Saturday, June 28, 2008


There is no “riding out” the current economic crisis. If you follow the news you hear comments like: we can ride this downturn out, things have been worse, it won’t last too long, and the economy will turn around and other similar non-reassuring commentaries. These people have their heads in the sand; things will not return to “normal.” The follow report from CNN is revealing
NEW YORK ( -- Americans are feeling a lot more economic pain than the government's official statistics would lead you to believe, according to a growing number of experts.
They argue that figures for unemployment and inflation are being understated by the government.
Unemployment and inflation are typically added together to come up with a so-called "Misery Index."
The "Misery Index" was often cited during periods of high unemployment and inflation, such as the mid 1970s and late 1970s to early 1980s.
And some fear the economy may be approaching those levels again.
The official numbers produce a current Misery Index of only 8.9 - inflation of 3.9% plus unemployment of 5%. That's not far from the Misery Index's low of 6.1 seen in 1998.
But using the estimates on CPI and unemployment from economists skeptical of the government numbers, the Misery Index is actually in the teens. Some worry it could even approach the post-World War II record of 20.6 in 1980.
"We're looking at government numbers that are really out of whack," said Kevin Phillips, author of the book "Bad Money."

Remember the recent reports concerning the government cover-up of key climate change data? The White House was concerned with data that did not back their views on climate change and subsequently censored data that contradicted that view. While it is understandable that the government would be concerned over economic panic, one recalls the Great Panic of 1929, it is nevertheless worse to lead the public down a primrose economic path.

The economy will not return to the way it was and this is a positive thing. Gas prices will not go down. Food will not get cheaper. Drilling for new oil will solve nothing. People have got to realize that we have reached a “planetary carrying capacity” with respect to our “normal” way of living. In other words, the planet cannot sustain life as we have known it at higher levels. Unless we fundamentally alter the way we live, problems will only worsen and accelerate.

Oil has reached its peak. Drilling for more will make little difference as demand has already exceeded supply, both current and future. The time is now, actually past due, to invest massive amounts of resources into a totally new supply of renewable, non-polluting form of energy. Just “Google” water powered cars and see the potential. On the food front, climate change has altered the way agriculture will do business. Large corporate farming is not the answer. When they are hit by floods and drought we are all too familiar with the outcome. It is way past time to support local, small scale agriculture. Just like the stock market, put all of your money in one fund and you are wiped out if it crashes. Diversity is the key and the same holds true with farming. Stop wasting money on the “junk food,” eat natural and support local.

No matter what aspect of society is examined, it is clear that change is here to stay. There is no turning back and trying to do so would not be very smart anyway. The past is not sustainable. These and many related issues are being discussed in thousands of forums on the internet. From the social network sites,” Humanity on Trail” and “Powerful Intentions” to blog and chat rooms, people are beginning to understand that we will not “ride out” the current crisis, rather we need to create a new world that makes some sense if we are to survive as a species. Rather than trying to cover things up, it is time for the government to recognize and admit to what is really happening and work with the people to chart a new direction for the sake of survival.

Friday, June 20, 2008


OWEN FIDLER by Marvin Wilson is a “stop and make you think” book. The main character, Owen, is like many people we know, perhaps our neighbors, perhaps even ourselves. His outlook on life would be laughable if it was not so common and predominant in our culture. Marvin brings us some important messages in this latest work; messages that all would do well to ponder in this age of turmoil.

I had the pleasure of interviewing OWEN FIDDLER! We discussed his views on politics, the environment, oil, religion and a few other hot topics. This interview will give you an inside look at what makes Owen tick and hopefully will lead you to explore his character and life in Marvin Wilson satire on this contemporary “nowhere man.”

