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Economics

New Report Explores Unifying the New Economy Movement

Shareable Magazine - September 16, 2014 - 07:57

The new economy has several different names including the sharing economy, the solidarity economy, community resilience, transition, the oppositional economy, and more. At its core, however, is an awareness that the existing economy, which thrives on maximizing growth and profits at all expense, has failed us.

Categories: Economics

Russian Energy Sanctions Will Bite Europe

Chris Martenson - September 15, 2014 - 23:44

For several months now, we've been running with the hypothesis that Russia would wait until fall arrived and then begin to crimp off EU gas, possibly even just cutting it off.

Well, even though fall is still officially a few days away, Russia has begun to retaliate, subtly, by diminishing the flows of gas to several European countries.

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Categories: Economics

Hydroponic Gardening

Chris Martenson - September 15, 2014 - 13:22

Can you grow a garden in the winter without soil?

Yes, it is entirely possible to grow a garden in the winter without soil. In fact, you can grow a garden in the winter without these things, using an increasingly popular technique called “hydroponics.” Hydroponics is an indoor soil-free gardening technique that has been used for thousands of years and allows the gardener to have complete and total control of their garden’s environment. With the hydroponics gardening alternative, you can grow just about any type of bountiful garden during those cold winter months right within your own home – even in your home’s kitchen.

If you’ve ever put a plant clipping into a glass of water, in hopes it will develop roots, you have practiced a form of hydroponics.

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Categories: Economics

New Urban Ag Study Touts Potential of Small Cities

Shareable Magazine - September 15, 2014 - 11:37

The Corvallis, Oregon, farmers' market. Photo credit: ...-Wink-... / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA.

Categories: Economics

5 ways to preserve food without refrigeration

Chris Martenson - September 15, 2014 - 11:32

A great overview of the top methods to keep food edible and store it safely without refrigeration. 

http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-food/5-ways-preserve-food-without-refrigeration/

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Categories: Economics

How to Trick Out Your Trip

Shareable Magazine - September 15, 2014 - 10:36

For many of us, the bus or subway provides a critical link from home to work, school, and family and friends. Yes, transit makes enormous contributions to a city, reducing congestion by keeping cars off the road and helping to keep the air cleaner. But, taking a bus or train also benefits us personally, inserting short walks into our days for a healthier lifestyle, and connecting us socially to our drivers and fellow passengers. And every trip starts with one step in our own neighborhood.

Categories: Economics

New Report: 25% of UK Participates in the Collaborative Economy

Shareable Magazine - September 15, 2014 - 09:47

The collaborative economy is alive and well "across the pond" in Great Britain, according to Making Sense of the Collaborative Economy, a new report published this month by UK innovation nonprofit Nesta and Collaborative Lab, a

Categories: Economics

New Coalition Takes On Airbnb in NYC with ‘Share Better’ Campaign

Shareable Magazine - September 15, 2014 - 08:06

On Friday, Share Better, a newly-formed coalition of “friends, neighbors, community activists and elected officials” in New York City, publicly called out Airbnb.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/15 - The Consequences Of Fracking, Helping The Great Barrier Reef

Chris Martenson - September 15, 2014 - 08:00
  • Renmibi Is Already De Facto Reserve Currency
  • New Peter Schiff debate on CNBC – Is QE doing more harm than good?
  • Putting the current bear markets in Gold and Silver into a longer-term perspective
  • Large Majority of Americans Lack Confidence in Obama Mission to Destroy ISIS, Poll Shows 
  • The Consequences Of Fracking: Two Clashing Views
  • To Cook or Not To Cook: The Question of Advanced Glycation Endproducts
  • Extent of Antarctic sea ice reaches record levels, scientists say
  • Wary of U.N. Action, Australia Unveils Plan to Aid Great Barrier Reef

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Categories: Economics

New Virtual Think Tank Studies How to Govern Knowledge Commons

Shareable Magazine - September 15, 2014 - 07:04

The commons are often associated with shared natural resources including grazing pastures, public spaces and water, but there are lots of commons including the Creative Commons, seed commons, and even knowledge commons. Yes, knowledge, passed from person to person, generation to generation, is a commons that we all share and contribute to.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/14 - A Year Of Digital Detox, The Awful Reign Of The Red Delicious

Chris Martenson - September 14, 2014 - 08:17
  • Reboot Or Die Trying
  • Americans Won't Relax, Even Late at Night or on the Weekend
  • Bracing for Scotland’s Referendum
  • Change on Scotland’s Border, Whatever the Referendum Result
  • Struggling to Starve ISIS of Oil Revenue, U.S. Seeks Assistance From Turkey
  • Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind
  • Breaking Bad? Try Breaking Graphite
  • The Awful Reign Of The Red Delicious

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Categories: Economics

NY Unions Will Bring Fresh Ideas about Jobs, Energy to Historic Climate March

A member of New York's transit workers union attends Occupy Wall Street in September 2011. Photo by Timothy Krause / Flickr.

