What is the box inside which we’re thinking?

First, it is not just one box, or paradigm, that constrains our thinking, it is multiple boxes, which together frame the familiar.

Box #1: The Patriarchy

Like the proverbial fish in water, the patriarchal system of governing has been with us so long that it seems invisible; but is it truly normal? I contend it is not normal to suppress one half of humanity throughout history, namely women. The way we teach history needs to be corrected to point how abnormal this has been, and how it is behind much of the violence we see in the world today — particularly domestic violence.

Box #2: Economics is only about money

The way economics is taught is focused entirely too much on the financial aspects of the economy, or financial capital, while neglecting the other aspects of the economy that really matter, namely people and the environment. This equates to the social and natural capital being neglected, while financial capital is overemphasized. Ecological economics is the future of economics, and this needs a place in every economics curriculum the world over. It deserves to replace unlimited economic growth as the dominant paradigm.

Box #3: The system is fair

Like patriarchy mentioned above, there is a grand illusion that the society we live in — supposedly the greatest democracy in the world — is fair. It is emphatically not fair for the majority of people, because the economy is optimized for the benefit of the One Percent in so many ways. This is true of the tax system, nearly every economic market from real estate to financial speculation, to even how our schools are operated. The way that wealth and income has been allowed to become so concentrated because of overt manipulation of financial and monetary regulation to favor the rich has become an obscene farce. To get an idea of just how concentrated this wealth is, see Wealth Inequality in America. But since that video was made in 2012, here is an updated video from the irrepressible Robert Reich: How Wealth Inequality Spiraled Out of Control

In conclusion

What is to be done? First, stop thinking inside these boxes. Second, develop the political will to change it; and third, change it by doing the following:

  • Create a free health care system for all
  • Make higher education free for all
  • Begin to develop a UBI system – Universal Basic Income – that works for all


Mount Guyot: Spring Ski Reconnaissance Trip

I had been aware of this ski descent off of Mount Guyot, the Swan Dive, for some time…but I’d never found out how to get there. So before it got any warmer this spring, I decided to go check it out on May 12, 2022.

Mount Guyot (left) and Bald Mountain (right) from the observation pullout above Dillon Lake on I-70, between Dillon and Frisco

Thursday, May 12

I must have driven past this view about a million times, never realizing what I was looking at. But the bold ski line of the Swan Dive, descending from the summit of Mount Guyot, is quite obvious once you look for it, a snaking S-curve to the left (skier’s right), which descends the northeast face. This was my objective; but I could tell, even from here, that the snow was looking thin. Was I already too late? Only an on-the-ground inspection would provide an answer.

Also barely visible here is Mount Guyot’s northwest face, showing itself in profile as a thin line, from upper left to lower right. Though I did not notice it at the time, this was to prove the more significant snowfield in my next day’s exploration.

A closer shot shows this more clearly:

Closeup shot of Mt Guyot from I-70: where the Swan Dive looks a little more enticing

Although the thin looking snow created some doubt about how skiable this would be, I nevertheless forged ahead. For me, my trip was more about the experience and adventure, not whether I summited or not.

Prior to the trip, I had tried to explore as much information as I could about car camping combined with such a trip, though details were scant. I am afraid to say that the state of Colorado, much less the local city and county jurisdictions, pay backcountry skiers very much attention at all; we are very much a fringe activity — though perhaps someday that may change, given the recent explosion interest in sidecounty skiing adjacent to resort areas.

Scouring the internet, my best pieces of information were from this 2015 post, Mt. Guyot Ski: The Swan Dive, and this more recent post: Mount Guyot Ski – Swan Dive (14 June 2019) Both of them advised approaching via the Little French Gulch trail, which is accessed via the French Gulch Road on the eastern edge of Breckenridge.

Also helpful was gaiagps.com, where its topo maps provided some insight into the few roads in the area. However, no information on camping near the trailhead was to be found. So I was on my own to find out what was available only after I arrived. As a fallback, I knew I could always get a hotel room somewhere in Breckenridge; though given it being such a pricey, touristy area, that was not an attractive option. All I could see on Google Maps and Gaia was that the French Gulch Road led out of Breckenridge into a National Forest; but no campgrounds were to be seen. Although you can generally camp anywhere in National Forests, I knew that local rules often restrict what you can do.

