Kentucky Now — What's Next?

A member of the Solari network just called me. Several years ago, inspired by our warnings, she moved to a home that is much more self-sufficient. She has a generator, a well, and local food sources.

Her neighbor has a house-guest who is taking refuge from the ice storms in Kentucky: the woman’s home has been without heat, electricity, or water for the past week. The National Guard recently informed her daughter back in Kentucky that it might be another 4-6 weeks before power is restored. Apparently, there are more than a quarter of a million people in this situation.

There is nothing rustic about me. I love technology and modern comforts. That said, I do not want to be dependent on centralized systems and I do not want you to be, either. Centralized systems are simply not dependable. I encourage you, wherever you live and whatever you do, to embrace redundant and local systems.

On this Thursday’s Solari Report, I will be discussing how we can organize to build greater local resiliency with Albert Bates, a leader in  Transition Towns and Financial Permaculture. In “Money & Markets”, I will connect the dots between the global financial coup d’etat and this week’s headlines, including the deterioration in our infrastructure. I’ll also discuss the importance of diversifying our investment of time and money.

In “Let’s Go to the Movies,” we will be talking about Avi Lewis’ and Naomi Klein’s documentary The Take. If you want a birds-eye view of what can happen when a financial system and currency collapse, here it is.

You can listen live or access the recording and archives whenever you want.

Learn more about The Solari Report and subscribe here.

I hope you’ll join us.

14 Comments

  1. Some of us work in the downtown of big cities and live in the surrounding neighborhoods so we don’t have to commute. How can someone who lives in say Lincoln Park in Chicago or someone who owns a rowhome in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Philadelphia decentralize? Is it possible to get off the grid under such circumstances?

  2. Dear Catherine ( may I call you Catherine?? ): What I find most enamouring about your viewpoint, besides the obvious disdain for those who have persecuted you over the years, is that you are competent to describe the innate character of the power elite so well that it exudes from the page. Yes, as a class of individuals it appears that this culture and mindset have throughout history amassed such great wealth, that for us mere mortals, it has somehow solidified because we aspire to the status much like Thorsten Veblen’s treatise The Theory of the Leisure Class and why we don’t overthrough the oppressors but aspire to their position by any means ( rather than a bloody socialist revolt ala Lenin/Trotsky )..even today I wonder when the taxpayers might revolt..and yet even though their eyes are wide open to the fraud and outright criminality (ie.: Mr Paulson’s three page immediate demand for the $700b particularly without oversight- or else martial law will be imposed ) it seems that we wish they actually get away with the crime…Today Mr. H. Markopolous went before the Congressional Committee investigating Mr. Madoff to confront the SEC and to tell his tale of woe…also, Sybil Edmunds is languishing in the background with a similar inside view of corruption about another aspect of this culture of crime and now we are to believe that the judicial system will provide the remedy ( convict Madoff and others?? ). But he is merely a small piece of the pie..the pervasive character flaw is with the entire Wall Street and financial system leaders thoughout time who allowed this pervasive systemic greed to become the cornerstone for what our “democracy” represented….The back room deals and the high end lifestyles ( ala WALL STREET-THE MOVIE ) have allowed many to become richly endowed for activities only sustained by the power elite ( the club–members only ). The mega-rich and the ultra-rich are still being coddled by the political functionaries ( notice that the CEO pay package limitation announced today is not retroactive ). The $150m inaugeration needed a $450m repair of the Mall sod??? since eliminated from the “stimulous bill “. I have a list of activites and commonly accepted principles that must be eliminated from our lexicon before any REAL change can transpire: 1) the end of the divine right of kings/queens principle, 2) and end to fractional reserve banking, 3) an end to the system of obscene credit, usury, and interest rates. 4) the repeal of the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution, 5) a reversal to the SCOTUS ruling in Santa Clara County v. Union Pacific Railroad ( 1886 ),( and in particular the head note naming corporations as a “person” with all rights reserved ), 6) A return to the system of tariffs and demand side economics, 7) the elimination of greed, 8) the return to a lifestyle where people can gather and promote a healthy worldview, 9) a return to true democratic principles 10) I’m cetain there are more to the list ( more to be added by others )… as always, Richard D. Gordon CP

  3. There are many who are pursuing similar aims. Libertarians like Ron Paul (click here for Ron Paul’s list of Cures for our Economy) and Austrian economists like Hayek, von Mises, Rothbard, Block, for example (see http://www.mises.org and http://www.lewrockwell.com). Many of the Austrian economists are highly eloquent and vocal: they write a lot and frequently and work hard to spread their points of view.

    To discover that the excellent ideas and suggestions which fill Catherine’s Solari writing are not just a collection of neat ideas but form part of an economic and political philosophy has been surprising, satisfying and very encouraging.

