Queen Elizabeth has been mum on what is occurring in her nation of Canada surrounding fracking. Perhaps someone can help me out here. Are reports true that the queen and the “royal” family own Canada? I realize it is a whopper of a question, and perhaps totally naïve, but I would be interested to know if it was possible that a family in 2014 can own an entire nation.
Having written a few articles on hydraulic fracturing I decided to find out what has gone on in Canada recently. The following 25-minute video report was produced by Al Jazeera English, and evidently the mini-documentary was blocked/censored for viewing by Americans. It is an excellent work of investigative journalism. Canada, like many nations around the world, has begun to accelerate fracking operations. There have been many controversies over the practice, including the so-called “Cheney” law, which protects fracking companies from being sued for certain environmental damages their operations produce.
The essential argument against fracking is about contamination of drinking water supplies. In the fracking debate of Canada during the past few weeks First Nation people have protested vigorously to stop fracking, so there is a battle of life philosophies at the heart of the conflict. On one side are corporations who stand to profit from fracking, and on the other are Native people and others who believe that water is essential to life.
What complicates things in Canada is the question of whether or not the Canadian government has properly consulted with Canada’s indigenous people before moving forward. According to the indigenous people, treaties signed hundreds of years ago contain language that requires a cooperative effort when it comes to actions which will possibly ruin land or water – language they claim still applies today in 2014.
Because there is a feeling that the provincial government in Canada where fracking may begin did not fulfill treaty language, that the government did not contact and consult with indigenous leaders, the response has been protest, blockage of highways, and skirmishes. The situation has gained international attention, especially by people in nations where similar controversies over fracking exist. In Elsipogtog, New Brunswick, Canada it is yet unknown whether fracking will occur or not.
In New Brunswick, Canada and nations around the world democracy is on trial when it comes to hydraulic fracturing. At stake is the power of citizens to organize their land and world in ways that they want, without a handful of powerful and wealthy people vetoing that people power.
If anyone reading this runs into Queen Elizabeth – the ‘Queen of Canada’ – please ask her to offer her wisdom to resolve this fracking debate in Canada in a way which will guarantee the greatest health and well-being of all the people of Canada. Surely she must possess the wisdom to suggest the highest, noblest solution to this difference of opinion. Only persons who possess the greatest wisdom in the land rise to become “royalty”.
Economics is a field that many find very confusing – myself included. Professor Steve Keen, who lectured at the University of West Sydney, Australia, considers himself from the economic school of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Let me say first that I haven’t spent much time (yet) researching MMT, but with the few MMT economists I have listened to in interviews, speeches, etc., I have come to agree with their ideas. With regard to Professor Keen, in a separate interview he mentioned his wish that Professor Bill Black had been in charge of investigation and prosecution of financial crimes in the 2007-present crisis – instead of the 1980’s Savings and Loan scandals where Mr. Black was one of the lead investigators.
For the sole reason that he admires Bill Black, Professor Keen from that point became one of my favorite economists and a man who I will spend a lot of time listening to. Mr. Keen’s view is that it is private debt, not public debt, that is the real problem in the USA, Europe, and other nations. Private debt includes mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and transactions of the so-called shadow banking system – financial corporations not subject to regulations like traditional banks. You will understand the shadow banking system is running wild when you understand the supposedly “regulated” banks have run virtually wild since repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999.
The Federal Reserve began quantitative easing (QE) in the fourth quarter of 2008, with a philosophy that Wall Street (WS) was on fire and no longer lending to businesses and citizens. The result of QE, with $85 billion per month of purchases of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds, has been a stabilizing of WS banks – without any helping of the American people. The stock exchange has broken records, however this has no relation to the economic conditions experienced on the ground by the citizens, as unemployment, foreclosures, poverty, etc. continue at very high levels.
The Federal Reserve has in effect doubled-down on policies that created the crisis in the first place, while credit lending remains almost non-existent – QE being like a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage – without any falsely advocated trickle down effects. QE has not been a solution in the least, and has to be seen as a problem. The Fed has increased the size of its balance sheet five times, from $800 billion to $4 trillion, roughly $1.25 trillion being mortgage-backed securities.
