Lacy MacAuley

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a home for my pen, projects, and passions

hey US government, are you serious about promoting US jobs?

If the presidential administration really cared about US jobs, why would they be pushing free trade agreements like the proposed Korea FTA, allowing corporations to close up shop and move to countries where they can more readily exploit the labor force (like these South Korean women in a textile factory)?

Speaking to the worst of the worst capitalist business tycoons yesterday, President Obama tried to appeal to a sense of patriotism among business leaders, telling the Chamber of Commerce to promote American jobs.

But if the presidential administration is serious about increasing US exports, why would they be trying to ram through free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia? In December Obama urged Congress to promote the Korea agreement, saying it was a “landmark trade deal.” Hearings on these agreements were pushed up on the Congressional calendar and took place in January.

These free trade agreements kill US jobs. They only give US corporations easy access to exploited workers (which they call “cheap labor”) in other countries, allowing corporations to close their US factories faster than you can say “sweat shop.”

Obama told the Chamber of Commerce yesterday that:

How do we make sure that everybody’s got a stake in trade, everybody’s got a stake in increasing exports, everybody’s got a stake in rising productivity? Because ordinary folks end up seeing their standards of living rise as well. That’s always been the American promise.

Later in his speech he alluded to growing the manufacturing sector, telling success stories of US-based corporations like GM and Whirlpool opening new factories in the US.

If the presidential administration is taking a stance in support of increasing our manufacturing sector and therefore our exports, why would they be pushing for US job loss through free trade agreements (FTAs) – with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia?

A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that, if we were to implement the Korea FTA, we would actually lose 159,000 jobs in the US within the first seven years. Not exactly very patriotic, then, to promote trade with Korea.

As testified by Global Trade Watch in a hearing on Capitol Hill this past January, Ambassador Kharan Bhatia stated in October 2006 that it was a “myth” that “the US will get the bulk of the benefits of the FTA.” He further stated that:

If history is any judge, it may well not turn out to be true that the US will get the bulk of the benefits, if measured by increased exports… the history of our FTAs is that bilateral trade surpluses of our trading partners go up.”

Even the official US government numbers don’t add up to increased jobs through these free trade agreements. In a report released September 2007, the US International Trade Commission projected that we will run a trade deficit for all goods from textiles to iron ore, from cars to computers. It showed a deficit of between $308 million and $416 million. That’s bad news for workers in the US.

And furthermore, US job loss is just common sense. South Koreans can make everything on the cheap thanks to their low currency. If we care about US jobs, why promote free trade agreements?

Filed under: activism, consumerism, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, thoughts and philosophies

uruguay’s free trade woes: free people, not trade!

"For many the pictures we're showing are aggressive. The truth is is what is aggressive is what's inside" the cigarette package, said Walter Abascal, program head for Uruguay's anti-tobacco program. Abascal spoke to Al-Jazeera reporter Teresa Bo (pictured left).

“Free trade” at work. Uruguay passes legislation to discourage smoking. So multinational corporation Philip Morris presses charges against them under a free trade agreement, saying Uruguay’s health-oriented laws are hurting their business. Ugh.

Uruguay’s anti-tobacco legislation requires cigarette companies to cover 80 percent of their packaging with pictures of the effects of smoking. This results in cigarette boxes with unsightly images of yellow teeth, underweight babies on life support, throat cancer victims with open tracheas, and more. The legislation also prohibits smoking in public places.

“For many the pictures we’re showing are aggressive. The truth is is what is aggressive is what’s inside” the cigarette package, said Walter Abascal, program head for Uruguay’s anti-tobacco program, speaking to Al-Jazeera reporter Teresa Bo.

Philip Morris is pressing charges against the tiny Latin American nation on the grounds that the legislation is hurting its profits in Uruguay. The multinational tobacco corporation intends to press charges under a clause of the free trade agreement between Uruguay and Switzerland, where the corporation’s operational headquarters are located. On these grounds, the corporation might actually win in international courts, forcing Uruguay to reverse legislation.

