Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Green Money

March 20, 2019

It has been about 200 years since our great American expansion picked up enough steam to really get going full throttle.

From Maine to Miami, from Seattle to San Diego and everywhere in between, in our humongous exploitive thrust westward, southward, and  every whichaway you can think of— we went bustin’ through the Adirondacks, the Appalachians, across the  wide prairies, over Big Muddy, up the Missoura and all the way down to the Rio Grande, through Sierras out to Pacific shores, even leaping oceanward and skyward to Hawaii.

EucTre4

Back in the day, when we got into the thick of that vast continental expedition, we moved over and through rolling virgin landscapes of living green.

Green were the great evergreens of the North. Green were the hardwood forests on coastal plains, on Appalachian slopes, on heartland grasslands. Green were the piney woods of the South. Green were the grains of the far-stretching prairies.

And the certificates by which we assigned value to our works—these too were green.

Dollars—we designed them in green.

Dollar

So, green were the dollars that transacted our nation through thousands of ventures, millions of contracts, compelling trillions of working hands that were capitalized by investing hands, then driven upward in value by speculating hands and traded cleverly by arbitraging wallstreet whizzes.   

Some newly-immigrating Americans moved independently, others collectively, across the continent. All along the way they cultivated green crops and earned green dollars wherever they settled, digging, mining, organizing co-ops, forming companies, building roads and bridges, collaborating, accumulating capital, incorporating, expanding, growing, thriving, burgeoning and burdening.

Burdening the earth. Extracting to the max all along the way. Tow that line; tote that bale. Milk it for all its worth.

By the time mid-20th century rolled around, ole mother earth was bursting at the seams, displaying scarred hillsides, scraped-out open-pit mines, hollowed-out insides, chemicalized sores, oozing green slime. . . but enabling us thereby to whiz along on continent-wide  interstate rides. Hey, let’s pull over for a song break:

  http://www.micahrowland.com/carey/Deep Green.mp3

We grew up with stock-green scenery whizzing by outside the windows at 65 miles per hour— seemingly insignificant landscape sliding through the view on our way to wherever our best-laid plans of mice and men might propel us.

At ramping exits we egress to fill-up on the American dream, then cruise control at 78 mph in our lean dream transportation machines. Green, green is just a tucked-away scene behind the gas station.

Still yet are the the dollars green, but only in our minds, because now we’ve digitized them so we don’t actually lay eyes on them $$ any more.

And then, lo and behold, a new thing happened. Motivations morphed. The politics that drives our nation states began to turn green.

Whereas, before, red, white, and blue were the colors that motivated us.

Now we find that the ole faithful red, white and blue of Liberty has run its course through world history. Those other nation-states that had followed our galavanting, capitalizing lead. . . now they have fueled their engines with our money-green currency, and they did park billions of our little federal reserve notes into every marketplace and bank vault across the globe. . .

But what goes around, comes around, and when it recycles, it morphs as something different.

Alas, so now what new Green through yonder Continent breaks?

Turns out that some Keynesizing technocrats have devised a means to turn the whole financialized world around so that the new motive—the re-greening of earth—becomes society’s great purpose and goal. On the old economic scenario of Supply and Demand, Sustainability arises as the new Remand.

Instead of the profit motive! Instead of Go West Young Man, now we find a new clarion call: Go Green Young Band!

     https://www.socialeurope.eu/green-money-without-inflation

Will it work?

Glass half-Full

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Solar Tech–what needs to happen

January 24, 2018

When I was a young man, idealistic and foolhardy, I attempted to start a newspaper.

I was in Asheville, a progressive southern town that was collectively trying to morph itself into a sort of Santa Fe of the South.

The year was 1977, and the gas-rationing effect of the so-called Arab oil embargo was still fresh in American minds. We, the generation who had convinced the gov. of the US to get the hell out of Vietnam, were convinced that we could also make a constructive impact on the way business and industry was conducted here in the USA.