So I decided to give myself enough time to arrive early enough to drive back out if I had to. What I soon discovered was that there was a locked gate blocking the French Gulch Road not that far outside of town; as shown here:

The crossbones marks the spot where County Road 520 is blocked!

The gate had a simple padlock on it, and I noticed several local residents who had a key for it came and went through it while I was there:

What the gate closing County Road 520 looks like; the gate on the right is the Sally Barber Road that goes to the Sisters Cabin

The Sally Barber Road is closed to motorized traffic, so it’s popular for non-motorized use, as this trailsign shows:

Trailhead for the Sallie Barber Road

However, there was a hopeful discovery here as well. At this spot was a small private parking lot up and above the road which was reserved for users of the Sisters Cabin, with big signs that violaters will be towed; no help there! But just beside this was a small flat spot, not cleared but free of big rocks and stumps, which was just big enough for my car. Okay, found a parking spot; what about a campsite for my tent?

Across the road was a clearcut area, where there was old slash debris, and one little spot just level enough for my tent. Eureka! After some slight clearing of rocks and sticks, I plopped down my tent:

My humble tentsite

Obviously, not the most aesthetic location; and, if you look close, you can even see a trail right behind it; there’s even a decorated Christmas tree! There are two trailheads here, both named for historic mines in the area, as well as 4WD roads that lead off into a veritable maze of connecting roads; in other words, a trail runners’ paradise! I saw a few runners pass by my camp, who all just waved, and did not look despairingly at my campsite. My car was parked just across from my tent, which shows the private parking lot behind it:

With time to spare, and needing some exercise, I wanted to explore my approach route, always a good idea to do beforehand when you can. So I walked up County Road 520 to see what I could see….

The first thing I noticed were the huge piles of rocks filling the ravine beside the road. This was certainly from previous mining activity back in the later 1800’s, after the Civil War ended. The technique was especially destructive, as it basically dug up entire streambeds and their banks, to ensure all possible gold deposits were captured. Special machinery was invented to accomplish the Herculean task. I’ve seen similar rock tailings around Fairplay. I doubt any recovery efforts will ever be made to reclaim the land, as the work is simply too overwhelming to contemplate.

True to my intuition about mining activity, after a few more minutes hike up the road, I came upon an historic plaque about the Wire Patch Mine:

The hillside of mine tailings where the Wire Patch Mine operated

As the plaque explains, the Wire Patch Mine was most productive from 1875 to 1908; but it hung on, changing hands, until the 1980s. In the end, the land owners sold it to Breckenridge and Summit County Open Space for $9.2 million in 2005…but without doing any reclamation work on the tailings piles, obviously. This legacy of mining is, to my mind, quit offensive: a permanent scar upon the land, which shows the total disregard the original miners had for the environment; as well as the lack of caring that the community had for sanctioning the miners to force them to reclaim the land, and restore it to the local ecosystem. In the past, I used to accept these kinds of degradations as the inevitable order of things; no longer! I now believe that I should speak out, loudly and longly, where I can, when I can…so should you!

A little further down the road, after rounding a bend, the northwest face of Mount Guyot came into view:

Mt Guyot’s northwest face

So now I knew what this aspect looked like; but how to get there? I had a GaiaGPS track that crossed this road, and went up through the woods, but I needed to find it. I kept walking…

There were a few big homes along the road; like this opulent place:

Big home in the woods

The County Road 520 kept going on and on, according to my topo, but I’d walked beyond where my GPS track crossed the road, without my seeing a trail. So I turned around and headed back, scanning the tangled undergrowth for any trail that I might be able to use tomorrow.

I kept referring to the GaiaGPS app, anticipating where its track crossed this road. On the Gaia website, the person who created it referred to it as a great ski, and looked like they had started at the beginning of the Sallie Barber road, and followed the track of the French Gulch creek, when there was snow to travel on.

