Go out and create something beautiful today.
Go out and create something beautiful today.
The unreported consequences of the oil spill. I told you there was a cover up coming!
Note the Haliburton to BP to Goldman Sachs relationship. We tossed Martha Stewart in the can for insider trading, when she had been trying to sell her stock for 6 months! Goldman Sachs drops there stock in BP and 11 days later Deepwater Horizon happens and no one is investigating them? My sadness at being an American is quickly turning to hatred.
Interesting video, and for once it appears that suburbia isn’t the villain. Ms. Dunham-Jones highlights the opportunities available to suburban communities to redevelop and retrofit themselves to become more sustainable, and nicer looking.
While watching this video I remembered that many city neighborhoods were pre-runners to suburbs, and they came into existence because of: trolleys!
We talk about redeveloping our urban spaces and our suburbs, but what about our neighborhoods?
Our whole building system needs to be reworked. Let’s change zoning laws to allow better integration of businesses and commercial enterprises. Many people don’t walk to work because they can’t!
Mass transit isn’t used because there is no real added benefit. Many times it’s more of a hassle, more inefficient and more inconvenient to take the bus, then it is to drive a car.
Psychologists lament the loss of real community (even Men’s Health talks about it), and one of the reasons I believe this has happened is the lack of “third spaces.” There is no neighborhood diner, coffee shop, bar, or grocery store anymore. Not really.
Applebee’s, Meijers, and others attempt it. But a person still has to drive 30 minutes to get there. I can’t walk out of my house and in a reasonable amount of time walk to a restaurant or grocery store.
Let’s re-design our communities in a more intelligent way!
Today Tesla has started offering stock, the goal of this IPO is to raise funding for a more affordable electric car.
Their definition of affordable:
For most of America, that’s not affordable.
As much as I’d like Tesla to succeed, they highlight almost everything wrong with the environmental movement right now.
To begin with, it’s a skewed definition of affordable. Secondly, while we’re focused on the pin stripes (in this case, Tesla’s awe inspiring performance) we’ve neglected everything else (the complete LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE!!!).
Furthermore, there’s no standardization of electric vehicles yet. Meaning certain cars will only work with certain charging stations. Imagine the frustration felt when you can’t find your cellphone charger, magnified a thousand fold.
Could electric vehicles work? Absolutely! For 90% of America, electric cars are perfect for most trips. Especially combined with the range extension of a second, gasoline powered car, for weekend motoring and afternoon jaunts.
But until something is offered that is actually affordable (say in the $7000 to $10000), electric cars are a dead battery.
I survived my week at camp. Barely. All that playing, swimming, and severe lack of sleep took its toll.
But I had a great time, was very lucky to have a cabin full of well behaved children, and worked with a great staff. I even got tan!
During the week, I had a realization: Our current tax system actually inhibits sustainability.
A quick google search on the average business tax rate reveals that it’s anywhere from 13% for single owner, small businesses (ala the SBA) up to 40% for large corporations. According to the OCED the corporate tax rate for 2010 was roughly 20%.
This means that anywhere from a tenth to a full fifth of a company’s gross income is eaten up in taxes. Meaning that profit margins are that much smaller. This actually discourages the adoption of sustainable methods due to their higher initial costs. High taxes plus higher initial cost means even smaller profit margins. Small profit margins encourage higher prices. Which pushes sustainable made items out of reach for most consumers.
Up next, income tax. From personal experience, a full 20% of my income is eaten up in taxes and deductions. Federal, state, and local taxes add up to shrink my take home pay. Smaller paychecks encourage the purchase of cheaper products. Cheaper products are less likely to be sustainable made. If an individual is living paycheck to paycheck, they can’t save money to make a sustainable purchase.
What needs to happen is this:
Lower corporate tax rates. This will immediately increase profit margins, meaning that companies have no excuse to adopt sustainable practices. At that point, it’s a comparable option, and is the smart decision to make as far as publicity and reputation are concerned.
Combined with that, those companies that don’t adopt sustainable practices should face higher taxes. This creates a favorable environment for businesses to adopt sustainable models.
Secondly, eliminate the income tax. Individuals need to know exactly how much money they take home. Currently $24,000 a year, isn’t actually $24,000 a year. It depends on location, and could be anywhere from $20,000 to $17,000.
In lieu of income tax, I propose better state sales taxes, and a federal tax rate. Sales tax is easy to understand and estimate, and is fairly simple to enforce. Meaning that revenue generated from a sales tax is fairly guaranteed. It also is a cost visited solely on the consumer. That encourages a smarter consumer. And by increasing the actually amount taken home each pay period, consumers can afford to purchase sustainable made products.
What I envision is this: We redistribute the tax rate. The net change is zero, but by reworking everything, we actually could encourage better purchasing habits.
This is of course combined with smarter government. It’s incredibly easy to start a government program; it’s impossible to end one. While we rework our tax system, we also need to audit our government agencies, and eliminate as much waste as possible.
There you go: A simple way to encourage smarter purchasing habits and better government. All just by changing how we tax our citizens.
For the next week I will be helping out at my former employer, Camp Willson. Basically it’s a week of summer camp, and a chance to impact the next generation.
Part of the reason I’m so passionate about the environment and sustainability is because of my experiences at summer camps when I was growing up.
Hopefully I can encourage some campers to think more about their connection to the world around them. Who knows?
My brother came over a few days ago, and we pulled this shoot using nothing but my fixed gear and the camera on my cellphone. Enjoy!
“Aviators & Martinis” (white)
As an added bonus, take a look at some of the custom designs done so far:
“Can I be Assistance?”
“Columbus (un)official Linchpins: Meetup”
It’s interesting to me to think what happens when the citizens of a nation lose trust in their government. Since 2000, everyone has been upset with the way our country has handled itself at some point and time.
Perhaps it’s time we do something?
We have a right, as put forth by the Declaration of Independence, to alter or abolish any government that becomes destructive towards the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If things continue on this path it is unlikely that anyone will be alive. If we look back at history, it would seem that in the last 50 years we’ve become steadily unhappier. I know that happiness had a different meaning to the forefathers, but we no longer live in that time, and by today’s definition of happiness: No one’s really happy.
Furthermore, we no longer have liberty. I don’t have the freedom to start a family or pursue a rewarding career that pays little actual money, because I’m beholden to a few companies.
Voting to affect change is a laughable proposition at best. Politicians seek only to serve their interests and a few lobbyists and no one else. Often, the will of the people (those whom governments derive power from) is ignored outright.
How can a people bear the burden of poor government?