Free trade agreements violate a country’s right to self-governance. Governments don’t often express the will of the people, but it’s still better to have a government making decisions than a freaking corporation. A tiny country like Uruguay shouldn’t have to defend its legitimate legislation enacted by its democratic government on the grounds that some corporation’s profit margin is threatened.

Every free trade agreement is nothing but a weapon of domination, enabling the wealthy corporate aristocracy to tighten the grip that they have on our necks. Free people, not trade.

Filed under: activism, consumerism, global justice, human welfare, international relations

really really free market rocks the free world

Everyone found something to call theirs at the Really Really Free Market. Brian and Nicole display Brian's fabulous new-to-him powder blue blazer.

A statuette of Brahms. A purple leisure suit. A stylish Mariela folding bicycle. An oversized brasier. A silky powder blue blazer. Bike tires. An adventuring backpack. All of these things traded hands at last night’s Really Really Free Market without any money whatsoever, and many people got holiday gifts without ever having to look at a shopping mall.

“The holidays are a time when everyone is confronted with the ugly face of consumer capitalism,” said Drew Sherlock, one of the event’s organizers. “But people don’t see an alternative to the long lines and stampedes. We are providing that alternative with the free sharing of goods that can be used as gifts. No money, no barter, no trade – just our community taking care of each other.”

Radical carols sung had titles such as "The Twelve Days of Shopping."

Voices were raised in radical carols led by James Ploeser, a local organizer who had just returned from the Cancun climate summit. The twisted carols had titles such as “God Bless You Very Wealthy Men” and “The Twelve Days of Shopping,” with lyrics that called into question consumerism and capitalism.

Several pizzas were dropped off by an anonymous donor at some point in the night, joining candy and cookies. A classic folding Mariela bicycle was brought home by a local bike mechanic, and a Peugot beauty with a cracked derailer was brought home by a bike-loving activist. Books and bike parts, skirts and shirts, toasters and trinkets, cosmetics and cookbooks, dishes and dancing shoes, jackets and jangles all changed hands in a non-monetized atmosphere of open sharing. And the price couldn’t have been better.

Smiles abounded, and the question on everyone’s mind as they were leaving was, “When can we do this again?”

Friends showing off their Really Really Free Market booty!

Filed under: activism, consumerism, environmentalism, lacy's life, Washington DC

I’m a free woman! My G20 case was withdrawn!

Some wonderful news! My case was withdrawn yesterday!

I came all the way from Washington DC to Toronto, Canada, where I’m checking in from a cute little coffee shop on Queen Street, to face the charge of “Assault of a Police Officer.” I was hit with this ridiculously false charge after I was arrested during the G20 summit weekend, manhandled, thrown into the back of an unmarked van, beaten and strangled.

Yesterday, the case was withdrawn after I stood in front of the judge for 30 seconds, just long enough for the prosecutor to say that they have no interest in pursuing my case. I am now a free woman. Now I’ll be able to pursue charges against the real criminals – the Toronto Police, starting with Officer Kevin Antoine, Toronto Police, Division 52, Badge #7880, who was one of the men who attacked me. Wish me luck!

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, media

G20 update: heading to Toronto to face charges!

A little update on my G20 court case. I’m headed to Toronto tomorrow evening to face the charge “Assault of a Police Officer.”

I am leaving late, late, after-the-witching-hour on Friday night, boarding a train that will rumble through New York City and then up through the hills and plains of rural Canada before rolling into Toronto. (Train travel is the most environmentally-friendly way to travel, and it’s a bit cheaper than airfare, since I’m not quite sure when I’ll be able to make it back.)

Monday is my “case discovery” proceeding. Basically, the Toronto police will present whatever evidence they could possibly drudge up (or falsify?) that I may have assaulted someone. Or the judge could simply dismiss the case, effectively telling the Toronto Police and their shoddy evidence to take a hike. Of course, I’m hoping the case gets promptly and summarily dismissed!

