What's the New Mary Jane?

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Sept. 11, 2003


Are we caught up in strife?
Or just a blip in the life...

-- Flying Other Brothers, "Blip in the Life" (Tony Bove, G.E. Smith)

My life has turned a bit more interesting. The band is on some kind of mini-tour or full-blown tour every month, over 40 gigs this year. We've been to New Mexico, Arizona, Northern Calif., Oregon, Wash., Vancouver Island, Alaska, the High Sierras, Tahoe, Burning Man... We just returned from Florida and we're heading to NYC at the end of this month.

I focus on my activities and try to put aside the most recent meaning of Sept. 11. The mourning period is over. America has found itself to be as vulnerable as any European country, but not yet as terror-stricken as countries in the Middle East and Africa. Despite all the obvious signs of the decline of western civilization, I have hope for my sons to survive and have a world worth living in.



Jan. 26, 2003


They say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too yeah!

-- Beatles, "Birthday" (Lennon/McCartney)

Happy birthday to my best friend. I hope this year is much better than last year.


Jan. 2, 2003

Everybody had a hard year
Everybody had a good time
Everybody had a wet dream
Everybody saw the sun shine

-- Beatles, "I've Got a Feeling" (Lennon/McCartney)

It should come as no surprise that our laws and legal system, and that of most of the so-called Western World, place a higher value on property than on human life. Maybe that's appropriate: property lasts longer. While you can't take it with you, you can leave it to your kids. But maybe it's not appropriate: if property is more important than your life, someday, inevitably, it will be taken from you by force.

The rights of corporate shareholders are higher in priority than human life. That is the only conclusion you could draw from the fact that corporations convicted of human rights violations are not executed.

Maybe now is the time for a political party -- say, the Greens -- to call for capital punishment for corporations. The executives should be jailed for much longer terms -- destroying the value of the retirement accounts for thousands of employees should be a much greater crime than selling crack cocaine to a drug addict. The corporation itself should be terminated and its assets distributed to the shareholders. The shareholders would, of course, lose a lot of money, but it's disingenuous to say that Mom and Pop investors would be hurt. Certainly Mom and Pop would smarter investment advice, but the real hurt would be felt by institutional investors. Share holders can't have it both ways. There must be risks and responsibilities associated with rewards.

Everybody had a good year
Everybody let their hair down
Everybody pull their socks up
Everybody put their foot down

-- Beatles, "I've Got a Feeling" (Lennon/McCartney)


OK folks, it's time for a bit of economic terrorism. Stop paying your bills.

What's the point of keeping a good credit rating, if the companies that report your credit history are incompetent? I recently received an obscure "Notice Regarding Credit Scores" that said, in 2 pages of legalese, that Experian (the credit reporting entity) could not provide a credit score. (The loan company referred to "reasons set forth immediately above" but managed, in those 2 pages, to forget to include those reasons.)

Credit reporting agencies are not accountable to anyone. There is no competition and no "free market" for credit reporting. There is only the power of the mass market to boycott these services, and the only sure method of getting results is to simply stop using credit cards and stop paying your bills. This tactic offers the added benefit of cash in hand -- the cash saved by not paying alleviates the need for credit cards and loans. A nation of bankrupt citizens would bring the severely depress the loan industry and put these credit reporting agencies out of business. Banks and loan companies would have to resort to doing business the old-fashioned way -- by taking on some risk in order to earn profits.
On the other hand, folks, don't take this idea seriously. It's a wonderful fantasy but the current administration is already removing most of the benefits of declaring bankruptcy. We may be in for a dark ages of escalating poverty, debt prisons, and revolutions. Have a nice day.

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