(Phil) Mr. Fiddler, you seem to have had a rough childhood. Do you think that society owes you a better life now that you are an adult?
(Owen) Better life? How about A life! I got more month than money, no future worth a (bleep) and if gas prices go any higher I’m gonna lose what little of my mind I got left. Society owes me? Well, it sure ain’t helped me none, that for damn sure.
(Phil) What do you think about welfare and programs aimed at helping the poor?
(Owen) Cancel ‘em – all of ‘em. Nothin’ worse than lazy third generation welfare recipients laying around on their fat asses collectin’ free money from my over-taxed-hard-earned-meager little income.
(Phil) Do you think the government should do more to protect the environment?
(Owen) Well, I’m no tree-hugger or nothin’ like that, but I’m not stupid either. The government does more to protect its own interests than it does to protect the environment. Fat cats, with their fat incomes and their luxurious spending allowances and free health care, voting themselves raises while us down-on-our-luck folks’re tryin’ to eke out a living. Sucks.
(Phil) What is your view on all the oil we import?
(Owen) What the hell difference does it matter what my view is? The government don’t give a damn what I think. It’s all a scam. The politicians and the super-rich got it all figured out. We proles get these news flashes that the price of oil is gonna go up cuz there’s been an outbreak of mumps in Istanbul or some lame (bleep) like that, and we just gotta bend over and take it up the (bleep) while they sit back and laugh at us poor suckers as we line up at the filling stations and pour out our blood for a (bleep)ing gallon of gas.
(Phil) What do you feel are the major problems in America?
(Owen) Man, you’re makin’ my head hurt with all this heavy (bleep). Ahm, okay, lets see – major problems in America. Well, taxes are too high, the government spends those taxes on bull(bleep) instead of stuff that would help the little guy, the judicial system favors the wealthy, the prisons are breeding grounds for contempt of society and criminal intelligence, the educational system isn’t worth a (bleep) for folks from the lower middle class down, and the price of a cup of coffee is too (bleep)ing much. How ‘bout that for starters? I could write a book. Fact, I might just bring that up to Marvin.
(Phil) Are you a religious man? And if so, what do you think about gay marriage and the curent moral fiber of America?
(Owen) Religious? No, no, nooooo – hell, no. I know how to ACT all religious, you know, go to church and play that game. Buncha phonies, that’s what religious people are, ask me. All smiles in your face ‘n talkin’ behind your back. I read the Bible, y’know, when I was a kid. Mom made me. Jesus, he was all right. I couldn’t never be nothin’ like him, though. Turn the other cheek, love your enemy, ya can’t get ahead in life tryin’ to live like that. But at least I’m honest about it. Church folks I’ve known talk that (bleep) but they don’t walk it.

Oh, gays? Each to his own, that’s what I say. Just don’t get in my face with it. If same sex couples wanna get married ‘n diddle each other ‘til death do ‘em part, that’s their business. The current moral fiber of America isn’t really anything I have any business judging – I’m not a very ethical person myself. But I ain’t about to judge others, I ain’t no holier than thou kinda guy.
(Phil) If you were elected president, how would you deal with our allies? What would you do about Iraq and terrorism?
(Owen) First of all, if I were ever elected president, then this country’s already gone to hell in a hand basket! (laughs – then pauses, gets a serious look) I guess I’d try ‘n keep everybody happy, our allies. Those terrorists scare the bejeebers outa me, though. They’re crazy, man. I can’t imagine believin’ in somethin’ enough to die over it. I’m kind of a wild and crazy son-of-a-(bleep), but those cats‘re outa their flippin’ minds. See, that’s another thing – ‘bout religion – that I can’t stand. Like I say, I ain’t no role model or nothin’ but I ain’t stupid, either. I read the Bible and the Koran – It’s the same thing – the same god. Why the hell are Jews and Muslims killing each other? Where’s the rub? I don’t get it. And I don’t want no part of it.
(Phil) What advice would you give the youth of today?
(Owen) Man – you just don’t stop, do you? Who the hell would get any use out of advice from the likes of me? (sigh) I dunno – don’t be like me, that’s for sure. Read my book – Marvin tells me it’s got some kinda spiritual message that’s really great for people getting’ along with each other – s’posed ta be some magical kinda wonderful experience I’m gonna have. (gets a mock look of holiness) I’m a changed person! (laughs) But I really can’t tell ya. I don’t much believe in all that mumbo-jumbo spiritual spooky stuff. Seein’s believin’ – that’s me.
(Phil) What is the key to happiness?
(Owen) I don’t know. I know I don’t have it. Marvin says I’m gonna find it, but I’ll have to see it to believe it.
OWEN FIDDLER was published in 2008 by Cambridge Books.
You can visit Marvin Wilson at: Owen Fiddler and Rock of All