Solar tech was a rising star in everybody’s minds, or so we thought at the time. With leadership from Mother Earth News and other early sustainability advocates, many of us free-thinking boomers thought we could shift American Big Business interests from dependency on costly oil to a widespread earth-changing acceptance of Solar, Geothermal and Wind technology.

Solari

So the fledgeling “newspaper” that we were promoting did a center-spread on Solar Energy and Solar Collectors. One of our fellows was a fellow named Jim Samsel; he was from Oregon, or had lived there, and seemed to know more about the subject than most us. He included some diagrams that, as I remember, helped us and the readers to get a visual on what solar collectors looked like and how they were supposed to work. We felt good about our tentative thrust into progressive energy conservation.

That was 41 years ago. Since that time, my life has shifted toward more down-to-earth activities such as loving my wife, raising the children, educating them and living as a Christian family. So my interests drifted away from quasi-experimental pastimes such as dreaming of solar tech, which was known to be expensive to install and maintain.

Since that time, my wife and I have purchased and lived in three houses. On none of them have we installed solar collectors. The expenses of of life and a growing family overtook my nascent interest in alternative, home-based, power installations such as solar.

Now we live in Boone, which is home to Appalachian State University.  Here at ASU, the alt-tech professors and students have put together a noteworthy Sustainability curriculum, with appropriate technology workshops and experimental projects that I occasionally hear about. I haven’t been keeping up with it, but I do know there’s a lot going on out there pertaining of improvements of solar collectors and storage cells.

And that is good. I say more power to them. I hope they can make a big  earth-friendly dent in the massive oil-based infrastructure that has for so long held us all in hydrocarbon bondage.

Solar1

Over the years,  I have occasionally pondered the plight of solar pioneers who have stayed with it, and I formed a little scenario in my mind that posits what needs to happen for solar to really get a significant foothold in our American infrastructure, by way of John Doe’s household and Jane Smith’s homestead.

My scenario starts with a fantasy: a widespread societal/economic attitude shift that inspires homeowners to install solar-panels on a massive scale—millions of homeowners thinking (believing) they can actually save money on their electrical bills by gathering energy from the sun on their very own rooftops. Makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

And the scenario works something like this:

Joe Blow has a few extra hundred bucks in his paycheck this week, so on Saturday he decides to go to the local Lowe’s or Costco or Sam’sClub and pickup another collector or two. He hauls them to the house and mounts them on the roof with a hardware system that has been patently engineered for simplicity of design and installation. The electrical connections below—hooking up to the panel and thereby the household electrical system—have previously been done by his electrician friends Wayne and Bryan.

Solarj

Then, after the connections and installation of the new panels have been accomplished in a half-day or so, he settles into an evening of relaxation with the surety that next month’s electric bill will be lower a a result of his incremental investments up on the roof. As time goes by, Joe uses a few extra bucks here and there to consistently repeat these simple periodic installations and thereby save $ by lowering his household’s power consumption.

Now what would it take for such a scenario to be reality instead of my tech-fantasy?

Starting with a look  back into history, back in the day, over a hundred years ago . . .

Henry Ford figured out how to actuate a new idea called mass production. Within a few decades, a Ford “in every garage” began to be a reality in American development and life. Every Joe Blow now understands that the reason this could happen was because Ford’s mass production assembly line enabled the company (and ultimately the wider automotive industry) to get the unit cost down to an affordable number that Joe and Jane Sixpack could actually spend to purchase a a car or truck for their family.

Now this is what we need for the solar industry in America–mass production and mass-market.

Who will take up the mantle? Who will heave the solartech excalibur out the stone of oil-dominance?

Tesla? GE? Some as-yet-unknown Startup in Phoenix, Detroit, Boone or Montgomery?

That remains to be seen, when and if it ever happens.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .in a brand new 2018. . .

Now suddenly appears an Omen that  perhaps the previously-thought-to-be-conspiracy Industrial Establishment has finally gotten a hold of the Solar vision! The next new expansion manufacturing industry!