This story is part of the Climate in Our Hands collaboration between Truthout and YES! Magazine.

New York's unions are digging deep to support the march that calls on world leaders to take action to avert catastrophic climate change.

There is a grinding nature to labor solidarity. Having never been active in a union before, I never experienced it until becoming the National Writers Union rep to organizing meetings for the Sept 21 Climate March happening in New York City right before a U.N. summit.

Now I'm feeling it. It's not enough to get your union on board; has your president signed a statement? It's not enough to get your local; how about your international? And of course, words are cheap, so how many members are you mobilizing, and how are you doing it?

Everyone in the room knows that grunt work feeds whatever power labor has. Yet New York's unions are digging deep to support the march that calls on world leaders to take action to avert catastrophic climate change.

The march takes place just two days before President Obama and world leaders gather for an emergency Climate Summit at the United Nations called by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Moon wants to ensure they sign a new international climate treaty when they gather again in Paris in December 2015.

The unions are among 1,000 endorsers of the People's Climate March challenging the big corporations and governments that have stymied any real agreement. It's been 26 years since the U.N. launched the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and then the treaty process two years later, but we're stuck—even as scientists educate us on the urgency to act.

Will unions be part of the problem or part of the solution? The International Trade Union Federation endorsed the march, as has the Canadian Labour Congress and the Connecticut and Vermont labor federations. But in New York, local and state unions are the ones stepping up—including some of the building trades, which, on a national level, help block the AFL-CIO from showing any climate leadership.

Larry Moskowitz, the march's organizer for unions, exhorted us in the first meetings: "Every union that endorses—what is your turnout plan? What materials do you need? Can you set up an internal committee to mobilize? How do we get in the ranks?"

And then the question: Who's not in the room yet?

The nurses union was there, its reps eloquently discussing the impact of the massive storm Sandy and environmental hazards on those they care for. To enlist their members, NYS Nurses Association began holding lunch and dinnertime sessions in hospitals about climate change and health. The health care workers of the service workers (SEIU 1199), a 200,000-strong union including many immigrants and African Americans, were there. JJ Johnson, its retired spokesman, said at one gathering sponsored by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, a network of 30 unions from 15 countries, "Climate protection is consistent with everything else that we do [as health workers]."

And not just because of the devastation of the massive storm Sandy, which laid waste to New York in October 2012. "We have members from all over Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia. There is a growing encroachment of the sea going into agricultural land that would be rendered totally useless for farming. In places like Haiti, where pollution and silt are going out to sea, fisherman have to go out further and further to fish. So the climate issue resonates very strongly."

We all need to be committed to a "just transition" that doesn't leave people behind.

Eventually, the metaphorical room got crowded with 100 endorsing labor organizations because New York's unions' alliance with environmental groups has only intensified since Sandy. A lot of us now know firsthand that more of our city will be underwater as the seas rise and that food and other crucial supplies for living will be harder to get as the weather becomes more volatile. We experienced it. The transit workers and unionized utility workers became heroes getting the city back online (a process that isn't finished, as subway riders and residents of shoreline housing know).

The transit workers are my personal heroes of the climate justice movement; when you encounter members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 while flyering for the march on city streets, not only are they already on board, they often have something to say about the state of the world that doesn't deal with the reality of climate change.

And while the building trades may be among the unions holding the AFL-CIO back from seriously taking on the massive ecopolitical shifts needed in these dark times, in New York you've got big machers on board from this sector. Chris Erikson, head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3, was downright inspiring at a press conference in Times Square launching the march, at one moment describing the climate fight as a class war (while wading into contentious political terrain at others):

I stand today with this coalition of alarmed citizens to voice our concerns about the future of our planet ... Sadly, there is no greater incentive than profit. No corporation has given anything without a fight. No union has made gains without a fight, and if this global crisis that affects all mankind is defined as an economic war with winners and losers—I stand ready with my brothers and sisters to march and to fight for worldwide energy democracy and to demand climate protection for the human race.

