Category Archives: money culture

Stand with First Nations – Oppose Tar Sands Mining and KXL

There are a few resonating news items regarding tar sands extraction, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and their impact on the indigenous people of this continent:

1. Alberta toxic waste spill could be biggest North American environmental disaster in recent history

The spill was first discovered on June 1st, about 100 kms south of the border with the Northwest Territories, near the small town of Zama City. Texas-based Apache Corporation, the oil company responsible for the spill, just released their estimate of its size on Wednesday [June 12th]…

“Every plant and tree died,” said James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha First Nation, according toThe Globe and Mail, as he spoke of the effect the spill has had on the land. The Dene Tha apparently also believe that waterfowl may have been killed in the spill, which took place in a wetlands area, but according to The Globe and Mail, Apache representatives said they saw no impacts on wildlife.

2.  The Beaver Lake Cree Judgment: The Most Important Tar Sands Case You’ve Never Heard Of

“…the constitutional standing of the tar sands – one of the world’s largest and most carbon-intensive energy projects – is just what’s at stake in a treaty rights claim the Beaver Lake Cree Nation (BLCN) is bringing against the Governments of Alberta and Canada in a case that promises to be one of the most significant legal and constitutional challenges to the megaproject seen in Canada to date…

The Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the claim against the crown, grants the BLCN the opportunity to argue the cumulative negative impacts of tar sands expansion may constitute a legal breach of the band’s historic Treaty 6 with the Canadian government, signed back in 1876.

And the significance of this judgment cannot be overstated. The BLCN’s claim now stands as the first opportunity for legal consideration of the cumulative impacts of the tar sands on First Nation’s traditional territory and the implications of those impacts on the ability to uphold Treaty Rights.”

3. Keystone XL Pipeline Follows in Tracks of Conquest, Sexual Violence and Colonization

Faith Spotted EagleFaith Spotted Eagle wrote an important piece on the consequences of the pipeline going through South Dakota reservations.

“Native communities are viewed by the colonizers as inherently “dirty, dispensable” communities where waste and toxins can be deposited. These reservations communities are located on or near the fifty six waterways identified as being affected by the pipeline…

We climbed into a van that had the pictures on it of missing and murdered Native women. The two grandmothers driving the van explained that they were on a walk across Canada to bring attention to this outrage, which they urgently believe is related to industrial and mining development on or adjacent to Native lands. They were adamant about telling us to keep this in mind when stopping the KXL Pipeline, because it would protect the women, children and families of our nations. As we traveled to the hotel, I could feel the spirits of the murdered and missing women traveling with us in the van.”

She also talked with Caroline Casey on the Visionary Activist Show yesterday, and there’s video of her testifying to the US State Department in April.

Outraged yet?

 “Our Native prophecies state that there will be a time to stand up for what is important, and that time is now!!” ~ Faith Spotted Eagle

Ready to stand up and be Idle No More?

Idle No More

Aside

Happy Solstice 2012! While the Mayans have plans for coming years, this is prophesied to be a major time of transitions.  Others are calling this U-Day, a day of global unification and and peace.  Here’s hoping that a global mindshift is … Continue reading

Michelle Y. Merrill, Ph.D.:

Taking to the streets over Cargill’s participation in palm oil: who are these audacious primates?

Originally posted on endoftheicons:

Laurel Sutherlin

In what has become an increasingly common sight in this upscale suburb of Minneapolis, homeless orangutans have once again been spotted protesting the agribusiness giant Cargill in locations across the Wayzata, MN region.

This startling orangutan invasion escalated significantly yesterday when a mother and her baby were arrested by police in downtown Wayzata. Bystanders captured video footage of a stern Long Lake Police officer loading the refugee animals into the back of a squad car (we’ll post it soon). Their whereabouts remain unknown and it is unclear at this time what, if any, charges the red apes face. Here’s a photo of the orangutan mother and her baby just before their arrest:

Here’s a photo of the orangutan mother and her baby just before their arrest

Here’s a photo of the orangutan mother and her baby just before their arrest

Here’s another photo of the orangutan mother protesting outside of Cargill HQ earlier in the day

Here’s another photo of the orangutan mother protesting outside of Cargill HQ earlier in the day

Prior interactions with the authorities have…

View original 304 more words

Thankfulness and After

The History Of Thanksgiving: A Native American Perspective

Here’s a critical history of the Thanksgiving holiday on Facebook.