Saturday, June 14, 2008


What follows is a brief snapshot of some of the events that have been occurring around the world. Add to these events political, environmental, social unrest and the looming food crisis and the picture looks pretty bleak. But as you will see, the news is not all negative.

NEW YORK - Wall Street tumbled Friday, taking the Dow Jones industrials down nearly 400 points, on a pair of alarming economic developments: oil prices that shot up by more than $11 a barrel and approached $140 for the first time, and the biggest gain in the government's unemployment reading in more than 20 years.
And those weren't the only stunning numbers of the day: The government also reported the nation's unemployment rate zoomed to 5.5 percent in May, a monthly rise of half a percentage point, the biggest in 22 years.
Friday's Labor Department report was filled with sobering numbers:
• Employers eliminated 49,000 jobs in May, the fifth straight month of nationwide losses.
• The number of unemployed people grew by 861,000 — to 8.5 million.
• Job losses for the year reached 324,000.
Longer unemployment lines mean even more angst for those seeking work.

EMMAVILLE, Minn. - Strong storms smashed houses, deluged neighborhoods, toppled trees and left thousands without power across the Midwest on Friday in the latest round of fierce weather.

Scientists have discovered their first icequake, if you will - a movement of a huge stream of ice in Antarctica that creates seismic waves, just like an earthquake, and can be felt hundreds of miles away.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. home foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies hit record highs in the first quarter as the sharp housing downturn put more American households under financial strain, data released on Thursday showed.
Nearly one in a hundred homes, or 0.99 percent, were driven into a foreclosure proceeding in the first quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said, up from 0.83 percent in the fourth quarter and the highest on records dating to 1979.
As the pace of failing loans quickened, the trade group said the overall share of homes in foreclosure rose to an all-time high of 2.47 percent from 2.04 percent. At the same time, the mortgage delinquency rate rose to a record 6.35 percent, suggesting foreclosures are likely to continue to mount.

HONOLULU - The Caribbean monk seal has gone extinct.

MADRID: Auto plants in Spain were paralyzed and Portugal's main airport banned planes from refueling on Wednesday as a third day of strikes by thousands of truckers caused heightened chaos and shortages.
Haulers in Thailand also threatened to strike next week while their counterparts in South Korea plan to stop work on Friday, as the outrage over soaring fuel prices intensified around the world.

Tens of thousands of truck drivers launched stoppages in France, Portugal and Spain on Monday to demand government help to cope with the rising price of fuel caused by rocketing oil prices, which last week reached almost 140 dollars a barrel.
The protests have paralyzed roads, causing huge tailbacks, and left supermarkets short of fresh produce and some petrol stations without supplies.
The Spanish auto plants of Seat, Nissan, Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mercedes Benz said they had cut or halted production as the strike left them short of parts.

In Belgium, the Volvo and Audi auto plants said they would be forced to close from Thursday due to the strike in Spain.

In Portugal, the strike hit air transport as fuel shortages forced authorities at Lisbon airport to ban planes from refueling, except those on high priority flights.
Portuguese police stepped up patrols after a striker manning a picket line north of Lisbon was run over and killed by a lorry on Tuesday. Long queues formed at many petrol stations as motorists sought to fill up in case the pumps run dry. Several supermarket chains in both Portugal and Spain expressed concern over the shortage of fresh products.
In Spain, the blocked roads meant wholesale food markets in large cities suffered shortages of fresh fish, milk, fruits and vegetables.

