Archive for June, 2011

Americans for Prosperity and the US Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Mandatory arbitration is a part of every credit card and cell phone contract that you sign.  In so signing you agree to not take the card company or cell phone company to court.  Did you know that?   Tort reform makes it so companies are not found liable for harm.  They use the term frivolous but includes third degree burns and death.  An example of State mandated caps–> in West Virginia  miners are often killed in mining accidents their families can ask for and win millions, but the cap is about $10.000.   Susan Saladoff’s film “Hot Coffee” is effective and makes these confusing terms easy to understand.   Who would think the US government would allow this kind of abuse to happen to citizens of the USA?

This prompted some inquiry into lobbying groups who support arbitration, caps and tort reform.  Then you look up the politicians those lobby groups support and you realize why the government has allowed this abuse.

Two lobbying groups were made the focus–>Americans for Prosperity supported by Charles and David Koch and the US Chamber of Commerce which was created by US president William Howard Taft as a counterbalance to organized labor in  1912.  You may not realize that the US Chamber of Commerce is not a government agency it is a private astroturf  lobby.  (I’m not talking about football fields)

The term astroturf is the billionaire version of grassroots.   Astroturf coalitions are created and funded by corporations and industry trade associations.  They fund lobbying groups who’s job is to win over the middle class and manipulate facts.   Many describe (or disguise) themselves as public relations groups like Bonner and Associates.

In 2009, Jack Bonner and his Associates were working for the  American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and were caught forging letters to Representative Tom Perriello. The letters were supposedly from true grassroots groups, like the  NAACP — urging him to oppose the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill.  Perriello is one of the co-sponsors of the Clean Water Protection Act. The Coal industry didn’t want this Act signed because it would slow the practice of Mountaintop removal.

Jack Bonner had his company design a fictitious web calculator.  This calculator convinced users the cost of fuel would rise exponentially if legislators signed the Kyoto treaty; while accusing real scientists of being eco-wacko.  They have pulled off the same brilliant shenanigans for pharmaceutical companies, Mobile oil, US tobacco, Citicorp and so forth. The Kochs love these guys and have them working for them through “Americans for Prosperity” and probably many others.

The US Chamber of Commerce seems to have morphed into a completely self-serving machine.  It is a private lobbying group funded by 45 billionaires.  Their common denominator is a dislike for public education and healthcare reform.  These billionaires love funding tort reform and judicial races.  The US Chamber of Commerce helped to shield AIG from liability lawsuits, funded the Tea-party in the 2010 midterm elections, distributed books on energy to children, funded the fight against SCHIP (healthcare for poor kids),  and so forth.  They are drooling over social security money and wanting to legally manipulate it by lobbying for social security, medicare and medicaid to be privatized.  They are funding politicians who get behind this agenda with their pens.  Rick Scott has quickly signed legislation to privatize medicaid in Florida.






















They are the conductor, we are the band.  If you don’t like the music, make your own.  Look up stuff and find out the truth.

solar and wind feed-in tariffs

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Wind and solar farms,  can have severe impacts on wildlife and their habitats when they are built as huge corporate owned farms.  Solar panels on the roof of a home or business does not hurt any being.   Wind turbines installed on roofs much the same as the roof vent type does not hurt any being (see wind-belts).  Net-metering and Feed-in tariffs are wonderful ways many countries and 11 of the states within the United States are successfully providing energy.  So why aren’t feed-in tariffs and their success embraced wholeheartedly within the US, especially the southern states where the Sun is so abundant?











A feed-in tariff, offers small-scale producers of solar energy long-term contracts (usually at above-market rates) for the electricity they sell.  Net-metering allows anyone, whose solar or wind system is producing more electricity than they need, to sell the excess back to the utility in turn reducing or eliminating their electric bill.  But once their bill falls to zero, the homeowner gets no more money from the system, although some grids will give credit.

Using Florida as an example:  The Governor of Florida and Florida Power and Light (FPL) are trying to pass legislation that is being marketed to the voters of Florida as forward thinking and green.  Large utility companies would control the renewable energy industry in Florida.  Smaller businesses would still have to pay exorbitant utility rates.  This would cause them to bring their business to feed-in tariff (FTI)  states where they can have their own solar, wind and/or biofuels for their business.

