Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rethinking Our Current System

Sg.Cargocontainer 1
Earlier this month I blogged about our society's dependence on centralized systems for food, energy, and other necessities, as well as for non-essentials. You can read about it here. Little did I know a good (if that's the right word) example was right around the corner.

The Eco-Grandma recently brought to my attention the issue at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach (and other west coast ports) where the dock workers and shipping companies have a dispute that is causing huge delays in the distribution of goods, including food. (You can read her story here.) According to the first video, about $1 billion of goods go through that port every day. And now they're just sitting, which is especially bad when it's food that ends up rotting. The second video points out that 70% of our goods from Asia come through the west coast ports. If you look at labels of products in stores, you'll note that the majority come from Asia.

We should use this as a lesson on how dangerous our current system is. However, no one seems to be thinking in those terms. The focus is on money, money, money. Yet our lack of a domestic source for the things we need should be of great concern. We hear talk about security yet we do nothing to ensure that we can feed and clothe ourselves in case of some type of shutdown. 

Why the lack of discussion? I assume it's partly because small businesses are of no concern to the government. We don't have the deep pockets to support political campaigns and, individually, we don't contribute big numbers to government spread sheets and other means of keeping track of "success." 

But the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and it looks like there's a lot of crashing going on right now. Speaking from the food angle, if communities depended on local and regional sources for food (and supported community canneries where people could preserve the bounty from the growing season) instead of far off places, a shutdown at a port on the west coast would not affect people on the east coast or the mid-west or anywhere else. 

Not only is our system unsustainable (and crazy), it's dangerous. I can't imagine what future generations are going to think about us. Perhaps we won't have to worry about this being our legacy. Maybe a few people reading a few posts like this will have the connections to start making some changes.

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