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May. 7th, 2009

Glorious Thursday!

So, its already Thursday of my first week out of school.  I still haven't fully switched to first shift, so my nights haven't been entirely free, but we're getting there. I came in at 8am today, so that should leave me some time to relax or whatever tonight.  I got all my grades back a couple of days ago... I did pretty well...except for Spanish :(  C-  ... sad times.  Oh well, at least I passed and don't have to take it again.  That class was terrible and waste of time.  I've never seen one so disfunctional. 

I had my interview with Bank of America mortgage last Friday.  I really hope I get that job.  I need to get out of this place.  I've been here for far too long and my job is just so repetitious and monotonous.  Plus, it would be so nice to do something new and to see new faces everyday and I could definitely use the money. The only down side would be that I'd have to change my school schedule, but I think it would be totally worth it.

David is getting his unemployment now, and that really really helps.  We NEEDED it.  I don't know how we would have paid for everything without it.  He has been helping a lot more around the house, although he's primarily just playing games still.  I just wish he wouldn't half a$$ everything.  But I just have to keep telling myself: baby steps, baby steps.   

Mamaw's party is this Saturday, so we met mom at Sam's last night to get a few things for the party.  We scanned in a bunch of pictures of Mamaw to have blown up for the party.  I think Jessie is going to make a slide show and get balloons.  I'm sure mom's spent a lot of money and I wish I could help, but I just don't have the money right now.  We really need to stop spending so much money. I still need to go buy mom and mamaw a present.  I haven't gotten either one of them anything for their birthday's or mother's day.  I suck! lol

Anyway, I gotta go, but I'll add more later.

Apr. 22nd, 2009

India’s Journey to True Freedom


This is a paper I recently wrote on India, their path to democracy, their progression to capitalism and the limitations currently stifling its success implemented by their government.  I'm not even close to being done, but at least I'll know where I was and can proceed in the future when I have more time.
India’s Journey to True Freedom

                                            



               Imagine for a moment a warm breezy morning with a touch of humidity in the air that relishes no uncertainty that summer will soon be arriving. Now, envision just outside your front door children dash by chasing one another, bobbing to miss clotheslines draped with ballooning fabrics of teals, purples, fuchsias and cerulean. They weave and plait swiftly around swarms of neighbors who appear to be equally enjoying the celebration they’ve shirked their daily responsibilities for. Businessmen and women normally fully clad in clean crisp business attire are masquerading in what must be their most casual of clothing, mostly in white. As you peer down the narrow cobblestone street you notice there are more and more people filling the corridors and avenues around you. If you look even closer, you’ll notice tables covered with bowls of colored sand at each end. As you avert your eyes back to the mischievous children who are growing more and more numerous, you spy they’ve already acquired globs of multi-colored sand in their fists preparing to aim. Within minutes of your observation, the whole town would kick off the celebration of a holiday so indicative of India’s vibrant and flourishing culture. 

This holiday is meant to represent Spring, which is a season full of new beginnings, rebirth, light and zest. Holi, or the “Festival of Color” has a spirit exemplary of India’s exotic and colorful expression of life. Much like our Halloween or Mardi Gras, this festival was originally meant to be a vivid display of ardor to receive the blessings of Hindi Gods, although it is no less brilliantly captivating, the objective today is to truly enjoy yourself with exuberant fun and frolicking. Children and adults alike participate in this riot of color tossing handfuls of colored powder at their neighbors and friends. There are often numerous forms of high jinks and teasing to show playful affection, even among adults. There is no shortage of merry song and dance to go along with water balloons, bright saffron mud baths, and turquoise smeared faces. Indians walk away from this week of celebration with the promise of warmer days, rejuvenation, and blossoms of color everywhere.

Holi is just one example of India’s rich and charismatic culture heritage and spiritual mysticism. They’re history and endurance weaves a tight and intricate tapestry that tells the story of fortitude, ingenuity, steadfastness and perseverance. Mark Twain once wrote “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most astrictive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!” India has formed a people peppered with unique national traits like art, inventiveness, spiritual mysticism, tradition and national identity. With life expectancy rates at 69 years of age and a 61% literacy rate, India’s quality of life as a whole is among the top in the world (CIA.gov). However, just like India’s assorted culture, their people and their environments are also different. The citizens may live in the affluent and modern areas, or they may live in crowded stacked housed along the hills of Mumbai. This obviously affects all aspects of their life, from their cuisine to their education. Five different Indians may speak different languages, be of different racial backgrounds and worship different gods; however the philosophy for most Indians as a whole is the Doctrine of Karma which states all actions you exhibit come full circle back on you (india.gov.in). India’s National Motto is: “Truth Alone Triumphs,” which explains how paramount their morals are to their national identity (india.gov.in).

