flat for more than three decades now, even as total crop production has grown by 44 percent. Our stunted organic sector did not bring us these benefits. When it comes to reduced insecticide use, the credit goes to Rachel Carson. To be sure, farm fertilizer runoff is a serious threat to water quality today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in 2017 that the dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River had grown to cover an area of 8,776 square miles, the largest ever recorded in 32 years of monitoring. But I believe the solution has to come from continued improvements in conventional farming, such as planting more buffer strips between fields and waterways to trap chemical runoff. Most commercial farmers will not accept the unrealistic organic approach of switching to zero use of manufactured fertilizers. Scaling up organic production could actually harm the environment, since it would require so much more land per bushel of production. USDA survey data in 2014 revealed that output per acre on organic farms was on average only 80 percent of conventional yields. This means that if the United States had raised all of its crops organically in 2014, we would have had to cultivate an additional 109 million acres of land – an area equal to all parkland and wildland area in the lower 48 states combined. The result would be a different kind of silent spring, caused not by chemicals but by needless destruction of wildlife habitat. Source
THE BLUEPRINT FOR FIXING AMERICA SOONER RATHER THAN AFTER IT IS TOO LATE
BEFORE going further with this, bear in mind it was a response to the previous post "WHAT IF LIBERTY WAS ATTACHED TO HUMANITY" and perhaps one might read that long list of QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY before diving into issues on how one might repair our corner of the world...onward... Some people claim we are beyond a "tipping point" of no return. This analysis is commonly applied to global warming to describe the melting permafrost that is releasing methane gas which is believed to be 100 times more potent and lasting than carbon dioxide in causing global warming from the greenhouse effect. Others apply the "tipping point" idea to America's national debt; stating that if we switched from our fiat currency back to a gold standard, we couldn't pay off the interest, let alone our debt, based on current exports and GDP figures. Therefore, we have become a patently bankrupt nation contrary to the principles Thomas Jefferson and others warned us to follow to avoid the use of credit. A bankrupt America in a world of currencies based on a tangible asset like gold or levels of exports would be unable to purchase oil to feed our pathetic industries, let alone our levels of consumer consumption of energy. I managed to get through 2016 without using a drop of petroleum, propane or any other non-renewable source of energy. I studied and invested in solar and wind and it took me more than a decade to select and test the appliances, like a low wattage crock pot placed in an insulated cooler, to learn how to maximize my ability to live on minimal power. Americans don't have a decade to spare. Denmark did it well. They invested in wind and now boast regions with little or no use for petroleum; which is at the heart of both global environmental destruction, loss of rainforests, pollution of rivers, oceans, aquifers and war, which leaves its own lasting toxic landscape, enormous national debt, widespread death, loss of culture, physical and emotional scars. If poor little Denmark can cure its ills, why can't America accelerate our transition to renewables, save a bundle along the way and reduce our desire or need to engage in wars related to acquiring petroleum reserves, or our need to retain a fiat currency required to fund wars, oil purchases, bribe foreign officials and our own elected leaders. If the spigot of free money were removed, would America be as corrupt as it is today, or as destructive worldwide, as we've become? I believe part of the "Blueprint for fixing America" involves ridding ourselves of the patently corrupt, financially inept Federal Reserve and if possible, dismantling the BIS, IMF and World Bank, or at the least, installing a series of common sense policies to both upgrade these systems, regulate their actions through intelligent policies designed by a political body that relies on both public opinion through debates and analysis of performance driven QC metrics. The system of printing treasuries and taxing citizens was born, not from political debate or even a public vote, but by a small corrupt group in Congress and our banking system a century ago. It has failed to produce a healthy, debt free nation; the imperialism it funded has failed to produce a healthy, democratic, environmentally sustainable world, or even a world that views America as a true democracy, rather than the brutish arm of global corporations, and it has failed to produce a stronger middle class in America. Therefore, after 100 years of failures, perhaps it is time to replace the defective financial