Then, finally, I spotted this trail marker on the north side of the road:

Trail marker for Little French Gulch Trail along County Road 520

I had totally missed this walking up the road before, but was now much relieved to see it. This meant there was an established trail through the forest, at least up to treeline. Hooray! I walked back to my camp much relieved. Part of the way the French Gulch Creek followed along the road some distance below:

The Little French Gulch Creek

Back in camp, I busied myself with preparing an evening meal out of the back of my vehicle:

While enjoying my dinner alone, I had a little guest show up:

My dinner guest, a red fox, around 9pm

This little guy was surprisingly tame, and would approach me as if I were going to feed him from my own hand! Of course, I knew that was a bad idea, and would try to shoo him away; but this proved difficult, as he kept circling around, and coming back from a different direction. I eventually gave up trying to scare him off, and retreated to my tent as dusk fell. Fortunately, he did not try to enter my tent!

I spent a fitful night, unprepared for the cold. The temperature got down into the mid-20’s, and my bag was rated for freezing. Plus, the sloping ground meant I eventually rolled during sleep toward the lower side of the tent. In a zippered sleeping bag, when you wake up on the lower side of your tent, it feels like you rolled down a hill in a straight-jacket! Not an enjoyable position from which to extricate yourself….

Friday, May 13

In spring skiing, the rule that governs the time of descent is the window during which the corn snow is best; and that is roughly from 11am to 1pm, depending on the solar aspect of the slope, and other conditions. And normally that means getting an alpine start well before dawn.

But this was not a normal trip; I was on my own, and not in any great physical condition, so I was mostly up here to explore the approach, and get some exercise. Though I awoke at 5:30am and got going, it was slow going for me. The cold temperature — about 28F when I woke up — and lack of peer pressure to motivate me, meant I was on my own to strike camp and get going…which meant about an 8:30am departure. I saw an early runner dash by my camp — in shorts, just long sleeve shirt, so water, no extra gear — which made me feel even more guilty. Oh well, I’m on vacation, I told myself…

So it was that I found myself starting up the French Gulch Trailhead about 9am, after trudging up the road in my ski boots, carrying my skis on my pack:

Starting out at the French Gulch trailhead

Fortunately, it looked like adequate snow to skin up on — though how long it would continue I was just going to have to go and find out.

One of the truisms of adventures is to expect the unexpected, and go with the flow; so when this guy showed up:

The Mystery Dog

…I just had to accept this guy as fate! I tried to persuade him to go home, but he (and it was a he) was bound and determined to keep following me; or rather, running ahead of me up the ski trail. He seemed totally accustomed to traveling along with cross-country skiers, so I just had to roll with it.

My greatest anxiety about following this unknown trail uphill was whether it would start switch-backing up densely forested terrain. Fortunately, none of my fears materialized; in fact, the trail was mostly open, like this:

French Gulch trail…plus Mystery Dog

However, at times the skiability of the trail diminished considerably:

Thin conditions on the French Gulch

There were about 3 or 4 places where the snow melted out completely, and I had to either remove my skis/skins, or step gingerly across. Without more snow, I think I might have been here on one of the last days when the trail was still skiable.

At long last, I approached treeline, and started to enter the basin below the northwest face:

Arriving at the basin below the NW face of Guyot…mystery dog in tow

Since it was now about 11:30am, I knew I had no chance of making the summit, either to ski down the Swan Dive, on the northeast face, or the northwest face that was facing me. And I knew I needed to turn around soon to ski back down to the trailhead, before what snow there was turned into ‘mashed potatoes’ and became much more difficult to ski. But here I was, considering my alternatives:

Arriving at the basin below the NW face of Mt Guyot

Therefore, I proceeded up a little further, enough to get a good view of the entire basin. Here’s a screenshot from my GPS:

The elevation says 5,122 ft because that’s what it was where I took the screenshot. Also, the green line is the GPS track from someone who posted it at gaiagps.com, which helped guide me. It looks like they skied down the ridge line, not the face. I could see old ski and snowmobile tracks up on the sparsely treed slope to the right, in the photo below.

Here’s what the view looked like:

The northwest face of Mt Guyot

The ascent route to the summit is nearly out of sight, since the view is from the side. The summit is the obvious high point; and obviously has mostly melted out. It might have been possible to ski the Swan Dive down the northeast face, just out of sight on the left ridge; but it was not for me today. What was reassuring was the non-intimidating slope angle of the northwest face; I knew I could ski that. So, someday I will have to come back!