Some building trade unions were already primed by Obama's "green jobs" rhetoric and money to see retrofitting as in their interest. Even before Obama, the Blue-Green Alliance launched by United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club eight years ago promoted good green jobs and emission cuts, broadening the conversation in the union movement.

Blue and green ties

Recent lobbying for a "climate jobs" policy in New York City has intensified blue and green ties. The Alliance for a Just Rebuilding is a labor-community coalition trying to keep the heat on various levels of government to support those whose housing was wrecked in some way by the storm, whether from wind, water or mold, and to ensure that rebuilding happens using union jobs so workers aren't exploited.

Taking the lead is the local Jobs with Justice affiliate ALIGN-NY. The group started as the affiliate of the Apollo Alliance (now part of the Blue-Green Alliance), which brought green groups together with unions to work toward cleaner energy. Local teamsters began working with environmentalists to campaign for recycling in the commercial waste stream and now endorse the climate march.

"It's the culmination of long, hard conversations, many of which are still in process," said Tomás Garduno, of ALIGN-NY. "'Jobs versus the Environment' or 'The Economy versus the Environment' is the best example of pretty old thinking."

"Unions should be advocating public ownership, social ownership of energy."

While nitty gritty alliances are creating bridges locally (and not just in New York), the march doesn't see those alliances operating nationally. National Nurses United, the National Education Association, SEIU, and Amalgamated Transit Union signed on. So did the Communication Workers of America, which, along with the two major transit unions, opposed the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline, still a possibility, would transport dirty Canadian tar sands oil from the northern border to Gulf Coast refineries.

To widen union support, the march organizers kept the demand simple: World leaders must take real action on climate change. No denunciation of fracking, a big issue in New York state because there is only a moratorium against it at the moment. No denunciation of the Keystone XL pipeline, which had split the national labor movement. Just that one simple demand for the leaders who are gathering at the U.N. Secretary General's request.

When issuing the call for the march in Rolling Stone, 350.org founder Bill McKibben even crafted a simple slogan to unite the two movements on a single banner: "Climate/Jobs: Two Crises, One Solution." The unions put something like that slogan on their flyer promoting the march at the Labor Day parade.

The Blue-Green Alliance (BGA) endorsed the march, as did leading BGA members CWA, ATU and SEIU. But the Steelworkers, among other union affiliates, didn't. The BGA endorsement is admittedly an advance over its silence on fracking and the Keystone XL Pipeline—the BGA lost credibility among many labor environmentalists by not navigating those fights. But is that enough?

Unions like the Laborers, Steelworkers and Pipefitters are caught in the short-run game of defending members' jobs in dirty industries. As one environmentalist in the labor movement pointed out, the Steelworkers represent the chemical workers producing the toxic brew used to frack natural gas and can't get beyond the politics of the old energy regime. I've heard Steelworkers President Leo Gerard rightly chide environmentalists for not discussing the imperative to employ those displaced if the fossil fuel industry is shut so that carbon emissions stabilize at a livable level. We all need to be committed to a "just transition" that doesn't leave people behind. Well, Gerard's green allies earned the right to chide him back.

"Climate change changes everything: everything about how we organize society, how we conduct politics, even how we think of progress."

Green radicals in the labor movement, like Dr. Sean Sweeney of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy and Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability, are calling the question on this old politics. As Sweeney, who also co-direct's Cornell's Global Labor Program, put it, it's time to get beyond the call for "green jobs" and what he calls "a light green agenda."

Uehlein asks union leaders like Gerard if mainstream proposals don't deal with the economic hit workers will take in any transition, what does labor's climate protection strategy look like? It's time for labor to have one. With SEIU 1199, SEIU 32B/32J, IBEW Local 3, and the NYS Nurses Association, TUED is holding an open meeting after the march for all unionists and allies to try to seize the moment for a deeper discussion along these lines to accelerate the momentum created by the expanding coalition.

Like the rest of the country, says Sweeney, a lot of unions "don't recognize the science. The ones that do are unclear about what the changes mean, the enormity of it. I don't blame them. The politicians don't talk about it," he said. "But if we take the science seriously, as we should, then nothing less than an FDR-type intervention is necessary."

And the transformation must happen fast, within the next 20 or 30 years.

What is energy democracy?

