Debt Jubilee – A powerful economic justice program with Biblical roots

The issue of a debt jubilee, particularly for the $1trillion student debt load, is an idea whose time has definitely come, in fact is overdue. Most people have no idea what this idea implies or that it’s even possible. But remember: student tuition in most Western civilized countries is either totally free or subsidized with very low interest long-term loans. Get informed and organized and demand support for this concept from your elected representatives. Education at all levels is a fundamental right and a defining hallmark of what it means to be a civilization.

Below are three items to give you some historical and contemporary background information.:

From Wikipedia:

The Jubilee (Hebrew yovel יובל) year is the year at the end of seven cycles of shmita (Sabbatical years), and according to Biblical regulations had a special impact on the ownership and management of land in the Land of Israel; there is some debate whether it was the 49th year (the last year of seven sabbatical cycles, referred to as the Sabbath’s Sabbath), or whether it was the following (50th) year. Jubilee deals largely with land, property, and property rights. According to Leviticus, slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.

 

From Forbes.com – October 5, 2011):

Could a Debt Jubilee Help Kickstart the American Economy?

The American economy is stuck in a consumer debt trap. Consumers and businesses, not to mention local and state governments, are still in the dregs of a balance sheet recession. Without increased government spending to mitigate the demand crisis, there’s little chance the economy will jump start on its own. And while there are job-killing regulations out there, these are small potatoes compared to the demand crisis and the fallout from the housing bubble.

Then again, Keynesian spending isn’t the only way to fix a balance sheet recession and get consumer spending to kick back in. There’s the old biblical idea of a jubilee – a national cancellation of private debts.

More than three years after the financial crisis struck, the economy remains stuck in a consumer debt trap. It’s a situation that could take years to correct itself. That’s why some economists are calling for a radical step: massive debt relief.

Renowned economist Stephen Roach, currently non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, has gone a step further, calling for Wall Street to get behind what others have called a “Debt Jubilee” to forgive excess mortgage and credit card debt for some borrowers. The notion of a Debt Jubilee dates back to biblical Israel where debts were forgiven every 50 years or so.

 

From BackBone Campaign.org (2012):

Student Debt Jubilee and Why Higher Education Ought to be Free.
Last December, the Backbone Campaign hosted our 84th Conversation with the Cabinet podcast entitled Student Debt Jubilee and Why Higher Education Ought to be Free. The Backbone Campaign was a key partner in Occupy Graduation.

On July 17th, we hosted a second Conversation on this topic. We were joined by incredible organizers using different tactics to demand higher education as a right. …In the last semester of his senior year, Glenn screened Default: The Student Loan Documentary and organized a May 1st Rally on campus that brought students, professors, activists, and union members together to speak about student and worker rights and debt.

We did a second Conversation on this topic because much has occurred since first one. In Canada, Montreal students went on strike, conducted ‘casserole‘ demonstrations with an expanded base of support, impacted the city’s economy, and met with government officials to demand the re-establishment of free higher education. Here in the U.S., student loan debt surpassed credit card debt in April, rising to $1 trillion; in the following weeks, organizers took to the streets in Washington, D.C., New York City, and elsewhere.

In addition, mainstream media coverage of politicians discussing the issue exploded in recent months; politicians need voter turnout among the 36 million Americans impacted by this issue. We have witnessed calculated sympathy for student debtors by presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And although House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) worked tirelessly for years to increase profits for predatory student lenders, recently he was self-righteously tweeting that Democrats are to blame for the increasing impoverishment of student debtors. One of Boehner’s biggest campaign contributors is predatory lender Sallie Mae (which, like other lenders, also owns student debt collections agencies).

Only former Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein has publicly endorsed immediate student loan forgiveness and tuition-free higher education at public universities.

Brilliant YouTube cartoon video on the history of fossil fuels

300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds

First released in late 2010, this video, which features Richard Heinberg describing the rise and fall of fossil fuel economies, went on to win the 2011 Youtube/DoGooder Nonprofit Video of the Year award and has since been viewed over 1,500,000 times online, at film festivals, and in classrooms. It’s also been translated into nearly a dozen languages.

My recommendation: watch it, share it, watch it again, share it some more, encourage everyone you know to watch it and share it.

 

Richard Heinberg On The Implications of Russian Sanctions

Here's a link to a great short post from Richard Heinberg from the
Post-Carbon Institute – shedding a little common sense into the 
sound and fury against the evil Putin. Ha!

New Russia Sanctions: Washington, Delusional About US Energy Capacity, Lashes Out
by Richard Heinberg for the Post Carbon Institute (Posted Jul 30, 2014)

From the article:

The New York Times reports that “The United States and Europe kicked off a joint effort on Tuesday intended to curb Russia’s long-term ability to develop new oil resources.” The new sanctions would deny Russia access to western technology needed to access polar oil and deepwater oil, as well as tight oil produced by hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling.

