Friday, July 11, 2008

Part Trois

Something to read while I B!tch about hitting every light on my walk to work.
2003 Screed, Final Addition...

Both economists and engineers, with their trusty outdated formulas, will tell you that an efficiency of scale exists. Meaning as stores, businesses, or roads get larger, they become more efficient; when in reality there is actually a deficiency of scale when viewed at the larger scope. To accurately assess efficiency one must, for the first time, begin to quantify environmental and social costs. A Super Wal-Mart pays low wages, requires a ridiculous amount of land for the box retail development, and goods must be shipped from far away locations that very well might have originated in sweatshops. A network of small gridded roads can handle more traffic, move it more safely and efficiently than any hierarchical system. These roads are also pedestrian oriented, encouraging activity on the street, also effectively policing it, encouraging more dense development, which is sustainable, and benefits retailers more as well. This is a no-brainer were it not for the road building lobby of car manufacturers, AAA, and gas and oil companies, all only buoyed by engineers formulas which are based on sixties and seventies style development patterns which have led to the derelict American landscape of today.

Another course of action we must pursue is that of taxing consumption and pollution. A tax should be a punishment, thus penalizing those who consume beyond their needs and pollute the environment occupied by all. Taxing income means penalizing the workforce and the individual, rather than the corporation. Ideally then, these taxes would go to schools and affordable housing, in a time we are told that the gap between rich and poor at its widest point in history and homeless rates approach the levels during the great depression as the billionaire mayor of New York happily strips away rent controls.

To finish the quote from Tyler Durden, "...we're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives." And consequently, escapism is born. We hop into our car and madly race away from work, to get away from our jobs, we do the same in the morning to get away from our homes, and now we have nothing but a life spent on the road to nowhere. We watch reality television to lose ourselves in somebody else's so called life. Eventually, we must begin to address truth and our own well being, and those after us or this process which has culminated in our generation will only worsen.

The founders of our country set forth to create a representative democracy, the system established requires an informed population. The accessibility of information was never as widespread as it is today, with Internet, television, and publications, yet as our generation enters the 'real world', we find that all media is owned by an increasingly small number of corporations, all of which favor advertising, right-wing viewpoints, and corporate-favored censorship.

No generation has achieved what we must, to become the first informed and empowered generation and follow the words of Thomas Jefferson, ideas whose actions not even he could match. We must find a new enlightenment, towards community, ecology, art, sustainability, both economic and environmental. We cannot continue on our current course, in an economy that requires the ignorance of eighty percent of the population to function.

Evolution requires revolution; the veneration of our generation requires an audience. There won't be one if there isn't a world for our children. The me generations have passed on an overwhelming debt and we cannot afford to do the same. It is time to bite the bullet and overcome and repair the feeble and dying landscape that offers us life, and asks little in return, with less than 100 years left of topsoil worldwide, and rainforests are still being consumed rapidly. One quarter pound hamburger requires the clearing of 54 square feet of rainforest, destruction of 165 pounds of living matter, including 20 to 30 plant species, 100 insect species and dozens of bird, mammal, and reptile species, and like the great American bison, we don't use all it either, just the land, to become pasture, which quickly becomes desertified and useless after several years of cattle-grazing.

These are the most exciting of times and terrifying at the same moment, and many in our generation might miss it due to apathy. My guess is that is exactly what those in power would like to see happen, for we are vote wielding, yet often not utilizing, if indeed our votes do count. I would encourage any readers to research the ownership of electronic voting machines.

It is terrifying because we are in the throws of fascism. We claim democracy, yet the powers that be own the polls. Our democracy has succumbed to the corporate takeover, installing jingoism and propaganda instilling fear. Sit idly by and watch as the clear skies legislation, healthy forests, homeland security, and the patriot act and perhaps its big brother of martial law, set to roll out later this year, so the attorney general can throw all dissenters in jail without warning, due process, or just cause, other than free thought and action, which are guaranteed in the bill of rights, only to be undermined. It is frightening because the words of Dickens, Orwell, Shaw, Shelley, Wilde and many others have never been more apt.

It is exciting because there is a grass-roots movement growing one mind at a time. People are waking up; eyes are opening to this new energy in the air, electrified by the arrogance and disregard of the powerful and wealthy. Every sign, every protest, every word and thought of dissent for the current system is helping to create and layout the foundation of conduit out of which the future will flow. Censorship has never worked, art will return. Now we will see a spiritual return to the sixties in terms of energy, the capacity for a beginning to change that can become a mass movement that came so close to effective societal change as Kurt Cobain so often lamented, and nearly single-handedly brought about again.

In A New London, Richard Rogers and Mark Fisher laid out a blueprint for the renaissance of the then troubled city as, "a metropolis of social and ecological harmony" with "beautiful buildings, tree-lined avenues and new parks where the commonest sounds are voices, footsteps and the buzz of the electric tram...." We can go beyond this, however with wild flowers and restored stream corridors and drainage basins as ecological fingers through our cities offering recreation and aesthetics along with the quality as a functioning ecosystem. We can live in cities with new, beautiful buildings where earth and structure essentially become one, generating their own energy, ventilate, heat and cool through natural processes, and infiltrate rainfall into the ground, so it can be cleansed naturally and effectively. This is all not only possible, but it has already begun.

As stated previously, cities are the image of our self, collectively. We have begun the repairing and progressing of them towards a sustainable future, but like many ideals before, we will never attain it, unless it becomes part of our everyday lives and beings. I believe in a hybridization of philosophies, a communal ideology overlaid by a natural capitalist system with socialized education and healthcare, and a standard living wage for all of a working age. But most of all I believe in personal growth and activism. Our current situation is too important for continued complacence. We are Atlas....