Now it was time to head back. The snow was soft and quite skiable, not yet “mashed pototoes”, thankfully. My one concern though was this creek that I had crossed on the way up, which was partially open, and had just a thin snow bridge over it. It was somewhat dicey to ski over; and I could see where some previous hikers had punched a hole through it with one of their boots!

The dicey snow bridge

Those are my ski tracks sidestepping down, then up the other side. I was glad to get over that! Continuing on down about another 10 minutes of steady downhill, I needed to stop at the first melted out section, and shed a layer as I was getting overheated. That’s when I discovered I no longer had my stuff sack with my bandana and gloves; oh no! Where could it be? Did I leave it where I took my lunch break, which I left 15 minutes ago back up the trail? That was the only explanation, so I had no choice but the head back up. Forty-five minutes later, I had skinned all the way back up to my break spot, and, sure enough, there was my stuff sack, sitting in plain sight on the ground.

Amazingly, the mystery dog devotedly followed me all the way back up there, though I could tell he was getting tired. As I skied down though, I wondered what to do if he followed me all the way back to my car. But, as it turned out, that did not happen: about halfway back to the trailhead, I saw a woman hiking up on snowshoes, who called out as we approached each other. The mystery dog immediately recognized her voice, and went trotting towards her, as it was indeed his owner. She asked me where I’d encountered him, which I told her, but then did not have the presence of mind to ask her his name. So, the mystery dog remained a mystery; but at least he was now back with his owners.

After negotiating a few more melted out sections, I was down; yay! I retrieved my shoes that I’d cached in a tree, and got out of the heavy ski boots:

End of the trail

Always a nice way to end a spring ski: bare feet! I was glad I’d thought to bring my street shoes up with me to wear back on the last mile of hiking along the road; but how to to carry my ski boots? Of course! I’d seen this done before: just attach them to your skis:

How to carry ski boots on a pack

And so, about 50 minutes later, I was back to my car, which was untouched. I soon was unpacked, transitioned to driving mode, and headed back into Breckenridge. I’d heard that the Broken Compass was a recommended brewpub there, and decided to stop briefly before the long drive home. Here’s the poster showing where their name comes from:

A brewpub ethic?

While not the classiest atmosphere, they did make a good IPA; just be prepared for loud rock music, and a noisy place if you stop by.

And with that, I headed back home…but someday I do need to return and ski the Swan Dive!

Koch fail at Wellesey….a sign of change?

This article in the Boston Globe, Koch effort at Wellesley will be overhauled after public attention (March 27, 2018), shows a rare example where public scrutiny caused an academic reversal in a Koch-funded program. Apparently the sociology professor in question, Thomas Cushman, will take a sabbatical for a year while the college reviews the program.

But what it also shows is how the Koch network is increasing its funding for amping up programs to advance the conservative cause across the country: funding in 2017 was $100 million, up from about $35 million in 2014. This affects around 350 colleges and  universities. That is a lot of affected academic communities.

So this simply confirms what other investigative journalists have been proving, in article after article, book after book, and post after post on this blog: that Charles Koch and his gang of extremist billionaires and millionaires are simply trying to buy their way into forcing their morals on the rest of the country — whether we want them or not. Those morals are based on their own close-minded view of the world, root in racism, sexism, violent repression of labor unions, a dangerous disregard for climate science and an irrational, unbounded hatred of any government programs that attempt to actually help people. Their view of government has the primary purpose of simply protecting their private property, and allowing their business enterprises to act unhindered by any regulations that would protect the environment, promote a fair, living wage, protect women or worker safety on the job.

In short, Koch and his cohorts wish to pave the way for a fascist government that would protect big business while crushing any political dissent by force. They are a threat to our country and any democratic form of government, and deserve to be called out, and tossed out, at Wellesley College and every other college campus where they have invaded with their dark money and archaic ideas.

Bernie’s message on the Koch network

Received this from Bernie’s campaign today (April 9, 2018), and thought it worthy enough to print in full. It fully supports my own campaign to raise awareness on how the Koch network of oligarchs is behind the “stealth fascism” that has taken over American politics:

Rick –

What is the most important issue that the corporate media refuses to seriously discuss? Well, take your pick.

It could be climate change, and the fact that the fossil fuel industry believes that their short-term profits are more important than the future of our planet.

