Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Swan Song?

I am a 57 year old Environmental Studies/Socialist Economist with a MBA who works full time in the reimagining of a paradigm of ecological economic redevelopment and seeks to organize people around the mission of a world unity and cooperation effort to altruistically and fully and peacefully meet the needs of people based on the fundamental principles of inclusion, equity, humanity, environmental/public health and wellness, sufficiency, towards relocalization, peace, and sustainability.

I have just said nothing new, only stated it differently.

I do not kid myself, we are so small as to be invisible - except among ourselves, We are up against over 400 years of the Capitalist Institutional Leviathan and we are beset with an exploding population running dry of productive faciltative resources that we are accustomed to.

At risk of understatement, we are working against huge odds.

Yet those of us who believe that the work is worthwhile must come together and work together to make the noble attempt(s).

Will you join with me?

Let's discuss.

In Peace, Friendwalkin', Community, Cooperation, and Solidarity,

Mike Morin


  1. Hi Mike,
    I've read some of your notes here and am intrigued. Just curious, where do you perceive that these efforts should begin? I realize there are multitudes of problems to assess, but is there a starting point you prefer? Food production, energy production, water resource management, housing/city planning?

  2. Shane,

    All the "fronts" that you mention are important and people have more discussed than been able to take action because the norms of the Institutional Arrangements are so set in their ways.

    It is a myth that Regional Planning has not occurred in all these areas of interest. Regional Planning of water systems, highway, roads, and other infrastructure has occurred on a very large scale with Federal, State and Local Collusion between the public sector and the Corporate and Development Interests. It was all done within the Capitalist Paradigm of maximizing profits for the private sector and has manifested itself in a most irrational, inequitable, inhumane, and unsustainable suburban sprawl.

    Benton MacKaye, in his book written in 1928, "The New Exploration" wrote about the need to direct this existing, impending, and inevitable "metropolitan invasion" of the agrarian/forested lands with a livability in mind that would provide for the inclusion of village centers in all new residential development (i.e. what is commonly known these days as mixed use). Benton may not have explicitly been able to see the now well known existence of the post-peak oil phenomonon, but being greatly schooled in geology/geography, he certainly must have had a sense of the finitude of this resource, and as an ecologist he could foresee the terrible and alienating squandering that was about to become the mark of the 20th century.

    To try to answer your question, we need to go back and fundamentally reassess the practice of Regional Planning consistent with the ideals of MacKaye and fundamentally taking head on the coming resource scarcity, particularly as it relates to fossil fuels. We need to rebuild, renovate, and in many cases build into all our neighborhoods the village centers that they so desirably lack. Such would make it possible for almost all to get their needs in life within walking distance of their homes. The result could be to reduce automobile usage (a terribly wasteful opportunity cost for precious fossil fuels) by 80% in the next twenty to forty years. It would create so many jobs in the building and building education trades that we would probably want to ENCOURAGE immigration. It would also greatly improve the quality of our lives.

    The change in Regional Planning would be the adoption and acceptance to planned allocation of resources. Such was already occurring for the benefit of the special economic interests. It would require that public sectors work together in a very rational manner with a private sector that would need to redefine its mission as that of quasi-public. It would be the adoption of a resource allocation paradigm based on human needs and sustainability, not on profits.

    We need to take a wholistic approach to the professions and applications of Resource Planning and Allocation and all its subsidiary economic functions.

    We need to recognize the impending crises that we are only beginning to realize and we need to put our economic system into historical perspective. We need to grab the bull by the horns and consciously and actively evolve from Homo Economicus to Homa Ecologica Cooperativo.

  3. Mike, thanks for the extensive reply. I agree with all of your proposals. Of course, after reading your background information, I should have expected that regional planning would be your main starting point. Of course, Eugene itself provides the perfect example of the pitfalls when not adhering to a conscious regional planning system. Whereas it seems that downtown is largely dilapidated, you have extensive economic centers located out in far ranging places such as West 11th, for example. The inefficiency is indeed wasteful and provides reinforcement of our cultural norm that a car is a necessity. Anyway, keep up the good work, I enjoy your posts.

  4. Shane,

    Are you here in Eugene?

    I'd like to get to know you, or at least your background, better.

    I'm glad that you understand and seem to agree with what I am "saying". I get so little feedback that it can be very frustrating at times.

    I'm delusional enough to hope that I can make a difference about these fundamental economic/planning systems, though Benton MacKaye was high up in the Labor Department during the New Deal and even got to give input about Regional Planning Policy to Teddy Roosevelt (to no avail).

    The petroleum/asphalt/automobile/engineering Corporate Growth Paradigm was already going full steam ahead and I guess that they made unconcious assumptions that fossil fuels and automobiles would be with us forever. The National Highway Act of 1950 was an egregious error which has had the effect of setting into fundamental policy the linear trajectory which will be the cause of our collective decline.

    Sometimes it takes making huge mistakes to get things right. Sometimes huge mistakes can be fatal. We need to wake up to the fact that as an economic culture, we have made maybe the biggest mistake of all time and make huge fundamental adjustments.

    Can you help?

  5. Hi Mike,
    I used to live in Eugene- I graduated from UO about 6 years ago now. Back then, I was more nihilistic (and selfish) and didn't care much about societal function. Now, working in the healthcare field, my views have changed dramatically. I suppose it comes with being a part of a perverse system that profits from the declining health of a human being. Reading Ecotopia by Callenbach and listening to the lectures of Michael Parenti really started me down the road to thinking of better solutions to modern problems. The task to improve community foundation is daunting, but I'll do what I can. As far as the National Highway Act, I have to say that I would've much preferred rail to the system currently in place. Of course I would be going against my own financial interest: auto accidents are a HUGE source of revenue for the medical-legal-insurance complex. I would happily forego that interest to see a safer foundation.