New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Just Enough

March 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Economy, Family, Jan Hart

Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself…

by Jan Hart

For as long as I can remember money has been one of the most important relationships in my life.  I’m pretty sure I’ve paid as much attention to money as I have to any other relationship. I’m not proud of it. But maybe I’m getting better at putting relationships with people and my environment ahead of money.

I kind of had a fairy tale first bonding with money while I was young. I grew up in a middle class home and heard my parents talk openly about our finances and knew that we got along with money, and at times without it.  At 10 I bought my first 4H goat, Valentina, for $40. My father loaned me the money and I paid it off over the next year. He also taught me how to keep track of my income from chicken egg sales and allowance as well as my expenditures for chicken and goat food in a small brown spiral tablet. As long as I was a penny in the black it was good. (more…)

Paying for Detention

February 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Pat LaMarche, Politics

Interview with Sheriff Arpaio Casts Light on Kids, Poverty, and More

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

I met with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio this week. (You can read the full transcript of our conversation on my Facebook page.) I was excited to meet with him for many reasons. I was hoping against hope that he could clear up something about the role the criminal justice system plays in the lives of the poor. But all that aside, I thought he might answer some questions that were planted in my brain earlier on our Babes of Wrath EPIC Journey: why in the world kids in Arizona get charged a per diem for their incarceration.

Short answer? He didn’t know. No, it’s not that he didn’t know why, he just didn’t know they were charged at all. The kids are charged in Coconino County, Arizona — but it appears not in Maricopa County. It must be subjective. After all, Sheriff Arpaio decides what the kids in his jails have, including a chain gang. When we spoke, the Sheriff was boasting about his equal opportunity chain gangs. (more…)

The Hemlock Debt

December 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Greece Struggles With a Financial and Ecological Tsunami

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

When in 2008 the “too big to fail” Western banks brought misery and near collapse in the economies and societies of Europe and America, the same banks hit Greece with a ton of bricks.

Greece is a small country that has no control of its currency. Second, the Greek and foreign elites of Europe and America that control both the euro, the currency of Greece and the countries of the European Union, and the giant banks, decided to shock Greece in order to make the country a pliant customer.

Since Greece can’t pay back the banks, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and America’s International Monetary Fund, known as troika, intervened to make certain the borrowers got their money back. The troika pays the borrowers and then lends Greece more money at high interest rates. (more…)

Beyond Money

August 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Robert C. Koehler

The Foundation of the System’s Replacement

by Robert C. Koehler 

“Everyone loved him.”

The hole was too deep; these words couldn’t fill it. But there they remain, floating on the regret, vibrant with the possibility of a different kind of world. We’ve always been in the process of building that world, but the process has lacked a central cohesion . . . a god, if you will, to bless it and keep it.

Antonis Perris, an unemployed musician from Athens, found himself at age 60 living in a world where the love of his community didn’t matter and probably wasn’t even noticeable: He had lost his means to earn a living. Until Europe’s economic crisis hit, he had sustained himself and his elderly mother performing at local taverns. He had done well. Then business dried up. Finally, he reached a point where he saw no way to keep on living. The brief story of his death last May — one more “economic suicide” — was reported recently in the Washington Post: (more…)

For Love or Money

July 03, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Saying ‘No’ to the World of the Debtors’ Hell

by Robert C. Koehler 

Poverty has always been the shadow of prosperity, but now we have an advancing global depression creating more of it — pulling in more and more of the middle class, the folks who aren’t used to it. This is where the headlines are.

Oh, the drama. A suicide epidemic manifests in struggling Europe:

“On March 28, Giuseppe Campaniello set himself on fire in front of the Equitalia office” — Italy’s tax-collection agency — “in Bologna after he received a final notice about the doubling of a fine he could not pay,” Newsweek reported last week. “He died in a burn ward nine days later.”

Economics is a cruel game. The stakes are life and death. The driving theory is simplistic, mechanical, with a cauldron of emotion and judgment bubbling just below the surface.

“Today many people want much bigger government and still more handouts; these freeloaders want others to pay for their sloth,” writes Richard M. Salsman in Forbes. “‘Soak the rich,’ they cry, for the rich allegedly have no right to the wealth they’ve actually earned, but the freeloaders supposedly have a ‘right’ to the wealth they didn’t earn.” (more…)

Debt of Gratitude

February 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Randall Amster

Less Earning, More Learning

by Randall Amster

I’d like to share a story, a personal story, a common story, an American story. For nearly two decades, I have carried the burden of a crushing student loan debt, well over six figures and impossible for me to fathom paying off in this lifetime. While I have written before about debt in a more generalized sense — advocating for a “Jubilee” as the ultimate stimulus and a chance for all of us to start anew — I’ve never connected it publicly to my own plight. The reasons are complex, but have to do with fear, fear of vulnerability, fear of judgment. I suspect that many people burdened by debt feel similarly and are often constrained to bear the pressures silently.

My story is relatively straightforward. I attended a private college (majoring in physics and astronomy, which did not yield any obvious career potential for me) and then a private law school. After clerking for a federal judge for a year, I was hired in the fall of 1992 to work at a large corporate law firm in mid-town Manhattan, complete with the accoutrements of privilege and compensation. I seemingly “had it all,” at least on the outside, and any rumblings of discontent — after a lifetime of being a working-class person — seemed somehow ungrateful. (more…)

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

September 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Tina Lynn Evans

Enforced Dependency is Everywhere

by Tina Lynn Evans

In the globalized world, dependency on current systems is enforced almost universally. Ironically, the very recognition of our dependency and its enforcement is fertile ground for growing truly powerful ideas for living more sustainably.

Ours is a truly complex world — with interlocking systems of finance and debt, globalized supply chains for commodities and products, highly specialized social roles and professions, and multiple technologies that tightly interface with and depend upon one another. For people living in modern societies, there is virtually no escape from dependency — technology dependency, food dependency, oil dependency — you name it. What’s more, we actively participate in maintaining and expanding social systems that circumscribe our potential. These systems limit our autonomy, our choices, our development, and our authentic engagement with others and the world. (more…)