They are surrounded by large amounts of water and extensive mountains which gives them a geographical border against communist or dictatorial influence from neighboring states; however their borders are not impermeable. As India is a gateway to Asia, its borders are tempting and its domination an irresistible hunger for some. India has fallen victim to control under many for the past 1000 years. Actually, very few dominating powers were able to resist. The Aryans, the Persians, the Iranians, the Parsis sought shelter and supplies in India. Their rich lands were looted and inhabited by the Mongols for quite some time (Diamond, L). As the Mongols practiced tolerance and respect for those of different religions, traditions or beliefs, India may have acquired some of this open-mindedness and acceptance towards an array of backgrounds (Diamond, L). Rich Indian spices and word of their diamond minds also attracted the likes of Vasco de Gama, the French, and finally the British. The French had colonized a small portion of India, but Britain had bigger plans for their expansion project by taking over India’s government, dividing territories, and assuming full control over the country. This continued with little change until widespread discontent among the Indians resulted in a revolt. Although it was easily put down, it was still a cause for concern (india.gov.in).

Regrettably, the British began implementing high taxes for the peasants by a new class of landlords. Because Britain was so industrialized already, there was little need any longer for handmade Indian goods which cost more and took skill to produce requiring the worker to be paid more. Throughout their rule over India, their treatment towards these indigenous people became worse and worse until they were treated lower than second hand citizens. Indians were allowed no freedoms a citizen is usually entitled to like holding political or military office and the freedom of religion (india.gov.in). With the leadership of Indians like Gandhi and others, the Indians were eventually able to gain independence from Britain. This forced them to throw aside their differences long enough to fight and plan for the future.

This was not an easy take due to the former caste systems in place. In order to correct this, they had to place into the constitution certain provisions like successfully abolishing the "untouchability" undemocratically practiced prior to their independence; prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth; and forbid trafficking in individual and also forced labor. “They go beyond conventional civil liberties in protecting cultural and educational rights of minorities by ensuring that minorities may preserve their distinctive languages and establish and administer their own education institutions (india.gov.in).

Democracy is defined by former president of Harvard University as “a small hard core of common agreement, surrounded by a rich variety of individual differences” (Copeland, L). One of the most unique facts about an extremely diverse nation like India is their ability to unify under a common government ran by the people. Since the Republic of India gained their independence from the UK in 1947 they have developed a constitution which outlines the structure and guidelines for a parliamentary based democracy and most political offices are elected (cia.gov). India has accomplished many gains since that time in the areas of science (including space technology), socio-political, agriculture, and economy (india.gov.in). 

Cradled between the Middle East and Asia where democracy is rare, India’s ability to remain a democracy over the past half of a century is remarkable in itself. The success at free elections and rule of law demanding human rights in a constitution is not so easily done everywhere. India’s constitution sought to remedy many of the issues that had been plaguing India while under British colonization. It exists on six fundamental principles: ensures peace, equality before the law, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, and the right to constitutional remedies for the protection of civil rights such as habeas corpus (india.gov.in).

As the seventh largest country in the world, India faces many challenges regarding economical globalization. Seymour Lipset argued that a strong economy is essential to a successful democracy and that the richer the economy, the greater chance they would have for sustaining a viable democracy (Diamond, L). India is currently located amid the bottom third of states in terms of human development as set forth by the UN (Diamond, L). He also seeks to argue against the accusations that democracy is a luxury by stating that democracy provides more accountability by the government based on the sheer dynamics of re-election. Democratic governments tend to be more efficient at handling the detection of problems with in the country, creating oversight to decide the course of action, and also monitoring to ensure the problem’s solution is enacted and kept in place until there is a problem no longer (Diamond, L). 

“India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for more than half of India's output with less than one third of its labor force. Slightly more than half of the work force is in agriculture, leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to articulate a rural economic development program that includes creating basic infrastructure to improve the lives of the rural poor and boost economic performance. The government has reduced controls on foreign trade and investment. Higher limits on foreign direct investment were permitted in a few key sectors, such as telecommunications. However, tariff spikes in sensitive categories, including agriculture, and incremental progress on economic reforms still hinder foreign access to India's vast and growing market.

Privatization of government-owned industries remains stalled and continues to generate political debate; populist pressure from within the UPA government had restrained needed initiatives. The economy has posted an average growth rate of more than 7% in the decade since 1997, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points. India achieved 8.5% GDP growth in 2006, 9.0% in 2007, and 7.3% in 2008, significantly expanding manufactures through late 2008. India also is capitalizing on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers. Strong growth combined with easy consumer credit, a real estate boom, and fast-rising commodity prices fueled inflation concerns from mid-2006 to August 2008. Rising tax revenues from better tax administration and economic expansion helped New Delhi make progress in reducing its fiscal deficit for three straight years before skyrocketing global commodity prices more than doubled the cost of government energy and fertilizer subsidies. The ballooning subsidies, amidst slowing growth, brought the return of a large fiscal deficit in 2008. In the long run, the huge and growing population is the fundamental social, economic, and environmental problem” (cia.gov).

 

Economic success, whether essential for a democracy or not, it is definitely a key asset in its success and growth. After finding their independence in 1947 India didn’t see it necessary or practical to operate under a free market capitalist economy (Diamond, L). Diamond makes claims that the only reason Indian democracy has even sustained as long as it has is because of the strong desire for it by the people.   He states that India’s “long-lingering ideological devotion to socialist principles of state intervention and economic autarky” had slowed their economy down to where they were barely growing. There were a number of issues with red tape and bureaucratic issues in their economic structure that were holding them back, but probably their biggest impediment was that new foreign investment was strictly prohibited. He state however that their general quality of life improve, but I maintain that is because of the strong back bone of their democratic government and its successes. 