  4. Catherine, do you ever get discouraged? I hope not. May this be a word to the staff around you to keep you lifted up! You encourage us to be patriots. I feel the work you are doing is just about the most important for our country right now. Thank you.

  5. Power companies in the midwest used to perform preventative maintenance every year, including cutting trees and branches which might be a problem in an ice storm (the weight of the freezing rain brings down power lines & even trees). But starting about 5 to 7 years ago, they stopped the preventative maintenance with the reasoning being it was cheaper for the power company to just send crews after the fact even if more people are inconvenienced.

    There seems to be a minor ice storm in the midwest about every 3 winters or so. Maybe this one is that much worse because the power companies stopped maintenance years ago. The human effect of this storm is much worse than any I can recall in recent memory.

    FOUR TO SIX WEEKS WITHOUT POWER. WOW.

    The Amish in Kentucky are much better prepared, barely effected by the storm.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/ICE_STORM_AMISH?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2009-02-04-16-31-01

  6. A message in from the amazing Paul Glover with some great links, particularly if you live in my original hometown, Philadelphia.

    Catherine:

    Have been following your progress.

    Kentucky today, NYC tomorrow.

    Here’s my cover story for Philadelphia City Paper addressing these urgencies: “Prepare for the Best” http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2009/01/29/philadelphia-green-future

    I’ve been teaching Green Jobs, and Metropolitan Ecology, at Temple University.

    Here’s my monthly newsletter about greening Philadelphia’s economy: http://www.greenjobsphilly.org/news

  7. My brother in Arkansas is using his 11kw generator for a few weeks, after an ice storm broke tops off all the trees and took down power lines. He is burning a mix of used motor oil with diesel.

    Gasoline generators(engines) will burn any fuel including #2 heating oil, used cooking oil, and alcohol and diesel if they have been vaporized. To vaporize, a few wraps of soft copper plumbing pipe around the exhaust pipe will be enough. youtube for GEET. People on Long Island are using grid-ties to sell power from GEET gensets, cancelling utility bills. This involves a 240v DC genset, not AC, generator, then the grid-tie, like for windmills, syncs phase to the grid AC, and disconnects if grid power goes down, protecting utility workers during outages.

    I am loaning a 1981 Toyota Corolla to a couple of guys. They ran it on vaporized gasoline for 20 minutes. Next we are going to vaporize by ultrasonic humidifier. Gas burns with less waste to heat, and more propulsive force, if vaporized.

    I have read a lot about making hydrogen from water. It’s easy to get started with EBN dry cells(youtube), and then there are ways to do it far more efficiently, such as Stan Meyers high voltage low amp and dielectric cathode and energy from the vacuum which is attracted into insulated antenna plate by high voltage disruption tickling lightning’s source. youtube higherpoweredh20 zerofossilfuel sirHOAX, h21o com, panacea-bocaf org

  8. http://michellemalkin.com/2009/02/03/letter-from-paducah-kentucky/

    Letter from Paducah, Kentucky
    By Michelle Malkin • February 3, 2009 05:16 PM

    Michelle,

    I’ve been trying all day to get a hold of Senator McConnell but the line is busy. I guess that is a good sign. Out of frustration I called his local line here in Paducah, Kentucky and if anyone can’t get through to his Washington office they can call:

    270-442-4554

    By the way Michelle I just got my power turned on yesterday and feel fortunate as almost 4,000 here in Paducah still don’t have power and because of the damage may not have power for another week. The situation is much more depressing for those who live in the rural area of our region as utility poles were snapped in half by the weight of the ice all over far Western Kentucky. In fact our local paper reported this morning utility workers with direct Katrina experience are saying the devastation to our power grid is worst than Hurricane Katrina:

    “The word from utility workers with direct Katrina experience is that ice storm devastation to western Kentucky’s power grid is worse than that inflicted by the infamous Gulf Coast hurricane.

    “We’ve got linemen here from southern Mississippi who were there when Katrina hit, who worked the area after the hurricane,” said Kevin Inglish, a spokesman for West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corp.”

    What stands [out] to me [is that] there [are] no news anchors from any of the Big 3 or any cable news channel including Fox News; No Sheperd Smith or Greta or any satellite trucks to document the devastation or two hour gas lines or the mad rush for generators at Home Depot.

