We live in a comfortable cocoon on Lummi Island, tucked into the larger cocoon of the Pacific Northwest where, comparatively speaking, things aren’t too bad. But with 40,000,000 Americans on food stamps and with many regions having housing markets that will never recover, with cities, counties and states laying off people in record numbers, it’s time to get serious about the future.
“Municipalities (Federal states, counties, cities and towns) are firing employees by the dozen even though they have still a few more weeks to benefit from funds from the economic stimulation package initiated a year ago. New York has planned to fire 14,000 teachers between now and summer and the state of New York has just authorized unpaid leave one day a week for 100,000 civil servants, i.e. half of the state’s employees. Illinois isn’t even paying its bills any more. California is falling to pieces: 23,000 teachers are threatened with the loss of their jobs, numerous aid, prisons, police, firemen programs cancelled… Hundreds of towns and cities across the… country are selling their drinking water and sewage systems to private enterprise to make short-term savings.
These same municipalities are increasing their efforts to promote casinos, gaming, sale of alcohol or marijuana, … in order to generate new tax receipts.
Layoffs continue to increase throughout the country and, from this summer, 2.5 million jobs created these last few months by the census are going to disappear! California has a rate of almost 25% unemployed and under-employed.
The Federal near-monopolies for real estate loans, the famous Freddie, Fannie,… GSEs continue to lose money quarter after quarter, requiring the Federal government to provide unlimited financing. Just for the last quarter, another 20 billion USD at the taxpayers’ expense has been injected. In two and a half years Fannie Mae alone has cost Washington more than the forecast Greek rescue package over three years, that’s to say 136.8 billion USD.” Gold continues to rise because of a lack of faith in the US dollar.
As Jim Kunstler points out in this week’s essay: “Meanwhile, a giant oil blob lies quivering in deep waters off the Gulf coast, like some awful amorphous Moby Dick full of malice waiting to sink Pequod America — or at least the economies of five states.”
Things are not so good. Sadly, we have virtually no control over the mega events of the world. At best we can only do something in our own neighborhood. There is a high probability that things will get pretty bad before they get better. Resilience is important. Preparedness is also important.
In the Transition Town Movement “localisation” is a key part of any energy descent (or shall we also say, economic descent plan). Localisation pertains to relocalising the economy, recognizing that relying on the global economy leaves us very vulnerable. We want to shift the focus and support local business and organizations like Sustainable Bellingham which nurture local business.
It’s not likely that Lummi Island could become economically self-sufficient but we can much closer to it that we are now. Food security is the most important thing and anything we can do as a community to support or develop agriculture (beyond the home garden) on the island (beekeeping, dairying, cheese making come to mind) will benefit us in the long term.
An interesting exercise would be to brainstorm how we would operate here with out a car ferry but no one wants to think about that. It’s our version of the “giant oil blob.”