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, media

G20 violence against women press conference

I stand with all the women who have been subjected to the violence of the G20, both in Toronto and in all parts of the world. The violence that I experienced at the hands of the police is only a tiny piece of the violence experienced by women who ecosystems are destroyed, whose family members are taken, or whose communities are uprooted by the corrupt policies of the G20. I was thrown into the back of an unmarked van, punched, strangled, and manhandled. How much more suffering have other women incurred at the hands of the G20?

I contributed this video to a press conference happening today in Toronto to address the violence against women that occurred in Toronto during the G2o Summit.

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

the first G20, November 2008 in Washington DC

When the G20 came to my city, Washington DC, in November 2008, I helped to organize the people's response, marching to the World Bank building, near where the meetings were held. People like me, we won't stop voicing our opposition. We will overpower and deconstruct the G20's illegitimate authority.

The first G20 Summit was held in November 2008 in Washington DC, called by George W. Bush as a “response” to the global economic crisis (instead of the G8). I assisted in organizing the protests to the G20 in Washington DC, opposed to the idea that nineteen men and one woman could make earth-shaking decisions for the rest of us behind closed doors, without any public involvement at all. During that summit, the G20 would institutionalize some of the most harmful policies that they wield: bailouts for banks and corporations, and increased funding for corrupt development banks like the IMF.

The corrupt policies of the G20 have only worsened, and continue to harm people, especially workers and the poor in the United States and other rich countries, and pretty much everyone in poor countries. I intend to keep opposing these policies, and I know that I will be joined by brothers and sisters in my movement. Our voices will thunder together into a storm that will deconstruct the illegitimate authority of the G20.

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, lacy's life

opposing G20? we’ve only just begun

Leading a few chants at G20 protests in Toronto, "G8, G20. They are few. We are many!" We need to continue to stand up for what is right, and give a megaphone to those working to make the world a better place.

There have been a lot of people, especially my brothers and sisters in Toronto, who have come out of the experience of protesting the G20 feeling oppressed and hurt, like they’ve been broken by the experience. Here is what I have to say.

Brothers and sisters, we need to continue to stand up for what is right! Do not let them break your will. Our wills are stronger than their guns, their handcuffs, or their prisons! Theirs is an illegitimate source of authority. Our authority is born of love and joy, oneness and respect for each other and future generations. Our power is stronger.

The oppression that we have been subjected to is only a fraction of the oppression felt by indigenous people of the Amazon in Peru, who were attacked and shot at last year by government forces for blockading a road to prevent oil corporations from killing their forest, by traditional farmers in Papua New Guinea whose rivers are being killed, who get murdered for opposing the Barrick gold mining company – or the everyday oppression suffered by farmers everywhere who are told they must pay land tax, disrupting more traditional, community-centered food distribution means.

It is for them and for us that we must keep standing up for what is right.

As long as we are speaking out against their hyper-capitalist corporate globalization, they’ll try to silence us. Don’t let their intimidation tactics and their attempts at disempowerment work. We need to keep working, and keep giving a megaphone to those working for liberation, all of us!

I was one of the over 900 people assaulted by the police and/or treated inhumanely. Now I am back here in Washington and organizing to oppose corporate globalization. Despite the fact that Washington DC is arguably the most powerful city in the world, few of my brothers and sisters truly understand why we must oppose the G20 and its allies like the IMF, the World Bank, the US Department of Treasury, the US Federal Reserve, corporations, etc – and why we must resist the intangible ideals of monied wealth that poison our minds.

We cannot lose heart. The real struggle has only just begun… not to sound melodramatic (but I’m sure I do), but it is seriously a struggle not just for what kind of civilization we’re going to have, but whether the human species, and species like us, are even going to survive. We have to keep our small piece of the opposition strong, and keep deconstructing their authority, their invisible fists and hands of control, not just for those alive now, but for future generations.

This is only the beginning!

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, lacy's life, media

the story of my unjust arrest

This photo of me appeared in the New York Times on 06/27/2010.