In 1991 Indians finally decided to liberalize their economy. Today, they are the fourth largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) (india.gov.in). The only countries ahead of them are the USA, China, and Japan. Many even predict they will pass Japan up in the next ten years to claim the number three slot. Due to globalization and international growth, they have also been able to exhibit strong increases in their earning potential and prospects for growth in all areas of business. They are one of the few world markets that are able to do this (india.gov.in). “Indian economic growth has been among the fastest in the world in the recent years (india.gov.in). This has caused a boom in “entrepreneurial talent” across the country in the last two decades (india.gov.in). Some claim they’re on their way to being a super power. 

               The Indian Economy grew at an annual average growth of 7.6% for the duration of the Tenth Plan and has set an objective goal of “9% for the Eleventh Five Year Plan”. One of the landmark structural changes achieved by Indian economy is that today services sector contributes more than 50% of India's GDP, which is a universal distinguishing characteristic of any industrialized or developed economy. For the financial year 2006-07, the share of services, industry, and agriculture in India's GDP was 55.1%, 26.4%, and 18.5% respectively (india.gov.in). 

             One of the noteworthy features of economic growth in India is the quick increase in the rate of investment in the economy. Investment, in general being a “forward looking variable”, reflects a high amount of commerce sanguinity (india.gov.in). The sharp increase in investment rate has sustained the industrial performance and reinforces the viewpoint for growth.

             The rapid economic growth of the last few years has put heavy stress on India's infrastructural facilities. The shortage on infrastructure front such as power shortfall, port traffic capacity mismatch, poor road conditions, and low telephone penetration threaten to derail Indian success story. Apart from addressing the above problems some other steps such as labor reforms and administrative reforms need to be taken urgently if we have to sustain higher levels of economic growth. The government also needs to ensure that the economic growth is equitable as lopsided economic growth may result in social unrest and may undo all the good work achieved as a result of economic reforms.

India’s version of democracy is stifling their economy by placing contrary restrictions to the free market system in place. The free market can exclude those in society who are not accepting of it. The market, once introduced, but accepted by the people or they are left out of the loop as far as supply and demand are concerned. Essentially, some or even many people may be excluded from participation. Jumping into a new economic situation too quickly can leave the country feeling ill prepared.  Discuss how the labor system affects families, including women and children. If these people feel excluded from the system economically, it will lead them to feeling left out politically, socially, and then eventually culturally. This can lead to the stripping of civil or political rights. For a country that’s used to systems being run and provided for by the government, they may not be able to take on these systems through private entities for quite some time and will suffer until then. Few companies or entities are large enough to handle an entire country’s needs as well as the government, at least at first.  This system may allow for those already with money to rise much more and very quickly, disallowing those without funds to start to rise above where they are currently and will most likely be trampled by these high dollar businesses. This could widen the gap of income already present in India and may lower the quality of life.

Free market, in the name itself proves that it is open to all. All can participate, even if not at first, it will adjust to cover all and in turn the demand of the consumer will also adjust accordingly. A free market system is ideal in a democracy because it allows for the people to decide what is best for them. Traditionally, tyrannical and authoritarian governments tended to strongly discourage and ban free market systems because it takes the power away from them. Hence we see socialist systems where the government provides and rules. “Despite the global meltdown that impacted most emerging market economies, Mukherjee said that India’s GDP growth of 7.1 per cent for the current year would make the country the second-fastest growing economy of the world” (IBEF).

Alan Corenk said “Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.” This, to me seems unfounded. Based on a recent comprehensive study of attitudes towards an array of values called the World Values Survey taken between 1999 and 2001, some interesting data was found.   I only just argued above that democracy was the most efficient form of government for the rights of the citizens and the balance of the economy; however it is often found that democracies provide far too many checks and balances to expediently get anything accomplished. Because of this factor, many projects and plans get tied up in the red tape of bureaucracy until their affect has tarnished (Diamond, L). 

Based on the results of this study, many countries, including a great deal of democratic regimes have stated their government officials need more freedom to do what they need to do. 39% of Asians (including India) endorse the need for a “strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament and elections” (Diamond, L). Another 52% of the same populous feel a “greater respect for authority” would be a “good thing” (Diamond, L). This figures seemed very high using a national level of analysis with regards to India, however this included 11 nation states in Asia. This would not be an accurate count of how democratic states feel towards these questions. With India being only 1 of 11 it is very hard to take an accurate pulse on this issue with only this material to base it on.  With recent moves in the economy, my predictions would say India is happy, if not hopeful towards their democratic government domestically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.”

By Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

  

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

 

 

Chatterjee, Aneek K. "Democracy and market economy in India: an interrelational study" Department of Political Science. Presidency College, Kolkata, India. 2 Mar. 2009.

CIA.gov

Diamond, Larry. “Spirit of Democracy”

IBEF.com

India.gov.in

Sharma, Shalendra D. Development and Democracy in India. New York: Lynne Rienner, 1999.

