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Feb 22

"What Does America Need To Do To Survive?"

"What Does America Need To Survive?"

The first area to look into are those pillars of American success I identified above: Cheap Labor, Cheap Energy, Cheap Food and a country filled with natural resources.

To this list I will now add, a decent birth rate or immigrant flow, small town and technical green enclave

investment, income distribution reform, land distribution reforms, banking and financial reforms and a

re-thinking of the purposes of an economy.

Cheap labor built this country, from the Chinese coming to lay the track for the railroads, to the

Africans working the cotton in the South, to the immigrants from Europe who cleared the land in the

west, who worked the factories, fought the wars and made America what it is today. Needless to say

the labor scene is not the same today. Cheap labor has been outsourced to other countries. The

American middle class has not only been abandoned but 40% of American savings were taken from

them and their homes, their major asset, is now selling for half the purchase price to those very

same interests which took the savings and the land.

We are heading for a two class system, therefore, the rich and the poor. Certainly that is the

pattern becoming evident in many of our cities. In addition, there is the lack of labor, cheap or

otherwise which is the demographic issue. Americans are not having children, nor are Europeans

and the demographics are clear: By 2050, some demographic studies show, the reproducing

population of Russia, Britain, France and Italy will in essence cease to exist and the traditional

populations will be  replaced by immigrants from other countries. The same trends are evident in

the United States as well. Latin American birth rates outstrip those of Americans and demography

become destiny, in a flice.

So, as we age in this country, we see a younger population replacing an older one, of a very

different stripe. Our children will learn more Spanish in the short-run but English will have a

resurgence in the next generation. What is to be done in this context is now our challenge.

The first issue in the short run is the economy. The country will, and already has, in certain

communities become a two-economy society. Why should I, nor can I, compete for basic living

necessities with individuals earning 2-3 times more than I do?

A two-economy solution, whether created or defacto realized seems inevitable. The rich will likely

not be allowed to shop in the second economy where the price of necessities can be artificially

raised in a so-called "free market." This solution creates a low-cost economy of necessities for

those who provide the labor. This makes sense and many do this to survive anyway today. Thrift

shops, discount stores, Walmarts all attest to the fact that the middle class cannot afford middle

class and upper middle class prices.

The second pillar of revamping the labor force (the one above creates an economy which works for

them) is to have that labor force become more self-sufficient and not be susceptible to being wiped

out by Wall Street machinations and global trends in far away countries. This means the re-claiming

of productive land and small towns where they they can be supportive of a laboring population

. Bartering, plus low living costs, plus a land reform policy can make the country side more

productive and sustainable especially in the context of greening these small towns to produce

energy for re-sale to the grid.

Now you have idle workers in small towns all over the country. We can make those small towns

productive with massive investments. How you say is that possible? More tomorrow.

February 18, 2010 - Survival Chapter Three

As I have stated elsewhere our children will not be able to afford the suburban home of the past.

In the cities they will be forced and are, already, living three to five a house or apartment. High

unemployment will remain with us and a revamping of the economy from a service emphasis to a

new high-tech, green emphasis will take time. What to do. Here are a few modest proposals

about what to do with the labor force, idle out there and hurting.

1-Create a massive internal peace corp. Put people to work re-vamping small towns for their

change-over to a more self-sustaining model. This includes local organic food stuffs, grown and

consumed. Free up land for this purpose. People will grow gardens. Put money into green

training and irrigation projects. Bring people languishing unproductively in the cities back into

these very same small towns. Bring back and support local and regional banks. Remember what

happens when we allow Wall street to be come our bankers. Take those same highly educated

city grads and give them money to go back home to their own small towns, or others to help set

up the infrastructure need to fuel this re-generation of America. Move people out of the cities

with incentives to go back to the small town or the medium sized town. We have technology now

where we don't need to congregate in cities to be productive, that was an industrial model where

you needed the labor force close and available near ports and transportation hubs. We don't

need this so much in this post industrial era. Has this model been tried? Sure. Dependent wage-

earners in the city are an economic failure. We should admit it and go local and regional.


The poor won't be poor if they are given the means to access the basics of life. The middle class

can revert to the community help model that is still in place in many small towns, and has been

for centuries. After all, most of the world is a small town model.


Now the second aspect of reform is to take the technological enclaves I have described and

integrate them into what I have described above. I have noted that much of the i nformation

revolution is actually driven by a few high skilled enclaves around the world and by relatively few

people. They are Silicon valley-like enclaves in California, China,Singapore, France, Germany,

Hong-Kong etc. These enclaves are small towns where participants know one another and

exchange ideas. This is the second model of small town regeneration. These types of small

towns are to be in contact with type one small towns and can become training cadres for small

town re-generation. How? Give them tax breaks to do so and guess what they will have at their

disposal; cheap labor from the sources we identified above. That is what we need to do in the

short run, town by town.