I was thrown into an unmarked van, strangled, punched, and manhandled during my arrest.

The photos of my arrest during the Toronto G20 summit show a small blond lady with purple stockings getting thrown around by police as I was tossed head-first into an unmarked van. These photos have appeared on the front page of the Toronto Star, in the New York Times, and in other newspapers. Footage of the arrest has appeared on CNN and other news outlets such as CBC. My name is Lacy MacAuley, and this is the story of my arrest, including my being violently assaulted, strangled, and punched while riding into the police station in the back of the van.

I arrived at the site of the peaceful jail solidarity rally, just outside the Prisoner Processing Center (PCC) at about 11:30 AM, Sunday, June 27, with two friends from Washington DC, organizer Robby Diesu and Geoff Millard of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I smiled as we walked up to the rally: There under a breathtaking blue sky, a young man was strumming an electric bass and leading a musical chant, “So so so, solidarity!” People were smiling and cheering as two people were released from jail (I understand at least two were released before I arrived), and I used my iPhone to send messages to Twitter about the cheerful rally, with photos attached.

I had come to Toronto from Washington DC to protest the G20 by helping to write about and photograph events that question and deconstruct the G20’s authority. The G20 is a government superstructure with even more power than any individual country, which has been pursuing corrupt bailout policies for banks, corporations and the International Monetary Fund, while allowing citizens to starve. Its “open market” or “free trade” policies only help to concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands, and allow corporations to destroy the environment, subjugate civil liberties, and strip away a country’s national sovereignty. The G20 is bad for most of us on earth, not to mention our children and grandchildren. I have a BA in International Relations with a minor in World Development Studies, but it doesn’t take special expertise to realize that something is fundamentally wrong with a tiny cartel of wealthy leaders who are taking money from corporations for funding running the way our civilization is designed. It is all of our duty to resist oppression and make the world a better place. That’s why I was in Toronto, and I did not damage anyone or anything while there.

I was standing in the crowd about fifteen feet from the bass player when suddenly, with no warning and no provocation, police charged into the crowd and tackled a young man near the front. Some in the crowd at the rally began screaming and running backwards, while many remained calm and shouted to the police to let the young man go. I began taking photos with my iPhone of the violent arrest.

Then I looked up to see the police charging for me, closing in from only about seven feet away. I knew that to resist arrest would be a serious offense, thanks to years of training in nonviolence, so I did not resist. The police then tackled me and pushed me to the ground. I was able to put my left arm down to buffer my fall onto the pavement. Then one uniformed officer grabbed me around the waist, pulling me back to the dark blue side of the police line and throwing me face-down on the pavement. As he threw me my arms were being twisted behind my back. I was able to angle my right shoulder toward the pavement so that I did not hit the pavement with my face. Apparently my friend Robby was attempting to run forward through the crowd to perform a heroic act that would save me, but was being restrained by my friend Geoff, who feared that Robby would wind up arrested himself if he did anything.

As this was happening, I was shouting in a voice that was firm and loud but not frantic, “You have to let me go. Please, you have to let me go. I’ve done nothing wrong.” I had been focusing on holding onto my iPhone with a death grip because I knew that if I dropped it at this point, behind the police line, I might never see it again. Now, as I was laying face-down behind the line, my phone was aggressively pulled out of my hand. One officer kneeled on my head as another fumbled behind me with handcuffs. The officer was leaning hard with all his weight on the left side of my head as my right cheek was driven into the pavement. The pain was immense and overwhelming. I told him to take his knee off my head. A second officer on the other side was also kneeling on my back. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, lacy's life, media

anarchist exercise video, gearing up to protest the IMF and World Bank

I was part of the filming yesterday of this cute anarchist exercise video. As the video implies, we’re gearing up for some protest fun and games!