    Unfortunately they also won’t document that no one is crying for the federal government or FEMA as everyone is just taking care of business without them thank you very much…

    Tim McCann
    Paducah, KY.
    Posted in: Worthy Causes

  9. Most people are aware of how electric coal power generation and distribution are concentrated in geography. Less well known, but more striking, is how coal mining, especially mountain top removal mining, is concentrated in southern Appalachia. The discomfort and distress caused by our widespread power outages are small compared to the destruction of the local economies and of the coal rich forests of south western West Virginia and south eastern Kentucky. Instead of knowing these mountains as the biological treasures that they are, we know more and more of them as garbage dumps for mining waste or in their now highest use as sites for Wal-Mart or pastures for western Elk. ($40M was added to the cost of a federal prison in Martin County, KY, built on a former mining site, because of crumbling foundations) Why, even municipal landfills can be capped, sown with grass seed, grazed by cattle, and be called reclaimed.
    The Kentucky counties producing the most surface mined coal suffer among the highest (if not the highest) poverty rates, the highest unemployment, and the most rapid population decreases.

    Our recent troubles in Kentucky, in some ways originate in our belief in the fantasy that strippng mountains of coal and shipping it to the rest of the country to burn have no consequences.

  10. I understand how disruptive it is to lose your power in an ice storm. I have done my own preparing over the last several years, but when the ice storm in NH happened recently, I found it was an unpleasant “test” of my preparedness. Make a journal of all of your weaknesses, then correct. Consider this only a “test” and get yourselves ready because it can happen to any of us at anytime. Stock up!

    The best part is that you will make friends and connections in your community that you never knew existed.

  11. Tony K.–“Is it possible to get off the grid under such circumstances?”

    It seems to me that the answer is “no,” in most cases. Most urban dweller have no access to land, no property rights in their dwellings, and no right to make modifications to their dwellings, even if they do own them. Things like a bit of land, or community gardens, are good things, but they won’t provide heating and cooking fuel and water supplies.

    On the other hand, urban dwellers may have more opportunities for trading and bartering, if things get tough. I’m thinking here of Orlov’s account of how people in the former USSR travelled to where they could buy or barter for necessities, which they brought back to sell or barter for their own needs.

    But if being off the grid and leading a more self-sufficient lifestyle is your dream, I fear you will have to commit to it. You will have to look for a way to get out of the city–maybe commute to your present job, or find a job in a rural area. This can actually be done with very little money in many areas–if you are very determined. Housing prices are depressed, and rural areas often have a large stocked of very depressed (and often depressing) housing. There are probably dozens of houses in the rural town near me that were built around 1900, are in need of renovation, sit on very large lots, and are virtually impossible for their owners to sell. If you are determined, you could probably buy something like this on a contract for deed.

    I know of a single-wide trailer on a lakefront acre of land that sold for $4,500 a couple of years ago. It was equipped with a wood stove, septic, cistern, and a new pump. The seller gave the buyers a payout. The seller and his wife were getting elderly, and certain elements of the rustic life were losing their charm.

    If you really want to get out of the city, you can. I did. The cheap rural house was hard to find, and the lifestyle change was difficult. But this was my dream, and I think one of the wisest moves I’ve ever made.

  12. Wow! I am so thankful to have discovered you a few months ago via “Flashpoints” on Pacifica Radio! This post has me wondering if you have read any (or all) of Daniel Quinn’s work? it seems to me that you are talking about the same issues, he focus on culture and ideas whereas you focus more on the tangibles. Please check out his work at http://www.Ishmael.com if you haven’t already, I’d be very interested in your take on it. Thank you so much for your invaluble ideas & insight. I look forward to hearing your next interview on KPFA, & I hope to afford to subscribe to your report soon. Thank you again! – k

  13. Catherine and bloggers,

    I have an idea which I would like critiqued.

    Instead of giving the banks money to remain afloat, we could take the money and buy the property (land only) from the homeowner, making it a leasehold which is a common concept in other countries.

    The taxpayer would be protected because they would own a hard asset and not be dependent upon payments. Land doesn’t depreciate like an empty house or require insurance or upkeep.

    The owner of the house would have their payments reduced and those struggling to make payments would have more disposable income.

    Property could be sold in whole or with leasehold. In whole, the treasury would be paid back. On leasehold, more people could afford to buy property. The leaseholder would still pay for taxes and maintenance and the rent on the leasehold would be that portion of the taxes assigned to the land. Local governments would not suffer a loss.

    People could save and pay off their other debts or put the money back into the economy.

    The amount of money that we have thrown at this is astronomical yet has done little if anything to salvage the economy. If all of the mortgages in the country were treated this way and half of the value were in the land, it would require 6 trillion dollars. But the taxpayer would be buying land which is limited in supply.

    Those places which are in most distress would benefit the most. Before any payment went back to the bondholders, all property taxes would have to be paid to the local governments.

    Property transfers on leaseholds would cost less as only the improvements would transfer, allowing more people to buy homes and more transactions to be made.

    What safeguards need to be put in place to make this workable? Local oversight? Local programs? Or would this evolve into HUD-like corruption where favored parties get the property at taxpayer expense?

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