Sivaraman, Satya. "DEVELOPMENT-INDIA: Democracy In Conflict With Free Market Policy." IPS Inter Press Service. 24 Jan. 2009. 02 Mar. 2009 http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40900.


Apr. 15th, 2009

Revelation

As David was driving me to work this morning I couldn't stop thinking (as I haven't been able to for a week or so previous) about how I just don't feel the same towards him.  I'm not interested in him touching me or any of that and I can't even pretend to look at him with adoration or affection. I don't miss him and quite honestly, I can't think of why he's around.  This is nothing new however, not the revelation I hinted at.  What I've been trying to figure out is why this is.  He's the same guy.  I'm the same woman. 

Well, the other day we were watching Californication (the 2nd Season... So awesome) and Karen decides to leave Hank again.  The constant issue that plagues her is that although he may be a great lover, friend and boyfriend, he's not a very good man.  He's a boy and doesn't really live for anything.  His life is a waste by all productive standards.  He smokes, wastes his life doing senseless meaningless activities, he's always lying and is generally not offering anything to anyone besides a good laugh everyone in a while.  

So I automatically related to her on this, the only difference is, none of that prohibits or hinders their attraction for each other and sex life.  Well, this I had to think about.  What I reveled today was this:  I feel very much towards David what Karen feels towards Hank; the major difference is that my attraction to him lies not in the bad boy vibe, but in the fact that he's historically a responsible, intelligent, goal oriented, motivated man.  He is also very sweet, affectionate, funny, witty and has the most seductively snarky sass I've ever bantered with.  

The sad news, is that all that seems to be lost.  Its not that I've changed or that I no longer feel the same towards those characteristics.  They're simply not there.  They're AWOL.  The important thing to consider is that this dates back way before he lost his job, I just didn't realize or decided not to care because he would accomplish some things at work and was a little more productive with his time.

Now, he's started smoking again, and quite often hides or lies about that. I'm almost fully sure he's bought more cigs but his mom transferred money into his personal account so he secretively uses that so I don't see it come out of our rapidly depleting checking account.  He is by himself at home, with no form of work from 9am until at least 9pm Monday through Friday.  During this time he has to pick me up from work and take me to school; this is it.  The rest of the day is his.  He plays Counter Strike (a stupid, repetitious FPS that he used to play professionally as a teenager) ALL DAY LONG! I'm not kidding, he really does.  I'm a gamer too.  There have been days where I could play all day long too. But not everyday, all day for weeks.  He has been off now for 15 days.  If I were in that situation, I would already have a job or unemployment, the house would be spotless, probably painted, my book finished, and already dropped at least 5 lbs. 

He wanted the puppy, but doesn't want to look after him for fear it might disturb his game.  He complains and wants a big deal made out of it when he does clean, which he's done once.  He halfasses everything.  He's gained weight, not that I care cause I like it that way, but it bothers him and he does nothing about it.  We even have a bike at home.  I think he's went to class a total of 5 times max all semester, never studies, never reads.  Even watching tv or a movie would be better.  He is doing nothing to improve his life. 

We share one car right now so I can't go anywhere.  Does he make me lunch or dinner so I have something to eat?  No.  He could go anywhere all day, the gym, the park, the library, wherever.  He doesn't offer to take any responsibilities off my hands.  I still have to pay all the bills, make all the appointments and everything else there is to do.  He could be calling for estimates for me for the deck and windows upstairs.  He could be taking Atlas to the Vet and making the appointment.  He had an interview (his first and only) last week and barely attempted to look nice for it.  This was early in the week last week and he didn’t' change his clothes all week.  He even kept the same clothes on to clean the day he did and went to Easter at my Mamaw's in them.  I think he finally decided to change yesterday. 

OMG, I'm just so tired of all this. I can't deal with all I have to do for school and him right now.  I'm going to hang in there for the remainder of school and then see what happens.  Maybe we'll need to sit down and have a nice long talk about it and see what he wants to do. 

Apr. 10th, 2009

Doing better...

Okay, so we had a great talk Wednesday talk after I wrote my last post and I think a lot of it was just some miscommunication.  I feel a lot better and when I came home yesterday from work, the Love Nest was immaculate.  I think he's just the kind of guy that needs a lot of direction, which I don't mind since when directed, he produces.  David's definitely the most receptive guy I've ever met.  If I say something is bothering me, rather than argue with me like Chris used to do, he just tries to change and fix the problem to make me happy, which is great.  

So I promised to make an effort to vocalize what I want more often rather than hinting using subtleties and he promise to listen more and be more productive with his days and when I tell him something I don't like that he's doing, he won't get defensive and deny it or blame something on me or lie.  I think we made significant progress!  I love dating a rational, logical man.  Makes things so much easier.  There's really never any fighting.  

Also, I finished my papers and registered for classes yesterday.  I should only have about a handful of classes left after the fall which is very refreshing.  So the next things on my to-do list are to work on my mid east pol paper and my democ and dictshp in asia paper.  if I can get those done by Tuesday evening, I can work on my take home final from democ and dict in asia that's due that next Monday.   Then I can study for my final in mid east which is Tuesday.  I have a presentation in env policy next monday the 20th, but I don't think the preparation for that will take that long since I've already done the research and wrote the paper. 

