New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Campaign Supernova

October 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

Blinded by the Light of an Electoral ‘Reality Show’

by Randall Amster

Coming up next on ‘The Oval Office’: sparks fly as the final two contestants go head-to-head on live TV, while a dramatic surprise will soon be revealed that could change everything — and YOU get to make the call on who wins the grand prize and who gets voted off the show. Stay tuned…

One can almost hear the narrator’s voiceover as the news is reported and the debate is joined. Presidential politics, and media-age elections in general, more closely resemble an illusory ‘reality show’ than any substantive engagement with the critical issues of the day. If the Association of National Advertisers could select Barack Obama as ‘Marketer of the Year’ for 2008, then perhaps this year will bring another level of media acknowledgment. Joe Biden for an Emmy, anyone? (more…)

Bigger, Not Better

August 23, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Large Farms Are the Emperors of Rural America

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Large farmers, with farms thousands of acres in size, have tremendous power.

You can visualize that power standing on the border of any such large farm. You see nothing but the horizon in the far distance touching the flat land. Coming as I did from Greek culture where farms are tiny, each bordering the neighboring farm with beautiful small stone walls or trees, the vast expanse of merely land without any fences or houses or trees, is always shocking. But after my bewilderment wears thin, I realize these monstrous farms produce most of America’s food.

Large farmers are the emperors of rural America. The federal government lavishes more than $20 billion of subsidies on them every year. Other long-term subsidies in water, science and technology are worth trillions. (more…)

Slow Democracy

August 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, David Swanson, Politics

Rediscovering Community and Bringing Decision-Making Back Home

by David Swanson

Susan Clark and Woden Teachout’s new book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home (Chelsea Green, 2012), offers the civil equivalent to slow food. The goal of both is not slowness for its own sake, but quality, health, sustainability, and the pursuit of happiness.

We all know that the federal government ignores us most of the time, state governments nod in our direction once in a blue moon, and local governments listen to us quite often. So, there is an argument to be made for moving decision-making powers to the local level and engaging there.

The focus of Clark and Teachout’s book is on how to engage with local democracy, and toward what ends. Adversarial campaigning may not work. What gets you on television at a Congressional “town hall” could just alienate your neighbors at a real town hall. A deeper understanding of democracy than just the desire for Washington, D.C., to follow majority opinion once in a while involves the realization that we are all better off if all of our viewpoints are considered. We all know that in small discussions the result can be greater than the sum of its parts. The same is true in local politics. New ideas can arise through exchange and disagreement; a synthesis that considers the needs of more than one group can be better for all, longer-lasting, and strengthened by the depth of its public support. (more…)

Fairness in Hypocrisy Valley

August 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Harry Targ, Politics

And So It Goes in Higher Education…

by Harry Targ

I have spent much of my adult life in Hypocrisy Valley, a small community which is the regional center of commerce, agriculture, and modest industrialization. It also is the home of a major university, Hypocrisy Valley State University, which has a reputation, we are told, in agriculture, engineering, and science. As a state supported institution it is obliged to serve the research and educational needs of the citizens of the state.

The faculty size of the university and the student population has grown by 25 percent in forty years. The university is the largest employer in the county, and many workers say that while they receive low wages, are not treated with particular respect (except for the annual spring fling distribution of free hot dogs), they work at the university because of the health and retirement benefits, which exceed benefits from other employers in the area. Of course, state law prohibits Hypocrisy Valley employees from organizing staff or faculty unions. (more…)

Politics of Learning

July 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Harry Targ, Politics

Universities Will Remain Sites of Contestation and Struggle

by Harry Targ

Since Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement almost every institution in American life — financial, corporate, political party, media, military, and religious — has appropriately become subject to scrutiny and evaluation. In each case analysts and activists have begun to raise questions about what these institutions look like, whose interests they serve, and how they contribute to the well-being of society. Until recently colleges and universities have been largely above reproach. Research and education have been seen as the cornerstone of American democracy and economic development. The appointment of Governor Mitch Daniels as the new president of Purdue University and the firing and rehiring of the University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan provides the occasion for a reexamination of higher education. (more…)

Debranding

July 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Sarah (Steve) Mosko

Creative New Movement Takes on Consumerism

by Sarah (Steve) Mosko

Thinking of tossing out a brand name shirt, handbag or backpack purchased with zeal last year but now seems so yesterday? Well, don’t. Debrand it instead to give it renewed life and do the environment a favor too.

What better symbols of the culture of consumerism than branding and logos. Marketers use these visuals in relentless campaigns to convince us that their brand of this or that is more desirable than the rest and that we can’t, and shouldn’t, live without it.

Marketers are not much interested, however, in what happens to all the frivolous extras and redundancies we amass once our attention shifts to the next brand or model that catches our fancy.

Older purchases which have lost their allure may collect dust for a while in a closet, or might even be given a second life if donated to charity, but either way likely end up as fodder for landfills. (more…)

Continuing the Conversation

June 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

On God, Money, and Planet Earth

by Robert C. Koehler

Earth hovers on the brink of ecological catastrophe — actually, 20 years closer to the brink than it was at the first global climate summit, in 1992.

“Deserts continue to expand. The loss of plant and animal species has accelerated…. And greenhouse gases have continued to build up in the atmosphere,” the Los Angeles Times explains. No matter that, 20 years ago, most nations of the world “signed off on a long list of goals and agreements” designed to ensure a different future. Nothing came of it.

And my sense is that no one expects the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, a.k.a.  Rio+20, which began last week, with representatives from 190 countries attending, to make any difference in our disastrous drift ever more deeply into unsustainability … because nothing can make a difference. We’re stuck, apparently, in a system that won’t be constrained by international goals and agreements, which are already compromises to that system. No matter that this is a life-devouring system that serves the interests of the very few — and at best serves them temporarily. No matter that more and more people see the insanity of this system. There seems to be no escape from it. (more…)