It could be health care, and why it is that the United States is the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right.

It could be the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we experience, and the rather remarkable reality that three people in our country now own more wealth than the bottom 160,000,000 people.

It could be _ _ _ _. Well, your guess is as good as mine.

But let me tell you what I think. I believe the major issue not being discussed by the corporate media is the power of the Koch brothers and the movement in this country toward oligarchy – a nation where our economic and political life is increasingly controlled by a handful of billionaires. Seen any good programs about that lately on CBS, NBC, ABC or anywhere else? I haven’t.

In case you didn’t know, the Koch brothers, Charles and David, are the second-wealthiest family in the country, worth over $120 billion. This year, according to various media sources, the Koch brothers network plans to spend some $400 million in the midterm elections. Yes. $400 million. That is on top of the $750 million they pledged to spend in 2016, $290 million in 2014 and over $400 million in 2012.

That’s a lot of money, but that’s probably only part of the story. Given the existence of super PACs and the opaque nature of campaign funding, it is quite possible that they spend much more. Further, and importantly, their political spending goes far beyond election campaigns. They make enormous investments in right-wing think tanks and in universities – pushing students and the general population toward their extreme right-wing ideology.

They also fund numerous organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, theAmerican Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), FreedomWorks, Generation Opportunity, 60 Plus Association, Institute for Energy Research, Concerned Veterans of America and many more.

What do the Koch brothers want? What is their ideology? What is their legislative agenda?

Simply stated, they want to repeal virtually every major piece of legislation passed since the 1930s that protects working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. They believe that government should play virtually no role in protecting those in need, and that almost all services now provided by government should be privatized and handed over to large corporations.

Before the Koch brothers began their takeover of the Republican Party, David Koch was active in the Libertarian Party. In fact, in 1980, he ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate.

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
  • “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
  • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
  • “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

That was 1980, and the Libertarian Party national ticket received 1 percent of the vote for what most Americans considered a crazy and extremist agenda. Today, in 2018, because of the Koch brothers’ power and influence, many of these ideas have now become mainstream within the increasingly right-wing Republican Party.

In that regard, let me give you an example of what is happening right now with President Trump and the Koch brothers’ plan to privatize health care for millions of our nation’s veterans, and then I am going to ask you to make your voice heard to stop them.

Let’s start with something that we should all be able to agree on:

While serious people can have legitimate differences of opinion about when our country should go to war, there should never be a debate as to whether we fulfill the promises made to the men and women who served this country in the military. Planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war, but so is taking care of the men and women we send to fight them.

Now, last week President Trump made the decision to fire the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin. And what I would strongly suspect is that he made that decision because Dr. Shulkin was not moving fast enough toward privatizing veterans’ health care in this country.

Here is the truth: the VA is the largest integrated health care system in this country. And if you actually listen to the veterans of this country who rely on the VA, what most of them will tell you is that they are quite pleased with the care they receive.

Now, of course we must continually work to improve the VA, but what almost every single major veterans organization in this country says is that we must strengthen the VA, not privatize it.

That is because privatizing the VA would severely underfund the department and leave many veterans without easy access to quality care — oftentimes specialized care required for service-connected injuries that VA centers are better equipped to handle than a local doctor or hospital.

On the other side, you have the Koch brothers, the second-wealthiest family in the United States, who are going to spend $400 million in the coming elections. They have enormous power because of that and what they believe is that we must privatize not just the VA, but Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Not coincidentally, privatizing the VA would also significantly enrich some of the nation’s wealthiest health care executives.

So here is where I ask you to act:

President Trump has nominated his personal physician Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to replace former Secretary Shulkin. And while he has not said as much, I would strongly suspect that Rear Admiral Jackson’s mission is to carry out the wishes of the Koch brothers, and to oversee the privatization of the VA.

So today, I want to send a message to my colleagues who must give their consent to this nomination, and I need your help to do it:

Sign My Petition: Tell the U.S. Senate to reject the nomination of Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs unless he pledges to support strengthening the VA and opposes privatization. The Senate cannot approve any nominee who prioritizes the profits of a handful of health care executives over the health of our veterans.

The drive to privatize veterans’ health care is part of a broader approach by the Trump administration, fulfilling the agenda of the Koch brothers.