systems and taxes which fund defective military campaigns and patently defective, if not murderous systems of politics. What will replace "fiat currencies" remains to be seen, though models based on gold, silver and copper seemed to work pretty well before, and future models, such as bitcoin, or credits based on real production of exports, or levels of kwh power from renewables might also prove viable; something, anything, based on a real, tangible asset would be an improvement as it would eliminate the ability of a corrupt banker to simply press a button, create money from thin air, instantly indebting citizens of a nation seen as instant inflation, and then instantly buy their land or bribe their politicians: A person, corporation or group utilizing money for illegal activities would have to actually perform some kind of work to acquire it. Not so the case today. Whether it is to fix our energy policies, our role of the military in global affairs, our rapidly deteriorating environment, rapidly expanding levels of poverty, homelessness or levels of toxins we are exposed to either from the environment or self-ingested through legal and illegal drugs, our rapidly deteriorating mental health, intellectual capacity, shrinking middle class and standard of living; no matter what the policy is in America that needs to be changed, we aren't changing fast enough. We are like a deer caught in the headlights of a speeding automobile. The revelations of just how corrupt and dysfunctional our government, political and economic systems are has only recently been exposed to those who will study and analyze the evidence, and its so shocking they are either paralyzed or ineffective in bringing about effective change. You can't blame them too much. Faced with a new huge problem we really weren't aware of 20 years ago, and now faced with the prospect of trying to educate a sufficient body of Americans to create the change we must, the proponents for change stumble around testing different solutions; and more often than not, they fail. That is expected. Democracy as proposed by our Founding Fathers was the first of its kind and is an experiment. Experiments don't always work as planned; usually they do not. The trick in this democratic experiment is to recover before its too late. Whether or not we are past a tipping point is somewhat irrelevant as long as we don't give up. We must continue to innovate, to remain optimistic that we can and will prevail; and remain dedicated to the idea that our form of democracy can be shaped into a true popular democracy where every voice counts, where corporations cannot sway us from an honorable path, where people in other nations can become proud in their own quest to emulate our experiment in democracy without the need for our military to force our current corrupt brand of democracy on their citizens. That process has only exposed our defects to a wider geographic landscape and hardened the resolve of many citizens against mirroring America's brand of democracy. As that resistance continues to increase, our military will find it increasingly difficult to find willing souls in each nation who will undermine governments; and therefore our military and corrupt corporate agenda will need to employ hired guns to execute agendas; witness ISIS and CIA funding to topple Syria. In the old days it was easy to find citizens within a nation who were eager to bring American ideals to overthrow a brutal dictator. Today, the people of Syria living under a patently defective leader would prefer that brand of freedom to anything an "American Democracy" might represent. Today, the American brand of Democracy, as a valued export for nations to acquire, is worth less than toxic toilet paper. Dumping nuclear waste on a foreign nation would be less harmful and they know it. Its not that the original design of our democracy was either dishonorable, nor was it a bad idea or even poorly designed. In its day it was brilliant and even today it is far superior to the democracy Americans live with daily. We don't have a real voice in the process of electing our President, nor do we have a real voice in the way Congress operates, nor a real voice in the various emerging "secret courts" that increasingly preside over the actions of citizens, nor a real voice in public spending policies that are bankrupting future generations who have even less, if any voice, even faster than they are bankrupting current generations of our young in their 20's, who are far poorer than the older generation who at least had a chance at home ownership and developing a profitable business under some "free", "capitalistic", "market driven" middle class system that is all but gone in America today. What we are witnessing is not only a rapidly shrinking middle class and rapidly expanding population of impoverished, but a rapidly evaporating system of democracy, rapid expansion of our national debt and destruction of the global environment all taking place at the same time. Its an interlocking series of events that are quite telling in their synergistic effect on