Elsewhere in Europe, around 50,000 Polish truckers staged one-hour protests across the country on Wednesday, although without blocking roads, the organizers said.

The British government is also finalizing contingency plans to cope with a four-day strike by oil tanker drivers this weekend.

And Dutch truckers announced plans to block roads at 18 points across the country for 30 minutes on Thursday.

Across the world, Thai truck drivers threatened on Wednesday to go on strike next week and block roads to the capital with 400,000 lorries unless the government helps them pay for soaring fuel costs.

Truckers in South Korea have voted to go on strike on Friday.

In Malaysia, the opposition has planned a series of rallies culminating in a July 12 demonstration which they hope will attract 100,000 people following the government's fuel price hike of 41 percent last week. - AFP/de
AP (6-14-08) G-8 officials, both this weekend and in July, are facing a host of issues that threaten to destabilize the global economy.
Oil spiked to nearly $140 a barrel last week, and several Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Malaysia, have slashed fuel subsidies, raising prices for millions of consumers. The world is also facing a potential food emergency as prices of corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and other agriculture products rise. The price hikes have set off riots and protests from Africa to Asia and elevated fears of a global food crisis that could cause millions of people to suffer malnutrition. It was unclear whether the meetings produced any concrete measures to address the issues.

So what is the good news? History tells us that there are “early warning” signs when empires are about crumble, the environment is gearing up for a change, and even if revolution is in the offing. Most of the time, people do not see the “signs’ of the times because they are otherwise preoccupied or even too caught up in the changing events. Few Romans believed that their empire was about to collapse. Species that fail to make minor adaptations tended to go extinct. The British and French Kings should have known that revolution was a spark away. Did the Czar of Russia have no warning that he was about to be overthrown? Were World Wars I and II really that much of a surprise? Does the earth give warnings when she is about to erupt? Do the birds not go quiet when the massive storm approaches? When the rivers begin to run dry, or the glaciers melt, are these not early warnings that something is about to change? Usually, the signs come early and then grow in intensity. What is interesting is that once the warnings have run their course, change is often swift and abrupt. When the tipping is reached, the completion of the event occurs rapidly.

The good news is that we, humanity, have been given ample warning that the world as we know is about to reach the tipping point. Change is in the air and little that we do will alter the course of that change. Knowing this, we can prepare to meet change in a state of readiness. There does not have to be political, economic and social disasters as we approach 2012, the year many predict is when tipping points in all aspect of life will be reached. The climate is changing, but millions do not have to suffer as a result. We cannot greatly alter the current climate change, but we can ensure that millions do not perish. We will run out of oil, but we can ensure that alternatives are available to meet needs. Supplies of food are beginning to run short, but we can change our policies and prevent starvation. The list could go on but the point is, we can not only survive change, we can also embrace and use change to our benefit.

All of the events of human history have brought us to where we are now. There is no turning back and we cannot stop the major changes that are currently happening. We have been given the “signs” to adapt, to alter our thinking, our lifestyles, technologies, politics and our relationship with each other and our planet. The warnings have been plentiful, clear and precise.
“Adaptability is defined as the capacity to change oneself to new circumstances easily and to accept new conditions well. Stupid people are not adaptable and the Wise ones are -- they can always avert disaster by changing their circumstances or adapting to changing circumstances. Thus do the Wise survive in the face of repeated adversity.” (

Is humanity wise? Will we adapt? Those that do not may well go the way of the dinosaurs who once ruled the planet, but who failed to meet the demands of a changing environment. Maybe they had no choice, but we do.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


We have all heard of the growing phenomena on the internet called “social networking.” What may be new is the degree to which this networking is beginning to take on major societal issues. A new networking site has been created called, “HUMANITY ON TRIAL: COUNTDOWN TO 2012” ( The introduction says, “Is humanity worth preserving? By December 1st, 2012, this court will render its verdict.”

