Thursday, June 4, 2015

Something Deeper Happening?

They say all politics is local. Here we have Newman Ridge. In Calaveras County a similar battle is unfolding over a proposed asphalt plant. The tactics of the opposition appears to come from a similar playbook. Is this all more than coincidence? recently ran a story that stated:The number of drugs in short supply in the U.S. has risen 74% from five years ago, to about 265... They range from antibiotics and cancer treatments to commodity items such as saline.” A recent article in Barron’s said that as of 2013: “…no new landfills have been permitted in the U.S. in 18 years, and no new hazardous-waste incinerators have been built in the past 15 years.”

Maintaining our roadbeds, having essential pharmaceuticals and disposing of our waste are not economic growth projects, they are staying put projects. Without them, we fall behind and enter a period of decline...and this is without even adding in population growth both natural and from legal and illegal immigration. While we debate social issues like gay marriage and some see a moral decline, the economic decline is most often only witnessed locally. I believe most people think that their town is in trouble, but that things are pretty good elsewhere. Everyone in Kansas feels relieved that they don’t have to pay the rents in San Francisco. The new media may have exploded, but most people still see their limited, habitual sources. If it’s not a crisis yet, it isn’t news.

This may well be the Chinese century, but the United States doesn’t have to sink into oblivion. How close to sinking into a deep hole are we? Our illusionary life is sustained by debt. The Federal Reserve buys about half the debt of the US Treasury. Most of the other half is sold to unknown entities in places like the Grand Cayman Islands. This is less stable than a house of cards. Some say a collapse is being engineered and that recent domestic military maneuvers are preparation. But others say this is total paranoia. Clairvoyants say the USA will break apart into a series of regional republics. We all know that movements such as the State of Jefferson are now occurring.

I don’t know what will happen nor can I predict the future. But I acutely observe what is happening, find it alarming and struggle for optimism.

Copyright 2015, Mark L. Bennett


  1. Mr. Bennett, I can appreciate that you have a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of the country and our local area. I wonder though about your angst, which is more typical of a progressive. Conservatives are usually pretty cheerful, due to having the mindset that they have everything figured out. But I recognize that you are weighed down with the burdens of right-wing conspiracies, which I imagine must be onerous. Oh, you can deflect by using the “some say…”, but you believe them too, I am convinced. Be honest. I’ve read too many of your commentaries.

    Where to start? Reduced number of landfills? That proves what, exactly? What insidious force is working to reduce them, and why? Is it the progressives and their insistence on job-killing regulations? How about this: fewer permits for landfills are being requested due to recycling and its impact. Why don’t you consider that?

    Did you know that the number of dairy cows has gone down dramatically over the years? I just heard this on NPR this morning:
    “Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal geneticist at UC Davis says selective breeding has enabled farmers to dramatically reduce the size of the dairy herd in the United States.
    ‘We used to have somewhere roundabouts 25 million dairy cows in the United States, and we're down to nine million now,’ says Van Eenennaam.
    She says selective breeding is good for the planet because fewer dairy cows are releasing methane – a harmful green house gas.
    ‘It [has] actually reduced the environmental footprint of a glass of milk by two-thirds relative to the 1950’s,’ says Van Eenennaam.
    Mapping the cow genome was completed in 2009. Van Eenennaam says teasing out which genes contribute to specific traits will continue to help animal breeders improve the dairy industry's productivity.”

    You think that the Newman Ridge project is a good thing. Same with the Dollar General store going into Pine Grove. Don’t others have the right to be opposed to these events? Aren’t they allowed to have the same sincerity of their beliefs without being called liars? Is your reality the one that everyone should embrace?

  2. D. Norman – You first flatter me and then accuse me. Your set up for attempted manipulation has failed. You say I am burdened by right wing conspiracies yet you believe in the total fraud of global warming and accept the very dangerous corruption of much current science. Banter of this sort is rarely constructive dialogue.
    Yes there are less landfills and yes they are harder to build and yes there is more recycling. Because regulation is greater and because recycling requires great economics of scale only three giant corporations control trash today. Their landfills are regional and local trash haulers travel relatively long distances. This creates air pollution and often results in higher fees for the average person. So the lower dumping fees the trash hauler pays at a more efficient landfill and the value the landfill operator receives from recycled material are an economic wash. There is certainly a marginal benefit to reusing materials, but it is paid for by the higher fees the average person pays. And local communities are now beholden to a powerful few and have lost the freedom to decide the destiny of their trash and its budget implications.
    You have accused me of “Don’t others have the right to be opposed to these events?” I never advocated anything of the sort. I will not fall into your style of discussion. I have never called anyone a liar except for those that are lying. If you think that the Newman Ridge opponents saying that the project site which is surrounded by four or so working quarries in a 150 year old mining district is pristine that what is a lie to you?

  3. By regularly offering your commentaries, Mr. Bennett, you must realize that you invite replies with opposing viewpoints. However, you seem to be unwilling or unable to view them as anything other than personal attacks. You strike back with ill-thought-out responses, often misinterpreting what you have read. For example, in your above reply to my response, you twice use the word accuse. Musings and questions don’t equate to accusations, unless you read words through some kind of interesting filter.

    Announcing yourself to be “Outside the Ivory Tower” doesn’t allow you a pass on some basic elements necessary to fashion a constructive reply. Reading comprehension and critical thinking are two important elements.

    As I pointed out above, someone with requisite reading comprehension skills would not conclude that they were being accused of something when what they have just read does not indicate that.

    In my commentary on Newman Ridge, I wrote: “The citizens of Amador County deserve transparency. Reading or hearing about the land purchase back in 2006, they could have reasonably assumed that homes, not a quarry/asphalt plant, would be in their future.”

    Your reply: “He asserts that it is some sort of subterfuge that part of the former Howard Ranch may become home sites.” clearly comes from someone who either lacks the requisite comprehension of what they are reading, or needs to read more carefully.

    And someone with competent critical thinking skills would know that they are expressing an opinion when they write “…the total fraud of global warming…”, and “I have never called anyone a liar except for those that are lying.” Opinions are not facts, Mr. Bennett.

  4. D. Norman, I thank you for admitting defeat, which appears to be the appropriate word in our repartee here. Since your only response, except in rare instances, has been the tactic of defaming and discrediting you have acknowledged that you have no other answer and therefore, by your own actions, have lost.

  5. Mr. Bennett, I’ll happily stipulate in advance that you will be the winner in any future “banter” or “repartee” in which we engage. I don’t care about “being defeated” or “losing”. I will continue to offer commentaries of my own, or reply to yours, with the aim as always to inform or set the record straight. I will let the readers decide if the content in my writing contains any language that is “defaming and discrediting”. I have a high degree of confidence that they won’t.