each other, yet complex enough to defy our ability to manage today's crisis du jure, let alone plan and execute an intelligent series of steps to bring a halt to these grave trends and thereafter, create a thriving, financially solvent, reasonably moral, non-violent America that can again become a shining beacon of Democracy for all the world to emulate without force; rather by simply becoming envious of our prosperity and the success of our middle class. Today, any envy foreigners might hold for American ideals are primarily focused on the celebs, and a level of wealth, few global citizens will ever attain; nor should they try. The lifestyle of the rich and famous is patently unsustainable and not very good for the financial health of a nation or the environment. Wealth in and of itself is no more evil than a car used in a bank robbery. Wealth, when properly applied can build schools, buy solar panels or wind turbines, or create innovative R&D facilities to invent new technologies that can foster new businesses and provide more Yankee exports. On the other hand, wealth applied to bribe politicians, build leaky oil pipelines or systems that pollute groundwater, or simply to buy a $50,000 dress for a Grammy Award ceremony is dangerous, destructive folly. Therefore, part of the path out of this mess needs to be a sense of modesty and reality based on what we've learned in the past 200 years about gross decadence and the ability of large groups of citizens to become easily hypnotized by fabulous levels of wealth most of them will never attain. Perhaps in a class entitled Personal Econ 101 we should both encourage people to develop ideas, invent, market, sell and manage a personal business, and include a section on prudent personal policies on how to manage their new found wealth; race tracks, casinos, bars and brothels are probably not good habits to hold if you expect to build and retain a thriving business, or nurture a reasonably sane, healthy family to carry your business and wealth forward to future generations. Teaching kids in any nation to acquire wealth merely so they can buy a new black beamer is not conducive to creating a sustainable society, sustainable financial policies, a sustainable environment, nor a sustainable government or society. Modesty, education and the prudent application of technology, financial resources, labor and mined or manufactured assets all have their place in creating a sustainable world or fixing what ails America and the world today. It is unfortunate, though easily predictable, that current generations all around the planet have generally lost all hope in obtaining that kind of world. They understand the government corruption; they see through the American Democratic farse and in their minds, if that enlightened nation is but a brutish scam based on corrupt political figures, extortion and murder, what hope does any human have of finding any peace or prosperity in any land? The result is an increasingly predatory nature of our tweens, teens, young adults and even middle aged folks who should know better, but are almost just as selfish and short-sighted as the desensitized generations raised on bloody TV and video games. Murder isn't really so bad as long as you're on the right side of the barrel; its expected in today's world. Get over it. We have become a mentally sick species destined to extinction if we don't change that attitude. We are living in the 6th great extinction and there is no guarantee our species will survive the process; in fact, some historians and anthropologists note there is a group of wealthy elite who are encouraging a mass die off to bring the human population down to 100M to perhaps 1B from the 7B level today. Perhaps we should let them proceed. Perhaps the earth will be better off after that horror show is over; but the really big question then becomes, if that sick group who would wage global genocide and continued environmental destruction to accomplish their agenda is the primary ruling elite after the bloodbath, what sort of future for habitats, let alone our own species, can we expect from that twisted group? Its another global problem staring us, the educated, enlightened 21st Century Human in the face, like headlights in the eyes of a deer; and we just don't have all the answers required to put humanity and the planet, or even our own nation, back on a predictable, moral, ethical, sustainable course. And so life in the 21st Century has become a giant hedonistic free-for-all suicide party; the population of predators and sociopaths is growing at a logarithmic rate, while those who would embrace charitable or democratic ideals are quickly being marginalized, or easily used and abused by those with power and money to do so. I personally believe the only way to halt, then reverse these dire trends is for the few remaining souls with a moral compass to unite and develop an action plan to first fix America. But with so many internal challenges, and personality conflicts even between "good souls"; we have failed to unite, we have failed to even be able to clearly