Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Grimly amusing Science video

The US Chamber of the 1% backs a lot of the non-science so capably demolished in this Youtube, which would rate a smile if it wasn't reporting on effects that will cause the mass extermination of poor people all over the world just to maintain business as usual for folks like -- well, the 1%.

> One of my favorite YouTube channels is "potholer54," an Australian science journalist. This one is a bit long (18:28) but worth a look. The very end is hilarious.
> "You cannot reason people out of positions they didn't reason themselves into."
> -- Ben Goldacre

Think Government Never Makes a Mistake over Life or Death Matters?

  2014 OADP Annual Meeting

Tuesday, May 13th in Eugene

Wrongful Executions Expert to Present

On Tuesday May 13th, American University Professor and author Richard Stack will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 annual meeting of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP).

Professor Stack, author of three books, including his latest, GRAVE INJUSTICE: The Unearthing of Wrongful Executions will expand on major mistakes made in recent years. His compelling descriptions of nineteen wrongful executions illustrate the flaws of the death penalty, which he argues, is ineffective in deterring crime and cost more than sentences of life without parole.

Temple Beth Israel
1175 E. 29th Ave, Eugene 97403

Keynote Speaker:
Richard Stack, American University Professor and author of Grave Injustice
6 pm Dinner, 7pm Meeting & Program

Public is welcome Tickets $25

On Nov. 22, 2011 when Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was announcing his moratorium on executions he stated "I am calling on the legislature to bring potential reforms before the 2013 legislative session and encourage all Oregonians to engage in the long overdue debate that this important issue deserves." The discussion moves to Eugene at this event.

"In practice Oregon has an expensive and unworkable death penalty system that fails to meet basic standards of justice. It is clear the system is broken"
Governor John Kitzhaber, November 22nd, 2011

Another part of the Governor's 2011 statement was "In practice Oregon has an expensive and unworkable death penalty system that fails to meet basic standards of justice. It is clear the system is broken". Basic standards of justice that resonate with Oregon voters are "fairness" and the "mistakes made in the administration of the death penalty system". The most tragic mistake is the execution of an innocent person.

The OADP annual meeting is an opportunity for all OADP supporters to gather together to approve the slate of officers for the next 12 months and to hear the about our progress on the journey to repeal in Oregon. The general public is invited to attend and take the opportunity to learn more about our efforts to improve the criminal justice system in Oregon.

Ticket are available on-line by going to, purchasing them with a credit card through Pay Pal. Individual tickets are only $25. Reserve tables for eight by calling (503) 990-7060.
Table sponsors will have a table sign, be noted in the program for the evening and recognized from the podium.

For more information contact Ron Steiner at, call (503) 990-7060 or go to

Cars are bankrupting Salem -- not just a downtown thing

Great post that helps explain why cars are bankrupting Salem, and it's got very little to do with the downtown core area where all the friction occurs over car storage.  The expanding periphery -- sprawl -- is an exponentially rising cost; the more we pave, the more things are pushed apart, requiring even more paving over a larger area.  

In other words, we're in the terminal phase of the Red Queen problem from Alice in Wonderland -- we have to run faster and faster just to stay in place.  We've built a city where cars come first, ahead of people, and it's bankrupting us.  We're cutting public goods like libraries to find the money to service our auto sprawl development pattern, which is devouring our budget.  And the more we sprawl, the more the sprawl lobby demands even more paving, which further devours the budget for actually providing services people might want (because the costs of serving low density sprawl development gets factored into everything from water and sewer networks to police, fire, streetlights, etc.)

It's time to stop.  

We need to institute a hard cap on paved surface in Salem, and concentrate our limited funds on maintaining and preserving what we have, and making it more usable to everyone -- the young, the old, the handicapped, and the poor -- starting by rebuilding our embarrassment of a pitiful part-time public transit system.

Not one more foot of paving in Salem until we are done restoring the transit system to a standard appropriate for a capital city in an environmentally aware state in a first-world country and making every existing road and street in Salem safe and welcoming for pedestrians and bicyclists aged 8 to 80+.

It's time to admit that we have a drinking problem -- we've been drinking the sprawl lobby's Kool-Aid (tm) for so long that we're seeing more of the actual and figurative bodies pile up around us, as we keep not seeing the decomposing blue whale plopped right in front of us:  our addiction to making cars the centerpieces of our civic life instead of people.

Exactly the issue with chasing growth in Salem

This is exactly the issue -- in Salem, the Chamber of the 1% chants "growth" and other nonsense and demands subsidies and tax breaks for its members, and claims justification for such policies because they produce "growth" in the things we do measure.  

But this is all while ignoring the even faster climb in the negative costs, which are passed on to the public as a whole but ignored because not measured.

Thus, the vicious cycle that Salem is experiencing -- we constantly chase "economic growth" but find ourselves falling further and further behind, because the negative consequences are overwhelming any positive ones.

Paul Krugman often writes sensibly and cogently about economic policy. But like many economists, he can become incoherent on the subject of growth. Consider his New York Times piece, published earlier this month:

…let's talk for a minute about the overall relationship between economic growth and the environment.

Other things equal, more G.D.P. tends to mean more pollution. What transformed China into the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases? Explosive economic growth. But other things don't have to be equal. There's no necessary one-to-one relationship between growth and pollution.

People on both the left and the right often fail to understand this point…On the left, you sometimes find environmentalists asserting that to save the planet we must give up on the idea of an ever-growing economy; on the right, you often find assertions that any attempt to limit pollution will have devastating impacts on growth…[Krugman says both are wrong]…But there's no reason we can't become richer while reducing our impact on the environment [emphasis mine].

Krugman distances himself from "leftist" environmentalists who say we must give up the idea of an ever-growing economy, and is himself apparently unwilling to give it up. But he thinks the "right-wingers" are wrong to believe that protecting the environment will devastate growth. Krugman then advocates the more sensible goal of "becoming richer," but fails to ask if growth in GDP is any longer really making us richer. He seems to equate, or at least fails to distinguish, "growing GDP" from "becoming richer." Does he assume that because GDP growth did make us richer in yesterday's empty world it must still do so in today's full world? The usual but unjustified assumption of many economists is that a growing GDP increases measured wealth by more than it increases unmeasured "illth" (a word coined by John Ruskin to designate the opposite of wealth).

To elaborate, illth is a joint product with wealth. At the current margin, it is likely that the GDP flow component of "bads" adds to the stock of "illth" faster than the GDP flow of goods adds to the stock of wealth. We fail to measure bads and illth because there is no demand for them, consequently no market and no price, so there is no easy measure of negative value. However, what is unmeasured does not for that reason become unreal. It continues to exist, and even grow. Since we do not measure illth, I cannot prove that growth is currently making us poorer, any more than Krugman can prove that it is making us richer. I am just pointing out that his GDP growthism assumes a proposition that, while true in the past, is very doubtful today in the US.

To see why it is doubtful, just consider a catalog of negative joint products whose value should be measured under the rubric of illth: climate change from excess carbon in the atmosphere; radioactive wastes and risks of nuclear power plants; biodiversity loss; depleted mines; deforestation; eroded topsoil; dry wells, rivers and aquifers; the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico; gyres of plastic trash in the oceans; the ozone hole; exhausting and dangerous labor; and the un-repayable debt from trying to push growth in the symbolic financial sector beyond what is possible in the real sector (not to mention military expenditures to maintain access to global resources). . . .