Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kyrie Eleison… Down the Road that I Must Travel


While its origins are not entirely clear, it is reasonable to assume that the Roman Catholic Litany of the Saints officially entered the Mass under the papacy of St. Gregory at the turn of the sixth century.  Gregory was born into the opulence of Sicily and, in stories reminiscent of Siddhartha Gautama 1,000 years earlier, he was overwhelmed by the life of the commoner and became a monastic.  As was the case with Gautama Buddha, St. Gregory served as an emissary for greater awakening and understanding and, despite both of their protestations, both were thrust into greater public influence than their ascetic impulse had desired.  Both Gregory and Buddha recognized that their individual lives were not isolated tangible egos but were part of a much greater arc that included those who came before and those who would follow (though Gregory was pretty sure that The End was near – inspired, in part, by the collapse of the Roman Empire).  Both recognized the importance of understanding those whose lives inspired greater approximation to an ideal to which others could be encouraged to strive.  Both formalized catechisms that included veneration of the saints.

In the Catholic Litany, the deity, patriarchs and prophets, apostles, martyrs, priests, and laity are recited punctuated by the congregational antiphons, “Have mercy upon us; Pray for us; Deliver us; Hear us.”  I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the mountains of East New Britain with the keepers of the fire dance – the Komgi – who like the Catholics and the Buddhists recite, in oral tradition, those who have been keepers of the community across the millennia.  In their dance, which commences with night fall and continues until the last ember is crushed with the first light of dawn, they speak the names of their ancestors and spirit guides as they dance on burning coals as a way of welding the memory of these departed ones in their physical reality.  And in each of these traditions, the veneration of those who came before is not merely a nostalgic retrospective: they all include some variant of the supplication – Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.

As I was out walking Scooby in the woods this morning, I started my litany of my saints for 2013 and thought, “Why don’t I make this my year end post?”  So, without their knowledge, permission or implied endorsement, here are my inspirations for 2013.  Thanks.

Jimmy Smith, founder and CEO of Amusement Park Entertainment.  Jimmy and I come from extremely different walks of life; have as many different as similar world views; and, share a burning passion for making the world a better place.  Jimmy’s gift in my life is his relentless enthusiasm for what could be and his capacity to persist against indifference.

Yaacov Shirazi, founder of Aqua Index.  Not only did Yaacov welcome me to participate with his business but he invited me into the home of his generous partner Nissan Khakshouri and afforded me the opportunity of fellowship with Nissan and his beautiful late wife Louise.  In one evening in Tel Aviv I experienced the most magical dinner of the year in their gracious hospitality.

Theresa Arek, my sister and the founder of Amruqa. Theresa continues to be one of the most reliable, longest-lasting colleagues and friends I have anywhere in the world.  Our friendship and mutual respect transcend any casual human experience.  Together with the Asia-Pacific Power Women – Alise Stunnenberg, Margaret Malua, Enkhtuya Tsend, Battsetseg Shagdar, and Nergui Dorj – these amazing women have evidenced a capacity to challenge the status quo tirelessly and have, in so doing, transformed the experience of millions of people who don’t know their benefactors.

Bob Kendall, founder of Cole Publishing.  If there was ever a person who modeled the generous spirit at the extreme that was kindled in my life by my father, it’s Bob.  Together, our efforts this year ranged from health care in the Caribbean to quantitative trading at the innovative edge of the capital markets and unfailingly, Bob’s enthusiasm and loyalty incarnated with a perfection I’ve never experience before. 

The Fraternity of Unusual Gentlemen (my term) including Edward West, Dustin DiPerna, Jon Darrall-Rew and Leo Burke.  My life has been enriched and enlivened by these four men in ways that defy simple explanation.  Each one individually (and the four of them collectively) have abraded my unconsidered, reflexive resistance to make my work and the philosophy that underpins it accessible to others.  Through hours and days of relentless fellowship, their encouragement has triggered some of the best writing and communications I’ve been able to reduce into accessible form.

Dan Goldstein, Nick Drake, Sebastien Djavadi, Josh McFerrron, and Eric Edell individually and collectively played a huge role in encouraging the formation of the PB1 fund – one of our most significant achievements in 2013.