April 23-25 is the Anticapitalathon in Washington DC, where anarchists, anti-capitalists, and global justice supporters will be conducting games and exercises, including a 5K Run on the Bank, capture the flag, and a procession of athletes in order to protest the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Behind the mirrored windows of the World Bank building, the IMF and World Bank will be having their twice-per-year “spring meetings,” during which they discuss and conspire their tactics for getting countries caught deep in debt. When countries can’t pay their debt to the World Bank, the IMF steps in to enact hyper-capitalist policies (in return for a loan bailout). Their policies drain the countries of wealth, destroy ecosytems, cause more climate change, and strip traditional communities of their ability to keep their ways of life. And they don’t even succeed at making more money for their debtor countries.

The World Bank and the IMF have steam-rolled over traditional communities and the ecosystems that sustained them. They’re a big, big reason that this crazy world is so messed up. And they’re trying to mess us up some more. They must be stopped.

Please come out to the Anticapitalathon. Throw a frisbee. Run on the Bank. Kick a soccer ball. Join us! You are part of the solution.

Filed under: activism, antiwar, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, international relations, lacy's life

pepco has been “fossil fooled”

The Greenwash Guerillas strike again! On April Fools Day, we played a fun prank on Washington DC’s main energy provider, Pepco.

In the wee hours of the morning on April 1, we stuck fake Pepco customer letters on thousands of doors. The letters said that “Pepco is going green,” and promised that Pepco would switch to 100% wind and solar energy by 2020. It further announced that Pepco would be canceling proposed rate hikes, and instructed customers that they should contact Pepco’s customer service line to see if they qualify for a “renewable energy rate discount.”

Then we sent out a fake press release with the phony URL www.pepco-green.com. (Some very talented folks were able to create a mock-up website that looked almost identical to Pepco’s.) We also had our own “go phone” number listed as the number for the real-world Pepco press contact. Very early yesterday morning, we called TV and radio news desks with the news that “Pepco is going green.” Local Fox figured out our hoax and picked it up with the headline “Pepco Victim of April Fools Day Hoax.” Then we called friends at Washington Post and gave them the exclusive story that listed the group’s name “Greenwash Guerillas” and gave other details that no other outlet had. The Post ran a wonderful story on it that afternoon.

David Fahrentold of the Washington Post writes:

…Pepco put out a statement saying that the letter and the Web site were fake.

“We have been alerted that a bogus Web site and other false communications posing as Pepco were issued today. This bogus Web site is not secure and does not represent Pepco,” Pepco said on its Web site.

“Some folks really did a good job,” Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson said this morning. “But it ain’t us.”

Fahrenthold quoted me in his article as well:

A group called the Greenwash Guerrillas claimed responsibility for the hoax. Lacy MacAuley, a spokeswoman for the group, said the group has about 40 members and is a year old.

MacAuley said that the group had placed about 3,000 letters around Washington and suburban Maryland. She called it “greenwash guerrilla warfare,” against people identified as “perpetrators,” promoting policies that worsen climate change.

What a fun prank. Afterwards we did a victory lap to celebrate, a mobile dance party through Adams Morgan and down U Street with about thirty beautiful dancing people. Then we danced into the distance… but the Greenwash Guerillas will return next April Fools Day to prank the fossil fuel industry, I promise.

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, humor, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

who’s afraid of negative economic growth?

If economic growth has been waged through a full-on war on the environment, isn’t it time we drafted a peace treaty? The Copenhagen climate summit has resulted in a flimsy accord, with deep divisions over economic issues and countries acting to protect their economic growth. But we need a healthy planet to ensure the survival of our species. Isn’t that more important than economic growth?

If we want to save our planet and ensure the survival of our species, we must accept negative economic growth.

Throughput of the economy must be reduced. This means we need to stop taking products of intact ecosystems and convert them into inert or even harmful forms (i.e. turning a mountain with coal deposits into a pile of rubble that kills local watersheds, smothers communities, puts deadly toxins in the air and fuels harmful climate change).