What omen is that? The President announces a 30% tariff on foreign-manufactured solar collectors (and washing machines.)

Does this protectionism portend a willingness of American Industry to, at last, leap into solar production because they can now, with a little gov. help, compete with the Chinese and South Korea?

Or, more cynically, does it indicate the continuing Establishment denial of Solar development on a large scale for the sake of continuing oil hegemony?

We shall see in the days ahead what the effects of this tariff will be on our still-nascent Solar industry in America.

SolarStLuke

  Glass half-Full

Our Given Rivers

June 14, 2016

Oh, give them a river.

Cut it

cut it right out of the earth

RivMesa

with water that bleeds out from the granite,

then circulates life back into heart of this planet

Make it bleed out upon dry ground;

let it gush pure and clear and clean,

gurgling, spurting, splashing

gashing great ravines through this ancient rock.

RivCut

Slash them rock basins;

slice them with your gentle flowing waters

your cascading waters your

raging waters

and these trickling streams . . .

they irrigate our farmish means

RivGreen

and they spring forth with human dreams.

Your rivers we desire;

they’re more manageable than the fire.

RivrCity

Allow them not to vanish.

Banish not

banish not our watery dreams,

Dry them not

Dry up not our springs and streams

Perish not

perish not our ponds and lakes,

our flumes, our fates,

these precious, flowing life-givers:

our trickling and raging rivers.

WatrColr

Glass half-Full

My Solar Sadness

September 29, 2015

When I was a young man, back in the 1970’s, I found a shoestring in Asheville. I appropriated it and then used it to try and tie all the problems of the world together so they could be disposed of. I took that shoestring and initiated a little newspaper, which, as it turned out, only published six issues before biting the dust.

It was a learning experience, trying to start a newspaper in 1977.

The first issue, as I recall, had a very hopeful article about solar energy development and the possibility of solving our energy woes with new applications of solar technology.

The newspaper-on-a-shoestring idea did not pan out. As for the solar technology featured in the first issue, let’s just say: there is still great potential there.

Now. Fast-forward about 38 years. I’m on vacation in Hawaii, the Big Island. Cruising along the highway that runs northward from Kailua-Kona toward Waikoloa, I see a large, quite impressive solar photovoltaic collector arrangement that seems to embrace a whole building.

This is interesting, I thought. That’s a pretty impressive framework of solar power-generating collection around and above that building. I wonder what it is.

Although I did not snap a picture of it, I later learned that the building is the Visitors’ Center and Office for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.  You can see it here:

http://friendsofnelha.org/

A few days later, that is to say yesterday, on Monday morning I attended a presentation there, hoping to find out what the place was all about. And I learned quite a lot about, among many other interesting things, renewable energy development and sustainable aquaculture and mariculture on the Big Island of Hawaii.

At 10 a.m., I watched and listened to an excellent presentation by  Sarah Crawford, who is Executive Director of Friends of Natural Energy Laboratory in Hawaii (FON). Using a multimedia setup, Sarah delivered to me and eight other curious visitors the big-picture introduction to this forward-looking business park-enterprise incubator next to the Pacific on the sunny, leeward side of the Big Island.

The primary resource–you might say the heart and soul of this 870-acre site and its many infrastructure connections–is a constant,plentiful supply of very clean, cold ocean water that is pumped from 2000′ or 3000′ depths of the Ocean. The water is used prolifically by many companies, LLCs, and startups for aquaculture/mariculture research & development, as well as profitable commercial ventures.

One venture in particular–the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) project–is the largest and most productive of its type in the world, “pioneering the design of systems that use deep cold seawater for air conditioning and electricity.”

Among the many projects and enterprises being conducted here are: a large-scale commercial abalone aquaculture facility; algae-based biofuels extraction facility;  nutritional supplements company; commercial desalination drinking-water production;  kampachi-fish farm; shellfish hatchery nursery for shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels; Maine lobster holding-tank; farming operations for tropical fish, seahorses, edible sea vegetables, black cod; and even a public charter school.