Lawrence Daveona, Chris Uma, and the team in Arawa and Panguna who showed me gracious hospitality and patience as together we work towards a peaceful stewardship of Bougainville and its vast and varied resources.

Shakara Lyon, Nicole Fegley, Sera Beak, Sofia Diaz, Corinne Vaudroz, and Kelly Bearer for deeply loving my Lady and opening up a deeper sense of purpose in her amazing life.  Each of you have gently shaped in the marble of her form that the bluntness of my hammer and chisel were incapable of offering.  You’ve taught me to put down the hammer and the chisel and let the true essence of the form emerge in its own elegant and beautiful way.

If you’re reading this, you are also in my litany of saints.  The honor that is bestowed in my life through your constant companionship throughout the year provides an unusual fuel to keep my life motivated towards its full purpose and destiny.  I encourage you to add your litany to mine – on the blog, on facebook or in whatever venue you find this post.  I’ve just started the litany in the recitations above but my prayer for the coming year is that we all see the roles that we play in the lives of others and actually set time aside to honor the life that is shared and entangled with our own.  And as with every litany there is a confession and plea for forgiveness: if I’ve neglected in word or deed to honor any of you, I trust that you see in my life a reflection of your gifts and you find in that reflection honor that reverts to you.

As you look from 2013 into the coming year, remind yourself of your inspirational influences and recite them aloud.  If you need a little back up music as inspiration, give yourself a flashback to my favorite from the year I graduate from high school – a gift from Richard Page and his band, Mr. Mister – Kyrie.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Social Security: Soaring with Vultures


So I was sitting at the table this morning, overlooking the ponds and the forest, when I was struck by the stark Roman insignia gracing the top of a dead poplar tree.  While we’ve become accustomed to the Americanized view of Roman standards resplendent with eagles (in our version, drawn by Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson in 1782, clutching arrows as if talons aren’t intimidating enough), we overlook the historical basis for the standard – the vulture.  Even Thomson’s “eagle” holds his wings as a vulture to match the vulture of the founding of Rome.  Mythology states that the selection of the site for the city of Rome was informed by the auspicious omen seen by Romulus – 12 vultures – as opposed to Remus’ 6.  More vultures = better omen!

“Why have we celebrated the majestic bald eagle rather than the prolific vulture,” I thought as I grabbed my camera to snap a few pictures in the barefoot-warm December rain?

The family of birds - Accipitridae - to which both vultures and eagles belong is distinguished with its capacity to soar on the thermals and rip flesh and sinew on the earth.  And while the thrill of the eagle’s hunt is more glamorous than the rotting carrion of road-kill on a lazy summer afternoon, were we given a choice, a world without vultures would be a lot more stinky and less livable – just saying! 

Now, fasten your seatbelt as we take another whirlwind turn in our ornithological time machine.  And trust me, it’s worth the ride.  For millennia, empires and their egomaniacal leaders have sought to instill admiration and fear in all others by selecting predatory animals as their insignia.  Xerxes and the Achaemenid Empire had their fighting stags and vulture-winged lions.  The Sumerians put vulture wings on the backs of lions – an image that has survived to the present as an iconic symbol of power.  The Greeks put vulture wings on Hermes and his shoes (as if wings on your back need a bit more turbo charging).  And as far back as 3,000 BCE, Egypt’s goddess Nekhbet was depicted as a vulture symbolizing purification.  Reminiscent of the Cherokee who referred to the vulture as the ‘eagle of peace’ as it kills nothing but purifies the land, humanity’s appreciation of the vulture has been forgotten at a considerable price.

Thanklessly cleaning up messes.  Capable of soaring.  Purifying the land.  You can learn a lot from a vulture! 

In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act.  This “Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance” program is to the U.S. what Pericles’ Athenian Constitution was to Ancient Greece.  FDR forgot to study Pericles when he advocated for the Act or he would have recognized the inherent flaw in “making gifts to the people their own property.”  Falsely labeled “entitlement programs”, the social security system then as now is a great political ruse – a vulture in eagle’s feathers.  And with the coming charade in Washington D.C. early in 2014, we’re going to be treated to another episode of “Debt Ceiling IV: Attack of Tea-drinking Zombies”.  Let’s be clear, the word “ceiling” – implying upper limit – is a misnomer.  The Federal Government has no real “limit” on how much indebtedness it can take on.  It does, however, have a limit on how much debt it can service.  It makes theater of the former and entirely ignores the latter.  It is, after all, the latter that is most paradoxical.  What we’re doing when we raise the “debt ceiling” is authorizing issuance of debt to pay for debt – a necessity directly caused by an economy that does not collect enough revenue to support its obligations.  Inspired by the flamboyant eagle, it loves the thrill of the hunt but is ignoring the growing heaps of plague-infested carrion – carrion too numerous for the available vultures. 

