Friday, September 30, 2022

Labor History: Con Carbon, The Minstrel of the Minepatch

Friday's Labor Folklore
Con Carbon, the Minstrel of the Mine Patch

Con Carbon
the
Minstrel
of the
Mine Patch
 by
 George
Korson

Con Carbon was the best known of all of the bards and minstrels in the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania.  Born into a mining household in Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 1871, he went to work in the Audenried Breaker at the age of nine.
Three years later he was brought to Wilkes-Barre by his parents and there continued his apprenticeship in the mines.
 
Carbon came into public notice quite early when he revealed the sweetest tenor voice in the Wyoming Valley. He was also richly endowed with Irish wit and a sense of mimicry. But all these gifts were mere handmaidens to his outstanding talent -- the ability to articulate in ballad form the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and deepest yearnings of his fellow workers.
 
New ballads came from him in a steady stream, every traditional one increasing his popularity until his name became a household word throughout the region. He was always on demand to sing his own ballads, but his frail health did not permit him to accept even a fraction of all the invitations that rained down on him. As an expedient, he collected some of his songs and ballads which he had printed under the title of "Con Carbon's Own Songster" and sold at ten cents a copy. Nearly all the contents were cast in phonetic Irish dialect: "When the Breaker Starts Up Full Time," "Mackin's Porch,"
"Gossip in a Street Car" and "Me Johnny Mitchell Man." 
 
Con Carbon was idolized not only as a maker and singer of miners' ballads, but as a superb storyteller and mimic. His Irish brogue was delicious and, indeed, nature was profligate with her gifts to this humble mining boy. It is gratifying to record that he used these gifts not to enrich himself, for he died a poor man, but to bring a ray of light and some cheer into miners' lives. No wonder then that the boys who went down the shaft in cages worshiped the ground he walked on. 
Kingston, Pa. 1900
An instance of such hero-worship was cited by the late Father Phillips, one of Wyoming Valley's most prominent clergyman, with natural gifts of his own to distinguish him. The incident which he describes below occurred at the turn of the century:
 
"I was booked to deliver an address at an Ancient Order of Hibernians meeting one night in Plymouth. A committee escorted me to the stage on which were seated many prominent members of the Order, among them a little old gentlemen whose face was handsomely decorated with side-whiskers. While conversing with a member of the committee, the little gentleman in question, who was seated on my right, suddenly said, "Begorra, I wonder what's keeping the talent?" I turned and looked at him with surprise, but said nothing. Suddenly he cried, "I wish the talent was here." Again I looked at him with surprise, wondering whether he meant to slight me -- me, who thought I was the whole thing. 
 
Presently, my little friend on the right emitted a roar which would shame the best efforts of a Sioux warrior on the warpath. He threw his hat high in the air and roared with all the lung power at his command: "Be jabbers, the talent has arrived! The talent has arrived!" 
 
It seemed in a moment as though bedlam had broken loose. Every man in the audience was on his feet, whooping with bulging eyes and mouth agape: "Hurrah for Con!" I looked towards the entrance when, lo and behold! I saw Con Carbon being carried on the shoulders of two strapping young miners towards the stage. I thought that my little friend on the right would go into convulsions on the wings of enthusiasm. Every lineament of his features seemed to bespeak the esteem in which he held Con. Even his side-whiskers looked as though their every hair waved a welcome to the laughing, rollicking, good-natured Con.
 
It was several minutes before the enthusiasm subsided, only to break forth again in cries of, "Let us have 'Me Johnny Mitchell Man,' Con." When Con stepped to the front of the stage, the applause was simply deafening. It seemed to shake the whole building, from top to bottom. 
 
He, and not I, was the feature of the evening. Beside him I felt my own littleness. He certainly was a wonderful character."
 
Con Carbon died in 1907. Among the tributes paid his memory was a letter to his family from United Mine Workers of America President John Mitchell in which the union leader told how the minstrel had inspired him during the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902. 
 
-- Edited from: Minstrels of the Mine Patch : Songs and Stories of the Anthracite Industry (1938) by George Korson. 
 
Cornelius "Con" Carbon is buried in an unmarked grave in 
St. Gabriel's Cemetery in Hazelton, Pa. George Korson (1895-1967) was a folklorist, journalist, and historian who also wrote Coal Dust on the Fiddle : Songs and Stories of the Bituminous Industry (1943). 
Con Carbon and Father Curran
When Con was still a raw youth and his ballad singing was making him an idol, saloon keepers vied for his presence in their saloons. Of course, he did not have to pay for his drinks, but his mere appearance brought increased business. 