So after I take the final for mid east pol I will have a whole week to study for my final exam in env policy and my final test in international relations which is the next monday. Also I have my spanish final the 25th on a saturday, so i'll have to be prepared for that too.  it is imperative that i get the highest grade possible on that test to even pass the class, which is so depressing since i dont' want to get anything lower than a B for the rest of my education.  

Anywho, heading to class now. 

Apr. 8th, 2009

Not sure how much more I can take...

So, I came home from work today around 9pm the house was still a mess.  Not a single bit of cleaning or anything had been done.  I am so tired of carrying the entire load all by myself.  Its not fair and it's not what you do when you love someone.  If I had been out of work for a week, the house would already be clean and I'd probably be painting.  I would at least help him with his papers or studying, which  he's never done for me.  God, I'm so tired and frustrated.  And I can't even yell at him and release my anger because even when I bring up that he's not helping, or state my grievances, he says I'm being rude or mean when i'm not at all.  I've never yelled at him or called him names or anything like that and we've been together for almost a year.  But why should I have to go to 16 hours of school, work 40+ hours, including overtime so we won't go broke, write paper after paper, study for exams, take care of the dogs, the bills, the house, the grass and everything else with not help while he barely works or goes to school for the whole time we've been together and now he's been sitting at home everyday all day for over a week doing nothing, contributing nothing, but playing games... is that what I want to commit myself to the rest of my life?  Its only going to get worse, men never change, they only get worse as they get older.. plus they find out what they can get away with.   :(

Any who.... somewhat good news.  I talked to my advisor a bit today and went through my school transcripts and graduation requirements since registration is tomorrow and I think I'm right on track with school, without too much left to go.  I made an appointment with her tomorrow after class to discuss it and make sure I'm getting it right.  The last thing I want to do is to take classes that I don't need that work me to death.  

I'm pretty worried about Spanish... I'm not doing so hot in there, I think I have around a 75%.  Basically my grade will ride on my final for the class. If I do well on that, I could be okay.  The sucky thing is, I'm not even sure I'll walk out of there with a C, much less the B I want as a minimum.  So even if I do superbly in the rest of my classes, I won't end up on the Dean's list this semester.  

I have two papers to write that I haven't started that are due tomorrow morning, so I have to run.  Lets hope I can do this, and well at that, and lets hope tomorrow starts looking better.  

Apr. 7th, 2009

So ready for a rest.

So I just got off the phone with my mom.  We're trying to plan my Mamaw's 80th birthday party... shhhh! It's a surprise!  I'm going to be going the invitations, the video and probably some picture boards.. at least. 

I can't wait until school is over with for this semester.  It's going to take everything I've got to churn out all these papers and study for all these tests.  Plus the house is a mess and I have no one to help clean it. :(  Maybe one day David will get off his ass and do a little work... yeah right!  Well, hopefully I can afford a maid one day and I don't have to worry about him being lazy or me being too busy.  I guess we'll see.  Work is boring and its hard to stay focused.  I wish I could just go to school and not work.. HA! Yeah right, but it would be nice. 

David just found out today that his brother's fiance is pregnant.  Great news I hope.  They were supposed to be getting married anytime now anyway, so I'm sure its not that big a deal. 

I also talked to the recruiter at 610 Magnolia today and I sent her my resume.  Hopefully David will get another job soon so I won't have to work two.  I guess we'll see.  I want to rest and enjoy my summer.  I don't want to have that time taken away from me too. 

So, I guess I'm going to get back to work now so I can get out of here on time.  I have Spanish homework and two papers to write that are due on Thursday. 

Apr. 6th, 2009

“Stop Global Warming, Become a Pirate!”


“Stop Global Warming, Become a Pirate!”

 

 

            The sky is falling! The sky is falling! These may not be the exact words of modern day environmentalists, but they are not far from the fear provoking admonitions we are coerced into believing. Industrialist societies across the world started jumping on the “green” bandwagon in the 1970’s and they’ve been sailing along through the smog infested haze ever since. There are few doubts of the impacts environmental research has had on technology and innovation over the past forty years, from alternative sources of energy and safer emissions, to smarter waste management and land conservation. For the most part, we average citizens except these alternatives as perfectly sound and logical solutions. Why shouldn’t we? There is no shortage of scientists, politicians, or journalists there to validate these substitutes.   What we aren’t told however is that many of these alternatives are extremely expensive, lower our quality of life, require more resources, and often have a more detrimental impact on the environment than the detriment their replacing. It turns out that many of the promises made to us by those earth saving ideas may be merely misapprehensions.

            One of the easiest and common ways for the average person to play their part in saving mother earth is to recycle. It’s something you can do at home. It doesn’t take much time our of your day; possibly one or two more bins to dispose of your waste in and just one more trip to the curb per week. Seems simple enough right? And even if it does take a little extra work, it’s worth it if it saves our precious planet and resources. Unfortunately, many of the “truths” we think we know about recycling may be myths. In all reality “recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: A waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources” (Tierney, John).

