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As long as fossil fuels remain artificially cheap  and profitable, their rising use threatens civilization and human survival. Correcting this massive market failure from driving us beyond all tipping points requires that the price of carbon pollution account for its true social costs.

Carbon pricing is regarded by economists, investors and politicians around the world as the most sensible and effective systemic measure to address climate change.

A national carbon pricing measure, properly designed, will do four things: internalize the social cost of carbon, rapidly achieve large emission reductions, minimize economic disruption and recruit global participation.

An escalating revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend (CFD) with border tax adjustments will achieve these outcomes. Its success derives from five distinct features:

1.    Full dividend return: This feature will inject as much as $200 billion into the economy within 3 years. It protects family budgets from increasing energy costs by returning the revenue in the form of monthly checks to all households. It does not impose any rules on recipients making independent decisions about their energy usage. It will mobilize the power of aggregate demand for low-carbon products. It's an engine that builds a broad consumer financial stake at the retail level in lowering overall emissions.

2.    Transparency: CFD is understandable to the public, will be completely accessible to public scrutiny and clear in its signals and benefits.

3.    Bipartisan appeal: CFD already appeals to a broad range of views. It does not increase the size of government, require new bureaucracies or generate additional government revenues. The dividend protects lower income families and will recruit widespread, sustained approval and engagement. It will also facilitate the phasing out of all energy subsidies and some existing energy regulations.

4.    Border tax adjustments: Import fees legally imposed on foreign products manufactured in nations without any emission fees, coupled with rebates to US exporters sending products to those nations, will create a fair competitive environment for US exporters and motivate other countries to adopt policies that harmonize global carbon pricing.

5.    Predictability: A structured rising price on GHG emissions creates the context business planners require to optimize investment priorities and thrive in a carbon-constrained world. It also completely by-passes the volatility and complexity of cap-and-trade, not to mention subverting the rent-seeking behavior of Wall Street banks and traders. A CFD will not be prone to fraud.

Carbon fee and dividend is a democratic, market-based solution to the existential issue of our time. It is gaining support across the political spectrum.

But the best part is this: can you imagine the effect of mass participation in a climate solution and being able to see those effects growing in your own life, in your community and in your world? The psychological and social benefits of an equitable, transparent approach to engaging the nation to fight climate change are incalculable.  And, we will finally be paying the true cost of fossil fuels.

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On October 3, Harvard President Drew Faust issued a letter detailing why Harvard will not be divesting from fossil fuels. The letter is a litany of the familiar objections raised by financial institutions and endowments to the idea of divestment: that seeking social ends will cost them money; that divestment reduces their investment options; that, rather than ostracize them, they prefer engagement with fossil fuel companies to “encourage them to become a positive force.”

But Faust also breaks new ground with a novel rhetorical contortion by claiming Harvard will not be divesting because…academic freedom!

More below the diagrammed ultimate frisbee play...

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Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously noted that pornography is “hard to define, but I know it when I see it.” Therein, Stewart uttered and characterized for the rest of us, in perpetuity, the intuitive and pragmatic nature of perceiving and assessing the amorality and distorted values inherent in damaging relationships.  

Today, there is much to see all around us as the actions of the emerging security state share the common characteristics which, when examined in depth and taken together as they function in the larger social system, sure look and feel like pornography.

Now that the full extent of NSA activities is emerging, working under the shadow of contorted and secret legal opinions, minimal or non-existent congressional oversight, with no known budgetary constraints, coddled by Republicans, enabled by Democrats and the mainstream media, we have a true situation here. And if ever we knew it when we saw it, this is it: the predatory abuse of law, the presumption of dominance, manipulation, secrecy, opportunism, denial, dissociation and indifference to the nature of authentic relations.

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Last week Christian Parenti asked how dumping oil stocks is supposed to hurt the enemy, since they seem to have all the working capital they could ever need to continue what they mainly do: exploration, extraction, refining , with a side order of obstructive politicking, media manipulation and astro-turfing.

He also suggests that the divestment campaign ignores the role of government, its framing is flawed and it disregards the realities of markets. So it must be merely symbolic, right? Parenti’s reasoning is entirely linear and entirely literal. And he is probably also mouthing the same objections voiced at the dawn of the anti-apartheid divestment campaign.

So could he be right?

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Anyone who has been paying attention to the political discourse lately knows we have descended into an alternate reality, altogether new territory where the demarcations between truth and lie are increasingly blurred. This is a domain so corrosive, demeaning, exploitative, amoral and destructive, so breathtaking in audacity that we can barely comprehend the wound we are sustaining, let alone determine how to recover.  

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Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 06:27 AM PDT

Mitt Romney is the Naked Short

by wild thang

A recent surprise disclosure from the Goldman Sachs legal department has been interpreted by Matt Taibbi here as evidence that what has been thought of as an illegal stock trading strategy is actually a very real and current practice.

The topic of that disclosure was naked shorting.

Let's say there's a product on the market that you think is overpriced and you want a piece of the action. Naked shorting is a practice of "buying" what is not being sold, "owning" it without actually possessing it, convincing counter-patsies that you do own something, selling it to them on a promise of delivery, then flooding the market with the overpriced item to drive the price down, and then (the piece de resistance) "selling" the imaginary product at a profit when the price actually does fall.

It used to be that naked shorting was an obscure practice limited to penny stock scams. It was all part of the game. More recently the gold market has allegedly been a target  to keep the price from blowing sky-high.

But looking beyond the shadowy world of small scale extra-legal pink sheet duplicity, this practice has morphed into the preferred business plan of a certain segment of the 1%.

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Tom Atlee’s most recent comments about the emerging developments born of the #Occupy movement read like a manifesto/roadmap for winter, 2011.

Yes, we are heading into winter and there will be occupations dead set on maintaining their claim to the commons they currently occupy. What comes to mind? Valley Forge? Why not? Although I have the luxury of not (yet) being one of those contemplating life outdoors in sub-zero temperatures, the parallel is inescapable: rag-tag elements of a resource-challenged self-organized committed gathering of warriors who manage to maintain order, commitment and message under the harshest of conditions.

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Thu May 15, 2008 at 06:56 AM PDT

Obama, McCain and the Brain

by wild thang

Obama, the Brain and McCain.

This is a rare political year in which we are witnessing a more extreme diversion between the two cadidates than we've seen in decades. Not so much in terms of policy necessarily, although that is significant, but moreso in terms of tone. McCain and Obama are talking two different languages to two very different areas of our brains and our reactions couldn't be more different.

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Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 06:18 AM PDT

Two Things: Letter To a Lost Love

by wild thang

Two Things: Letter to a Lost Love

Every time is different; the separations, whether sharp or rough; the terminations of romance, the end of intimacy; all different. Or at least they seem so.  Or at least I’d like to believe they are. And the mere fact that I can say such a thing is evidence that every time should mean something. It should become a platform for inquiry and progress toward something, even if ill-defined and requiring frequent recapitulation. Of what use is the hurt if not to serve as a lens directed toward illuminating remaining mysteries?

So it is with this intention, shedding light on a portion of what was previously unknown or unspoken, that I attempt to clarify a couple of dynamics at work in my life both during and since our long goodbye.

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