The sordid manner in which his talents were thus exploited disturbed the late Father Curran, his parish priest. One Sunday morning he thundered the warning that the first saloon keeper who dared serve the young minstrel drinks would lose his license. As it was generally accepted that Father Curran was not accustomed to making idle threats, Carbon found every saloon in the parish closed to him. This annoyed him, as he had begun to acquire a taste for the hard stuff. One day, soon afterward, a friend invited him into a saloon for a drink. Carbon refused saying, "I can't go in there. I've been silenced by the Church!" 
-- story by George Korson. The historic marker is in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Most breaker boys were children between the ages of 8 and 10 years old. It is estimated that, in 1880, twenty thousand (20,000) breaker boys were employed in northeastern Pennsylvania where 80 percent of all the world's anthracite coal was located. Breaker boys were known for their fierce independence and rejection of adult authority. The boys often formed and joined trade unions and precipitated a number of important strikes in the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania (Wikipedia

 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

World Economy: The liquidity crisis and drowning naked

by Michael Roberts

“If there was no intervention today, gilt yields could have gone up to 7-8 per cent from 4.5 per cent this morning and in that situation around 90 per cent of UK pension funds would have run out of collateral… They would have been wiped out.”  So says a UK bond trader yesterday. 

A liquidity crisis erupted in British bond markets after the announcement by the new right-wing Conservative government that it would spend up to £60bn to maintain and energy price cap for householders for up to two years, subsidise business energy costs AND also cut corporate and income taxes.  The total hit from this largesse (mainly to the rich) to the UK public debt level over the next few years has been estimated at over £400bn or nearly 20% of GDP.  With UK public debt already at 100% of GDP, that sounded the death knell for the UK bond prices.  Yields (interest rate) surged.

UK ten-year govt bond yield (%)

Alongside this, the Bank of England plans to hike interest rates yet further over the next year to ‘control’ inflation.  So the cost of borrowing and servicing debt is rocketing.  Suddenly, investors holding government bonds were facing serious losses, particularly pension funds that tend to invest on long-term bonds using short-term interest rates to borrow – short-term interest rates up; long-term bond prices down. That’s a mismatch on asset values and a credit liquidity squeeze was on.

In the case of the UK, apparently pension funds and others had been employing yet another piece of financial jiggery-pokery called “liability-driven investment” schemes . This was the practice of buying bonds that are then used as collateral for loans to purchase more bonds – as much as £1.5trn over the last decade since the global financial crash.  If the value of the bonds used for collateral drop like a stone, as they have just done, then the ability to borrow vanishes.  So the BoE has been forced to loan £65bn to such bond holders to bail them out of their Ponzi scheme.

And it was not just in the UK with its crazy government.  Even in the US, with supposedly a ‘sensible’ administration that is not cutting taxes or funding price caps, the credit squeeze is also there.  The $24tn US treasury market has been hit with its most severe bout of turbulence since the coronavirus crisis, underscoring how big swings in international bonds and currencies and jitters over US rate rises have spooked investors.  “Right now, it is all about market volatility,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, a strategist at TD Securities. “You have investors staying away because of the volatility — and investors staying away increases volatility. It is a volatility vortex.”

The US 10-year treasury yield, a key benchmark for global borrowing costs, has surged to more than 4 per cent from 3.2 per cent at the end of August, leaving it set for the biggest monthly rise since 2003. It is on track for its sharpest ever annual rise. The two-year yield, more sensitive to fluctuations in US monetary policy, has leapt 3.55 percentage points this year, which would also mark an historic increase.

Tightening liquidity (credit) has hit all those wild speculative assets hard.  Take so-called NFTs. Trading volumes for the ridiculous non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have tumbled 97% since January, and the blockchain-bound digital art and collectibles market went from $17 billion to just $466 million in September, according to Bloomberg,. Similarly, the fall in the Bitcoin price has wiped out nearly all the gains from cryptocurrencies of the last few years.

As I have argued in previous posts, there are two blades of the scissors that are closing to deliver a slump: falling profitability and rising interest rates; or falling earnings and tightening liquidity, if you like. 

Take the first blade.  Marx explained the role of credit in capitalist production very clearly in Capital.  Credit is essential for capitalist investment and production: “the credit system accelerates the material development of the productive forces and the establishment of the world-market. It is the historical mission of the capitalist system of production to raise these material foundations of the new mode of production to a certain degree of perfection.”