The network is organizing various groups including prosecuting and defense teams, witnesses and a jury. Early posts on the site are being made in the various forums on such topics as: Human Religions, Historical Evidence of War, Racism and Bigotry, The Environment, Human Redeeming Qualities, 2012, Prophecy and more. The network is currently discussing the various pros and cons regarding the continuation of the human species as the ranks of members begin to take on a global composition. In addition to posts from across the United States, members are weighing in from Australia, China, Iran, France, the UK, Latin America and Canada.

As the sides organize, it is expected that a mock trial will also will take place. What is unique is that the trial will occur on the internet radio. The creator of the networking site says that he will use his internet BlogTalkRadio show, “All Things That Matter” as the venue for the trial. Shows will be devoted to opening arguments and special segments for both the defense and prosecution. Listeners will be given the opportunity to cast their vote in a special poll that will be taken after the defense rests.

Citing the growing global crises regarding the environment, food, oil, politics and religions it is the intent of the trial to not only raise global awareness of these issues but to also offer possible solutions. Many are familiar with the various prophecies concerning the year 2012 and it is hoped that the trial will help people to decide if humanity does have or even should have a future on what CNN has termed, this “Planet in Peril.” It would appear that social networks are moving beyond making connections to addressing key issues facing the planet.

Despite one’s view on “doomsday” scenarios and the prophecies of the Mayans, the Hopi and even Nostradamus, there is little doubt that humanity is in crisis. Continuing updates on climate change, volatile political hot spots, the recent reports on the food crisis and the growing issues of inflation and oil production would indicate that the human race is at a crossroads and that decisions it makes now may well in fact determine its survival. The Humanity on Trial network, while presenting contrary opinions on our chances of survival agrees with one basic premise; time is running out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


While we know it will be Obama versus McCain, the key issue for me is who will be the running mates. Contrary to the comments of political pundits, in this election the American electorate will have to take a hard look at the vice presidential candidate. While frequently seen as a “sideline” issue, in this election the second slot may be critical.

Historically, only fourteen Vice Presidents went on to become President. Five were elected, four inherited the office due to the natural death of the president, and four took office due to assassination and one through resignation. If elected, John McCain will be 72 when he takes office. Questions about his health must be a concern when deciding who gets your vote. If McCain chooses a right wing politician to garner conservative support, that choice will a factor in my voting decision.

With respect to Obama, I hesitate to mention a possible issue. I remember when JFK was elected to office. His style and oratory was my inspiration and resulted in my pursuing a degree in political science and in entering a career of public service. Upon his assassination, I was devastated. We all know that LBJ took up the civil rights cause and if were not for Vietnam, he may have a better slot in our political history. I am sure for those old enough to remember, Obama brings back memories of JFK. The question is, will this memory also include the tragedy? There are still elements in this country that would oppose any minority candidate as president and one can only hope that the Secret Service stays alert. This is why his running mate is of utmost importance in my thought process. History all too often is repetitive as we fail to learn the lessons of the past.

As we know, the role of the Vice President of the United States is the first person in the line of succession becoming the new President upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president. As designated by the Constitution of the United States, the vice president also serves as the President of the Senate, and may break tie vote in that chamber. He or she may be assigned additional duties by the President. Given the current state of world affairs, the American electorate must be prepared for any eventuality.

Regardless of who wins in November, the VP must be a person that has real political experience and not chosen just to appeal to certain voting blocs or interest groups. The stakes are too high to have a VP that is not tested and tried in the arena of national and international affairs. Hopefully both Obama and McCain will understand this concern as the VP candidate in the upcoming election may be their most important political decision.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


We just received our contract price for fuel oil for next heating season and the price was $4.90/gallon. Our contract price for the 2007-2008 heating was $2.79/gallon. We used around 1,000 gallons to heat our home. We are not going to pay it! We have purchased a wood pellet furnace and bought 5 tons of pellets which should cover the majority of the heating season. Our pellet furnace, which is listed as carbon free, will be paid for in savings in one season! The pellets, at current prices, will save us some $3700/year. Assuming costs will rise proportionately, the pellets will always save us thousands of heating dollars every year while at the same time adding basically 0 carbon to the atmosphere.