            So if recycling is so bad, why do people do it? Frankly, they enjoy it. As a result of countless advertisement and community wide programs since the late 1980’s encouraging citizens to play their part by recycling, people feel a sense of accomplishment and selflessness as they play their part. Recent psycho/sociologic studies show that people feel good when they recycle (Seldman, N). This has resulted in a multi billion dollar industry and 9,000 to 10,000 community recycling programs around the country (Wood, D). With all of this willingness to recycle, you may ask yourself why more people recycle than vote (Wood, D). What has been so convincing that no one questions it, they merely follow suit? 

            The first major recycling questions were raised by Americans in 1987 when a waste barge called Mobro 4000 carrying New York’s waste couldn’t find a place to dump after trolling up and down the coast for six weeks. Immediately after this the EPA published a controversial paper titled “The Solid Waste Dilemma: An Agenda for Action.” This paper declared that “recycling was absolutely vital.” Since the “Environmental Defense Fund, which had been trying (without much success) to sell household recycling to America”, and the “National Solid Waste Management Association trade group, who were anxious to line up customers for their expanding landfill capacity during the 1980s” had also been attempting to make waves towards recycling now had this apparent problem, made evident on the clear video footage shown on the news, something had to be done (Benjamin, D). John Ruston, an official with EDF, said “An advertising firm couldn’t have designed a better vehicle than a garbage barge” (Bailey 1995, A8).  To solve this problem they set up national recycling guidelines and set a goal to have 25% of the nation’s trash recycled over the next few years. This paper also claimed that we were now running low on landfills and that we would be running out of places to dump our waste in the next few years. This publication sent the country into an uproar over these findings and this goal was easily met and is now closer to 30% (Porter, J). 

            As a result of this paper and new standards set by the EPA, the United States government began subsidizing for the expenses of recycling. Currently this costs the American people over $8 billion a year (Benjamin, D). The common first reaction to this cost is “why?” or “how is that possible”. If recycling allows items to be sold and reused, wouldn’t there be a profit made? The inconvenient truth of it is that recycling requires a whole different process than what your normal garbage has to go through. The average cost per ton for normal garbage pickup is around $50 per ton, but the average cost of recycling per ton is $150 (Benjamin, D). The whole idea of recycling is that there should be a net profit to the government, however for the past 15 years, NY has lost around $35 million (Loden, A).

            There are several reasons for this loss, the biggest one however is that it is simply cheaper and the quality is higher if we just produce new product rather than readying the old to be made new again (Benjamin, D).    PJ O'Rourke points out that when used items have real value - Ferraris for example - they don't need to be 'recycled,' they get sold. 'Recycled' is what happens to stuff with no value or with so little value only a government regulation can make enough people care.” Plastic, for example, isn’t something plastic producers would seek to reuse. There isn’t any money made in it and the end result tends to be less quality or as inexpensive if they’d just started from scratch (Benjamin, D). This principle is quite evident when you look at things people voluntarily collect and resale, like gold, silver, and aluminum cans. This is because there is a profit to be made. One gold band requires over 10,000 tons of ground to be removed to make it, which often means tearing out lands that support vegetation and animals (Hailes, J). As a result, no one impassively throws out a gold band. If they no longer wanted it, they would sell it. Ultimately, it is cheaper in most communities to dispose of all waste in landfills, versus sorting through 30% of it to be sold or practically given away as charity to manufacturers of these recyclables for a less quality product. 

            Another popular argument for recycling is that it is better for the environment. Unfortunately, this is most often not the case (Benjamin, D). Since recycling requires a whole separate line of trucks to pick up and sort recyclables while idling house to house (regardless if only two houses on the street contribute), this doubles the amount of emissions that would have been put into the atmosphere if only the garbage trucks had come through (Benjamin, D). After these trucks drop off their loads at the recycling centers, more polluting machines which require energy are used to sort the items and ready them for the factories that will prepare them to be reused for production. After the items are sorted they are loaded onto another truck and carried off to the manufacturing plant. In the case of paper for example, this is often somewhere near a forest in a paper mill which could be hundreds of miles away. Here it is deinked and bleached, which leaves behind a scummy chemical sludge. A National Wildlife Federation study shows that recycling 100 tons of newspaper produces 40 tons of toxic sludge. After this process is completed, then paper is turned back into pulp which puts more smoke into the air. So the only way to truly recycle the paper is to read the same newspaper over and over again (Penn, J). 

            An additional case in support of recycling is that saves trees. The simple truth is that there are three times more trees today then we had in 1920 because “87% of our paper stock comes from trees which are grown as a crop specifically for the purpose of paper production. Acting to 'conserve trees' through paper recycling is like acting to 'conserve corn' by cutting back on corn consumption” (Taylor, J). Trees are a renewable source and because paper production generally requires “virgin pulp”, much of the tree will be used in products that require wood so that no part of the tree is wasted and also, this means that more trees will be planted to replace the tree previously cut down (Benjamin, D). There is no difference between these tree farms that get planted and harvested for a product to be sold and farms that yield produce or tobacco. 