But this beneficial role for capital has a dark side.  “The credit system appears as the main lever of over-production and over-speculation in commerce solely because the reproduction process, which is elastic by nature, is here forced to its extreme limits, …. the self-expansion of capital based on the contradictory nature of capitalist production permits an actual free development only up to a certain point, so that in fact it constitutes an immanent fetter and barrier to production, which are continually broken through by the credit system.”

So credit helps capitalist production to continue even when profitability is falling but only “up to a certain point”, after which “credit accelerates the violent eruptions of this contradiction — crises — and thereby the elements of disintegration of the old mode of production.   In other words, the level of credit now becomes debt that acts as a burden on further expansion and even triggers crises.  If the gap between inflated financial prices and profits in the rest of the economy is large enough, a financial collapse can precipitate a full-blown recession.  All of a sudden, credit dries up.  When credit is needed the most, financial institutions are too frightened to lend it. As Rosa Luxemburg once argued, “after having (as a factor of production) provoked overproduction, credit (as a factor of exchange) destroys, during the crisis, the very productive forces it created.”

But as Guglielmo Carchedi puts it: “the basic point is that financial crises are caused by the shrinking productive base of the economy. A point is reached at which there has to be a sudden and massive deflation in the financial and speculative areas.  Even though it looks as if the crisis has been generated in these sectors, the ultimate cause resides in the productive sphere and the attendant falling rate of profit in this sphere”. (Behind the Crisis).

And that brings us to the other blade in the scissors of slump: profits.  I have discussed what is happening with profits in a recent post.  Corporate profit margins, having reached record highs, are now sliding down as the costs of production rose from the end of the COVID slump and revenue growth slows.

In a report, JP Morgan economists concluded, “relative to its pre-pandemic trend, cumulative global profits since the pandemic are still over 20% depressed.”  And now profits growth is disappearing.  JP Morgan forecasts that “Combined with rising interest rates, profit margins will fall, dampening overall earnings.”

Even the Federal Reserve has noted this.  In a recent paper, a Fed economist noted that “over the past two decades, the corporate profits of stock market listed firms have been substantially boosted by declining interest rate expenses and lower corporate tax rates.”  These factors were responsible for a full one-third of all profit growth for S&P 500 nonfinancial firms over the prior two-decade period.

The significant decline in corporate interest rates allowed interest expenses to decline as a share of earnings, even as corporate debt rose.

This was a feature of 21st century capitalism: falling interest rates and plentiful liquidity, even in a period where profitability was not rising.  Indeed, the response to falling profitability in the major economies was not to go for liquidation of the weak and unprofitable to clear the decks, but instead for the monetary authorities to save the banking system and prop up ‘zombie’ companies with zero- interest rate policies and ‘quantitative easing’. 

But all this has done is to expand the credit-debt mountain to unprecedented highs without restoring profitability in the productive sectors.  The bulk of the rise in earnings has been from speculation in the financial sector, property and in a few technology areas.  The rest of the productive base of capitalist economies has been struggling – thus we have low investment growth, low productivity growth and ever larger credit liabilities that, as profits now begin to fall, are coming back to bite capital. 

Rising inflation has led to rising interest rates as central banks switch from quantitative easing (QE) to quantitative tightening (QT) to try and control inflation. However, that is just exacerbating the slowdown in growth into outright recession – and generating a credit squeeze that threatens to hit not only financial assets but also corporations globally,  So it’s back to QE!

In previous posts, I have noted that an inverted bond yield curve is a pretty accurate indicator of a coming slump.  An inverted yield curve is when the interest rate on, say, ten-year debt is lower than on 3m or 2yr debt.  That only happens when investors are so worried about possible recession that they tend to buy government bonds as a safe haven, driving down their yield, while central banks are hiking short-term rates to levels that threaten to bring down the financial house of cards.   

The US yield curve has been inverted now for some time (red line).

One analysis reckons that since 1990, a 1 per cent increase in the Fed Funds rate (the central bank rate) flattens the 2-10 yield curve by 35 basis points on average. So, if the Fed Funds rate hits 4.75 per cent as forecast by the market that could flatten the curve by 1.58 per cent, leading to a curve that is inverted by as much as 1.28 per cent (the 2-10curve started this year at 0.3 per cent) by the end of the year.