Artificially low interest rates have been great to keep the Federal debt service from further exacerbating the debt crisis (thus described as we have borrowed more than our economy can reasonably service through productivity-linked revenue).  But the Federal Open Market Committee’s policy is to our economy what Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane was to eagles.  In solving the short-term pestilence problem, the capacity for future productivity in progeny is forced into certain extinction.  Because, even though low rates today mean you can borrow more cheaply now, it means that your investment in debt is not earning enough to cover the expected returns required for the ‘benefit’ your investment was supposed to generate.  When Paul Hermann Muller’s Nobel Prize winning WWII mosquito-killing ‘invention’ was unleashed on the world, DDT became the panacea for crop infestation and mosquito control.  Neither he nor its proponents knew that the effect of DDT on the aqueous food chain would lead to the extermination of countless desirable life forms including our national emblem – the bald eagle.  Rachel Carlson’s 1962 book Silent Spring suggested DDT’s still unknown effects on human health including the possibility that profligate use of DDT may have vastly expanded cancers in the fumigated populations it was promoted to serve.

Out of the $16 trillion in notional debt we owe, more than 60% is owed to ourselves.  According to the GAO and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, nearly $5 trillion of debt represents ‘investments’ made by trust funds like Social Security and Medicare.  Another few trillion is owned by the Federal Reserve.  And then any one of us who participates in a planned retirement program ‘invests’ heavily in these ‘assets’.  When ‘debt ceiling’ tirades are unleashed in Washington, the public is being duped.  On the right, we’re told that we should decrease revenue while on the left we’re told that we should care for the 99%.  The fact is that neither left nor right is facing the facts: we don’t have an economy to pay for promises we made in 1935 and we don’t have a society that soars together.  With interest rates maintained at record low rates, we have ALREADY defaulted on the Social Security, Medicare and Pension promise we’ve made.  This is a problem that cannot be fixed using the current paradigm.  Pumping more public expectations into a system that is hopelessly broken and broke just increases the scale of calamity.  As a matter of policy, the yield on our investments is so low that we have forced the future into a lower standard of living, less liquidity, and a greater inability to pay for the life-styles to which many have become accustomed.  And while this is not necessarily a negative on the global stage, the broken promises and the irrational responses that they engender are avoidable only if the public is informed today.

In 1966, the Endangered Species Preservation Act put in process the protection of the Bald Eagle so that we wouldn’t exterminate our national emblem and with it a piece of our identity.  Six years later, the use of DDT was banned.  Our industrial ‘progress’ took the estimated 100,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in 1782 down to 487 in 1963 only to have it celebrated in its rebound to just under 10,000 today.  We’re 1/10 the greatness we were when we started killing our national emblem, metaphorically.

Nearly 30% of America presently relies on an endangered entitlement with over 51% ultimately counting on it for a significant portion of their ultimate livelihood.  We know today that the DDT-effect of our monetary policy is softening the nest eggs of this population to the point that they will not hatch when needed thereby harming our economy as a whole.  We have chosen the individuated eagle metaphor at the expense of the security provided by the rookery of the vulture where the young are protected, the old are fed, and the generations share responsibility at the community level for their collective well-being. 

So this morning’s omen: be warned.  Pericles’ Athens thrived on entitlements while he was alive.  But as the fallacy of gifting the public what was already theirs (the definition of our entitlement systems) unraveled, the great experiment of Greece fell under the talons of Rome. 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Not Worth Living


In Plato’s Apology, he attributes to Socrates the frequently quoted maxim: “The life which is unexamined is not worth living.”  Adjacent to this quote is the unquoted, but potentially more profound statement, “I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live…. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death.” 