I was impressed. Here in Kona-Kailua the Hawaiians are doing amazing things with that cold seawater that’s being pumped up from way down deep.

As for actual heat collected for hot water or for heating some other medium. . .not so much. More about that in a moment.

Nevertheless, solar energy is taking off big time in Hawaii–for electrical generation by means of photovoltaic collectors. Hawaiians are leading the way. Part of Sarah’s presentation included some impressive statistics about increasing widespread use of roof collectors among homeowners and businesses. She said that recently an aerial photo of the town of Kailua revealed that every major commercial building in the town sported solar collectors on the roof.

The one exception–Home Depot. No solar collectors on the Kailua HD.

Now here I’m finally getting around to the title of this here posting: Solar Sadness

Because you see, ever since that time back in the day when I tried to start a newspaper with its first issue featuring the potential of solar technology–ever since that time– I have thought that the only way that solar tech could really take off in the good ole US of A would be this scenario:

Joe Blow has a few extra bucks in his paycheck this week, so on Saturday he goes to Home Depot or Lowe’s (our North Carolina favorite since that company started only 30 miles from my North Carolina home), and Joe invests is an easy-to-install solar collector or two, hauls it home or has it delivered, then climbs up on the roof, like any energetic homeowner (or hires someone) and connects the new hardware with a few turns of the crescent wrench and a screwdriver or two, assembling the new hardware in series with other collectors that he has previously installed.

In this way Joe Blow or John Doe or Betty Freedan or whoever, socks away some serious energy savings for the next 30 years or so, and so that’s the way solar tech would take off in America: chicken in every pot, car in every garage, collector on every roof kind of middle-class thing.

Well, that has not generally happened on a large scale in America, yet. And if Home Depot is not willing to make use of the emerging solar tech on its own roof on the sunny side of Hawaii, then what hope is there for the sun in middle-class yankee homeowner energy conservation?

Now all that is about power, you know, electrical power, kilowatts blah blah–generating your own so you don’t to buy so much from the regional monopoly or co-op.

But my disappointment about solar actualities came about half-way through the presentation on energy developments at National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

Near the Visitors’ Center is a very impressive-looking mega-field of solar collectors, all of them hooked up together in series. The sight of this had been part of my original curiosity about the NELHA facility:

SolrHWColl

In Sarah’s informative exposition of the on-site projects, her explanation of this installation revealed that it consists of rows and rows of long plastic pipes which had been cut lengthwise down the middle and painted with a special reflective coating. Sunlight striking the half-round concave curve of the 8″ pipe would be focused on a smaller, suspended 3/4″ pipe that contains a heat-carrying substance, water or some other medium. These half-pipes were mounted in such a way as to track the sun’s rise and fall in the sky, thereby maximizing the solar energy gain.

http://keaholesolarpower.com/news/farming_the_sun/

Very impressive.

But here came my disappointment, the solar sadness: this incredible energy-gathering bank has been non-operative for about a year and half.

Why?

Something about running out of money or some such thing. I don’t understand it. There’s plenty of solar energy in Hawaii, and plenty of water. So what’s the problem?

But I’m the clueless tourist here, whose mind starts to fill up with old 1970’s-style conspiracy theories about mega-corporations getting in the way and so forth and so on. Although I don’t believe all that; there must be a legitimate reason why this thing has not worked out.

As for the rest of what’s going on at that NELHA –very impressive!

The cold seawater resource development  that’s happening at Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is  good, and also profitable for an array of startups for aquaculture, mariculture, and energy conversion enterprises This place is a a beneficial  partnership between the State of Hawaii and all the businesses and LLCs who are working there.

Abalones

Keep up the good work, NELHA! Keep them abalones and other critters coming.

 

Glass half-Full

Denying Climate Change

November 15, 2014

The critical question about climate change is not whether it is happening or not. The point is: what should be done about it, and perhaps more importantly–what can be done about it?