Moreover, this credit squeeze is being exported by a strong dollar to the rest of the world’s economies, particularly those with large dollar-denominated debt. The US dollar is super strong against other currencies as it is seen as a ‘safe-haven’ for investors to hold their cash and assets as inflation spirals and the world slips into recession. But a strong dollar and rising interest rates are pushing the world economy into slump. “These recessionary forces emanating from the US and the rising dollar come on top of those created by the big real shocks. In Europe, above all, there is the way in which higher energy prices are simultaneously raising inflation and weakening real demand.” Martin Wolf, FT.

And the recessionary forces are getting stronger to the point that many economies are probably already in a slump.  The latest forecasts by the World Bank and by the OECD, as well as the IMF, portend a slump, confirming the indications of the inverted yield curve. In its latest economic forecast, the OECD reckons the world economy is slipping into recession driven by high energy prices, rising interest rates and China’s slowdown. The OECD now forecasts just 2.2% global growth next year and as 4% is needed to keep pace with rising global population, that will mean a fall in per capita growth.

“The world economy is paying a high price for Russia’s unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering, the war is dragging down growth and putting additional upward pressure on prices, above all for food and energy. Global GDP stagnated in the second quarter of 2022 and output declined in the G20 economies. High inflation is persisting for longer than expected. In many economies, inflation in the first half of 2022 was at its highest since the 1980s. With recent indicators taking a turn for the worse, the global economic outlook has darkened.”

The OECD wants to blame the impending recession on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Putin, but the world economy was already heading into a slump just before the COVID pandemic broke and the recovery after the COVID slump was already petering out in 2021 before the Russian invasion.

The World Bank is more accurate: “To cut global inflation to a rate consistent with their targets, central banks may need to raise interest rates by an additional 2 percentage points, according to the report’s model. If this were accompanied by financial-market stress (which has now started – MR), global GDP growth would slow to 0.5 percent in 2023—a 0.4 percent contraction in per–capita terms that would meet the technical definition of a global recession.”

One of the features of the 21st century in the major economies has been low unemployment, at least in the official figures.  But much of this employment has been in low-paid services sectors, part-time or temporary.  Now even here, there are signs of cracks.  In the US, full-time jobs are falling, to be replaced by part-time employment.   And in another sign of a weakening labour market, weekly working hours are down over the last six months to the lowest reading since the COVID slump in April 2020.

The other feature of the last decade and post-pandemic period in both the US, Europe and the UK has been the huge rise in property prices.  That too is now showing signs of fading.  This month home prices in the US fell outright for the first time since 2012.  Mortgage rates have doubled, making it increasingly impossible for many to buy homes. 

So falling profits; rising interest rates; slowing economies and a credit crisis.  “What can be done?”, asks FT columnist Martin Wolf“Not that much.”, he replies to himself. The impending world slump cannot be avoided. “What is known is that the central banks’ ability to support the markets and economy are for a while gone. …Even previously credible G7 governments, such as the UK’s, are learning this truth. The financial tide is going out: only now do we notice who has been swimming naked.”

Or are they already drowning?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Indigenous Australians Win Big Victory Against Energy Company

Mabo Day celebrates the 1992 decision to recognize indigenous land rights.

Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired
GED/HEO

9-27-22

 

In 2012, I was fortunate enough to hike one of world’s great hikes, the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island in Northern Queensland. We were dropped off at one end of the Island and picked up four days later at the other end.

 

It was the second time I’d been to Northern Queensland. I was there in 2008, both times visiting my friend and his family. Whenever I embarked on these trips I am compelled to look at maps and see exactly where I am in relation to everything else.

 

As I drove around, I took time to look at the map. I like maps and everyone should have an atlas. I noticed all these little islands around the coast and on many of them, there were these annotations that almost always said that this or that Dutch explorer first visited there. The exception was those that Captain Cook, the English explorer not only “discovered” but claimed for the English monarch under the Terra Nullius law.  Terra Nullias is Latin for Nobody’s land” and is closely connected to The Doctrine of Discovery, the theoretical and intellectual basis for European colonization.

 

“The Doctrines of Christian Discovery (DoCD) originate with 15th century Papal Bulls that were issued by the Vatican and implemented by Monarchies, sanctioning the brutal Conquest and Colonization of non-Christians who were deemed “enemies of Christ” in Africa and the Americas.”

