Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rate HIKES <"_? for Ameren: tell them about it!!!

Jeffrey Tomich posted an excellent editorial at the Post Dispatch today about the Ameren request for a rate hike.

Beautifully stated, and an excellent source for testimony at the hearings! I am hoping many customers of Ameren will be able & willing to attend despite or because of the heat and drought which are so record breaking they astonish me day after day. Maybe you yourself feel this way too: we are going to be paying higher air conditioning use bills for awhile to come. So their profits are likely to increase by default of the climate change.

On top of that, though, as Sarah Edgar explained to me while working with the local Sierra Club in St. Louis, coal is the dirtiest possible fossil fuel and the prices for it are going up. She is representing Beyond Coal, which works to retire coal fired energy plants. Not only are the coal prices up, but the cost of containment as decided by the EPA, also increases total costs. This method is no longer viable as a choice for other reasons too, especially the health risks, which are known to be worse in more recent years since the coal is not of the same quality as it was half a century or more ago. Other organizations, like AARP, also oppose the use of coal fired plants because many of their members, about 37%,  have medical needs that include devices that use electricity. Of course our elderly population is also extremely vulnerable to air pollution. And they certainly need cooling during months like these.

Meanwhile sustainable sources of energy are quite readily substituted for the ancient carbon based fuels. In fact wind farms are already in existence in Northwest Missouri.

So I myself am planning to testify at the hearing held here in my new hometown Mexico in August, and I will see if I can show up elsewhere just to attend as an audience member. Hoping to see a lot of you turning out to participate in Missouri governance as well.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Comment to the USDA about GMO maize

My concerns about planting genetically modified organism (GMO) in the USA are several. First, it is a proven risk to landowners; the plants will hybridize with other nearby strains, disturbing the private crops of organic farmers via the wind. Many consumers choose natural foods. These GMO crops have not been tested for adverse effects on human or other animal.

Secondly, some corporations who are selling these seeds have been disturbing farmers with a notice that they have found such GMO plants on their land; the farmers are then threatened with a suit action on the basis of a patent on the seed. To avoid the suit they sign contracts that obligate them to buy and sew the Monsanto seeds in perpetuity. This has been shown to be true in more than one documentary about the Monsanto Corporation, headquartered in Missouri, where I reside. I deeply resent such actions, which are corrupt, and violate the privacy and ownership rights of affected farmers in this and other States.

Further, “RoundUp Ready” seeds have been lab engineered with genetic changes which make them specifically resistant to some specific herbicide. Those risky chemicals are toxic. They also escape into groundwater, streams and rivers.

Therefore all GMOs ought to be regulated out until proven safe by a board of unprejudiced scientists. The Bradford Research and Extension Center at the University of Missouri is majority opinion in favor of hybridization by natural, timeworn methods which produce much hardier crops with less expense to the farmer. There is no merit to the argument that GMO seeds can “feed the world” any better than ordinary, far less expensive seeds.

Environmental organizations are opposed to genetically modified organisms. The corporations that produce and sell them are not behaving responsibly about the outcomes. Union of Concerned Scientists has studied and written about this issue extensively. Genetic engineering is only a profit driven experiment on us all.
Friends and concerned citizens, please follow suit in commenting to the USDA about the use of genetically engineered organisms. I had some struggle with the web page because it limits characters of the entire text to 2000. Please pass this along to others as well. 

"Your Comment Tracking Number: 810a68ce" -- specifically your own-- appears at the end of the document submission. You can save this until the comment period is over to see it online among the others.

Meanwhile, be sure to vote and get your friends to the polls in August and November here in Missouri!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


One circumstance many of us may not readily grasp yet about the down turn of an economy that began under Bush in late 2007, is how jobs have been affected. Some of them took a hike out of the country-- they were deleted, as Jeff Faux says in this interview with the AFL-CIO.

. . . of the10 largest and fastest growing occupations between 2010 and 2020, only one requires a four-year college degree.”

Keep in mind, though, that the likelihood of being employed does remain higher for college grads than it is for the general population.

In May, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent among Americans age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In June, it rose to 4.1 percent.”

Of course, if this is our sentence for our future, as stated in the interview, it is not over yet! We have seven and a half years until we find out if those are the jobs that will prove true for our youth now moving through their personal schooling and training. So-- outside of achieving a Constitutional Amendment to define campaign finance as definitely not free speech, which I fully support-- what else can those of us in the upward bound or educated segment of our population do to surf beyond serfdom into a better, more generous outcome for ourselves, our children, and the overall economy?

Here are some ideas that I like:

  • Sustainable agricultural development: farming, collective endeavors such as urban farms, and planting crops that are nutritiously the best choices, rather than continuing to consume all sorts of prepackaged goods that are controlled by corporations like Monsanto and Dow. Wouldn't it be a lively discussion to engage home and property owners in tax rebates for something similar to the victory gardens that many of my friends already plant?

  • Choosing energy sources that are sustainable, mostly wind and solar, and a move toward community involvement in the distribution of electrical power that is not produced from the fossil fuels that cost us so dearly in health and in climate change.
  • Continued movement toward conscious development of green buildings, which is already a reality. Beyond the change in the urban scape of the future, urban and rural America have already benefited from tax rebates for improved energy savings by retrofitting existing structures with insulation, better windows and doors, that save on heating and cooling. We could add appliance upgrades to the list too. The tax rebates should be reinstated to increase jobs.
  • Many of the jobs that began to move overseas under NAFTA might be replaced by encouragement of the small business community, the backbone of America for generations. Small businesses actually provide the most jobs in the USA, despite common beliefs to the contrary. “. . .Today the country’s 28 million small firms employ 60 million Americans, half of the private sector workforce.“ Large box stores just don't cut the mustard for job development. Definitely choose to shop in your local small businesses!