These mortgage securities are the complex financial instruments in which the financial industry bundled so-called toxic assets, subprime mortgages which will probably default, many of them so-called “liars” loans, where millions of people who should never have received a home loan got them through fraudulent, criminal actions by lenders across the nation. False incomes, false appraisals, and other frauds were perpetrated to get as many deals as possible done, with bonus incentives pushing the practice to historic criminal levels.
These liars and “ninja” (no income, no job, no assets) mortgage loans were then bundled into derivatives and other complex financial instruments, fraudulently classified “AAA” by the largest ratings agencies, and sold to unwary, unsophisticated customers around the world. These are what are termed “toxic assets”, and this is what the Fed has purchased over $1.25 trillion of since 2008. These are assets which the fraudsters in the too-big-to-fail banks were unable to fraudulently sell to pension fund managers, city, county, state governments, and other institutional investors. In effect the Fed has been like a “fence” for the banks, buying stolen homes. Stolen because these homes became owned by the banks through fractional reserve lending – creating money out of thin air – through a few keystrokes on their computer screens.
Imagine you stole all of your neighbors’ boats, then your local bank paid you for all of them.
Professor Keen has suggested that QE, instead of going to banks in a backdoor bailout, go to the citizens. If his suggestion had been agreed upon since the 4th quarter of 2008, then $3.2 trillion would have gone into the hands of United States citizens, with an additional $75 billion per month now that the Fed stepped down from $85 billion/month in QE. Professor Keen points out that his plan would require that Americans must use the money to pay down debt. This would result in more spending in the economy as people would have less to pay on debt service, more hiring, more taxes, etc.
Mr. Keen’s idea is creative, makes sense, and needs to be very seriously considered. The American citizens have suffered damage through the massive fraudulent actions which took place in the years leading up to the economic crisis of 2007-8. Because there are trillions of dollars worth of toxic assets/mortgage-backed derivatives purchased by those who were falsely led to believe were “AAA” (safe) investments, recovery for pension plans, governments, and others who bought them is next to impossible.
Instead of continuing to purchase these toxic assets from criminal banks – buying stolen property – direct those resources to the people, who have become the victims of the criminals who committed them.
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) is probably most well-known for his simple suggestion to “follow your bliss”. Up until these days I hadn’t become aware of his story – his views of the world. In my typical bumbling, stumbling way of searching for interesting information, I went to look for interviews at Thinking Allowed TV on YouTube, because it was there that I found one of the few interviews of Native American medicine man Rolling Thunder.
So, as I had never really listened to what Joseph Campbell had to say, one of the interviews on the channel was of Mr. Campbell. His views were aligned with my own and led me to the biographical documentary “The Hero’s Journey“, about the life of Joseph Campbell. The film is a keeper, worthy of viewing again and again. He was born in the New York City area, and began his intellectual journey around the age of 10, after being impressed by a local, outdoor theatrical production with Buffalo Bill and Native Americans.
It is interesting to consider whether Mr. Campbell’s life would have taken a completely different direction had he, say, been unable to attend the Buffalo Bill show. One wonders if he would ever have gone at ten years old to read many books at his library about the Native Americans, which would have eventually resulted in the non-existence of this post, as well as Mr. Campbell’s great influence through his life. It’s kind of like baseball, where the World Series ends up decided on a play where the outfielder misses the Game 7 clinching home run by inches – small events making all the difference.
However, Joseph Campbell did attend the Buffalo Bill show in New York at ten years old, read every book in the library about Native Americans, and went on to become a world expert on mythology and religions. After going to Europe for university studies, he returned to the USA weeks before the Great Depression began. It is somewhat astonishing to learn that he spent the next five years reading constantly, on both mythology and world religions.
To be honest one of the reasons it took so long to check Mr. Campbell out had to do with a negative mythology class taken in university. In direct contrast to Joseph Campbell, the professor of my mythology class would have nothing to do with becoming engaged in discussions with his students. After a few attempts at starting a class discussion with personal comments and being shut down by the professor, the rest of the class became one where everyone in the class said nothing, basically riding it out for the credits.
Not so with Joseph Campbell. From the film we find that he was ever-interested in discussions, even during his off the job time. One can see how the Native American oral tradition, where storytelling becomes the means of teaching the next generation on life philosophy, became taken to heart by Mr. Campbell from his readings at ten years old. We can see him sitting in the cafeteria sharing stories with students as if he were a Native American elder sitting in the tepee around the fire, telling stories to the grandchildren.