The earth and its biospheres have always been changing. There is no doubt about that. Scientific research and exploration have provided ample evidence of that truth, geologically and biologically. Miles and miles of extruded, eroded, sedimented, metamorphated, conglomerated rocks and minerals have convinced most of us who are paying attention that the world was, is, and will always be in flux.

In our present age, are emissions from human activity inflicting destructive effects on the earth and its inhabitants?

Yes.

Undoubtedly, aye, but here’s the rub: As far as general mankind is concerned, “climate change” will never be anything but a perpetually unproven scientific hypothesis, which is apparently morphing, as the earth itself is, into a political movement that is misunderstood by the masses.

The political movement, which claims to be acting on behalf of mother Earth herself and her inhabitants–that political movement– is founded upon unquantifiable theoretical snapshots of a gigantic moving target, and hypothetical random samplings of constantly shifting sands.

The resulting politics and ideology of the climate change believers will become increasingly restrictive, and ultimately repressive. These believers are starting to get zealously mad and revolutionary, similar to the Marxists/Bolsheviks about a hundred years ago.

And look what happened with that. Marx had figured out a few things about human commerce and wealth accumulation, but his proposals yielded a new eschatological layer of ideas for humans to argue, fight about, and wage wars over.

Like Marxism, the political/economic outcome of climate change agitprop will become as oppressive as the big bad wolf himself–carbon-spewing Capitalism. And in the long run, the end-game is the same: who is going to take control of the means of production?

To XL-pipeline, or not–that is the question. But it’s only the next point of many contentions yet to come.

However all this homosapiens tragicomedy plays out, some people will come out on top of the imposed carbon-squelching or carbon-permitting policies; others will be ground down beneath the weight of it all. Some will lose; some will win.

Speaking of win, think of it this way: WIN. WIN was the acronym touted by President Gerald Ford, long about 1975. It stands for: Whip Inflation Now.

The Climate Change idea  is like that. Everybody knows, or will know because they’ve been taught about it, that human-caused climate change is destructive. And everybody knows that something should be done about it. But most people don’t really understand it. It’s like trying to understand inflation.

And now, by the way, in Keynsian-speak, inflation has morphed into a thing that is not so bad after all. Because, when properly bridled, it protects us from being gobbled by the new big bad wolf of economic tectonics–deflation. We have now a theoretical target of 2% inflation, just as we probably have somewhere in a Kyoto or Copenhagen consensus, a target of —-kg/day carbon emissions.

My theory is that the general body of mankind will never truly understand the dynamics of climate change, just as we  heartland flyover dweebs will never fully comprehend the economic forces that push our meager assets and never-ending liabilities around like toys.  We never will grok it.

The concept of climate change itself will probably always be misunderstood, mis-applied, miscommunicated, and probably–dare I say it–mistaken, just like the rapaciously exploitive practices of capitalism have been, and just as the revolutionary, anarchic thrusts of Maxism have been.

But if people ever do comprehend the immense implications of climate change and its proposed remedies, they will achieve that understanding through education, not political deprivations and repression.

So all ye climate change believers out there–get busy educating us deniers out here, because that’s the only way we’ll ever understand it. Teach on.

Don’t try to choke us with regulations and treaties.

Forty years ago, when I was graduating from LSU, I was an environmentalist of sorts, and antiwar also (my draft number was #349). And I really did believe, as I still do, that we humans should not pollute the earth.

Now there’s a good idea: do not pollute.  Which reminds me of an old slogan, similar to the WIN thing:

Give a hoot; don’t pollute!

I think some fella named Woodsy Owl came up with that one. He came along after Smoky the Bear had set the tone for environmental awareness.

I believe the Environmental movement should have stuck with that motto, instead of complicating the issues with all this “climate change” and “global warming” effluence. Effluence is, when you get right down to it, worse than affluence.

Affluence is kind of nice to have, and not as outdated as the climate change zealots would have us believe. The result of reasonable affluence is that folks will settle down somewhat instead of rampaging through the streets and looting the system.

