15 hours agoApril 16, 2014
I tend to evaluate the things around me using a number of rules of thumb, one of which is that the success of a social system can be measured by how well it supports those at the bottom of the pile—the poor, the unlucky, the non-neurotypical—rather than by how it pampers its billionaires and aristocrats. By that rule of thumb, western capitalism did really well throughout the middle of the 20th century, especially in the hybrid social democratic form: but it’s now failing, increasingly clearly, as the focus of the large capital aggregates at the top (mostly corporate hive entities rather than individuals) becomes wealth concentration rather than wealth production. And a huge part of the reason it’s failing is because our social system is set up to provide validation and rewards on the basis of an extrinsic attribute (what people do) which is subject to external pressures and manipulation: and for the winners it creates incentives to perpetuate and extend this system rather than to dismantle it and replace it with something more humane.
1 week agoApril 3, 2014
The razor-sharp anonymous water blogger, On the Public Record, who revealed her identity to me and said she is someone working deep within the state’s water system, said almonds preoccupy her.
“Why are we supplying the world’s almonds? Why? Is that a choice we want to make?” she told me. “If there weren’t almonds for my existence, I’d be a little bummed. But I also feel like the Almond Board created demand for almonds. And now our almonds have to meet this glut. And now it’s a cycle. I come back to almonds all the time.”