It’s good to know that a lot of Russian oil is likely to stay in the ground rather than being burned in Russian, Chinese, and European car and truck engines, adding to global climate change. But that’s not really the intent of the sanctions; evidently the purpose is merely to punish Vladimir Putin for resisting Western attempts to surround his nation with NATO bases and missiles. For some reason intelligible only to neoconservatives, nuclear-armed Washington seems intent on provoking a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. As justification, we Americans are told in no uncertain terms that Russia was behind the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17—despite a remarkable lack of actual evidence to that effect (as veteran journalist Robert Parry points out here).

Latest Findings On The State of the Colorado River Basin

colorado_river_0

Here are the latest findings on the state of the Colorado River basin.

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams.

From the article:

The  drought-stricken Colorado River Basin has experienced rapid and significant groundwater depletion since late 2004, posing a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, according to a new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine.

The research team used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which is the water source for more than 30 million people and 4 million acres of farmland. The satellites showed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (about 17 trillion gallons) of freshwater between 2004-2013 — almost double the volume of the nation’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead, which itself recently fell to its lowest level since the 1930s. More than three-quarters of the total water loss in the Colorado River Basin was from groundwater. The basin has been experiencing the driest 14-year period in the last 100 years.

“We don’t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don’t know when we’re going to run out,” said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the UC-Irvine and lead author of the study. “This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”

Interview by Lorene Mills for “Report from Santa Fe”

Ralph Metzner interviewed by Lorene Mills on Report From Santa Fe

ralph pbs

In this video interview, Ralph discusses: What it means to be a “consciousness researcher,” the concept of “consciousness expansion” (compared to “psychedelic,” which has become an overloaded term), the cultural context of the 60s (how “mind expansion” was a completely new idea), normalizing the concept of consciousness expansion and contraction (focus, concentration, as in performing a skilled set of actions, surgery etc.), states of fear and rage, and how these states trigger fight or flight behavior (internal or external), normal and usual every day consciousness changes, triggers of changes in consciousness, and more.

 

Paul Lee at Tedx Santa Cruz: Thymos, The Thymus Gland, and Thyme

The Greeks had a word for it – thymos!: Paul Lee at TEDxSantaCruz

This is a 20 minute video of my friend Paul Lee giving a TED talk on Thumos, the thymus gland, and the herb thyme.

Paul Lee is a retired philosophy professor from UC Santa Cruz who has made a lifelong study of the Greek concept of “Thymos,” which means “courage to be,” the Thymus Gland, which is a part of our immune system, building up our immune system in response to stress, and the herb thyme, which is a mildly uplifiting culinary herb that boosts your immune system and promotes well being. Listening to Paul Lee’s talk about courage and Thumos will help you learn about this vital force to which we all have access.

 

My Essay Honoring Sasha Shulgin: MDMA, Empathy and Ecstasy

Here’s MDMA, Empathy and Ecstasy, my essay for the upcoming Commemorative Edition of PIHKAL and TIHKAL, due out in fall of 2014. Printed with permission by Joshua Marker, Editor.

From the essay:

The research with psychedelic drugs carried out during the 1960’s by the Harvard group around Leary, Alpert, myself and others, led to the hypothesis, now widely accepted by all researchers in the field,  that psychedelics (hallucinogens, entheogens) are nonspecific awareness amplifiers. Unlike all other mood- or mind-altering drugs, including stimulants, depressants, tranquilizers and opiates, the actual content of a psychedelic experience can only be understood and/or explained by considering the “set” (intention, preparation, attitude, and personality) and the “setting” (physical and social context, presence and attitude of others , such as friend, guide or therapist). The actual drug (whether synthesized chemical, or plant or fungal preparation) functions as a kind of catalyst for perceptual and mental changes that can lead to insight, healing,
learning, visions and delight – or confusion, anxiety, paranoia, delusion and depression.

Impeccable scientist that he is,  Alexander Shulgin understood this immediately after his first self-experiment with mescaline and incorporated that understanding into his two monumental contributions to the scientific study of consciousness, PIHKAL and TIHKAL. Recognizing that animal studies of new pharmaceuticals provide zero useful information of their action in humans, he opted instead for the time-honored method of self-experimentation. In the introduction to PIHKAL, he wrote “psychedelic drugs provide access to the parts of us which have answers. They can, but again, they need not and probably will not, unless that is the purpose for which they are being used.” He forcefully states the case against doing so-called “double-blind” studies, which in the case of psychoactive drugs, where the effects can only be observed in one’s own sensorium and state of consciousness,  “verges upon the unethical.”

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