identify people of moral fiber, as the many wolves in sheep's clothing are all around us. Recently I did a cursory audit of a huge, wealthy environmental group aimed at "saving dolphins, oceans and the environment", and found they had neither the wisdom to create prudent policies, nor any real effective activity, save their ability to sell t-shirts and expand their member base and revenue streams; very sad. And so the blueprint to cure America must include QC metrics; how many kids passed a high level math test as a result of your after school, charter school or public school program? How many of them are employed while in college because they clearly understand the student loan program in the U.S. is a patently defective system designed to enslave them? How many understand that trappings of financial slavery and are attempting to live intelligently within their modest means, rather than "...spend money they don't have for things they don't need." (George Carlin). We need to teach our young that the hypnotic glitz and glamour of the celebs and elite is not nearly as nourishing as a camping trip to a pristine forest that we need to keep pristine. We need to teach them that throwing money at an environmental charity is not quite as effective as simply picking up your trash, as well as some extra trash when visiting a beach. We need to teach them that car pooling is both fun and profitable, and we need to teach them that mending clothing to squeeze the last day out of a pair of shorts can be financially more sustainable and even a lot sexier than trying to acquire a $500 leather jacket, or 7 inch plastic pump cowboy boots. We need to find our roots as a blue collar worker, and Ag sector economy, rather than a nation of dog walkers, maids and gardeners serving the wealthy. Unfortunately, the population of families able to make a living in the Ag sector is also vaporizing, due to regs related to GMO seeds and USDA policies that have almost eliminated the ability of small farmers to survive. Meanwhile, our blue collar "MAKE SOMETHING USEFUL" jobs are all being outsourced to overseas sweat shops, as are our innovative White Collar Silicon Valley jobs in a world of a rising population of programmers, leaving only a dwindling white collar sector of financial management jobs (who produce few if any useful, tangible, sustainable products we really need, save a thriving toxic derivative market), and a bunch of dog walkers and real estate agents who only sell what already existed; a bit of dirt with some wood and a splash of new paint - the American Home - which is a center for consumption, doesn't actually produce anything useful, including intelligent, caring, charitable kids with any sort of skill set required to fix our nation, let alone our planet. I know of mothers who are so so so proud their son or daughter is a top notch dance champion, and as a musician, I am proud to be able to play rock, jazz or classical piano pieces, even sometimes at public gigs, but if I didn't make something tangible, useful, sustainable during the bulk of the hours in my week I'd feel useless; I'd just be another consumer instead of someone who manufactures SOMETHING tangible that others can use to both improve their standard of living, and reduce their impact on the environment. Folks who install solar panels do that sort of "honorable, ethical, blue collar work". Granted, they aren't manufacturing something, but at least they are doing some work that leaves a real, tangible asset on a structure that has the immediate effect of reducing America's reliance on petroleum; and that has long-term, positive financial and environmental consequences for the family, community and nation. Turning back to our stellar "Entertainer" kids, or kids studying to become real estate agents, you have to wonder if those grads will be surprised when they wind up as baggers at a grocery store trying to pay down a student loan that will never end, while paying off child support payments for kids they couldn't afford, nor spent time with to educate them on what mistakes to avoid, (nor ever went camping with them to teach them the value of minimalism, or pristine environments), while paying for social programs like Social Security and Obamacare our poor, bankrupt nation that exports almost nothing simply cannot afford. I praise our artists for their studious habits and wonderfully inspiring productions, cutting edge journalism and screen plays that cause us to reflect on ourselves and humanities journey through time; but with an overwhelming onslaught of advertising, high fashion, porn and violence, it might be prudent for every artist to also hold down a "day job", at least part-time, that actually contributed to creating a more financial, environmental and ethically solvent America. Even a part-time daily contribution by every breathing American towards these objectives might help reverse dire trends and create a united population of educated citizens who both care and are doing something constructive to counter-balance our highly destructive, unsustainable way of life today. Parents