Throughput is bad for the environment. However, any economist will tell you that it is the throughput, the “real economy” of tangible goods and services that make life cushier, that drives the rest of the economy. Ninety percent of the economy can be financial instruments or speculative currency markets or any number of things that people pretend have value (and therefore do have value), but if those things aren’t connected somehow to real goods and services, they disappear like a trick of the light.

So, we are going to have to deal with something that may seem frightening to those in financial policy, board room execs, and bankers of all ilk: NEGATIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH. Yes, a contraction of our economy. Less stuff being bought and sold. Less money in bank vaults. Less throughput.

But who’s afraid of negative economic growth? Not me. All that economic growth that we’ve been experiencing in the past few decades has mostly fattened the wallets of those who were already very rich. Real wages for most of us (that is, what our pay dollars can actually buy), have not gone up in thirty years. In the article “US Income Inequality Continues to Grow,” Don Monkerud explains:

[W]ages for most Americans didn’t improve from 1979 to 1998, and the median male wage in 2000 was below the 1979 level, despite productivity increases of 44.5 percent. Between 2002 and 2004, inflation-adjusted median household income declined $1,669 a year. To make up for lost income, credit card debt soared 315 percent between 1989 and 2006, representing 138 percent of disposable income in 2007.

If negative economic growth means that the rich have to curb their appetites for money, goods, and services, I am all for it.

In the meantime, I’m willing to buy less clothing per year, turn off my appliances and lights, control the temperature of only small spaces in my home, and walk and bike places. Yes, I’m willing to consume less. That will lead to less throughput and negative economic growth.

As I’ve said, economic growth doesn’t scare me. What does give me the shivers? Climate change, pollution, starvation, disease, environmental disasters, and the terrifying consequences of what could happen if we don’t reduce our consumption.

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, thoughts and philosophies

building an ark: climate change Plan B

If the the US doesn’t agree now to curb emissions at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, a lot of people will be underwater, including our very own capital city in the US. Little known fact: If the sea level continues to rise, especially if ice sheets start crashing down into the ocean, Washington DC could be underwater within minutes.

That’s why climate justice activists are building an ark on the national mall in Washington DC, which they call “Plan B” if Copenhagen talks fail to result in meaningful action to stop climate change.

Aaron Dickerson, a tennis instructor in the Washington DC area, heard about the ark and "just had to come down and help" build it. The ark was recently moved to the national mall, where further construction is underway.

“We are saving the planet with this thing. We’re putting the animals on it, you know, two by two, starting with the pandas from the National Zoo,” jokes Aaron Dickerson, a tennis instructor in the Washington DC area who heard about the project and said he “just had to come down and help.”

The ark has recently been moved from a warehouse in Adams Morgan to the national mall, where construction is underway. When the ark is completed on Saturday it will be nearly 60 feet long and topped with a roof. The deck will house cardboard cutouts of pairs of animals, and the ark will remain on the national mall for several days after completion to allow time for passersby to view the ark and write messages of hop on its walls.

A press advisory from Avaaz.org, the group building the ark, explains:

Building an ark to save us from climate change on the National Mall in Washington DC Noah’s Ark signifies the scale of calamity that climate change poses to communities across the globe. While a “Real Deal” is “Climate Plan A,” the Ark depicts “Climate Plan B” and the lack of current options for a fair, ambitious, and binding deal coming out of Copenhagen. The Ark will remain for several days after the event so that visitors can write messages of hope on its sides. It’s designed to tell our leaders that we want a deal that is:

Fair – $200 Billion in climate financing for poorer countries;
Ambitious – a 2015 peak year for carbon emissions and a safe carbon level of 350 ppm;
Binding – legally enforceable.

Builder and engineer Oscar Ramirez stands near a completed cross-section of the ark. When it is completed it will be nearly 60 feet long and be topped with a roof.

The event is sponsored by Avaaz Climate Action Factory in Washington DC. The building of the Ark is part of a national day of action by the international advocacy organization Avaaz (Avaaz.org), December 12, 2009, when there will be candlelight vigils around the world to call for meaningful action on climate change.