What does it mean to build a transportation system not powered by fossil fuels? How do we shift the country, really the world, to sustainable energy? What does the "energy democracy" Chris Erikson talked about actually look like? "We believe . . . that unions should be advocating public ownership, social ownership of energy," says Sweeney. "There's no other way to do it in my opinion."

Any deep economic shift protecting people and the planet needs all hands on deck, and that includes union leaders and their members.

For Uehlein, the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department who now leads the Labor Network for Sustainability, climate change is the real job killer, not the environmentalists who take on the fossil fuel industry. "Climate change changes everything," he said, "everything about how we organize society, how we conduct politics, even how we think of progress. For us in the labor movement, it must change how we envision the role of an organized labor movement in society."

In New York, the state with the highest density of union workers in the country, the conversation has started.

"We still have a long way to go in the labor movement," said Hector Figueroa, president of SEIU 32B-32J, which represents building cleaners and supers, and has a green building program. "The most challenging issue is how do we transition from a fossil fuel economy to one based on renewables. Bringing urgency to climate change, having a strategy that is sufficiently convincing that we can transition to a new economy for these workers—we are at a turning point."

Any deep economic shift protecting people and the planet needs all hands on deck, and that includes union leaders and their members. We know we can't let union leaders fall back on flowery speeches to hide inaction, as too often happens. It's up to us to make sure we don't run out of time.

Abby Scher wrote with article for Truthout. It's presented here as part of Climate In Our Hands, a collaboration with YES! Magazine. Abby is a sociologist and journalist who writes frequently about economic justice and the right.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.

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Categories: Economics

New Harbor: Hedging 101

Chris Martenson - September 13, 2014 - 12:02

This week's podcast build on our recent report on hedging, driller deeper into how the technique can be used to offer protection against falling asset prices.

There are numerous ways to hedge, which vary in cost and complexity -- with several being quite simple and low-cost (such as building cash or employing stops). But many investors don't practice them, mostly out of unfamiliarity. Which is a shame, as often a small degree of defensive planning can provide substantial avoidance of large losses. (In fact, our recent poll has discovered that one of the most common and cheapest methods of hedging -- setting stops --  is hardly used by PeakProsperity's readership.)

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/13 - Long Fight Against Ebola Ahead, Scotland Independence Vote Nears

Chris Martenson - September 13, 2014 - 08:12
  • Truce Is Strengthening, Ukraine President Says
  • Returning the gaze: everyone’s a war reporter in an always-connected world
  • Liberian President Pleads With Obama for Assistance in Combating Ebola
  • U.S. Scientists See Long Fight Against Ebola
  • Scots War Games Haunt U.K. Elite Bracing for Referendum
  • Is It The Whiskey Or The Oil?
  • Good news on ozone, bad news on greenhouse gases
  • 2002 Larsen B ice shelf collapse likely due to rising temps

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Categories: Economics

Debt - Crash Course Chapter 13

Chris Martenson - September 12, 2014 - 18:04

The fundamental failing of today's global economy can be summarized simply: Too Much Debt

We have taken too much of it on, too fast, in too many markets around the world, to have any hope of making good on it. Not only does the math not work out, but also on a moral level

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Categories: Economics

Kentucky Town Beats High Gas Prices—By Opening a Public Gas Station

This article originally appeared at Community-Wealth.org.

Photo by Kzenon / Shutterstock.

Earlier this month, the small city of Somerset, Kentucky, drew national attention when it opened a municipally owned and operated fuel center in an effort to drive down gas prices for local residents. As a result of its proximity to Lake Cumberland, a popular tourist destination, the city of 11,000 residents has long struggled with high fuel prices—especially during the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Under the leadership of Republican Mayor Eddie Girdler, the conservative-leaning city purchased a fuel storage facility for $200,000 and spent $75,000 building the infrastructure to distribute gasoline to the public—including the installation of 10 pumps. The city now purchases gas from a local supplier (Continental Refining Company) and uses city employees who rotate in from other departments to operate the station.

In a city where gas prices can spike 20 to 30 cents a gallon on weekends, the public station will not aim to turn a profit.

In a city where gas prices at private stations can spike 20 to 30 cents a gallon on weekends, the public station will not aim to turn a profit. Rather the mayor’s office intends to set prices in a way that the city breaks even on the cost of fuel plus operating expenses. However, an additional goal is to provide an incentive for motorists on their way to Lake Cumberland to stop in Somerset to refuel, thus generating additional business for—and greater tax revenues from—the city’s restaurants, shops, and other small businesses.