and schools need to educate kids on balancing selfish, personal agendas with activities that contribute to society in real, tangible production of products and services focused on deploying technologies that move America towards curing our ills before the "tipping point" trends running amuck today topple us over. The "Stockdale Principle" outlined in the book Good To Great embodies some of these ideals; taking a harsh, honest audit of where we are today and then designing effective management plans to get through the horrid state of affairs and emerge victorious through action based on optimism, and not Pollyanna optimism alone, nor on a fatalistic, hedonistic, careless, if not predatory attitude that seems to enshrine American values at every level of our society. A little discipline is a good thing, when balanced with creative abandon to invent something no one has seen before. A champagne party to celebrate a financial victory is probably also a good thing, IF - key word - you actually accomplished something that helps heal the world or provided some relief to your local community, our nation or a wetlands marsh. Drinking champagne every Sunday morning or buying a new pair of 7 inch plastic pumps just because your debit/credit card allowed it, and you think you deserve it after a 60 hour work week, is a rather short-sighted, if not myopic way of life based on endless consumption, that ignores the increasingly pressing problems of your life, your local community and the global village we all share. Perhaps that $10.00 price you paid for that cocktail might have made a difference had you had saved it to buy a PC keyboard for a child without a computer. Perhaps that $49.00 price for those dress shoes you didn't really need would have been better spent on buying a motherboard for a kid who could learn to install that board into a recycled, dented desktop case, then plug in that new keyboard you also bought them, and build their own PC, complete with a recycled monitor that was headed for a landfill and is now part of a child's at-home education system. Perhaps the parent in that home might remind their child with prudent guidance, that WHEN their math homework was done, THEN they can spend a short time playing some video game on that PC, before they move on to complete their history and science homework, and further remind them that if they fail to keep their grades up, that suite of video games can be uninstalled or blocked altogether. Perhaps instead of turning on the TV to gather the family, which only serves to fracture the family after kids begin wanting consumer items they can't afford, so they begin exploring methods of acquiring capital, like drug dealing in alleys, parents would leave the TV off and focus their energy on helping their kids get through those homework assignments, learn a little math, science and history along the way, learn what it means to create a sustainable home, community and financially solvent nation, and clearly learn what happens if we do not. Perhaps if more parents spent more time educating their kids, and got smarter along the way, more American adults would realize just how under water our nation is, and with some hope derived from that education, learn to fix the mess in their own lives one step at a time. Its a tall order and I am not sure Americans are willing to give up their baseball games or detective dramas in exchange for spending several hours each evening exploring socially relevant topics; whether political, scientific, or even charitable. But if American consumers don't modify their behavior and levels of consumption, and their hit list of acquisitions, most of which are unattainable due to our shrinking middle class and utter lack of any export industry able to finance our debt without utilizing our defective, bankrupt, imploding global system of fiat currencies; there is no hope for the generation that follows who will repeat the same mistakes because they don't know any better, or weren't educated soon enough to avoid those same mistakes. The painful truth is that as our society finds it increasingly difficult to acquire these sought after luxuries, and we continue to plunge into the financial abyss and political chaos of a third-world nation, we will have both blown the once-in-a-species democratic experiment, and our own ingenious potential to both cure our nation and help heal the planet torn by the industrial age and environmental destruction that is the legacy of a petroleum age. Petroleum was a blessing and a curse. It allowed a great global brain trust of 7 billion to be created and all the wonderful technology that mass invented, along with 7 billion mouths to feed and feet to shoe, who unfortunately also want 7 billion shiny black beamers we can't afford to build, let alone fuel. Elon Musk of Tesla once said to build 500,000 EV's would require all the lithium the planet can produce. Therefore, we need to invent and deploy another alternative and do so quickly, and while we're at it, utilize simple, affordable, practical technologies and habits like car pooling, mass