In Washington DC, the completed ark will be unveiled at the vigil on Saturday, December 12, at 4 PM. People are invited to come and write messages of hope on the ark.

Avaaz.org estimates that there will be over 2,000 vigils occurring across the world to call for meaningful action to stop climate change on Saturday, December 12. Messages will be directed at the delegates of the UN climate summit, which ends on December 18 and aims to set bold targets for cutting emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gasses. Both the US and China, the top two emitters of carbon, have agreed to curb their carbon emissions, but other points of agreement remain undetermined – that is, “in the air.”

Now is the time to pressure our leaders to do more. Governments are supposed to exist to help serve and protect the people, and there is no better way to help serve and protect than to help save humanity from the brink of certain demise due to climate change (even if it means a slow-down in -gasp!- economic growth, or even a contraction of the real economy).

“We’re telling our leaders, ‘Don’t make this ark our only choice,'” says Oscar Ramirez, builder and engineer of the ark, and organizer with Avaaz Climate Action Factory in Washington DC. “We need a real deal at Copenhagen. We need a deal that is fair, ambitious, and binding.”

Building of the ark is occurring on the national mall in between 12th & 13th Streets NW. The Avaaz Climate Action Factory in Washington DC has invited the community to come, help build, and become a part of the process.

Original design plans for the ark.

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, global justice, international relations, lacy's life

protectionism, obama, and the Great Wall of China

President Obama’s last stop in his Chinese tour last week was to the Great Wall. After strolling along the wall for about 30 minutes, he stated that the wall reminded him of “the sweep of history.”

Obama visited the Great Wall of China on his recent trip to China. He should have taken a lesson: Protectionism shouldn't be a bad word. Protection is often necessary. Photo: Herbert Ponting, 1907.

 

What he was likely contemplating was protection versus protectionism. After all, the wall was built during successive dynasties, especially the Ming Dynasty, to keep people out. The wall is the ancient form of a “trade barrier,” a barrier that keeps cultures from trading with each other. The wall is a primitive form of protectionism.

Virtually every corporate pundit out there has been prodding Obama and the People’s Republic of China to just be friends and promote “free trade,” no matter how free the people of China themselves actually are. After all, China is our main trading partner, and the interconnectedness of our economies is tighter than a pair of Chinese handcuffs, right?

Thanks in part to the yuan being kept low, China is able to export on the cheap to other countries. For every $1 of US goods that Chinese import, they export $4 of Chinese goods to us. China also has our US government by the scruff of the neck in terms of debt: The US owes China $800 billion in US Treasury bonds alone. Meanwhile, China’s exports cause fully one fourth of its massive output of greenhouse gasses.

It might be time to protect our economy from Chinese domination, and protect our own. At the same time we would be acting to curb greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention bring back some of those manufacturing jobs from Chinese people who would otherwise be “surplus labor” (as a pro-development economist might say) on the farms. (Read: They would have been kicking back and relaxing on the farm, rather than keeping up the grueling weekly work cycles many currently keep in cramped sweatshops, living far from their families in the factory towns.

The pundits should take a long, rock-solid lesson from one of the world’s seven natural wonders. Sometimes countries have to act to protect themselves. This is certainly the case now as our nation faces a crisis of indebtedness, and Chinese officials continue to work to keep the yuan low to starve our country of the ability to craft its own manufactured goods.

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, international relations

an economics paradigm of scarcity: a theory that should be thrown out

Economic laws that dictated, among other things, that scarcity was a “universal condition of human life” (Estavo, p18), followed the dictates of science. Basic scientific theory states that if a hypothesis proves to be incorrect, it is thrown out. But the initial assumption of economic laws or facts that were thought by the founding fathers of economics to be evident everywhere, in all human conditions, has been subsequently shown to be false.

Ethnobotanist Wade Davis observed that in the Penan indigenous peoples of Malaysia, "sharing is an obligation."