I reflected on these lines from the Apology in a most improbable of moments this week – at the engagement and wedding ceremonies of some dear friends in India.  As I watched a priest chant mantras in Sanskrit, I inquired of several of the guests how many brides and grooms knew the meaning of what they were reciting during the marathon, smoke and fire-filled rituals. 

“We don’t know what these mean,” was the near universal response.

Sanskrit has been around for at least 3,500 years – potentially one of the world’s oldest languages.  It is reasonable to speculate that more philosophy, religion, sociology and cosmology has been contemplated in Sanskrit than in any other tongue.  This language of wisdom, scholarly inquiry and culture contains not only literal essence but also harmonics and tonal elements that are considered to integrate frequencies and vibrations that literally embody meaning.  Its use in ritual and meditation persists while the wisdom and experience of humanity from which it arose is increasingly eclipsed in the fluorescent glare of emoticons and hashtags.  And why, in independent India has the siren of materialistic artifact been so compelling as to induce the amnesia to the wisdom of ages past?  Why, having cast off the colonial regimentation of industrial empire has India elected to chase the fleeting futility of even greater triviality? 

The answer, in part, lies in the unquoted Apology.  And there’s a bit of irony here.  When Socrates stated that he would rather die speaking his understanding than conform and live, he wasn’t being melodramatic or forming an argument.  In fact, he recognized that to acquiesce to what he knew to be untrue and inconsistent with observable reality was as much death as drinking hemlock for speaking out in a manner so compelling that those around him, “deliberately attached themselves” to him “because they enjoy hearing other people cross-questioned” (the origin of the concept of Socratic learning).  The unrighteousness to which Socrates referred was the willingness to adopt consensus in the evident face of its fallacy.  Preceding Gregory Bateson’s theory of the psychopathology of what he called the Double Bind (in which schizophrenia results from serially observing reality and seeing trusted persons or the crowd act in what appears to be diametric opposition to, or ignorance thereof), Socrates could not tolerate living in a world in which consensus error was reinforced by mercenaries while inquiry and truth were castigated.

Socrates used as evidence of his character his commitment to the transmission of knowledge for free.

If you doubt whether I am really the sort of person who would have been sent to this city as a gift from God, you can convince yourselves by looking at it in this way. Does it seem natural that I should have neglected my own affairs and endured the humiliation of allowing my family to be neglected for all these years, while I busied myself all the time on your behalf, going like a father or an elder brother to see each one of you privately, and urging you to set your thoughts on goodness? If I had got any enjoyment from it, or if I had been paid for my good advice, there would have been some explanation for my conduct, but as it is you can see for yourselves that although my accusers unblushingly charge me with all sorts of other crimes, there is one thing that they have not had the impudence to pretend on any testimony, and that is that I have ever exacted or asked a fee from anyone. The witness that I can offer to prove the truth of my statement is, I think, a convincing one – my poverty.

The notion that wisdom and its acquisition cannot be defiled with monetary compensation opens a more poignant inquiry into the phenomenon I witnessed in the rituals of Brahman priests.  Education – conventionally thought to be the orderly conveyance of knowledge, skills, practices, and norms from one generation to the next – has transformed over time and with it wisdom has been subordinated to technical proficiency to qualify for rent wages mandated by the industrial age.  Value in the transmission of knowledge for the sake of considered inquiry has fallen victim to the opiate of employment.  Proficiency and competency have replaced mastery and transcendence.  Why?  Because we can measure the unit output of trained automatons in monetary rents while we have no conventional mechanism to attribute value to the genius or idiot outlier.  And, by the way, this unit of mercantile productivity includes what was once considered sacred.  I was told by several of my fellow wedding goers that the Brahman caste once shunned money to the point of refusing to come into contact with it.  Now, in the middle of rites, the officiating priests were interrupting the event with overt cash exchanges.  Is it any wonder that a social order that has chosen to defile their own priestly class with commercialism has become untethered from the agency of its heritable essence?

Millennia from Socrates’ celebrated embrace of monetary poverty for the wealth of wisdom and its transmission, post-independence India (like many others), has adopted the language of consensus powers rather than exporting its heritable wisdom inclusive of all of its intricacies and nuances.  Ringtones now replace mantras and this is a mark of success.  Why?  Because having ‘things’ has become more important than examining the essence of life.  Education for job placement is celebrated above incarnating and transmitting persistent, unfathomable wisdom.  And this is happening exactly at a point in the arc of the mercantile industrial paradigm where its utilitarian deficiencies are becoming glaringly obvious. 