transit and shopping only for what we really need, while recycling as much as possible, and ensuring our time spent is focused on educating our young so they don't make the same mistakes our generation did. All of these fundamental changes are part of healing America and the planet we all share and whether or not we do it or embrace it, the reality is this Spartan lifestyle IS coming sooner, rather than later, to every community on earth. Get used to it. Get used to the pain of rapid change and a deteriorating social fabric, social services, a rise in unethical, predatory conduct on every front, and a high risk for a rapid implosion and die off of humanity that will be horrific. This IS our future if we do not mend our ways and no amount of technology can save us from wanton, unbridled consumerism, or our universal tendency to ignore harsh realities. A little discipline and practical, effective planning, balanced with our artistic, humanitarian and spiritual agendas is required. So, curing what ails America is a complex idea that won't be completed by simply electing another corrupt official. You can't cure America by electing a new Mayor, Governor, Congressman or President. You won't accomplish it by switching banks or moving to a community sponsored credit union. You won't do it by simply installing solar on your roof and then pouring yourself a glass of champagne to celebrate the money you'll save on your electric bill or patting yourself on the back for reducing your need for petroleum, nor should you put the money you might save by car pooling into a fund for your annual trip to a Vegas casino where you can blow it in a weekend of heated hedonistic abandon. That sort of wreckless behavior might make sense to a 20 something kid who has never dropped five grand on a crap table, but in today's world that population of wealthy empowered young is also evaporating, and for the rest of us, prudence should guide nearly every action on this high wire act of trying to save humanity from itself. One good mistake, or worse, a continued series of imprudent mistakes, is all that is required to blow our last chance to avert the economic storm already at our door. In fact we don't even need to make a mistake; just continue on as we are doing today and there is little hope of any real, effective change for the better anything in the next 100 - 500 years of humanity's journey on this earth. Since much of this transformation must embody fundamental changes in how our federal government operates and the QC metrics that need to be installed to change its underlying principles of operation, bloated budgets, imperialistic campaigns and lack of focus on improving the plight of America's middle class, let alone provide much relief for America's impoverished, I suggest that a huge part of "the cure" involves finding and installing politicians who can "Get 'er done". We haven't seen anything like that anywhere in America for several decades, if not for more than a century. Sure, there are a few rare politicians who actually have a reasonably solvent, financially prudent, moral, ethical, perhaps even legal game plan, but they are quickly overwhelmed and marginalized, frustrated or assassinated, or through some other means, ejected from office; a process which leaves only the corrupt or inept left behind. This begs the question, "Would America's recovery be accelerated if a popular driven vote of no confidence by citizens could quickly remove politician's from office?" I don't mean impeaching a President after a billion dollar televised trial that requires Congress to stop dead in its tracks to handle a process that distracts them from more critical resolutions, rather I mean that if 60%, 70%, 80% or more Americans were polled each month, and were found to absolutely PRESS THE REJECT BUTTON, then the President in the Oval Office bowed out on Friday, the V.P. took the hot seat, we held an impromptu election to replace them from viable candidates, and the same rapid, low-cost process was enacted for Congress, State Governors and Legislators, County Supervisors and our Mayors and any other elected official. Put another way; when 80% of your constituents think you're doing a crappy job, odds are you saw that figure rising and the moment it hit 51% the warning shot was fired over your bow. When it hit 70% you had a hole in your boat and probably should have both modified your course and began polling citizens, civic planners, scientists, artists; hippies, bankers, anyone and everyone, on what you might do to improve your performance, and heal your reputation by delivering real solutions to real problems citizens are faced with every single day. Granted, a rapid change in high level leadership can create chaos; but we already have that today, so there's no big loss there. Granted, Americans can be a fickle group and a popular President today can easily become vilified the moment the food stamp program get slashed, or health insurance rates take a hike. Granted, if our currency goes into a freefall, as many economists predict, and we can't get the oil we