 It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists’ recent victory over the “heathen natives” … more

Red Friday, Black Friday

President Obama declared the day after Thanksgiving to be “Native American Heritage Day.” Not that you’re likely to hear much about it, what with the other distractions.

Native Americans Suffer, Americans Shop

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

According to Wikipedia (and they should know, shouldn’t they?)  FDR moved Thanksgiving up a little in the calendar to the fourth Thursday in November to ” give the country an economic boost.”  Which brings us to…

There are many good reasons to stay home on Black Friday.
 For one, it’s actually Buy Nothing Day.  A day without shopping would be a good day for the vast majority of the denizens of earth.

“Today, humanity faces a stark choice: save the planet and ditch capitalism, or save capitalism and ditch the planet.”
– Fawzi Ibrahim

It is a great time to pause and reconsider the difference between what a functioning economy is, and what our current money culture tells us it is.

Economics actually has nothing in particular to do with money; it’s about how we meet our needs. The monetary economy is one model out of many, and is a very recent one at that. It’s a model that seems intent on converting all our intimate human relationships into services to be bought and sold, whilst reducing the splendour and pageantry of the Earth into imperishable units of account.
– Mark Boyle

Of course, it gives me a little happy to hear that the wage-slaves of Voldemart… er… Walmart… are using the day to rise up a bit.  I hope they make some waves.

And don’t forget, there are other things you can do in a mall, like this

or

or even just

so get out there and have some fun!

Aside

A thoughtful group of artists  decided to Occupy! billboards in Britain this summer, because: Advertising is part of a system which destroys our future to fulfil the demands of the present, a ceaseless expansion of production and consumption. It is … Continue reading

Uniting Against “Citizens United”

Money is not speech

corporations are not people

January 21st is the second anniversary of the ridiculous “Citizens United v. FEC” ruling by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court.  I highly recommend Annie Leonard’s Story of Citizens United v. FEC video:

It is time – as it is always time – to help the people of this country wake up to the fact that money is not speech and corporations are not people.  Events, activists and organizations across the nation are attempting to do just that:

  • Occupy San Francisco is working to shut down the financial district today “to draw attention to the choices that many of these banks, corporations, institutions, and the courts have made (and continue to make) that created (and maintain) the economic inequality that is devastating the lives of so many families in our community, and in our world. It does not have to be this way.”
  • Satirist Stephen Colbert shines a spotlight on the insanity with his Jon Stewart’s “Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert SuperPAC“.
  • United for the People has listings of actions across the country to “…[focus] America’s attention on the dangerous influence of corporate power in our democracy and the urgency of taking all necessary measures to undo that influence, including amending the Constitution. “
  • Another listing of actions for Friday, January 20th: Occupy the Courts
  • Move to Amend is an organization specifically dedicated to creating a constitutional amendment that would undo the Citizens United decision and end the fiction of corporate personhood:

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

While my favorite shopping option is Buy Nothing Day (followed closely, in at least two senses, by Buy Local Day - I succeeded with both this year), there are often a few people that we wish to get gifts, but we don’t want to burden with ever-more meaningless stuff.

This list has a nice mix of stuff-less-ness and stuff that at least helps someone and means something:

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

Aside

13 Staggering Facts About The Global Super Rich. Gives a clear perspective on the differences between us 99% and the 1%.

Occupied Lands

I’m mostly hopeful about the promise of the “Occupy” movement.   One of the oft-reported weaknesses of the movement is the lack of a unified message.  But this criticism overlooks the essence of the thing: all of these varied concerns have sprouted from the same root.  Where the less-thoughtful of the media see a bunch of different demands from a disorderly gathering of unkempt kids, I hear varied perspectives on the same core issue.

One unifying slogan – “Human Needs over Corporate Greed” – seems to encompass the bulk of the message.  But not everyone understands immediately that human needs include the long-term vitality of ecosystems (and as little climate destabilization as can be obtained at this late date), health maintenance and health care (not just treating the sick, but providing adequate nutrition, clean air and clean water to all), access to educational opportunities (without being tied into debt) and a commitment to justice and true democracy.

I think, I hope, that this movement is a demand for a NEW SYSTEM in which people can be assured opportunities to do all the work that so needs doing, and a system where their needs will be met while doing it.  It’s okay that we don’t know what this system will look like yet.  What’s clear, what’s being protested, are the things that are most actively blocking the chance for something new to grow.

