City councilman says honest reckoning needed for transition to future

April 7, 2012

Peak oil production is at a crisis point but also is an opportunity to better the planet, Bloomington City Councilman David Rollo said in a talk, "Evidence and Consequences of Peak Oil," sponsored by Green Drinks at the Upland Brewery banquet hall on March 28.

Rollo is well-qualified to speak on the subject. A Bloomington City Council member, he has sought to bring sustainability policies to local government in his nine years in office. His policy initiatives include creation of the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability in 2005, a green building ordinance in '09 and the Platinum Bicycle Task Force in '11, which was created by a council resolution co-sponsored by Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Andy Ruff and Rollo.

Elected delegates will draft document, deliver to all three government branches
February 25, 2012

A working group of Occupy protesters is planning a conference in Philadelphia during the week of July 4 when elected delegates from across the country will gather to draft and sign a petition for a redress of grievances against Congress.

Michael Pollok, an attorney who advised the Occupy protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge last October, co-founded the working group called the 99% Declaration Working Group.

October 1, 2011

It’s easy to talk about socialism in the abstract, but hardly anyone tries to imagine and codify exactly what socialism in the United States could be like.

David Schweikart has a vision of what our society could be like after socialism replaces capitalism:

"[T]he Marxian vision of a new world is one in which the work I do — the work we all do — is both challenging and satisfying. Through work I develop my skills and talents, and have the pleasure of contributing to the well-being of others. The work I do involves my body as well as my mind, physical dexterity as well as intelligence — capacities that have been nurtured through education."

September 9, 2011

“Jobs, jobs, jobs” – that’s the recurring refrain by I-69 proponents claiming that the interstate highway will bring economic development to Central and Southwest Indiana. But after nearly 21 years of opposing I-69, Thomas Tokarski says about that claim: “It’s bogus.”

“The myth of highways as economic saviors and bringers of jobs is very engrained in people’s minds. People don’t even question it anymore; they just assume that’s the case,” he says.

The reality is very different from the myth.

July 18, 2011

Global climate change is having profound effects on human health.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), by 2020 climate change-induced ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, will cause millions of respiratory illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations for serious breathing problems, including asthma. The cost will be about $5.4 billion.

Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It, by Paul R. Epstein, M.D., and Dan Ferber (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), probes the topic of climate disruption’s effects on health in depth.

June 27, 2010

The Dilbertization of discourse

What's the nature of professionalism? What does it mean to "act professionally?"

My dictionary defines "professional" as one engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime. In other words, the primary definition of "professionalism" is pecuniary. It's a link with money. Specifically, how to get it and how to keep on getting it.

Professional is often contrasted with "amateur." Particularly where the latter term is use pejoratively as in, "He's just an amateur."

June 13, 2010

I sit on something called the Monroe County Economic Development Commission -- a (mostly) advisory commission to the county government's fiscal body, the county council, on matters of local economic development. In fact, I'm currently the commission's president -- a title that carries no additional powers or responsibilities but, like so much born of the state legislature, exists for existence's sake.

Every year around this time the economic development commission reviews the status of all of the county's tax abatements. A tax abatement is simply a grant by the local government to rebate all or a portion of a property owner's property taxes, in the hope of fostering some degree of economic development that wouldn't exist otherwise.

And every year we try and take some measure of whether or not that spirit of development is holding.

March 7, 2010

News Release
Consumer Federation of America

A new report from the Consumer Federation of America by Dr. Mark Cooper, "Building on the Success of Energy Efficiency Programs to Ensure an Affordable Energy Future," shows that federal energy efficiency policies can leverage real and largely untapped potential to save consumer's money and create a cleaner, healthier environment with lower carbon emissions.

This report also concludes that incorporating energy efficiency programs in federal climate and energy legislation would substantially reduce the cost for consumers.

February 7, 2010

Toyota makes me think of America.

"How's that?" you ask. "Toyota cars and trucks may be popular with Americans, but they're made by a Japanese automaker." Of course, Toyota is a foreign car company. More precisely, Toyota, like other auto giants, is a transnational corporation with manufacturing plants and dealerships around the globe. Heck, some of the defective parts involved in the Toyota recall were made right here in Indiana.

Nevertheless, all of the problems and bad press swirling around Toyota gets me thinking about the good old USA.

February 7, 2010

You wouldn't know it from the propaganda emanating from the Statehouse, but things are bad in Indiana. Like real bad. Indiana is among the top-tier states in both mortgage delinquency and mortgage foreclosure rates (a strong indicator of economic distress) and is absolutely hemorrhaging jobs. As Morton Marcus pointed out in his column today, in 2008 and 2009 Indiana lost over a quarter of a million jobs -- the third worst percentage decline in the nation.

But the governor seems to be either (blissfully?) unaware of the state's true situation, or he's purposefully ignoring it. Listening to his state-of-the-state speech, I couldn't help but feel I'd been transported to an Orwellian neverland, where bad is good and good is all around.

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