need, if we begin experiencing brown outs and black outs like many developing nations endure daily, and if our highways continue to deteriorate just like our system of healthcare, ag and manufacturing sectors, its going to be pretty tough to stay in the Oval Office when such a system of rapid REJECTION is in place. That said, these negative trends are already with us across the board and I don't see either Presidential Candidate really mentally capable of fixing any of them; not one. To assume Hillary will fix things is insane; she's a known felon with absolutely no remorse, and though not convicted in a court of law, every American paying attention knows it. To assume Donald can fix it is to believe a businessman who often bases his profits and retained earnings on bankruptcy laws, and who would alienate a huge Latin American population, gays, women - name the group - is equally insane. Donald might actually be good for America, as he might be able to gut a lot of the bloat in government today, but at the end of the day, would you rather have a surgeon or a wreckless butcher performing your open heart surgery? The answer, I believe, is to enact a series of laws that require a politician at any level to step aside quickly when a massive, popular vote of NO CONFIDENCE appears; whether its a poll taken weekly, then summarized and enacted upon on a monthly or quarterly basis, or whether we simply employ such a law to regulate Congress, quickly removing Legislators who refuse to impeach any President who acquires a massive level of public wrath measured by frequent, regular, popular vote driven surveys managed by a known, impartial, trusted audit team; i.e. your local librarian staff. Perhaps if the libraries around the nation benefited financially from educating our young and at the same time, acting as a central community gathering place for political and charitable action committees, we'd see some improvements. Frank Zappa said "If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to a library." and with the emergence of google, wikipedia and thankfully, the retention of libraries in our culture, there's little or no excuse for Americans not to continue obtaining an education, especially during this period of national crisis. With the technology that exists TODAY there's little or no excuse for failing to develop the polls, surveys and rapid voting mechanisms that would provide politicians with a "HOW AM I DOING?" answer, and if a rapid REJECT mechanism was built into every political office, things would probably get better much faster than any other method we could devise. Put another way; a drunk surgeon shows up to do your heart surgery and you happen to wake up just as they have begun cutting you open. You realize that person is patently unqualified to both perform the job ahead, let alone care for your life along the way. No matter how many other expert healthcare professionals might be present, wouldn't you vote to "STOP EVERYTHING. EJECT THIS CLOWN AND BRING IN ANOTHER SOBER, QUALIFIED TEAM LEADER?". Do you really think repairing our fragile, torn, crippled, dying nation is any less critical than your open heart surgery? Do you realize Washington D.C. has one of, if not the highest rate of alcoholism in our country? That's a huge "in-your-face" clue as to why things are as bad as they are in our nation and communities today. We have TV shows like the Apprentice or Survivor where only the best make it to the final episode. As Donald himself knows all too well, substandard performance gets you "FIRED!". There's no big trial; no long expensive paperwork trail. Its done with a smile, perhaps a pat on the back for those good things you were able to accomplish early on, but if you lack the stamina or ingenuity or prudence to continue making progress, guess what? You're done. Get out. Let someone else take the ball and run from wherever we are towards the goal line. Some will argue, and rightly so, that in a nation where the top political leader can be rotated like a pair of shoes, the only real power lies in a military Junta of corrupt, power hungry Generals and those who serve them or are "taken out". Well, if you've intimately studied American politics, that's what we have today anyway. Get a clue. Ike warned us about the Industrial Military Complex, wives of military officers and the officers themselves have come forward and revealed the way things work, so its no big surprise to see Obama swearing he's going to reduce deployment, then not long after he's in office, continue America's occupation in foreign lands. Its no big surprise to see every nation on earth condemn Israel for the situation in Palestine, and then see the U.S. is the only nation to veto resolutions that might force Israel to mend its ways. Its no surprise to see Orthodox Jews making overtures with Iran, while the government of Israel and Hillary threaten to bomb Iran into oblivion. It is no surprise to see rising rosters of homeless in America while we spend trillions fighting wars to acquire oil at a time in human history when we've already proven we can