As the wedding crowd waned, a group of recent graduates from some of India’s finest schools approached me to ask me how I became a ‘successful’ entrepreneur.  After disavowing the title in its conventional use, I went on to explain the dimensionality of wealth that I describe using the optics of Integral Accounting.  These young men – all in their early to mid-20s – were enlivened by a conversation that included topics like my involvement with the National Innovation Foundation, the Global Innovation Commons, grass-roots initiatives around the world, quantitative text-based trading algorithms, and innovation-based, productivity-linked capital solutions. 

“Why aren’t we taught about these things in business school,” several asked, their faces evidencing a yearning for greater purpose?

As I reflect on our exchange, I realize that these young men, like me, want to live vibrant, examined lives.  Sure, we want to be productive and be capable of interacting in many dimensions of life.  But we don’t have the School of Athens.  We don’t get to “attach” to our Socrates with whom we can “cross-question” and learn.  In a generation and a half, their world has done its best to diminish what millennia of wisdom sought to build.  Until We The People actually end the rush towards automated digital consensus, we run the risk of deepening our version of the European Dark Ages.  It’s high time some of us step up and evidence an alternative: one that seeks to gain knowledge rather than train; to collaborate rather than prevail.  Starting today, read something from a field about which you think you know nothing and find out how great it feels to exercise your mind.  Speak to someone from a different culture or language and find the joy in imperfect communication with perfect intention.  See your world through the smoke of rites and flavored with all the spices of a palate that’s as foreign as you can imagine.  Examine your life and in so doing, we may rekindle the joy of unfettered learning and thereby forge a More Perfect Union.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Quantum Entangled Wormholes in Your Wallet


In their recently published work, Kristan Jensen of the University of Victoria, Canada, Andreas Karch of the University of Washington, Seattle and, Julian Sonner of MIT, Cambridge have been offering theoretical models regarding the nature of quantum entanglement of quarks “separated” by considerable distances.  Describing the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) pair dynamic in which the measurement of one particle simultaneously imparts an effect on the other in the pair, they applied two different mathematical models to ‘measure’ entanglement.  Using different approaches, Jensen & Karch’s model of quarks accelerating through oppositional distance and Sonner’s model of the Schwinger effect of quark/antiquark creation, both suggest that wormholes (in which space, time and other dimensions are extremely contorted) may be capable of facilitating transfer dynamics between black holes.  The theoretical framework suggesting that black holes (massive matter and energy dynamos) and quarks (infinitesimally minute subatomic particles) traffic in wormhole-laced interactions is a delightful reprise of millennia’s past wisdom stating that things are more connected than they seem.

Now before you get concerned that you are reading the wrong blog here, rest easy.  There’s a wormhole between this preamble and the economics to which you’ve become accustomed.  And I’m being a bit more literal here than you might first expect.  The Einstein-Rosen (ER) Bridge that theoretically links two (or more) points in space for simultaneity of existence is thought to be devoid of information transfer potential.  In other words, while parallel universe expressions are certain, progressive or simultaneous sentience is theoretically implausible.

This week, WikiLeaks released information from Stratfor, a strategic advisory consultancy serving government, energy, and industrial clients.  Their threat anticipation advice regarding environmental groups’ opposition to fracking and other North American fossil fuel ventures failed to anticipate their own ‘black swan’ event of being hacked and having their advice made public.  Apparently, they also failed to anticipate being stiffed $14,890 for work that they had done for Suncor.  They correctly estimated that energy firms should pay limited attention to most environmental activist efforts because many of these groups have “too little political influence” to rise to the level of concern.  They bet on the quantum entanglement between fuel ventures and politicians (near infinite mass and energy condensing in infinitely dense space) and won.  But they seemed to overlook that what’s good for the black hole is also good for the quark. 