So we have a new source of cheap labor, idle now but can become productive again. Empty the

cities, get people out of what are inefficient enclaves and get them to places where the

population can begin to benefit itself not a few hundred thousand rich souls who control city life.

Ah not possible you say? The choice here is stark: Either we organize this new re-generation by

planful means or it will occur in an unplanned way, which is to say people abandoning the cities

and invading the country side looking for the means to survive. Be mindful here that any disaster

of any meaningful proportions will initiate this process anyway and we will not have planned for it

A last stark fact: The average grocer has three days worth of food on the shelves. People will

invade the country side looking for food and this will be the plan I just discussed being initiated

the hard way.

The collapse of centralized authority, unplanned, happened with the collapse of the Roman

Empire, initiating the Dark Ages, happened, in fact, in the bible as I have argued above, and

happened with the collapse of Egyptian rule in Canaan.

February 22, 2010 "What Does America Need To Survive?" Chapter 4

Have there been other examples of civilizations abandoning the city as unworkable; abandoning

empire as unworkable? The Mayans abandoned pyramid building, the Greeks, the Babylonians,

the French, the British, and most recently the Russians abandoned their empire as unworkable.

It is part of a normal pattern.

So now to get to the detail. Include the army in the small town regeneration project, along with

the young and the college-educated. Many of them have ties to these small towns and it would

be a home coming. Have the technological enclaves close by with small towns providing labor in

exchange for training. Isn't that what an Army does anyway? Focus efforts in regeneration on

greening and self-sufficiency. These would be key. this would mean small truck farms, wind, solar

and the techo-enclave would be in proximity. And, ultimately, able to produce energy for the gird.

Of course, there will be a fight over the land. Currently developers, banks,railroads, utilities and

US government own most of the casino online land in the country. There would have to be a new land use

policy. Survival is at stake. But the fight could be won because small states dominate in the US

Senate and a deal could be struck because their states would benefit from such a plan.

Think of it. Most of the wasted resources in this country are utilzed keeping the cities afloat. They

are not economic, crime ridden, have no real products they produce, have teeming

unemployment looming and bound to get worse and net resource wasters. They demand

massive investments in transportation, food, energy and give little back in terms of long-term

sustainability. Young people, the idle, the technologically advanced are better utilized on the

country-side landscape. Just a thought.

So cheap labor is possible to put back into the American equation. As I am fond of saying, this

will happen well and planned or ill-planned and ugly.


February 26, 2010 "Survive"

The next item in tandem is cheap energy. Above we have mentioned wind and solar. We add to

the list bat tery power, and nuclear power. There are ideas around the idea of clean coal and

cheap oil, but we are better off looking at fuel substitutes that include vegetable oils and other

grain based fuels. At the very least stockpiles ought to be created for the emergencies which will

surely come in the future. But will all this be enough, timely and efficient in the face of climate

change, aging populations, declining incomes, looming depression, and political paralysis? Such

timing is critical, the answer is unknown. However, we have no choice in the energy field, we must

act as if we will succeed. The overall goal is clear, create a society which city and country-side

produce net energy give-backs to the grid.

A friend of mine stated part of the problem succinctly, "Why re-build an outmoded infrastructure;

build the new one directly."

On the energy level the task is a delicate one: We have to build the boat we are sailing

to Europe on while sailing to Europe. The reason that this is even to be looked at is that you can

do this if you build the boat as a series of rafts strung together. Those rafts are small towns.

Seen this way, it is possible to accomplish the task.

The next issue is cheap food. America has long been the bread basket of the world but that

small-farmer model of production has long been replaced by big agriculture which now means

genetic farming where corn itself has reduced strains available and many of them owned, repeat,

owned by the Monsanto's of the world. It is illegal to grow the corn without their permission. This,

of course, changes the cheap food equation. If grain seed and indeed water, and the very air

can become private property then the house of cards will collapse. Clearly this system is not

sustainable and is not viable as a public good.

Re-generation will have to be accompanied by a re-thinking of who owns food grains. Who owns

water, land, air? It is instructive to even have to discuss these issues this way. What hath

progress wrought?

How can food be re-democratized? It will have to be. Hungry people will find a way to feed their


Now a potential catalyst in all of this which will likely upset the best laid plans are returning

veterans from our two wars.

These folks, having made sacrifices for the country will come home, assuming the wars end, and

in the the Iraq example, will need jobs and there are none. They will need medical care, in a

medical system which is broken. They will need re-training, in a country which is cutting college

budgets. Something similar happened after world war one and those vets marched on

Washington. These might when they and their families find they cannot make a living once back

home. Their are good candidates for re-generation projects.