He lectured at Sarah Lawrence University for 38 years, writing a number of books along the way. His collaboration with Bill Moyers – The Power of Myth – was probably his most widely known creative production. Until viewing “The Hero’s Journey” I had bought in to the idea that myths were some type of made-up fairytale stories and, combined with the unproductive college mythology class, missed the boat where Joseph Campbell was the captain.
The significant contribution of Joseph Campbell
His ideas are most important in that he pointed out that there is one universal mythology shared by the world’s spiritual/religious/mythic traditions, but through differences in language have blocked recognition of the one universal myth. One could see how the various myths from around the world are essentially local bibles or texts – with different languages and symbols all saying the same things. He points out that the historical error of failing to recognize the one universal myth has resulted in separations between religions, a significant barrier to peace and brotherhood, compounded by a failure to recognize the ultimate importance of human beings’ inner search for wisdom.
One had to admire Joseph Campbell’s humility, as he downplayed any suggestion that he was a guru or mystic, stating that he was only a professor. It is obviously water under the bridge, but I can’t help wondering what that mythology class would have been like if Joseph Campbell was the professor. He stated in an interview that he had seen profound changes in his students through close to 40 years of teaching. He said this not in any way of bragging, but to add to the power of the message he shared. His message was simply and honestly powerful.
His explanation of Buddhist symbols such as the evil-looking guardians to entry of the door to enlightenment, how these symbols represent the human ego and fear, gives an example of the correct direction for humans to search – inward. His consideration of modern religions’ emphasis and focus on fear/ego based external sources for “answers”, leading the adherents in the wrong direction, leads him to state that religions are “religions of exile”.
He shares an experience where during a lecture he suggests that “for a Christian, one should live according to the Christ within you”. A woman sitting in the audience later tells him that she was sitting next to a priest when he stated it and heard the priest say, “blasphemy”. Mr. Campbell points out his view, “then what in heaven’s name are we talking about?”
The kingdom of heaven is within you
So, I think Joseph Campbell’s greatest contribution during his 83 years on Earth was his discovery that human beings are all part of one family sharing the same stories, with non-essential details – minor variations due to language and social factors. The hero’s journey is the universally shared inner journey, at each moment available for human beings to begin.
From Gnostic writings found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt – 1945:
The disciples asked: “On what day will the kingdom come?” Jesus said: It cometh not with observation. They will not say: Lo, here! or; Lo there! But the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the Earth, and men do not see it.”
“The Pharisees and scribes have received the keys of the kingdom; they have hidden them. They did not go in, and those who wanted to go in they did not allow. But you be ye as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
There is one spirituality – one religion – one mythology.
“Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls. Heaven cannot be found where it is not, and there can be no peace except there. There is no other answer you can substitute, and find the happiness his answer brings. Seek not outside yourself. Be you glad that you are told where happiness abides, and seek no longer elsewhere. You will fail.”
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)wrote many songs in his life that have become standards/classics in America and around the world. He is considered by many to be an American treasure. “Bound For Glory” has seen a number of men and women musicians’ create their own distinctive covers. Bruce Springsteen covers the song in a very dramatic way, wringing all the same deep emotions out of the piece that Woody Guthrie put into writing it. As excellent as Bruce’s version is, the following performance of “Bound For Glory” by Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, among others, has got to be absolutely the most energetic version to date.
Upon finding these musical gems it takes no thought to post them here for readers’ enjoyment. To be honest I am also posting this for my own reasons – the video, the musicians’ obvious enthusiasm – simply instills inspiration. There are times where one needs to balance the heavy, serious issues of the day with some lighter, joyful moments – the guys and gals performing here are having about as much fun as people can have with their clothes on. I’m willing to bet good money that after a minute you will be wishing you were on that stage.
Woody Guthrie is smiling somewhere. Someplace called Glory.
Palestinians are at the heart of the conflict in the M.E Palestinians uprooted by force of arms.. Yet faced immense difficulties have survived, kept alive their history and culture, passed keys of family homes in occupied Palestine from one generation to the next.
This blog is devoted to legal, historical and human rights matters, in which issues of general concern are addressed freely and spontaneously. It is intended to further an informal exchange of views in the democratic spirit of freedom of opinion and respect for the opinions of others, in an effort to understand rather than condemn, to propose constructive solutions rather than grandstand. The perspective is both from inside and outside the box and the added value lies more in the questions than in the answers.