It was amusing to see that the purported clients sponsoring the presentations that were leaked deny having seen them.  The hubris (the idea that information cannot be deciphered through wormholes) of giving misleading or false responses when ‘caught’ or ‘found out’ is a malignancy that seems to be metastasizing throughout the political and corporate ecosystem.  Sociopathic self-preservation at all costs seems to be the default mode rather than the nostalgic Watergate extravagance it once was.  Extractive industries lie about environments and profits, Apple lies about innovation, Government Sponsored Enterprises lie about fiduciary liquidity, and We the People are simply supposed to accept this fare of deceit as the status quo.

But here’s the problem that strikes me as the evident conclusion from the work of Jensen, Karch, and Sonner; what if events are connected?  What if a $4 trillion Federal Reserve balance sheet actually has to be monetized?  What if tens of millions of permanently discouraged workers get tired of being told that unemployment is stabilizing or improving because they’re no longer being counted in any statistic?  What if the apparent ineffectiveness of intervention is actually building an amazing amount of energy in a system we’re not perceiving nor measuring? 

These are theoretical and rhetorical questions on one level but they’re quite tangible on another.  In 2008-2009, the public was awestruck with the notional value of credit default swaps (CDS) which exceeded the world’s GDP by a considerable margin.  Now, if you go back to 2006, you’ll see that the public was in love with CDS – they just didn’t know it by its name.  Back then it was called mortgage refinancing and it was all the rage.  I heard numerous friends and colleagues celebrating massive ‘interest only’ loans, super jumbos, and other irrationally labeled products.  They were building black holes in one dimension without discerning the worm holes connecting excesses of the mid-2000s to 2008.  When was the crisis?  Spoiler alert – it’s not when you are paying for the consequences of bad behavior; rather, it’s during the mindless preamble during which care and attention is neglected.

In the dimension in which Stratfor operated – a dimension in which their own self-importance is a reflection of the arrogance and confidence of their clients – their assessment was correctly focused on the risk of getting caught by someone who could have sufficient influence to alter behavior they and their clients knew had damaging consequences.  Like last week’s post reflecting on the Union Carbide environmental liabilities, it was not about whether behavior should or should not be engaged.  Their focus was on getting caught and the associated risk to self-interest.

But we’re not better for WikiLeaks.  We didn’t find out anything that we didn’t already know.  And now that we know that a few oil companies didn’t give any mind to a few environmental groups, is there anything about our behavior that we’ll change?  Is there any action that will be altered?  The same protestors will protest.  The same condescending business executives will hold humanity in disdain while cashing the funds flowing out of the self-righteous wallets of fuel-addicted protestors.  And neither will be paying attention to the point in space across the wormhole – that space where consequence and consciousness actually cohabitate.

The Stratfor-gate (doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?) is another example of irrelevant vigilante fuel on both sides of the fracking battleground.  The likelihood that any part of North Dakota or Canada will be undrilled because of this week’s revelations is measured in single digits, … to the right of the decimal point.  The likelihood that consumers will pay more for their fuel addiction is certain.  Like the patent litigation, agriculture subsidies, and trade wars that tack immoral tariffs on our various addictions, we mysteriously pay more for behavior that we appreciate less and less.  We are entangled particles in an entangled ecosystem.   The more you defend yourself in ‘not knowing’ or ‘not caring’, the more you’re fueling the problem – and giving Stratfor more reason to hold you and your world in contempt.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

29 Years and Not a Day Closer to Accountability


We didn’t wake up.  Neither did 3,787 officially.  They didn’t because they were dead.  We didn’t wake up because we don’t want to.  And just a little reality check.  The combined death toll from the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania conspiracy of terror was 2,996.  Under the guise of seeking justice, we have prosecuted a series of wars which have cost Iraqis and Afghanis over 1 million lives and have cost the U.S. and its allies more than double the lives lost on 9-11.  But the reason why most of you are scratching your heads wondering what mass casualty event took place 29 years ago this week is because the terror gas attack wasn’t a radical Muslim gundamentalist (a term coined by my dear friend Moustapha Sarhank).  It wasn’t a born-again, pro-life Evangelical listening to voices in his head tell him of the depravity of civilization and his god-given role in bringing judgment on sinners.  No, this act of terror was perpetrated by an organization that was founded in 1917 with the union of two organizations which were launched in 1898 and 1886 at the birth of the industrial movement. 