But the potential volatility of that issue remains.. The two economy solution will become more

apparent and needed. After all we have an example of this with the military itself where the

internal military ec onomy runs on it own terms not those of the general American economy.

So what then is the next issue to be solved? We need to look at small town economic models and

their regional counterparts. Tomorrow.


February 27, 2010 "Survive"

The economic picture is glum, but things will sort themselves out well or badly. Let's concentrate

on well. The first item many of you have mentioned is the issue of where will the money come

from to institute many of the ideas I have outlined above. Bob mentioned the national debt, two

wars, and a trillion dollar deficit. All true. The national debt is 12.4 trillion dollars and soon the

interest payments against that debt will be the largest item in the national budget.

What will happen? What can happen? Can we or our children pay this debt? No, not right now

. What will likely happen is either default or re-structuring. We owe the money to the Chinese and

the Japanese mostly and we will likely simply restructure with both and create new lower

payments. They might, and likely will agree, to the extent they can see their imports increase to

us in our re-generation efforts here. They could get some debt funds paid back in that way,

along with currency re-valuation in online casino the Chinese example. And guess who will be in China,

utilizing that cheap labor-US companies who can produce for the US market utilizing this foreign

labor also help create that green market back home as well. This has synergy. Sloppy synergy

but yes synergy. Inevitable? No. But a logical path.

The two wars cost about 120 billion a year and have to be wound down slowly so as to not

exacerbate all those towns dependent upon military contracts in the United States and all those

countries dependent upon US military bases abroad. We are a war-dependent economy seeking

to become a peace economy, that will take time, say 20 years.

So the first step in economic re-generation will be the global changes described above from the

perspective of the United States. We can't pay. Besides we need the money for the internal

changes above or we pay in internal disruptions from economic chaos if we don't act. Think 20

rolling Katrina's due to water shortages in one case, food shortages in another case, rising

inflation which make the dollar worth a lot less, transportation breakdowns, terrorist attacks etc.

We are a such a fragile over-techonloigized society, and so interdependent that five airplanes

can bring out economy to it's knees. This is not good.

Now the small town answer here is therefore a good idea not only for economic reasons but for

strict military reasons as well. Ninety-five percent of the people living on one percent of the land

is a bad idea militarily. Disbursement is a better idea.

Now the mix we are talking about here is one of small-town, regional and yes some cities where

cities make sense. But basis of the American future has to be local, upgraded with technology,

not massed populations in vulnerable cities.

So how much time will this all take and what are the barriers?


March 1, 2010 "Survival"

A wise sage once said "What to do is easy, but the first step of what to do is creativelineinc the problem." The

same is true here. The answer to the question of how long we have to accomplish certain critical

first steps is a function of how long will the first steps take. And what are those first steps? Here

we go:

The country has to be put on a disaster footing, whether that disaster be any of the calamities I

have described above or some one not yet conceived. Here is what I think we have to do, over

what time line, with what human power sources and at what cost:

1-Just as we have voting booths and places in every community in the United States we must do

the same for the regeneration effort. We will need in an emergency, power, medical, housing

food, water, and energy and ways to move people efficiently. We partially have this in place with

F.E.M.A but I would not bet my life on their help, would you?

The first scenario is the three to--five day survival period. In a disaster we want people to be self-

sufficient and be able to survive for at least three-to five days after an event or in general.

--That is every home must have five days of food, non-perishable (remember, we assume no

power will be available)

--Each home must have or access to five days of clean water

--Each home must have access to an emergency medical kit

--Each home must have a shortwave radio kit or access to same

--Each home must have a fuel generation kit, assuming gasoline supplies will quickly become


--Each home must have access to the ability to produce heat or fire

--Each home must have a tent for temporary shelter if necessary.

--Each home must have seed grains for a vegetable garden (yes, let's think ahead)

--Each home must have a 12 volt battery, an auto battery will do and, add two bicycles, and a

crowbar and rope.

--Each block must have a disaster warden, someone who would get training in the above items

and their use; a paid position.

Right now some homes have these items, most don't. Some communities have their processes in

place, some don't.

Shopping list item one for the state and federal government: Have our re-generation work force,

(remember these folks?) create "Survival Support Kits" on every block in America. Kit production

will provide jobs, make survivability an real option for Americans not only for natural disasters but

other kinds of slow degeneration from economic collapse as well.

These kits will be on every block, or within walking distance and supplement those home supplies

I have described above. Why all this effort? The worse thing you can have is millions of people in

the cities on the move after five days looking for food or trying to escape the chaos of the cities.