Consumers are going to have to change their spending habits. Since the pellets are produced in Maine, it makes sense to alter our spending and use what makes sense for our region. This same approach would be wise to follow elsewhere. We have become so accustomed to mega-solutions that we have ignored a more rational regional approach to meeting our energy needs. While solar is certainly viable just about anywhere, at least as back-up power, it would seem to make sense to use it as a primary power source in sunnier regions. Wind turbine generators may be more viable in certain regions as would hydro in others.

It is no longer a question of being weaned off of oil imports. That option has passed. We have been hit upside the head by the oil rig 2x4 and the consumers must respond accordingly. While we can hope that a new administration will help our transition to more viable and environmentally friendly power supplies, don’t hold your breath. It could take years before the politicians, regardless of who is elected November, to make any kind of transitional financial support available. The power of oil is too entrenched to think that all will be right when we have a new president. Time is not on our side. If we wait for Washington to act, we will have lost the planet to the cockroaches. Smart money says bite the bullet and find alternative energy sources now. Buy high fuel efficient cars now-unfortunately they will probably have to be foreign since Detroit is still in its own dream world. And, while auto-makers are cutting back on making the big gas eaters, along with job losses, they do not get high marks for coming out with an affordable line of fuel efficient cars. Some of their hybrids to not get as good fuel economy as regular foreign imports and as usual; they will lag behind in innovation. Not sure what will come of it but the BBC had a report of a British auto-maker producing a gas vehicle that gets 80mpg. Apparently this is done by drastically reducing weight by using carbon fibers for the body work. Perhaps this is what we can do with all of the excess carbon, make cars with it.

On another front, the soaring cost of food has at least partly been attributed to the rise in the use of bio-fuels. “The food price index of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) rose by a steep but manageable 8% in 2006, but then much more sharply - by 24% - in 2007, and 53% in the first three months of this year alone - an unprecedented rise.” If you have shopped recently it is clear that prices are going up and as you know, once they are up, they tend not to come down too far. With gasoline basically at $4.00/gallon and a forecast of $5.00/gallon by September, it is clear that the consumer must act now to head off their own demise.

According to Michigan Business (5/31/08) “The steepest run-ups in food prices since 1990 are hurting grocery shoppers, restaurants and school cafeterias, but they're making others rich.
The winners in the new food economy include crop farmers selling corn and wheat for near-record highs after years of crushingly low prices. Ingredient makers like Cargill and ADM are rife with profits. Fertilizer and tractor companies are cashing in. Hedge funds who made big bets on rising wheat, soy and corn were spectacularly correct. Oil and gas companies, too - it takes natural gas to cook those Wheaties and diesel to haul them around the country.” Rising food and fuel prices are here to stay and there may even be spells of shortages. The American consumer will feel the bite, but they do not have to take the pain. Prudent and wise spending decisions now can soften the economic blow that lurks very large around the corner. Australian wheat is suffering under drought conditions and who knows what calamities are in store this summer.

Remember, you cannot rely on government to deal with these issues effectively. Just look at Louisiana and the toxic homes FEMA gave to those poor residents as housing. The recent NPR report about formaldehyde poisoning in the FEMA trailers should be a heads up regarding reliance on government. In my book, RAPING LOUISIANA: A DIARY OF DECEIT, government incompetence in dealing with disaster is well documented. Between energy and food issues, it would be wise to plan on how you will get through a not so short term period of economic contraction and transformation. With the power of the purse, the consumer can drive the changes in a way that makes sense. Time to wake up, read the signs of the times and take control of your life.