 

While in Townsville in 2012, I came across this carnival or event and decided to walk around. There was entertainment and music and it was an event organized by the Australian indigenous population. It was the first and only time I ate Kangaroo meat.

 

It turned out it was a celebration of Mabo Day. Eddie Mabo was an Indigenous Australian who, with others, filed a lawsuit challenging the Doctrine of Discovery and the ownership of land. British colonial law held that the indigenous people did not “use” this land.

 

Obviously, the indigenous people had used the land. They used it as a means of subsistence. Tribal society doesn’t possess or own the land, they are part of it.  It satisfied a need. But for class society, including feudalism, although capitalist relations were emerging in this period, the term “use” in this instance means they didn’t exploit it, didn’t treat it like a commodity to be bought and sold and used it to generate surplus value and/or profit, or as the law said,  “in a manner that indicates possession”. It used this law as justification for its colonial ventures. It’s important to understand the basis for this understanding of possession.

 

The Mabo Decision overturned these centuries-old colonial laws, which stated that all land belonged to the Crown because the Indigenous people did not use it. This was patently untrue of course, for Indigenous Australians had been fishing, farming, and occupying these lands for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of the British. They had their customs and laws dictating land use.

 

This was a huge victory for the indigenous people of Australia and I was lucky enough to talk with his family who were at the festival. I learned a few things that day. Most of us use the term “Aboriginal” when referring to the first inhabitants of this island continent. And the image we have of them is that they are black, like black Africans but with different features. But that day, I met an indigenous man who looked more like a Latino or Native American. I spoke to him, asked him where the term Aboriginal came from and filmed it with my phone. This was 2012 and the readers must forgive my ignorance and lack of skills, (we are always learning) but I learned the origins of the term “aboriginal”. He was a Torres Straits Islander off the northern coast and you can see him here.

Santos' Drilling Off Tiwi Islands

Last week, one of the Australian Indigenous tribes had a major victory as an Australian judge overturned a decision by Australian regulators that had allowed the giant energy company Santos Ltd. to drill in the Barossa gas field in the ocean off the coast of the Tiwi Islands. Dennis Tipakalippa, an indigenous leader filed the suit because the regulator shouldn’t have approved it without consulting his clan about the impact of the drilling.  (My added emphasis). These islands are a little north of Darwin and are part of the Northern Territories.

 

 “Today’s decision puts oil-and-gas companies on notice,” said Alina Leikin, a lawyer with the nonprofit Environmental Defenders Office, which represented Mr. Tipakalippa, the indigenous leader that filed the suit.  “It confirms that the voices of First Nations communities must be heard when their countries and cultures are under threat.” WSJ 9-21-22

 

It is an important legal victory but the basis of the suit, that First Nations “communities weren’t consulted” is a bit of a pyrrhic victory as the company and its global investors will prevail, putting them on notice doesn’t accomplish much unfortunately. Workers have rights as members of unions to be consulted when their employers make decisions. We had a term in our contract, titled, “meet and confer” that contractually obligated the employer to inform us of their intentions. They were not obligated to change their minds however. Doing something that harmed us was a matter for mass action and violating laws. 

 

 

Santos Corp is planning on appealing the decision and Santos is a multi-national corporation, that has “financial backing from overseas” according to the Wall Street Journal.  The venture is a $3 billion project and we can be assured that the indigenous people and their allies here are facing a very powerful global foe that likely will prevail in the long run in one way or another. The clan will be consulted then there are numerous strategies on the part of the company including buying off indigenous leaders.

Most importantly, the project will not be halted and the environment and the long-term effect on the culture and traditions of the indigenous residents will be harmed in some way.

 

I do not intend to undermine the courage or integrity that many individuals in the non- profits or NGO’s that fight these fights around the world have. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions as the saying goes. The reality is that winning lawsuits against these giant global corporations are stop gap measures that simply postpone the day of reckoning.

 

Investors in Santos vary from ENN the Chinese energy firm owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Yusuo, the Chinese hedge fund, Hony, Vanguard and many others. Santos has also ventured in to the oil business.

 

We see how global capitalism is in control when it comes to producing the necessities of life and no amount of regulation or lawsuits will contain capital and its rapacious quest for profits. Capitalism can only destroy life not protect it.

 

A global federation of democratic socialist states planning production on a global scale, determining what we need as a human society and how we can produce and supply that need is the only answer. It is the only way all human culture and history can be preserved.