There are massive issues with this kind of movement. You want folks to hunker down in place

and survive for at least five days to ten days until state or federal efforts can be mounted.

Hunkering down also makes security for these communities easier, rather than dealing with a

scattered population on the move.

The details of how you get fuel without gasoline I will spare you but survivalists know them well.

How much will this effort cost? Unknown but my guess is each kit and its mobile container will cost

in materials about 750 dollars. Labor costs would be about 500 per kit, transportation, training

and placement and after support: about 2,500 dollars per kit for the first year. Let's add

contingency costs and the kit total is 5,000 per unit. How many units? Let's say a million units

installed in each of five years: 25 billion.

Of course there are other costs as well. All we have here is survival days one through five. But

what about after the five to ten day period I have postulated. More on that tomorrow.

March 2, 2010 "Survival"

All of the above effort gets us five to ten days of sufficing, mostly in the city. Beyond the ten-day

mark there is a lot more to do. Moreover, what I have described above is mostly related to the

cities. The country side effort is presumed to be in place from the other efforts described above

and will have similar outlines as the city effort except that the Army, state and federal forces will

lead that effort.

After ten days cities will be out of food and masses of individuals will head toward the country-

side to escape what will be an increasingly chaotic and dangerous city environment. These

patterns of behavior are not uncommon; we see them in every prolonged disaster or emergency.

Most of these ideas work in fire, earthquake, terrorist action, drought, power failure, water

issues etc. They are not great for nuclear war. There all bets are off.

Now in the country side you have to have in place before the above disasters or slowly

degenerating circumstances (the latter is more likely) receptions centers to receive the city

dwellers. Housing, kits, medical attention, sustainability planning all will have to be done before

hand. The kits I speak of have to be along major exit routes and highways out of the urban areas

and final destination points have to be marked out before hand to handle millions of people.

Food stuffs, water purification, temporary governmental functioning, security issues,

communication, transportation and mobility-- all issues that this country has not acted up and

may have to. A slow moving degeneration of our financial systems in the easiest to deal with. But

think back to  October 1929. The collapse of the stock market put millions on the road looking for

food and work. This can happen again and we have done nothing to anticipate or prepare.

What will a truly national, or even regional effort look like?  We build that infrastructure block by

block , city by city, region by region focusing our effort based on what areas, cities or regions

have the best sustainability components and spend money in those areas which do not. The

have's are put to work creating sustainability for the have-nots.

But details and costs loom here. How can this be done in the next twenty years-an arbitrary time

period, but one I think is the last window we have to have gotten much of this in place.

We create hubs, local and regional until a national network is in place. The jobs it will create will

help. The products, all aligned with sustainability and green goals give the country a future in the

global economy, and we come out if it stronger militarily and mentally.

But as always the question is what comes first, who does it, how much will it cost and how

effective will this effort be?


March 3, 2010 "Survival"

The mounting of a national effort encompassing a local, regional and country-wide effort will take

twenty years. It will involve a simultaneous re-vamping of the American economy and political

strucuture such that local self-sufficiency to the maximum degree possible is built into the new

system. Our issues with infra-structure, energy, power, food etc are all based upon the

assumption that the present system will be in place when clearly the present system needs to be

totally re-conceptualized. The maxim is that with every complex system there simply isn't enough

brain power at the top to manage systems when they reach a certain size, no matter how much

technology we throw at it. The dream that we could automate our way to a well run system is a

dream. It happens over and over again with empires, cities and even small regions. People run

systems best who are close to the production of its basic outlines.

What if I were President? What would I do? Well the American people, and others in other

countries, do not really believe that life can change from what it currently is. We are paralyzed

into complacency, feel powerless to change anything and not sure if we really want to see much

change. As one of my students said, "Will I still be able to still play piano?"

Now the first thing I would do is to shake up the situation with new Federal law that would place in

each American home the basic needs I have outlined above for the first line of defense in the

event of an emergency in American cities. Each home or block would receive one of the kits I

describe at a cost of five hundred per kit.

This is the "wake-up call" approach. This is a signal that we as Americans are vunuerable to

various emergencies and must make preparations. I would bill it as the first steps toward local

control and de-centralization, away from centralized banks and financial systems to more local

one, to more local political and social control, to a more self-sufficient country; re-building

America from the bottom up and creating new self-sufficiency green and smart jobs.

That is America's future if America is going to survive and compete in the global economy of the

future. If this is not done the current situation where the top one percent of the population has

control over more wealth that the bottom ninety-five percent will create social unrest of enormous

proportions and a re-alignment will occur through this messy method rather than through the

ways I am proposing here. Let's hope we all come to our senses.

End of this blog







Author: Lonnie Hicks
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