Gas station owners and their regional and national associations (such as the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Kentucky Grocers Association, and Kentucky Association of Convenience Stores) have cried socialism and denounced the effort as an attempt to “interfere with the free market.” However, lower gas prices are proving popular with local residents, and Mayor Girdler is showing no signs of backing down.

“If government doesn't do it to protect the public, then who does it?” he told reporters. “It’s the role of government to protect us from big business.”

While Somerset’s publicly owned gas station is the first of its kind in a good many years, it draws upon a rich tradition in the United States of municipal enterprises that reduce costs for local residents, provide services for those underserved or exploited by private operators, and allow for community participation in economic decision-making. Historically, municipal ownership and operation of strategically important industries and services was commonplace in America’s cities. Often these included subways, trolleys, buses, power plants, power lines, telephone networks, water and sanitation systems, railroads, ice plants, bus and train stations, freight shipping facilities, grocery stores, coal distribution companies, and lodging houses.

One legacy of this approach is represented in the 2,000 municipally owned electric utilities, which, together with co-ops, supply more than 25 percent of the nation’s electricity. Another is the longstanding and highly successful publicly owned Bank of North Dakota, set up in 1919 (along with a state-operated mill and insurance program) by the state’s governing Non-Partisan League in response to the suffering of local farmers at the hands of out-of-state corporations.

Support for public ownership and enterprise at the local, municipal level often cuts across political ideologies and affiliations.

As both history and the recent events in Somerset attest, support for public ownership and enterprise at the municipal level often cuts across political ideologies and affiliations.

Of course, public ownership and operation of a gas station in order to reduce the cost of carbon-intensive, high-polluting fossil fuel raises important environmental and climate change-related questions. Ultimately, however, what is important is not the type of enterprise being owned and operated but rather the template that municipal ownership offers communities to regain direct control over the vital economic decisions that affect their daily lives.

While today they have municipalized a gas station, perhaps in the future the citizens of Somerset—like their counterparts in Boulder, Colorado—will push for a public utility in order to achieve greater renewable energy generation. Mayor Girdler hints at such a larger perspective.

“We are one community that decided we’ve got backbone and we’re not going to allow the oil companies to dictate to us what we can and cannot do,” he said. “We’re going to start out small. Where it goes from here we really don’t know.”

Thomas Hanna wrote this article for Community-Wealth.org, where it originally appeared. Thomas is senior research associate with The Democracy Collaborative. His areas of expertise include public ownership, nationalization, privatization, and banking.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 9/12 - N.J. S&P Debt Rating Downgraded, Crystals For Solar Energy

Chris Martenson - September 12, 2014 - 07:33
  • Russia and Ukraine: A brief intermission
  • Next Week’s Fed Meeting Could See a Rise in the Dollar
  • American shakedown: Police won't charge you, but they'll grab your money
  • Disillusioned by the Economic "Recovery"
  • What are we here for? What is the reason for being alive? What is our true purpose?
  • Scottish referendum too close to call, says ICM poll 
  • Citing Christie's pension cuts and budget issues, S&P downgrades N.J. debt rating
  • Controlling Crystal Growth Can Lead To Cheap, Efficient Solar Energy

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Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: The Many Reasons To Fear A Market Correction

Chris Martenson - September 11, 2014 - 15:02

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • The Irrational Altitude of Asset Prices
    • Too high, for all the wrong reasons
  • Dollar Strength
    • The dollar's rise is impacting all assets, some not rationally
  • The Cost of Our Failing Policies
    • We're diminishing the prosperity of future generations
  • Signs A Market Correction Is Beginning
    • Which asset classes to watch closely

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Categories: Economics

How Land Trusts Can Counter New Urbanism's Gentrifying Tendencies

Shareable Magazine - September 11, 2014 - 07:59

The principles of New Urbanism, which include walkability, mixed-use neighborhoods, and human-scale design, hold a lot of promise for fostering healthy communities. But there are serious downsides to New Urbanism — the most pressing of which is the displacement of historic communities that get priced out of their own neighborhoods as New Urbanism moves in.

Categories: Economics

How to Grow Garlic

Chris Martenson - September 11, 2014 - 07:24

Garlic is an extremely versatile cooking and medicinal herb. It is a great herb to grow in the backyard, because it is relatively easy to propagate at home, and it is expensive to buy at the store.

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Categories: Economics