And already, within the movement, are the critiques.  These are valuable.  These are distracting, yes, but we ignore them at our peril.  As Frank Herbert said, “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”  One of the most important considerations has to do with indigenous perspectives on the name of the movement:

What “Wall Street” and the U.S. have become — an imperial-colonial power over the world’s economics and the laws that protect it — is a direct legacy of the fraud and violence committed against Native nations.

Perhaps those who now claim to OCCUPY WALL STREET in the name of reforming America’s economy could remember their history and call it something else (see Racialicious’ post for more discussion of the importance of language in opposition). Wall Street is, after all, already an occupied territory.

As are all of U.S. land “holdings” in northern America, the Pacific, and the Caribbean.

Decolonize the opposition!

(especially now that it is OCCUPYING L.A., Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago….)

via Tequila Sovereign: Manna-hata.

Perhaps the movement will find a new and better name as it develops.  I hope that the thoughtfulness, the questioning, is retained as essential to the movement’s well-being.  The importance of the core unifying principle should provide the coherence to prevent disagreements from becoming faultlines.

The people in power (and no, I don’t so much mean elected officials, I mean unaccountable power that comes from concentrated wealth, and the commercial-funded media mouthpieces for such power) want to ridicule what is happening.  They don’t perceive that this is the birth of something new; they only see it as opposing the status quo (which it is), and therefore they link it to older, more familiar terms that were seen as opposition to capitalism (e.g. communism or socialism).  But all of those bear the same underlying structure – the same genes as capitalism - for centralization, domination and short-term thinking.  My hope is that the new generation of activists is a movement away from those old systems of thought.   It hasn’t yet matured into an -ism, and with luck, foresight and courage it may never do so.

I won’t claim to know where this movement is going.  But just the choice speak out, to ask our civilization to change course at all from our headlong rush to ecological and cultural collapse is an improvement, a step away from the wrong direction that just might lead to steps in the right direction.

Charging for Land

If you owned all the money in the world, and I owned all the land... How much do you think I'd charge you for the first night's rent?

The [Land Value Tax] strikes at the heart of the land monopoly. In a powerful speech, Winston Churchill said, “Land monopoly is not the only monopoly, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies — it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.” It is the essence of feudalism and for all of our supposed social progress we’ve yet to be free from it. Unless and until the land monopoly is destroyed, the positive effects of virtually all economic reforms and even philanthropy is largely nullified.   (Edward Miller, “The Only Economic Reform Worth Talking About“)

The Only Economic Reform Worth Talking About is, according to Miller, a shift to a Land Value Tax (a kind-of straight tax on the land itself, regardless of “property improvements” – also known as natural rent).  Another way to think about this is not so much as a tax on land owners, but we the people charging rent for use of the commons.

It’s an interesting notion.  I’m trying to reconcile it with the notions I’ve expressed before about taxing the bad stuff rather than the good stuff.  So I’m wondering, is land ownership bad stuff to be taxed, or good stuff to be incentivized?

I’ve heard the proposition that the best way to protect land is to have it owned by someone in perpetuity and pass it to their descendants, so that they have an incentive to steward it in ways compatible with its long-term viability.  The Nature Conservancy does most of its work by purchasing land in order to protect it, and it does seem to work in this system.  But I’m far from convinced that it’s the only way to protect land, or even the best option.

[Sam: ]“That’s the kind of thinking that got Manhattan sold for a box of beads.”

[Coyote:] “So they still tell that story? It was one of my best tricks. They gave us many beads for that island. They didn’t know that you can’t own land.”

(Christopher Moore,  Coyote Blue )

I confess, I’m largely with Coyote on this issue.  The idea that anyone owns the land is ludicrous.  This generation is using it now, future generations will use it later, but my gut reaction is that the land, any land, should not be “owned”; as humans, we should take care of it, perhaps take responsibility for it, but in no way can we actually take it.

I’m a little more comfortable with rent than ownership, I suppose.  So, how would charging rent to any and all land tenants help the cause of sustainability?  Could this facilitate both greater equity among people and better stewardship of all the land and all its denizens (especially the non-human ones and the generations not yet born)?  Can we up the rent on those whose stewardship neglects these considerations?

In the money culture, will a Land Value Tax encourage care and protection of the living world while providing equitably for the people (present and future) who depend on it?