ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Monday, July 30, 2012

We Are Working...

We are working to develop a longer term view of our role here on Earth. There has never been a time or place that humans have existed that they did not manage the environment. We are living in uncertain times because the depth and breadth of our heavy and often unthinking hands upon the living systems that sustain us. I am often reminded of the out of balance perspective that we have inherited by the simplest of events. Just one will help shed light on a vast array of simplistic approaches to complex problems. Bear with me a moment, because this story is to be understood as a model or schematic for other bad ideas and although it is worthy of our ire, I'm sure that it pales in comparison to other more far reaching decisions that are made in the name of expediency rather than merit.

Here in Wisconsin, when a utility company is wanting to raise the rates for consumers, they must apply to the State for permission. the process is long and complex, results in public hearings and studies to find whether or not the rate increase is necessary and prudent because the utilities that "serve" the public have been notorious for lying, cheating and stealing from customers in the past and the idea is that if we make it hard for agencies that supply us with power, water and other necessary "goods", that they will be less likely to gouge the general public and specifically those of us who have a harder time paying, like families, the elderly and small businesses. Our local water company wanted to raise the rates. Costs were rising and the infrastructure is aging, and by their calculations, they could not wait for the process to take place in time to keep from seeing red in their account books. The recent financial crisis has led to many more shutoffs and much higher rates of people just not paying their bills. To float their boat, literally, they needed to sell more water to get more cash, or raise their rates. But that would have taken too long.

Instead, they found an engineering solution. they raised the pressure on the entire system just a few pounds per square inch. that way, each and every time a customer opened the tap, more water would rush through the system and in turn allow more water to be sold, leading to the increased revenue that they needed. This amounts to a tax on all for the benefit of the select few who make their living providing us all with water. By using this solution, the requirement for applying to the state for a price increase was bypassed, the protection of the poor and those unable to afford to pay more was eliminated and most insidiously, those with marginal plumbing or leaks had to pay the greatest share of the price. this is in direct violation of the principles that led to the regulations in the first place! If your leaks were in the realm of a few dozen gallons per month, maybe they went up 10%, but multiply this by thousands of individual rate payers and you are talking serious money.

The folks who advocate for Servoglobe, a Disney-like world of technological solutions to each and every problem have obviously never had to design a boat or fix a car. When you attain a more realistic view of what is and is not possible through engineering, you will realize that we can design for fast, but it will always be more expensive, or we can be satisfied with slow, but it will only save money if we don't have to go too far. We can make it reliable, but that has other costs. We can carry an ever-increasing load, but then we cannot have fast or cheap and if we want all these characteristics, we are just not going to get them. At best we can pick one or possibly two parameters to maximize and then we have to sacrifice the others. Fast, good and cheap, pick two, is what led to the solution that I mentioned the water department used. It was fast, it was cheap, but where is the good when the least able to afford water have to pay the highest price for it?

So too, we have a recent attempt to run automobiles on moonshine. Tax dollars flowed unabated into the corn ethanol boondoggle, hiking food prices and destabilizing world grain markets. When a liquid such as alcohol has about 80% of the fuel value per gallon of gasoline, and 'shine runs about twenty dollars per quart, who ever thought it would be a good idea? I'll tell you who, the folks getting the government subsidies, the massive loans and financing, that's who. When we begin to consider what is best instead of what makes the most money, or "solves" the problem the quickest, we begin to get a sense that virtually every step we have taken thus far has been either on the wrong foot, or the wrong path.

At some point in childhood, I think I was about seven years old, my mother took me to see the last train that left Green Bay, headed for Milwaukee and then Chicago. Since that time, the only way to get there was by car or bus. It is very safe to say that there have been millions of trips through the corridor connecting these towns, each one funneling money into the pockets of giant corporations who have no interest in how well we are doing as a nation. They only worry about their own corporation and the bottom line of that one institution. millions of dollars have flooded away from our towns and hundreds of jobs have evaporated because most of us cannot afford to ever go to those towns and cities that used to be eight dollars away. Heck, the last time I went to Chicago, parking alone was twenty dollars per day and that money probably didn't even stay in this country!

I'm sure that the folks making the decision to discontinue train service to the Fox Valley never had to worry about how they would get there themselves, but the vast majority of the population was not only not served by the decision, but their quality of life suffers to this day. Their children and their grand-children through the generations will continue to suffer as long as we shut off their access to the wider world that surrounds them. Sure, they can look up Chicago on their favorite search engine, but they may never be able to walk the streets, or check out the museums. Similarly, Milwaukee has become a much more expensive trip as well. Again, awesome museums, art and culture are there, conveniently locked away from the vast majority by economic forces that result from one bad decision two generations ago.

ECO-Tours is here to speak truth to power, to expose some of the hidden costs associated with expedient decisions, conventional "wisdom" (read:lies) and business as usual operations in both the private sector and in government. we realize that some feel overwhelmed by the dystopia that we have created over the many generations, but we also realize and have faith in the species. there has never been a time when communication, worldwide communication was so easy. we have never has this sort of chance to study and inspire across ages, disciplines and across the planet. The art of communicating ideas just got the greatest shot in the arm that has ever existed and what we have lacked in common sense may be offset by making sense a little more common through sharing our ideas with others. Blessed Be and Namaste'.

If you would like us to craft a custom made ECO-Tour just for you, let us know. We are always happy to meet you where you are, (not necessarily geographically) delve into subjects of your choosing just a little deeper than you may be ready for, and in the process take time to learn a better way forward. please donate what you can to our cause because even if you do not take a tour, it allows others to continue to learn and grow toward sustainability through our programs. To get some idea of how effective we are, it costs us about ten dollars for each tree we plant. That includes buying or digging a seedling, potting it up, caring for it until it goes in the ground and to protect it as best we can while it is young. Some of the trees we have planted are large enough to sit under and enjoy their shade.  From the moment they are planted they begin a process of making the world a better place and for that we thank all of those who have donated in the past. Living to serve has unleashed great reserves of wealth and power, they are just not yet understood by those who would ignore or exploit others for their own reward. We pray daily for their enlightenment and hope that one day their deep suffering will be alleviated.

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