There exists a trend in which consumers are looking for USA made products that are made in a low carbon impact way.  Florida and it’s constant sunshine should be the forerunner of this trend.  Instead Florida’s Governor and Florida’s privately run FPL are interested in increasing the surcharge on their customers’ bills. Who benefits from this?  Compared with neighboring states, Florida’s industrial utility rates already are 52 percent higher and residential rates are 20 percent higher.

Florida could do both utility owned and privately owned alternative energies.  FPL can put algae ponds around its current Coal fired power plants.  The algae is used to make biofuel and feeds on the CO2.  Algae needs massive amounts of CO2 to grow, coal fired power plants are thought to be evil in part because of their massive amount of CO2 emissions.  Talk about a win win!!


Meantime, manufacturing and big box stores and private homes and associations of homes can have their own solar panels (if they so choose).  Small solar wind and biofuel companies will flock to Florida for the substantial need and abundance of resource.

PS: “Conservation: addition by subtraction
Even though this doesn’t technically generate electricity or transfer energy, we have to mention this;  one dollar worth of energy conservation can save three to five dollars in energy generation equipment costs; if you can use what you have more efficiently, there’s no reason to spend more to make more. While designing for efficiency is the best way to achieve high levels of energy conservation, there are lots of retrofits in insulation and efficiency upgrades that can help cut back on demand.”  Colin Dunn

Back in the days of the Renaissance the lords of the land (the folks in the castles) owned the land and the mill.  Serfs (the folks in the huts) paid the Lords for leasing the land to grow grain, they then took the grain to the mill and paid the Lords to have their grains milled.  This same concept is all I can think of that keeps states from allowing homeowners to provide their own energy and get credit for excess energy.  The governor of Florida Rick Scott seems to want to be Lord and we the beholden serfs.



Fair Trade

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

If you have ever seen the term “Fair Trade” on labels, you may have wondered what that meant.

fair trade






It isn’t about guns and Pomeranians.  It is actually a marvelous system of guaranteeing the buyer that the product they are buying is not harming life or the planet.  For example: In Papua New Guinea the farmers grow cocoa on land they own.  The cocoa was sold to middle-men that in turn sold it to chocolate makers who in turn sold it to us.  The farmers profits were miniscule in comparison to the middle man.   Logging Companies wanted to buy these lands from the farmers and since the farmers weren’t making much money growing cocoa they were willing to sell.  The Nature Conservancy came along and explained to the farmers that the sale would be a short lived income.  With Fair Trade certification their profits would be greater and last as long as they were willing to farm sustainably.    Keeping their lands to sell Fair Trade cocoa will provide income forever (or until we stop loving chocolate).

The farmers were granted the fair trade certification after a long (three years I think) and arduous process of sustainable growing and marketing education.  The middle man was removed so they had to find their own fair trade buyers.  You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find buyers for this wonderful cocoa; it helps to understand these farmers have limited sources of communication and funds for travel.  These photos might help explain.

Papua New Guinea - Tari Mountain kids send greetings beyond borders
Dancing villagers near the Karawari River, Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea Intro, photo, picture, image
The purchase of a fair trade product means paying a fair price to the producer, and creating lasting trade relationships that can guarantee the financing environmental development.  When you buy fair trade product you establish a more direct and concrete partnership with the producer.
So remember when you buy fair trade certified products you are participating in saving families, forests, and ways of life we can never enjoy.
If you think fair trade clothing is ugly hippy crap take a look at Colin Firth’s wife Livia in a gown designed by Jeff Garner who used fair trade Ahimsa Silk for the beautiful gown she wore to the Golden Globe awards.

Livia Firth, Colin Firth, Prophetik, Jeff Garner, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Golden Globes, eco-celebrities, green celebrities


So to summarize, fair trade and rain-forest alliance are providing decent wages for countries like India, Mexico, Guatemala and Ethiopia.  If you complain about immigration then buy fair trade products.  The immigrants will go home and grow stuff for us to buy rather than coming here and taking our jobs cleaning hotels and picking tomatoes.


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