Duck! and Gather

Archive for August 2009

A couple of posts ago, commenter Matt upbraided me as follows:

Here is your biggest problem Peter – you are so totally enamored now that your ‘team’ has taken the ‘lead’(and you are a ‘team’ type person) that you have submerged your critical thinking abilities so far down that they practically no longer exist.

Actually, I mentioned and addressed this criticism in the previous post. But even after posting that last one, Matt’s comment was still bugging me. Kind of sticking in my craw. My spider sense was telling me that there was more to the story.

Yesterday, while working on some projects out on our land, it hit me. Matt was more than just a little right in his criticism. I looked back over my blog posts since Obama was elected last November and I’d have to agree that there is more than just a little “gloating” from me about “my team” having “taking the lead”.

Politically, I am at the mid-point of Green and Libertarian. …

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A comment that Matt submitted to my last post got me thinking. Matt wrote:

Here is your biggest problem Peter – you are so totally enamored now that your ‘team’ has taken the ‘lead’(and you are a ‘team’ type person) that you have submerged your critical thinking abilities so far down that they practically no longer exist.

Matt’s idea that I’m “on a team” and spouting team ideology piqued my interest. Because I think there’s a grain of truth in there. Not the precise truth that Matt thought he noticed. But rather something that I’ve been writing about since 2003.

That is, the “team” I’m “writing for” is not political Left as against political Right. Rather, it’s People, as against Corporations.

As I’m watching the health care debates unfold this summer, it seems obvious to me that this is the first unambiguous People vs. Corporations struggle being waged on a public stage.That is, the struggle matters to and is understood by individual people (as contrasted with the bank bailouts), and the struggle is being led by a strong leader (Obama, as compared to Bush who didn’t say a word when the Corporations stole America under his “watch”).

The health Corporations would love nothing better than to defeat Obama here, and at least neuter Obama’s attempts at reform.

IMHO, this dynamic is an obvious one, if one cares to look.

Now, in addition to the health Corporations, there is the Right wing in America which is lining up with the health Corporations, trying desperately to rip the halo off the head of Obama.

Is the Right wing in America married to the Corporations? Yes and no, I believe. That is, I think a great deal of the Right wing opposition to Obama on health care is political opportunism, plain and simple.

But still, together with the Democratic “Blue Dogs”, the Republican Party receives the greatest amount of lobbying money from the health Corporations. Google it if you don’t believe me.

So with health care, we have People vs. Corporations, fighting it out, via the proxy combatants of Left vs. Right.

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I love reading the reactions of the reactionaries to the emerging Whole Foods boycott. They’re like children experiencing a new phenomenon. They don’t know what to make of it, so they fill the vacuum in their comprehension with the simple things that they “know”. Here are some such confused reactions:

  • “Why be mad at Whole Foods? Why not Safeway? Or Home Depot?”
  • “You leftists are trying to deny Mackey his First Amendment rights.”
  • “He didn’t say anything really offensive in his WSJ piece, and the WSJ editors, not Mackey, chose that unfortunate title.”

Well, my little reactionary pupils, I’m here to clear up your confusion for you. Let’s start with the last one. Here is a Huffington post piece explaining that what Mackey wrote in that article is what Sarah Barracuda would have written if she only had a brain. But since she doesn’t, she’s left with “death panels” and other such ideas suitable for our 3-year-old.

On the “First Amendment” argument, I’m pretty sure the Framers didn’t intend that amendment to require people like us to keep giving Mackey our money.

Finally, we come to the first argument. Why do I now prefer shopping for organic foods from Safeway over Whole Foods? One reason, of course, is price. But until I learned about “Whole Foods-gate”, I still shopped at Whole Foods regularly. Why?

The reason is that, until Whole Foods-gate, Whole Foods was one of those businesses consistent with the ethos of the Sixties. You know, environmentalism, community, “small is beautiful”, “Mother Earth”, nature-trumps-made-made crap, etc.

If you had asked me before Whole Foods-gate who I suspect founded the company and runs it, I would have guessed that the person had been a hippy in the 1960s, but wasn’t among those who cut their hair and joined the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s.

But, alas, it turns out to be John Mackey.

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UPDATE: Mackey didn’t create the title for his opinion piece. Instead, the WSJ editors did. But that doesn’t change my position on this one. Lie down with dogs, and you get fleas.


I was wasting another evening, surfing for sports news, when I stumbled upon a story in the SF Chronicle about the Whole Foods boycott. This story began last week when the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.

What an unfortunate title! Had the guy simply titled the piece something like “John Mackey’s personal views on health care reform”, then I doubt that any attempted boycott would have gotten traction. I mean, while Mackey’s views on the subject line him up with the ring-wing nut-jobs, the way he expresses these views in this piece does not seem terribly offensive.

But Mackey did choose that unfortunate title. And in doing so, he inextricably linked Whole Foods with Sarah Palin and her ilk.

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The original root of this blog was a hunch of mine that the next great crisis that would visit America would be described as: People vs. Corporations. This hunch was based upon, of all things, my reading of a couple of books (When Corporations Rule the World, by David Korten; and The Fourth Turning, by William Strauss & Neil Howe).

In December 2003, I wrote up this hunch in a paper titled The Fourth Turning Predicts People vs. Corporations.

But, back in 2003, this paper was little more than some intellectual masturbation. I mean, back then, there seemed to be almost no public signs of this coming crisis. Still, I was confident enough about my analysis that, in 2004, I began putting all of our liquid savings in gold (back when gold was trading in the mid-$400s).

In 2006, I took a crack at putting some meat on the bones of this odd prediction in the form of an About page of my old site. In that About page, I hypothesize some contours of the coming People vs. Corporations struggle. One idea was that the struggle would be between people and the older corporations — i.e. not the younger ones like the Internet companies nor even slightly older ones like the software companies. Instead, my thought was (and is) that the crisis would be about big, old corporations, the founding of which date back to the last big war and earlier.

In that About page, the industry I used for the “poster child” of my hypotheses was, of all things, the healthcare industry. The views I express in that page are much more radical than the terms of the healthcare debate today. I mean, read that About page and you can pretty much figure out where I stand on the current debate.

Anyway, it’s fascinating to me that the “People vs. Corporations” meme seems to be so loud these days. Here’s just three different examples from the last few weeks:

for the money has gone too far

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August 2009