Archive for April, 2010

I Pity the Poor Immigrant

April 23, 2010

“I Pity the Poor Immigrant” is the title of a Bob Dylan song that I used to sing on the street. It also reflects my feeling with regard to immigrants in the current political climate. Certain people in this country—right wingers, Republicans, and now the Tea Partiers—are constantly seeking some outsider to hate. They thrive on it. I’ve seen this my whole life. Right now their preferred target seems to be the so-called illegal immigrants. The state of Arizona just passed a law that criminalizes them. People say, “But for god’s sake. They’re here illegally. That’s it. End of story.” But laws work only if they are just, and they are just only if they are in harmony with the law of Karma—also known as the law of cause and effect, also known as “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

We have a long history of undermining and overthrowing any government in the Americas that doesn’t cooperate with our way of doing business. We train their politicians, their military, their police. Then we extract their natural resources and their labor and bring the wealth up here, leaving the countries of Central and South America miserably poor and oppressed. Anybody who insists that this isn’t so doesn’t read. The evidence is well documented. The karma of the situation is that the people who have been exploited will follow the loot. No human law can overcome karma. They will keep coming until we stop exploiting them. We can’t have it both ways.

Most people prefer to live in the land in which they were born and raised. It’s a natural affinity. It’s only when conditions become intolerable that we leave our homelands. If we want America to be for Americans—whatever that means—then we have to leave those countries alone, stop trying to dictate how they run their affairs, stop installing our puppets in their governments. I’ve met a lot of “illegals” here in San Francisco, and I’ve rarely met any that I didn’t like. They’ve never struck me as criminals. The criminals are those who participate in the exploitation of these countries or who agitate against the people who come here after having been ripped off by us.

An Interesting Statement

April 16, 2010

This is from a recent interview with the environmentalist Bill McKibben:

Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic advisor, said that “putting limits on growth because of some natural limit is a profound error.” Is he wrong?

He’s wrong, but for an interesting reason. Economists, and many of us to some extent, have come to believe that the economy is more real than the physical world. Think about the incredible regard we have for the economy. “It’s healing,” we say. “It’s going through a rough patch.” We talk about it like it’s our aging mother. Whereas with the Earth, we say, “Oh well, it’s going through its natural cycles, don’t worry.” Which is slightly crazy, because clearly the economy is a subset of the natural world, not the other way around. We lavish intense worry and affection and brainpower on the economy, but not so much on the environment. Summers is the perfect exemplar of that attitude: an incredibly smart guy whose context is so narrow it ends up making him very dumb indeed.

You can read the entire interview here.

Some Constraints, But No Complaints

April 14, 2010

There’s something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest. I’ve alluded to some of this a time or two, but I want to make a more thorough statement.

As a blogger, I operate under a few constraints, all of which are self-created. One, I’m working on a book, so I’m often too tired to write a long post or to post very often. Most of what I really want to say requires length, often because it’s “off the tracks,” so to speak. I don’t subscribe to the speculative, egoistic lines of reasoning that most people consider axiomatic nowadays. For example, I think the idea that we need to be more “competitive,” that competition brings out the best in human beings, is utter nonsense. But to explain my point of view requires a lot of defining of terms. I take frequent mind trips down hypothetical posts, but I usually encounter too many difficulties. My book is intended to be the vehicle for most of this. I don’t enjoy reading books by an author that come off as mere rehashing of his or her previous work. So I’m sensitive to that. I’m always having to feel my way through this blog—trying to figure out what I can say as well as what I should probably avoid saying, at least for the time being. I’m happy to have readers, though. I am.

I think we’re nearing a heavy moment in history. I can’t say exactly what it is, but I feel it coming. And I know where I’ll be standing when it does come. This blog should get more interesting as time goes on.

The Tea Party at War

April 12, 2010

A few days ago somebody asked me if I knew what was going on in Iraq these days. Is there still a war happening? Are we getting out? I had to admit that I didn’t really know. War is such a constant in the background now—just like in the novel 1984—that I tend to tune it out, like traffic noise. It’s an insane situation. Official government policy is that the United States must be capable of fighting two wars simultaneously. A year or so ago I saw an article in the New York Times stating that a lot of officials are beginning to believe that this might be insufficient. Only empires do this sort of thing. And empires invariably overextend themselves, exhaust themselves, and then collapse. This is where we’re heading, but hardly anybody talks about it. American military spending is roughly equal to the rest of the world’s combined. But when the Republicans and the Tea Party folks raise hell about government debt they never suggest slashing the military budget.  One reason nobody talks about it much is that the word game is rigged. Nobody talks about the “War Department” or “war spending,” but the “Defense Department” and “defense spending.” Our wars are not defensive; they’re imperial. There is a belief—and growing up I heard it stated many times, and by the same sort of people who make up the Tea Party movement—that every generation should experience war, that it “makes a man out of you.” That’s crazy. The last war I supported was Vietnam and only up until early 1968. I supported it because I was a dumb teenager and I didn’t know any better. The Tea Party continues to receive a lot of media attention for its supposed rage over government debt. If their rage were really about government debt, they’d be making a huge stink over military spending. But they aren’t doing that and they never will.

Progress Report #27

April 9, 2010

So, I’ve finished draft number two’s Chapter 13, provisionally entitled, “The Fool On the Hill.” This concludes Street Song‘s first major division, which I call “A Fool Such as I.” Tomorrow Judy and I go for a nice ride on our bicycles, and then I get back to work. For the moment, the next chapter has no title. It deals with the period immediately after my breakdown, my fall, when I quit music and decided to get into reality. I call the second division “A Slow Boat to China.”

The recent laborious effort I put into coming up with an outline, a chapter structure, for the third and final draft is swaying under the pressure of a new idea. I’m thinking more and shorter chapters. I don’t know yet. In my book, content determines form.


April 4, 2010
Pine Mountain Valley

A valley near Pine Mountain

Yesterday, Judy and I went for a hike around the lower flanks of Pine Mountain. Along the way, I got to check out a small valley that I’ve been looking at from the distance for years. It’s a lovely little valley with meadows and trees and a creek running through the center of it. Best of all, it’s completely wild. There are no human structures—no buildings, no paths. The grass was tall and green and the wildflowers were beginning to break out. We ate lunch next to a waterfall. It was a lovely afternoon.

On the way home, I stopped at the Apple Store to replace my backup drive, which had quit working the night before. The store was packed with people enthralled with the new iPad. I was bugged by their enthusiasm. I’ve never owned an iPod or an iPhone, and I sure don’t want an iPad. I see it as just one more step toward the complete gadgetization of America. There’s more actual interest in gadgetry than there is in reality. I think all these toys are, in fact, enervating. Like television, they just drain the life out of you. GPS eliminates serendipity, which is one of the primary tools that the Universe has for putting related things together. When you let a GPS unit guide your moves, you’re working for the machines. You’re out of the natural loop. The only advantage I can see to an e-reader is the ability to look something up quickly within a book. But the tradeoffs for that one advantage aren’t worth it.

We need to simplify our lives, not entangle ourselves ever more deeply in complex electronic networks that require constant maintenance and more energy, which is becoming ever scarcer. None of it can ever approach the complexity or magic of a blade of grass. The digital revolution will prove to have been all in vain, just one more evasion of the issues that really demand our attention: birth, death, truth, love, justice.