While progressing through youth and middle age, my environmental zeal has toned down a bit; it took a back seat to establishing a  homestead, a household and (dare I say it) a coital family. No ZPG for me and my fruitful wife.

Now I’ve written my way into a Saturday sunrise. Maybe it’s time to hop on the Vespa and make a run to do some errands. On second thought, take the car, make a recycling run. If there’s a way to avoid emitting carbon, I haven’t figured it out yet, and I don’t know if we ever will, especially with China and Kilauea doing their thing on the other side of the world.

my song about it: Deep Green

Glass half-Full

Blogenomics and The Economist

January 1, 2012

What’s amusing is that The Economist employs a lyrical framework from John Lennon’s Revolution song, to contextualize their current analysis of blogo-economics. While the late Mr. Lennon fancied himself a working-class hero, the clever writers at The Economist fancy themselves as pop-culture revisionists, capable of synthesizing Liverpoodlian sardonics with marginal economics.

http://www.economist.com/noe/21542174

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Imb4tYOk8GE

The Economist, that notable London rag conceived in the fervor of British mercantilism 170 years ago, has scored quite a smashing insight with its treatment of Marginal Revolutionaries, on page 51 of the current print edition, the last of 2011. While minting out differences between the the three currently relevent blogecons–Neochartalists, Market monetarists and Austrians–this magazine has also managed to expose its own most fundamental blind-spot.

After a page or two of expostulating on the nuanced difference between the two Keynesian perspectives–the Neochartalists and the Market monetarists, the Economist’s exploratory prose finally hovers about the Austrian school. Those frugal, post-von Mises thinkers, harboring such “pre-Freudian inhibitions” as they do, argue that central banks distort the business cycle with “malinvestment.”  The long and short of it is that such overblown, centralized malinvestment distortion diverts precious capital– which should be opportunized for “long-gestation investment projects”– to “more immediate gratifications”, or short-term stuff. Such as, I presume, the meandering shopping notions of a fickle consumer public.

But what really got my goat–cluelessly intuitive Austrian neophyte that I am–is this statement, which occurred at the conclusion of The Economist’s Austrian exposition on page 54 or the article:

“But this malinvestment cannot explain why 21.8 Americans remain unemployed or underemployed five years after the housing boom peaked.”

To which I was, like, lol, and like, duh!: Outsourcing!

What’s America going to do? What’s America going to do now that developing nations are producing, at a third the cost, all those durables that we were cranking out so prodigiously a hundred years ago?

The grand ole days of American industrifest destiny are gone forever!  Gone, for the most part, are the washing machine assembly lines. Flownaway are the Maytags and the Whirlpools! Where are the great teeming steam-belching factories of days gone by? Cranking out microwaves and cars and blenders and suspenders and goodness-knows-what-all? Gone to BRICs, almost every one. When will they ever learn? Your unabashedly globalist predisposition doth bare naked your naivete, Mr. Economist.

Back in the day, we used to dig gargantuan tonnages of raw stuff out of the ground and expend vast amounts of capital, labor, energy, and toil and sweat to produce copious goods that were shipped off to Sears and Wards and then Kmart and what not, so that the huddling masses yearning to be free of discomfort and liberated from their meager immigrant existence could graduate to becoming middle class Americans with picket fences double garages dogs in the yard microwaves not to mention tvs and radios and then vcrs,  personal computers, xboxes, pet rocks and laptops.

But now? What do we yankess make from nothing now? Carbon emissions? Ha!

Nowadays, about the only thing that Americans produce from raw resources is food: grains and meat, vegetables. The only true wealth that we generate comes from our vast breadbasket of food production, farming and ranching. The third world hath undercut us with their burgeoning new economies, and left us first-worldians in the dust!