            As an act of good will towards the community, many feel that taking away recycling will remove the jobs currently available to run the process. These “make-work jobs” do pay more than many unskilled jobs, but they are dirty, strenuous and often very filthy (Benjamin, D). However, the biggest argument against these jobs is that they’re solely there to give them employees something to do. Since recycling is more expensive, worse on the environment and takes up more resources than simply dumping the trash in a landfill, then there is no purpose to spend subsidized government money to pay people to do something that doesn’t really accomplish anything. Daniel Benjamin, a professor of economics at Clemson University and a senior associate of PERC (the Center for Free Market Environmentalism) says “To argue that one of the benefits of recycling is that is puts people on what is fundamentally make-work jobs doesn’t make any more sense than to put these people to work trimming my yard with toenail clippers.”

            One common misconception cycling through the minds of most Americans, due in part to the invalid accusations made by EPA’s J Winston Porter, is that we are running out of landfill space. This is simply not true. Actual landfill space is rising. There may be a small number of dumps, but there is tons of space left (Benjamin, D). When this controversial paper was written by Porter in 1987 he claimed that “1/3rd of the nation’s landfills will be full within the next few years” and “if we wait, the problem will get worse.” This is simply not true. “Trash is an interstate business, with 47 states exporting the stuff and 45 importing it. Indeed, the total land area needed to hold all of America’s garbage for the next century would be only about 10 miles square” (Benjamin, D). This is a completely realistic number and we have plenty of space to work with. If we threw out recycling today, we would save $800 trillion over the next 100 years. Some may bring up that 100 is really not that far away; so what then? A plot 35 miles cubed and 250 feet high would hold our trash for a millennium (Loden, A).   It is quite possibly and likely that we will have a better solution for the disposal of our waste by then, but if not, 35 miles would not be much to sacrifice to save the $8 billion a year we’re currently spending on recycling. 

A natural fear many have regarding landfills is their safety. Nevertheless, the EPA regulates very harsh limitations and expectations that these landfills have to adhere to. They state currently that risks to humans from landfills are about 1 in a billion, and even the risk to plants and animals is virtually nonexistent. “The agency has concluded that landfills constructed according to EPA regulations can be expected to cause 5.7 cancer-related deaths over the next 300 years—one every 50 years (EPA 1990,

 

1991; Goodstein 1995). To put this in perspective, cancer kills over 560,000 people every year in the United States, and celery, pears, and lettuce are all considerably more dangerous to humans than are modern landfills (Ames, Magaw, and Gold 1987; Gold, Ames, and Slone 2002).” There are several reasons for this.

Landfill owners have to take into account the proximity of the site to watersheds, fault lines and other possible issues. It is near impossible for fluids of any kind to leak into the ground or up into the dump. This is due to the several layers of protection between the garbage and the soil. First a hole is dug and then coated with about three feet dense clay that is then hot-sealed or a thick plastic liner. There ends up being about 7-8 feet of protection between the soil and the rubbish after gravel and sand is added. Once the waste is deposited on top of this barrier throughout the day, there will be several more layers of dirt or other immobile materials laid on top (Armstrong, Robinson, and Hoy 1976; Rathje and Murphy 1992, 87–88; Melosi 2000; EPA 1990, 1991). By the end of the day, the area looks like a well groomed construction site (Hallworth, J). 

As this whole process is being done each day, obviously mounds of organic material are decomposing underneath the heat of the sun and soil. This released methane gas. This seems like a risk to many because it is extremely explosive (Woods, D). Fortunately, an extremely capable and resourceful method is used to vent off the methane gas from the air above the dump, it is then taken to an energy plant that will then provide power to 60,000 homes for 30 years with the gas (Benjamin, D). Eventually these dumps will be covered with grass and are sometimes turned into golf courses or parks (Hallworth, J). 

            As I’ve made quite evident above, mandated recycling currently being enforced and funded by the government and our taxes is unnecessary and even more harmful and costly than simply dumping the trash in landfills. There are several organizations that are attempting to make recycling a law like they’ve in Great Britain. Things have become so extreme over there with fort nightly pickups, recycling police, cameras, snitching neighbors, and even the beatings of 1 in 5 binman collecting the recyclables. There may come a point when resource limitations become a problem, but we’re not even close to that.   More importantly, what is a resource depends on our ingenuity. Uranium was not a resource to Neanderthal man and neither was oil, aluminum or a load of other things; so in fact the key resource on the planet is human inventiveness. Recycling inevitably flushes all of this down the toilet because it makes the one resource that’s precious to all of us, our time, to be spent sorting out all the waste. 

After all of this, if you still think recycling is worthwhile, made note that according to the New York department of sanitation, 40% of what you sort out at home for recycling ends up in the landfill anyway (Benjamin, D). Rather than dedicating your time to recycling plastic bottles and paper plates, try some other earth saving activities like taking shorter showers, walk or ride your bike instead of driving, don’t buy disposable utensils, take public transportation or purchase biodegradable products that will decompose quicker in the landfills. 

            There’s been a phrase floating around the media for the past ten years or so that seems very much alive in the hearts and minds of many Americans: Green Guilt. This is the idea that we must pay for all the damage we’ve cause the environment. With movies like the “Inconvenience Truth” by Al Gore and many others, it’s not hard to see why many feel the current state of the environment is their fault. This is only partly true however. 