We have a Secretary of Education who doesn’t support public education.

We have an EPA Administrator who doesn’t believe in environmental protection and is pursuing a massive deregulation effort.

We have a Treasury Secretary from Goldman Sachs who worked overtime to pass a massive redistribution of wealth and income from the working class to some of the richest and most powerful people in this country.

We have a Secretary of Health and Human Services who President Trump pulled from the pharmaceutical industry at a time when the United States pays the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, by far.

Now it is likely the president is nominating someone to head the Department of Veterans Affairs whose mission will be to privatize veterans’ health care.

Right now, our job is to improve and strengthen VA health care on what already works reasonably well, and not to dismember it. That is a fear that many veterans service organizations have, and it is one that I share.

If you do as well, I hope that you will make your voice heard:

Sign My Petition: Tell the U.S. Senate to reject the nomination of Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs unless he pledges to support strengthening the VA and opposes privatization. The Senate cannot approve any nominee who prioritizes the profits of a handful of health care executives over the health of our veterans.

How can it be that we have enough money to give tax breaks to billionaires and spend more on defense than the next twelve countries combined, but we don’t have enough to make sure that every veteran who went to war and served this country has the quality health care they need here at home?

Privatizing the VA would be a moral abomination, and one that I will fight to stop. Thanks for lending your name to the fight.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders


Nature’s Trust: a new paradigm

[This is a review I posted at Good Reads, March 11, 2018; see here. This post is about the book Nature’s Trust by Dr. Mary Wood, a distinguished law professor at the University of Oregon.]

In everyone’s life, there are only a few books that you can reflect on and say it changed your world view, and by doing so, irrevocably changed your life and how you make decisions on the topics it discussed. This is one of those books….

For most of my adult life, I had felt ill at ease with how my white, privileged, technically advanced culture related to the environment. As a young boy, I felt drawn to the Native American relationship to Nature, which seemed like a dream to which the white man could only aspire. I recall a quote that a favorite high school teacher had on his wall: “To the red man, everything is alive; to the white man, everything is dead…and if it tries to live, he kills it.” This black humor is an apt metaphor for the jurisprudential challenge that Professor Wood tackles head on in this paradigm shattering work. For what she is attempting is nothing less than breathing life into the dead culture our current judiciary has produced.

I must confess that I have not yet finished this dense, scholarly book; but such a volume is not to be rushed through, but gradually absorbed for its deep lessons. But even in the first half the author has fully demolished the illusion that our environmental law is protecting us; rather, she proves the regulatory approach to protecting the environment has utterly failed, and a new paradigm must replace it.

That paradigm is one which includes the natural environment where it should be: at the center of our world, and at the center of its protection. In other words, the natural world deserves to hold rights under our legal system, just as much as human beings, rights which must be enforceable in law.

I look forward to finishing reading this remarkable book, and discovering more about the shape of this new paradigm….which, in fact, I am looking forward to helping to bring about for the rest of my adult life. For this kind of paradigm change will take generations…and it is high time we got started on the work.

Rick Casey
instructor in environmental economics,
Front Range Community College

Dear National Cable & Telecommunications Association: Your stance on net neutrality is incorrect…

In reference to this online article,  “Montana Becomes First State To Set Its Own Net Neutrality Rules” it states that “An unidentified spokeswoman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and USTelecom, which represents the broadband industry, complained about the executive order…”

My response in reaction to your response is: GET A CLUE!
Destroying the principle of net neutrality is blatantly wrong, and the informed American public is well aware that this is nothing more than a power grab by a corrupt administration to privatize the Internet, which, in reality, is a public commons.
The Internet was conceived, built and fostered through the use of public funds and academic institutions who freely shared the knowledge and skills to create it. (see Where Wizards Stay Up Late, Simon & Schuster, 1999) It is the greatest commons ever created by humanity. 
This attempt by a captured federal regulatory body, the FCC, to privatize this public commons will be stopped, in time, by the US public as they come to realize the wrong that has been done to them. 
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association would do well to get on the right side of history and call out the FCC for this misguided policy decision — unless you, too, wish to have the pitchforks of public opinion pointed in your direction as well. 

— Rick Casey

MS, Telecommunications, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2002