Truth-telling - March 5
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Your Grandchildren Have No Value: Jeremy Grantham's Longest Quarterly Letter Ever
Jeremy Grantham, GMO LLC
... Damage to the "commons," known as "externalities" has been discussed for decades, although the most threatening one -- loss of our collective ability to feed ourselves, through erosion and fertilizer depletion -- has received little or no attention...
To leave it to capitalism to get us out of this fix by maximizing its short-term profits is dangerously naïve and misses the point: capitalism and corporations have absolutely no mechanism for dealing with these problems..
..capitalism in general has no sense of ethics or conscience. Whatever the Supreme Court may think, it is not a person. Why would a company give up a penny for the common good if it is not required to by enforced regulation or unless it looked like that penny might be returned with profit in the future because having a good image might be good for business?..
A company is now free to spend money to influence political outcomes and need tell no one, least of all its own shareholders, the technical owners. So, rich industries can exert so much political influence that they now have a dangerous degree of influence over Congress. And the issues they most influence are precisely the ones that matter most, the ones that are most important to society’s long-term well-being, indeed its very existence...
Thus, taking huge benefits from Nature and damaging it in return is completely free and all attempts at government control are fought with costly lobbying and advertising.And one of the first victims in this campaign has been the truth...
If scientific evidence suggests costs and limits be imposed on industry to protect the long-term environment, then science will be opposed by clever disinformation. It’s now getting to be an old and obvious story, but because their propaganda is good and despite the solidness of the data, half of the people believe the problem is a government run wild, mad to control everything...
Of all the technical weaknesses in capitalism, though, probably the most immediately dangerous is its absolute inability to process the finiteness of resources and the mathematical impossibility of maintaining rapid growth in physical output.
Similarly with natural resources, capitalism wants to eat into these precious, limited resources at an accelerating rate with the subtext that everyone on the planet has the right to live like the wasteful polluting developed countries do today...
Therefore, we should ask what it would take for our system to evolve in time to save our bacon. Clearly, a better balance with regulations would be a help. This requires reasonably enlightened regulations, which are unlikely to be produced until big money’s influence in Congress, and particularly in elections, decreases. This would necessitate legal changes all the way up to the Supreme Court. It’s a long haul, but a handful of other democratic countries in northern Europe have been successful,.
Solutions to these issues -- far more important than any others -- need a delicate mix of capitalism and wise, democratically-controlled government regulation. That might sound like an oxymoron to far too many people. If we can’t make it sound, plausible, and acceptable in the next few decades, then we are in deep trouble for the world really, really needs U.S. leadership on these critical issues.
(4 March 2012)
According to Wikipedia:
"Jeremy Grantham is a British investor and Co-founder and Chief Investment Strategist of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), a Boston-based asset management firm. GMO is one of the largest managers of such funds in the world, having more than US $107 billion in assets under management as of December 2010. Grantham is regarded as a highly knowledgeable investor in various stock, bond, and commodity markets, and is particularly noted for his prediction of various bubbles."
Hat tip: Bob Wise.
Paul Gilding: The Earth is full (video)
Paul Gilding, TED ta;ls
Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that's equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.
Paul is an independent writer, activist, and adviser on a sustainable economy.
He has spent 35 years trying to change the world. He’s served in the Australian military, chased nuclear armed aircraft carriers in small inflatable boats, plugged up industrial waste discharge pipes, been global CEO of Greenpeace, taught at Cambridge University, started two successful businesses and advised the CEOs of some the world’s largest companies.
Despite his clear lack of progress, the unstoppable and flexible optimist is now a writer and advocate, travelling the world with his book The Great Disruption alerting people to the global economic and ecological crisis unfolding around us, as the world economy reaches and passes the limits to growth.
He is confident we can get through what’s coming and says rather than the end of civilization, this could be the beginning! He argues we will rise to the occasion and see change at a scale and speed incomprehensible today, but need to urgently prepare for The Great Disruption and “the end of shopping”, as we reinvent the global economy and our model of social progress.
He lives on a farm in southern Tasmania with his wife, where they grow blueberries and raise chickens, sheep and their children.
(3 February 2012)
Suggested by Ann Pacey
Before the Food Arrives on Your Plate, So Much Goes on Behind the Scenes
Dwight Garner, New York Times
THE AMERICAN WAY OF EATING
Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table
By Tracie McMillan
319 pages. Scribner. $25.
One of the first things to like about Tracie McMillan, the author of “The American Way of Eating,” is her forthrightness. She’s a blue-collar girl who grew up eating a lot of Tuna Helper and Ortega Taco Dinners because her mother was gravely ill for a decade, and her father, who sold lawn equipment, had little time to cook. About these box meals, she says, “I liked them.”
Expensive food that took time to prepare “wasn’t for people like us,” she writes. “It was for the people my grandmother described, with equal parts envy and derision, as fancy; my father’s word was snob. And I wasn’t about to be like that.” This is a voice the food world needs.
Ms. McMillan, like a lot of us, has grown to take an interest in fresh, well-prepared food. She’s written for Saveur magazine, a pretty fancy journal, and she knows her way around a kitchen. But her central concern, in her journalism and in this provocative book, is food and class. She stares at America’s bounty, noting that so few seem able to share in it fully, and she asks: “What would it take for us all to eat well?”
... The book Ms. McMillan’s most resembles is Barbara Ehrenreich’s best seller “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” (2001). Like Ms. Ehrenreich, Ms. McMillan goes undercover amid this country’s working poor. She takes jobs picking grapes, peaches and garlic in California; stocking produce in a Walmart in Detroit; and working in a busy Applebee’s in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. She tries, and often fails, to live on only the money she earns.
The news Ms. McMillan brings about life on the front lines is mostly grim.
(20 February 2012)