The thought that college does not enhance job availability as much as we want may be somewhat difficult thinking for educators, although stats still show that available jobs are more likely held by the college educated. Many of us older Americans have been preaching the benefits of education for decades if not for generations. But we also need to embrace the actual facts in some way. I don't think that we should backtrack entirely from establishing an educated electorate, as well as a forward looking, intelligent population. However, we might want to adjust our expectation more toward reality.

URLs as used, plus resources:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


From way back when I remember my Dad out in his garden plot in our big side yard. In the background the chickens clucked and pecked the earth. After he came home from the Army he put in tomato plants every year that we lived in Affton. Sometimes leaf lettuce too, possibly carrots. First he took out his spade fork and turned over the soil. Then he put in the rows of plants, staked them, and tended them regularly. The earth there was black, fertile enough to support the plump red fruit we could pick for ourselves. My mother bought us a bunch of tiny salt shakers, those ones that have a girl with an umbrella on them. Wash it under the water before you eat it, she said, and keep this in your pocket. My Dad liked them sliced on top of lettuce and served with French dressing-- in fact, he ordered them that way in restaurants along the road when we traveled somewhere.

More likely my mom just quartered them onto a plate, with the same old meat, potato, vegetable dinner that was routine for our German heritage family. She herself loved to plant flowers. We had a few daffodils that must have been there before we moved into that old place. It was just a frame house on a double lot with a chicken house and a garage. It seemed to me as though that plot of ground where we lived was a huge sort of wealth in some magnanimous way. We had a few small cedars, some flowering bushes, two box elders that shaded the roof, besides Mom's wildflower collection on the shady north side of the house. She liked to walk in the small woods around Gravois Creek carrying a basket to select out a few sweet williams, blue and white violets, johnny jump-ups, and so forth, that she fancied would cheer her up and give her a small nosegay in the kitchen window now and again. That window looked out over the Deutsch home, which also was on a double lot, but was actually a larger, brick house, with a screen house in the side yard. She said she always had to have a window over the sink to live through housework, and would never live anywhere where that were not true.

We lived there until I was twelve. After that we moved more than once, and the tomatoes were store bought. There just wasn't enough time, between making a living I presume. We did have some flowers in that one house in Kentucky, gladiolas every year; and a few roses. My mother moved the violets from place to place, the ones she had transplanted in Affton. When she was in her senior years and widowed the second time around someone once confronted her about digging up some sweet williams along a roadside, telling her that is illegal, ma'm. “I think I have a right to do that,” she insisted.

Meanwhile I had long ago landed my own life, so to speak. So I could stay out of her nonsense about what she could do with some wild indigenous plant that has been given environmental rights of its own. She was just an old Republican, after all. Who still had a room full of house plants, although she no longer could handle transplanting them outdoors for the warm months and re-potting them every spring, like she did when I was a kid.

My life was not so lucky, and luckier in other ways, since I had a profession that I worked in for years. Yet I never owned my own place. I had relationships, friends, chosen family, not the generic marriages that she discovered for herself, achieving some wealth by default of love. Still, she could not really pull together the kindergarten ever again. Her own children could not be together in the same room. That was how dysfunctional her life grew to be, out of the Truth that emerged over time; and could not be nurtured by her into a common space, since she needed in some place within to flee from some ancient territory of her own. I presumed this history to have existed by some of her lapses into behavior that I could not enlighten to the surface with her at all. My mother died three years ago.

At one point along my own path I had moved into an ashram, a small yoga community in the country, for about eighteen months. We had a real life large garden there, planted below the man made damn that held in a small lake. So the earth under the garden was river bottom, a tributary to the St. Francois. I helped support it by contributing the rototiller, and helped plant and harvest its goods for our group kitchen, where diverse people gathered in larger numbers if we had a guest teacher over a weekend. One summer we had a week long camp for children. And we were all living with our chosen abstinences, no meat, no recreational substances including caffeine, disciplines of exercising, yoga and meditating every day. In the center of the expanse of lawn and trees a huge gong hung for the purpose of keeping us on the clock, ringing us toward morning noon and evening surrenders to our higher selves.

The collards were our staple of every group gathering. They grow from spring to fall-- you can harvest leaves selectively and more leaves will grow. You have to know how to sweeten them a bit with onions and a small taste of vinegar to eliminate the bitterness. They are high in calcium, which is something that seemed essential to us, especially when we had American Indian teachers there who led us in sweat lodge ceremonies and vision quests. Other teachers were yoga gurus, Buddhists, people from a variety of paths, with a level of Christian underpinnings in the Great Brotherhood. Meanwhile we were all too human, when push came to shove. My daughter was four when I moved there, and I had hoped to establish a sort of family that proved beyond what I could really accomplish in a long term sense among that group. Yet it is not an experience that I could regret in terms of what I learned.

So I continued my part-time self support with a rental contract everywhere I ever lived in my adult life. Have moved rather frequently over time. Here I am now, in small town, rural Missouri, and looking out a kitchen window that has a view of a neighbor's garden in it, just a few tomato plants. It is a friendly spot on the earth's surface, and I still dream about gardening on a place of my own. The cost of living is lower here than in an urban place, and most stuff is walking distance away. The Great Heat Wave of 2012 causes one to wonder what the earth will be able to support in the coming of a future that is now. Yet I hope and hope and hope to reestablish the nostalgic small garden of my youth. On my own small space on the planet.