Teamster Election. O'Brien, TDU, and Rank and File Apathy

 

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 44, retired
GED/HEO

I haven't seen this video above before but it is interesting.  Three years after this video, Sean O'Brien was elected  Teamster president in November 2021 as part of a coalition opposing the James Hoffa backed Steve Vairma.  Teamsters For a Democratic Union (TDU) refers to this new leadership as "militant" and praised the result as a "landslide"  Labor Notes, an organization with very similar politics to TDU, was also ecstatic.

Now TDU is not a militant organization by any means but certainly the assault on it by O'Brien in the video above has to be condemned. It shows how concerned sections of the labor bureaucracy are that O'Brien launches this attack, even encourages Trumplike threats. TDU is simply not that much of a threat as far as I can see, or have ever been.

Below is a short video I made in April when I read that TDU was announcing the new leadership of the Teamsters as "militant".  After this election I asked as many Teamsters rank and file members I came across, many of them UPS drivers, what they thought of the new leadership. Overwhelmingly, the response was similar, no confidence at all that it would make any difference. A significant number were not even aware the leadership had changed.  Now the members can be blamed to a certain extent for not taking the time and effort to keep track of things, but years of betrayals, concessions, bureaucratic manoeuvring have led to this situation. And it's not just the Teamsters.

The turn out was extremely low and can hardly be called a landslide. As this excellent article in Tempest points out:

However wide a margin of victory, when 86% of the membership don’t turn in a ballot, the leadership’s mandate is left wanting.

Things are changing. In the aftermath of the pandemic, we are witnessing an upsurge in strike activity as the ranks of organized labor are forced to push back. There was no way after spending a couple of years telling workers how important we are and many having to work through the pandemic with great risk to themselves and their families, that this genie could be put back in the bottle. The present economic situation and increased inflationary pressure is also a contributor and this comes after decades of concessionary contracts. In addition, unorganized workers in the low waged industries from Starbucks to Amazon as well as some in the tech industry are confronting their bosses.

As for Labor Notes and TDU, I have had experiences alongside individuals from these organizations in the labor movement and have found a lot wanting there as well. Many of Labor Notes leadership were former union staffers or are among the lower ranks of the hierarchy. There is no doubt LN has the ability to pull together significant numbers of rank and file workers but my experience with them in the labor movement was that they would avoid a confrontation with the present right wing leadership. Many of the articles they publish are often simply reporting events rather than than pointing out the failures of the leadership calling them and their policies to account and offering a different approach. It has changed a bit but not much as far as I can see.

Here is the short video and comments I made in April this year about the O'Brien election and TDU's over the top praise for it. After that are a couple of links to earlier articles about DSA and Labor Notes and differences in approach that I have with these groups.

DSA Labor Notes and the Trade Unions

A Fighting Union Leadership Will be Built by Rank and File Activists

Monday, September 26, 2022

Life is Hard But NASA Will Save US

In Jackson Mississippi this is what drinking water looks like. Source

Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired

GED/HEO

9-26-22


One thing that is so important about living in a free society and country is that we get to choose how our government spends the money that the we fork over to it in order to run things right. It’s called democracy for a reason. It’s “for the people by the people” not like in China.

 

I missed a couple of important votes recently like the one to spend a few billion in Ukraine rather than trying to keep the peace and this other one that I should have really voted on. I even watched for the consequences of it today in case I got to see the explosion.

 

I am talking about NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission that sent an unmanned spacecraft in to space to hit a 500-pound rock at 14,000 MPH and see if it could change its course. This rock, an asteroid officially, was no threat to the Earth but we have to be prepared no?

I am sure the meeting about spending the $325 million was posted and I just missed it. Even though they are zooms now it’s still a democratic way of doing things and it’s my fault I wasn’t there to have my vote counted.

 

I am sat here on my porch hoping to see something in the heavens but the smog and smoke from the fires that are destroying my state and its wildlife aren’t helping.

 

I wondered for a fleeting moment if spending $325 million on hitting this rock some hundreds of millions of miles away was worth it. But I was comforted by the report I read that informed me that the money was well spent as it, ”one day might protect Earth from as catastrophic asteroid impact.”

 

NASA, stresses that “planetary defense remains a focus of the agency.”

 

I have talked to a lot of working class people, home owners, tenants, the homeless, small community business', residents of Jackson Mississippi and Flint Michigan, peasants in Brazil, factory workers in Bangladesh that have some problems of their own but they all agree, asteroid deflection is the top of their list when it comes to protecting us all.