Think about that. Its time for us couch potatoes to get back to the earth. Maybe the woodstockian children of God walking along the road (as Joni called them) were on to something: Gotta get back to the land and set my soul (my economy) free. We are stardust, baby! because you see, as Ringo once explained in a car commercial: “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”

Now there’s your Revolution, Mr. Lenin! or excuse me, Mr. Lennon. And there, Mr. Economist, is your fourth estate of the emerging blogosphere econs: the fundamentalist school of economics. To whit: People have to eat. And although they may “consume” manufactured  goods and services, they do not eat most of them. We cannot digest iPads, nor iPods, nor drycleaners nor hairstylists, nor federal reserve notes, no matter how easily our banks and bigboxes have quanitatively acquired them.

Oh ye media-lobotomized Americans! Food is where its at. Do your due diligence now; prepare to invest in it. Dig into the back .40. Get your hands soily. There’s the “real” growth potential with which those NGDP (nominal gross domestic product)-touting market monetarist free-spenders will someday eat their theoretical words.

Glass half-Full

 

The Wealth of Our Nation

April 5, 2010
What is the basis for our wealth?
In ancient times it was, let’s say, agricultural surplus, which included crops and livestock beyond immediate need.
Then a new technology was forged from the hand of man–metallurgy. This fiery artisanry developed as a means for making tools, the use of which increased productivity in agriculture, thus increasing wealth and redefining it. Metals–iron, copper, bronze, silver, gold–became a larger component in what was considered to be wealth.
As the productivity of mankind increased through use of tools, our exchanges of metals became more refined. The basic metals such as iron and copper remained mostly utilitarian in their applications. Gold and silver emerged as king and queen of wealth exchanges.
Eventually, gold was brought into the spotlight as master of exchange media. Platinum came along as a sort of  eccentric cousin. Silver was a helpful tagalong.  But gold was king of commerce for millenia, and remained steadfastly on that regal pedestal until the twentieth century.
I don’t why this refinement of our metallic preferences happened. Call it, what, vanity? Gold is beautiful. Or aesthetics–call it a gilty pleasure. Who isn’t awed by its brilliance?
Then guess what, in the twentieth century we exchanged gold for paper. Go figure.
Well, the paper is  easier to carry in your wallet, for one thing, and easier to manipulate, for another.
So what is, now, the basis for wealth? Now that we’ve traded our gold for paper?
Excuse me, now we’re trading our paper for electrons.
So what, now, is the basis of wealth?
It is the productivity of our people. Trust me in this.
In case you haven’t noticed, we left the gold standard in post-industrial dust long ago. We do see that gold, with its presently rising price, is making a valiant effort among contrarians to reestablish itself as the basis for wealth. But you know what? You can’t have it for breakfast, and I know you’re not going to pay bills with gold.
As a basis for wealth, gold is gone, paper is too common, electronic transfers are convenient, but they have to be backed up with something–some assurance of value.
So truly, it is the productivity of our people which is the basis of our wealth.
And what, you may ask, is the basis for our productivity?
Ultimately, it is the earth itself. How many thousands of years have we infantile humans been sucking on the teat of mother earth? She’s made us fat and happy–most of us, anyway.
But she is getting old, and worn-out.
That is why “green” technologies need to be so much more than just political correctness. We need to get busy in maintaining and  conserving (there’s a misunderstood word!) ole mother earth’s bounteous-but-depleting basis for our wealth.
We haven’t quite figured out how to negotiate that “green” transition yet; it is an intuitive kind of change now, for most of us anyway, who are not savvy on optimizing sustainability. We’ll figure out eventually though. That’s why education is so important.
Here’s the fundamental question of our era: How do we extract from the earth what we need for productivity and wealth without destroying it?
I suggest that this transition toward better productivity is the purpose of this great recession through which we now persevere. It is, as they say in stock market lingo, a correction.
We need to work smarter, get more value for less resources and, yes, less work ’cause everybody needs a job. We might need to cut back hours, and yes, wages, a bit to get everyone busy again.
We need greater productivity.
That will be the basis of our wealth in the 21st century.
Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the improvement of their country.  Let’s make this nation, by working smarter and more appropriately, a better place to live.
What will you do to contribute to the renewal of our United States of America?