            Only about 3% of carbons emissions around the world are caused by humans, the rest are caused naturally (Charles, J). Some of the main sources are decaying plants, volcanoes and forest fires (Charles, J). How much difference could we actually make in this reduction of carbon if we’re only working with about 3%? Also, many of our solutions to environmental distress, like recycling, prevention of intentional maintained forest fires to clear brush and preservation of mass amounts of vegetation bearing land only facilitate more carbon release (Charles, J).

            Although the facts above remain, people are still feeling guilty for their SUV’s, large houses and careless trips in Jet planes across the world. Several companies advertise they have the solution for this. They help to sell the guilty consumer something called Carbon Credits. These can be used for anything they deem will help the environment, be it planting trees, donations to environmental organization, lobbyists, or national parks. One may wonder how many credits to buy to make up for the carbon footprint they’ve made. Well, look no further, most of these businesses have a calculator designed to help you figure this out. Unfortunately, many of these companies have no more knowledge about helping the environment than you do. They are merely using your guilt to fund whatever project their interested in, even if it’s their own bank account. There are companies out there that will use your donations to buy up carbon credits on the market from smaller companies looking to make a profit. This will keep larger companies from buying the credits for their use, which will in time require them to put funds into technological advancements in saving energy or preventing pollutants from seeping into the air. Keep this in mind if you do plan to give back financially to the environmental cause so that you’re money is spent where you want it. 

            A study done in 2007 by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research called “Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use is his own “Inconvenient Truth” sought to expose Al Gore’s own environmental woes. This is a perfect example of not knowing exactly where your money is going when you purchase Carbon Credits. Gore started a company in 2004 called Generation Investment Management that sells the credits, two years later it helped to fund his Global Warming research and movie. This was not something openly shared with his customers. Another goal funded by this venture has gone to lobbying to have new regulations and carbon taxes that will ultimately raise the price of oil. This academic article also pointed out that Mr. Gore himself actually uses 20 times more electricity than the average American to run his 20 room mansion (Johnson, D). The electricity he uses causes the release of 331,200 pounds per year of carbon dioxide. Driving 367,009 miles in an average car emits an equal amount. To offset the yearly emissions, it would require planting 828 trees a year (findsolar.com).

            When confronted about his environmental woes, Mr. Gore stated he would like to eventually install solar panels and fluorescent light bulbs to save on the energy his house currently requires. “In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006” (Johnson, D). Solar paneling is currently just used for the replacement of electricity, which is about half of what gore uses to power his home (findsolar.com). For Gore to replace his electricity (average of 18,400 kWh/month) with solar panel energy, it would run him over $1.2 million dollars. This may not be very much money for Mr. Gore, especially if funded by the carbon credits purchased by his customers, but this would not be a very profitable or even affordable solution for the average American. A house valued at around $70k with an average electric bill of $100 would cost over $100,000 to convert to solar power energy, which means the owner wouldn’t break even for over 30 years (finesolar.com). 

            Regarding the fluorescent light bulbs Mr. Gore plans to install throughout his house run on average two to three times the prices of regular bulbs, but are said to last longer. These bulbs are currently being pushed by the EPA and several other big businesses that expect the green movement to keep on coming. “But the bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin, which is especially toxic to children and fetuses, and the companies and federal government haven't come up with effective ways to get Americans to recycle them” (Shogren, E). The bulbs break very easily and are more likely than not to break in the trucks on the way to the recycling center or landfill, exposing the workers to the mercury and when they break near homes, they can contaminate the soil. There are hazardous waste recycling centers, but it is not a very convenient process for consumers. 

            There are several companies that are now producing fluorescent bulbs with less mercury. Although it can’t be cut out completely, it would help. If managed properly these bulbs could be the wave of the future for home illumination. “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star approved compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), the United States would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.” These bulbs use at least two-thirds less power than typical incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, have the potential to save $30 in energy costs per bulb, and produce 70% less heat which mean their safer with older wiring (Shogren, E).

            The important thing not to lose sight of in all of these earth saving technologies is our quality of life. We may be willing to sacrifice some of that for our children and their children, but to needlessly prolong the inevitable, slowing down the process of the depletion until our current source of energy is used, will only act as a band aid. There must be a replacement.   The distraction and cost of time, energy, man power and resources put into the study of global warming and recycling is merely a temporary solution for the waste currently deposited from our current energy source. If all of these resources were instead focused on coming up with alternate resources, we wouldn’t have to worry about the waste now. I urge you to be aware that not all “solutions” are better than the problem they were intended to correct. Just because the decrease in pirates correlates with the increase in global warming, does not mean if you become a pirate, the environment will benefit. 

Oh, how the time flies...

So, its hard to believe that the last time I wrote in this journal was in 2005.  So much has happened since then I wouldn't know where to begin.  So instead, I'll just leave this short note, just as a marker in time and I'll most definitely add some new stuff soon.

Oct. 25th, 2005

brrr.

it's extremely cold today, i had on knee high socks, spandex, two layers of pants, a t shirt, a sweatshirt, a landsend coat ( very warm) gloves a scarf, and a head warmer, i'm set to go!!!~

Oct. 23rd, 2005

....

my kitty came home about three weeks after that last post, but now, we've given him away :(

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