No stranger to death, this organization killed 476 of its own between 1927 and 1932.  Foreshadowing their deadly attack in 1984, this mass killing was also done with an aerosolized agent.  Untold thousands died from other airborne toxins unleashed by this organization silently killing workers and consumers alike.  From 1976 until 1984, insiders and external observers reported deaths and disabilities but the lure of the organization’s ideology was so intoxicating that these were neglected.  And, according to the official inquest following the December 2-3, 1984 mass killing, safeguards installed by the organization were switched off to “save money”. 

And as we see mind-controlled, sedated Americans stampede into the temples built by Sam Walton to worship the same golden calf of “saving money”, it dawns on me how few of the Citizens of the World will actually bother to read this blog post or share it.  Why?  Because taking on this religion (and yes, even religion owes its existence to the same pagan, blood-lusting idolatry) is a heresy too great to stomach.  And 29 years later, no war has been waged by those who were attacked.  No reprisals have been prosecuted.  In fact, the architect of the attack was flown out of the country he attacked in the government’s own plane.  How’s that for a twist?  And in their Deloitte & Touche LLP audited financial statements, they callously footnote that they probably have liabilities for breathing-related illness and death that may be about $2.2 billion.  This figure eclipses the total out-of-court settlement the organization reached with those attacked of $470 million including generous payments to victims with permanent life-altering health effects the stunning sum of $380 and the families of the dead the whopping sum of $950.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a fresh garden vegetable on a tossed salad, you’ve probably ingested a non-lethal dose of Sevin®, the Garden Insect Killer.   This lovely little toxin is now proudly distributed by the “Science For A Better Life” company, Bayer.  And to produce this compound which thankfully is illegal in the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Iran, Germany (how’s that for a paradox?) and Angola, you can use a very complicated sounding word (for those of you who think my blog is too difficult to read and understand, I’m warning you… Big Word Coming!) methyl isocynate (MIC).  This little organic compound - CH3NCO – can be highly unstable in the presence of a lot of things, including water.   And MIC was the toxin of choice used by the organization that elected to kill its neighbors – neighbors in the city we all breathlessly read about 29 years ago this week – Bhopal.

The reason why 3,787 people had to die three weeks before Christmas was because Union Carbide needed to save money to boost shareholder profits.  The reason why miners in West Virginia died of silica poisoning was to boost profits.  The reason why audited financials describe “potential” liability is because the actual liability exists and the question is whether they’ll be held accountable.  And the reason why we collectively don’t care is because we want to have our tomatoes and garden vegetables untouched by insects so bad that we’ll kill for it!

Just the cost of industrial economies, right?  Twenty thousand dead in Bougainville courtesy of the abuses of Rio Tinto and, to this day, the world turns a blind eye while Bougainville Copper Limited seeks to pass a mining law illegally so they can do it all over again.  Nearly all of my ‘socially conscious’ friends compose their rants about morality on Apple computers and tablets while the 40,000 workers in China continue to suffer from “numerous labor abuses” including those egregious enough to lead to another 4 documented suicides this year.  Apple, in the spirit of the holidays, agreed to cap workers’ hours to 60 hours per week (wow, really generous of them!).  And their apologists rail against the most recent report of labor abuses by lauding the nearly $500 a month salaries generously paid to workers so that Apple can not return profits to shareholders but rather pump helium into its already bloated stock price.

Next week we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States.  But eight years earlier (80 years ago) another industrial power decided that the lives of its own and others were expendable for ideologies of supremacy and “exceptionalism” (thanks, B.O. for bringing that wonderful term back for us after GW gave us the SS Homeland Security reprise).  Turning a complicit blind eye towards injustice, a great culture and people allowed their inertia to be hijacked into tyranny.  As then, we now have evidence that we could care less about the lives that have been rented, purchased, or killed so that we can consume at a discount.  Twenty-nine years later, we still out-source our consciences to lands remote enough to avoid confronting the cost of our consumption.  And one day, history will ask, where were those who actually had a conscience?  It’s a chilly night.  It’s the night before cyber-Monday!  See if you can actually put your credit card down long enough to find out what your products really cost before you decide that they’d make the perfect gift!  And stop yourself into believing that the dollar you saved didn’t come at a cost!

Hugs and Kisses – Scrooge