get all the energy we need to run entire nations from wind and solar projects; if we actually built them. And so the question of whether or not a rapid rotation of Presidents or Congressmen, Governors or Mayors might lead to a nation led by military leaders has already been answered; we already are. Perhaps only by putting someone in the Oval Office who understands this problem early on can we expect American streets to look less like battle grounds, and American Cops to look and act less like U.S. troops in Iraq. I may be wrong, but the system in place is patently corrupt, patently defective and completely ineffective. Whatever Democracy and America were SUPPOSED to be 200 plus years later it surely has not become. The solution? Throw the bums out and do it with less fanfare, less budget and less lost time. Hey, we might even make a weekly TV show out of it. Why do we have to wait forever for a State Of The Union address? When a nation is as messed up as we are today, a weekly 15 - 30 minute BOARD MEETING with American Stakeholders - every citizen - seems more appropriate. Like any board meeting, it should cover Old Business; i.e. programs being implemented and their QC Metrics produced by third party citizen bodies, and available online for download and analysis, and New Business, proposals for new programs, budgets, and a selection of innovative ideas that were gathered from the citizens themselves. A true representative of Americans would embrace their people, their ideas, their audits, and actively seek their opinions of their performance in office. A true representative of Americans wouldn't need a LAW to leave office if they knew their performance sucked and an overwhelming majority of Americans wanted them out; they'd just apologize - quickly - and step aside. And so the BLUEPRINT to fix America quickly, if not in time to avoid a complete meltdown, probably includes a rapid REJECT/RE-ELECT process. Its like a Jehovah Witness I know explained, as they are looking for good honest souls; "You have to sift through a lot of mud to find a few flakes of gold." Its a lot like the kids I teach in hard-core neighborhoods; you have A students, B students and F students. Very few kids are C or D students for long in a well run class. They are either encouraged and want to learn, and soon rise to the B or A level, or they are not encouraged or lack the desire and in a well run class they fail within a week or two and are asked to go spend their time in some class, some where, that they actually want to participate in. There is little sense in wasting time trying to teach a kid something they really do not wish to learn. The old saying "You can't teach a Pig to sing; you waste your time and just annoy the Pig." applies. And so the BLUEPRINT also means putting the right students in the right classes, and ensuring ALL STUDENTS understand the value of useful, productive work that requires skills America needs to remain competitive; unfortunately, ballet isn't one of them. If a kid wants to learn to play guitar or piano; great. Let them learn it like I did and study at home after finishing their math and science homework. They'll know it better and learn it faster at les cost than mommy having to spend hundreds or even thousands on piano lessons or instruments for a school marching band. I was also in a marching, orchestra and jazz band and while I have fond memories of it and wish America was so wealthy it could continue to afford these types of electives, those days are long gone. WHEN we have a balanced budget and WHEN we have kids no longer living in cars with their mothers anywhere in America - and I mean ANYWHERE - and WHEN we have cured our nation of our addiction to oil and plastic clothing; WHEN we have enough spare renewable energy to drive desalination plants to irrigate our fields to replace the crops lost due to global warming and ever-widening regions of drought, and WHEN we have desalination plants - 100's if not 1,000's of them - that do not produce dead zones from brine discharge, do not run by burning coal, LNG, petroleum, or require any process that produces nuclear waste; WHEN we have a planet that is not engaged in wars over in ground assets used to drive unsustainable economies and consumer practices, and WHEN we have Judges, Mayors, School Teachers, Governors, Legislators and Presidents all keenly aware that if they screw up a POPULAR VOICE can hand them a Pink Slip in a blink, THEN I will happily support schools with music and painting electives. In the meantime, the basics please; its all we can really afford and any child who really wants to learn to carve wood can take a class online, get a paper route or learn to repair computers in a free class they study online at their local library, then save their pennies to buy their first chisel, paint brush, ballet slippers, guitar or upright piano as the case may be.
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“1 Bitcoin Will Equal $20,000 By The End Of 2020. I FEEL REAL CONFIDENT ABOUT IT” + ETH Prediction!
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