Ethnobotanist Wade Davis observed that in the Penan indigenous peoples of Malaysia, "sharing is an obligation."

Why, then, has the model of market economics taken root to the extent that it is taught at universities, codified not only as a ‘social science’ but as a reasonable premise for countless discussions on who, what, when, where and why to develop?

That the basic economic assumptions underlying the idea of scarcity are false is not in question. Economics thinking assumes that all human beings are seeking only to maximize their personal material wealth at any given time. But there are countless examples of traditional communities in which there is no construct of personal wealth.

The anthropologist Richard B. Lee studied the lives of !Kung (Dobe Ju/’hoansi) bushmen, living in the Kalahari desert in Africa, a dry and scratchy area which at the time of his research was not significantly encroached upon by outside economic paradigms. He observed, “If I had to point to one single feature that makes this way of life possible, I would focus on sharing. Each Ju is not an island unto himself or herself; each is part of a collective… The living group pools the resources that are brought into camp so that everyone receives an equitable share” (Lee, p60). Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: books, consumerism, human welfare, international relations, thoughts and philosophies

freedom is a bicycle!

The route to freedom starts with mounting your bicycle!

The route to freedom starts with mounting your bicycle!

Freedom is a bicycle! I’ve biked this morning to the National Press Club (despite a bit of drizzle) to distribute alternative G20 Media materials for the G20 pep rally press conference, then to Dupont Circle to participate in a “No Colombia Free Trade Agreement” street theater event, then out to the National Park Service office at Hains Point to sit across the table from a police officer and National Park Service officer to discuss our permit for the G20 action next week.

I ride my bicycle for transportation every day here in Washington DC, but today I’ve felt especially close to my two-wheeled dream machine. Every pump of the petal today is a small form of resistance to corporate and commercial interests that tell you to buy cars, burn oil, and spend your last dime on comforts that you then feel you cannot live without. Each inch of pavement I have covered today has propelled me toward a better world. My bicycle is a central part of my activism, especially today!

Filed under: activism, biking, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, lacy's life

happiness in the midst of collapse: something to smile about :)

When viewed from outer space, one might say that the main objective of the human race since the Industrial Revolution has been to develop. “Development” is a sacred word to your local town hall, the sounding floor of the UN, and micro-financiers from Ghana to Sri Lanka.

And we’ve been very good developers. We’ve built everything to make us go faster, longer, and stronger, from malls to missiles to microchips. The standard of living of the average person in the US has increased to include all the standard comforts that may have been afforded by your typical feudal lord from England or Japan. Yet, if you take a more nuanced view of humans, and actually ask one of us, “What is the goal of your life?” The answer you usually get is something that boils down to “I just want happiness.”

Do our developments lead to happiness?

In an insightful New York Times column, Daniel Gilbert says that happiness levels in the US have decreased since the before the global economic collapse that we’ve been experiencing for the past eight months. But he makes the important distinction that human happiness is not really in flux according to increased or decreased wealth. The real reason that the economic collapse has impacted happiness has more to to with uncertainty. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: consumerism, global justice, human welfare, thoughts and philosophies

The Story of Stuff, a story that needs to be told

The Story of Stuff is not your typical bedtime story, but it is one that everyone needs to hear.

The New York Times finally wrote upThe Story of Stuff,” a fantastic video detailing our why we all need to consume less. The video was orchestrated by Annie Leonard, an activist and thought leader in the progressive movement. In twenty minutes, the video takes us through the entire production-consumption process, pointing out the ways in which it is ruining the planet, exploiting low-income countries and communities, and making all of us “consumers” less happy.

“It’s a system in crisis,” says Leonard in the video. “You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely.” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, lacy's life, media

Lacy MacAuley ~ International Relations ~ Radical Dreamer ~ Justice Lover ~ Thought Dancer ~ Heart Writer ~ Divine Dakini ~ based in Washington DC

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Building a better world starts with just raising your voice.

If you stand for something, then stand up. Join us. You are part of the solution. lacymacauley@gmail.com