Worldview: Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Fanaticism

There’s something about the sustainable food movement in all its various incarnations that brings out the fanatic in people, both pro and con. I admit that I am just as bad as anyone.

Yet, there is an underlying problem with that fanaticism that undermines the whole attempt to improve the way we feed ourselves, and it finds its voice in purity tests voiced by some that demand things that are unrealistic or downright impossible.

Among the worst of these tests are calls for laws that threaten the livelihoods of the very kinds of people trying to make change happen. For example, there are those who want to pass laws that would require sustainable farmers and vegetable producers to get licensed before they could produce.

I understand the motives that drive such calls because I experience them first hand. I also know they only serve to threaten the very undertaking we’re all supposed to be working together to achieve by making it harder to do what we are doing.

Perhaps, instead of calling for laws, boycotts, and bans, if we see a problem, we should be working extra hard to solve it and let the chips fall where they may. All that effort spent trashing others could be used in a far more productive way, and in the end, that properly applied effort might just produce something better than what we already have.

DLH

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Worldview: Consequences for a region

The City of Dayton‘s recent decision not to extend the lease for Synergy Incubators has much larger consequences than just for the city. Synergy Incubators is a regional asset, opening opportunities for food entrepreneurs to create and sustain small-scale enterprises in seven counties bordering Montgomery County by providing them a place to prepare and package food for local markets. The decision by the city has the potential to affect as many as a million people in the Dayton Metropolitan Area, and the potential economic impact affects all of southwestern Ohio.

These observations are not hyperbolic. The Dayton area is one starved for jobs, opportunities, and hope. Synergy Incubators is one of the recent innovations offering these things to the region. By refusing to extend its lease, the City of Dayton has decided that it wants to kill these things for everyone in the entire region in favor of protectionism, parochialism and petty politics that really only benefit a few politicians and downtown Dayton businesses.

If we the people of the Dayton region cannot trust the government of the City of Dayton to show leadership on our behalf, then it is time for us to show that leadership ourselves by taking whatever power the city might have left out of Dayton’s hands.

You can do so first by signing this petition calling for Dayton to extend Synergy Incubator’s lease. Failing their action to do so, you can help by helping Synergy Incubators find a new home. In any case, you can consider helping them by contributing to their cause.

The Dayton region will live or die on the actions of all its citizens. One city government should not be able to dictate to all of us what opportunities we have. Let’s make the region a better place, without Dayton’s government if we have to.

DLH

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Worldview: Stop SOPA/PIPA

Tomorrow, Worldview and the rest of my active websites will be blacked out from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act/Protect Intellectual Property Act wending their way through Congress right now. These are bad bills conceived for bad reasons intended for bad purposes and they should not have ever been put forward let alone have the chance to go into law.

These pieces of legislation also represent part of ongoing actions on the part of our government, bot the executive and Congress, to encroach on the liberties of individual citizens for reasons that have nothing to do with making those citizen’s lives better. Examples include the latest iterations of the Patriot Act, the social media surveillance of social media by the Department of Homeland Security, a provision in the Defense Authorization Act that allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism links, and the individual mandate provisions of the health care law.

Unless we the people–which people the government is supposed to be of, by, and for–stand up against such abuses, we have no hope of securing our liberty for ourselves or for future generations. We must act now or lose more. You can start by speaking out against SOPA/PIPA by contacting your representatives using the form from the menu on the right. Then you can go further by carefully considering how you vote in 2012. Finally, you can realize that the next election begins the moment the last one ends and become involved in the entire political process.

Act now or lose more.

DLH

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Worldview: Is the 14th Amendment a remedy to the debt crisis? What do you think?

One of the ideas that keeps appearing as a solution to the debt crisis is that the president could unilaterally raise the debt ceiling by using the power some see implied in Section 4 of the 14th Amendment.

The problems I see with this interpretation is that it doesn’t seem like the 14th Amendment was intended to grant any president that kind of power and that the power to spend money at all still rests firmly with Congress.

Now, I grant that the debt ceiling question results from the fact that Congress authorized spending in excess of what it authorized in borrowing, and I also grant that the president has the responsibility to ensure the sovereignty of the United States, which includes its debts.

I think the underlying problem here is that there is no check against excess by the federal government against its citizens. Granting any president the right to borrow without the approval of Congress seems like an even worse slope than deficit spending already represents.

Yet, this problem is hardly cut and dried, and I am not sure where I stand on it either. What do you think?

DLH

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Worldview: Stop trying to preserve government programs and do it yourself

As the budget and deficit talks between Congress and the White House drag on, I have been reading a lot of articles, especially from progressive sources, about how people need to act to preserve this or that spending program because of how beneficial it is. Almost every one of those programs shares very specific characteristics: they are almost always focused at a local problem and are almost always focused at helping individuals do something.

Here’s my idea: why not abandon the federal programs and try making these things happen ourselves if they’re really worth doing.

“But,” you might say, “where is the money going to come from?”

Isn’t that kind of the whole point? Because the federal government is taking so much money out of the the economy in taxes, there is no money for local people to do local things. If that reality is the case, then it makes sense to let the federal programs expire, let the money reenter the economy, and let local people take over doing local things.

Of course, the problem is a lot more complicated than that. For instance, even if the federal government makes these cuts, it won’t add up to the $1 trillion in deficit spending projected for next year, nor will it really dent the $14 trillion in debt the federal government has already accrued.

No, even if these locally focused federal programs expire, there still may not be money, and that reality must force local people focused on local things to consider an even more aggressive approach. In my view, it’s time for us to rebuild our localities so that they can withstand the disaster our federal–and state, really–governments have inflicted upon us.

This aggressive approach means abandoning the government solution in favor of hard work and sacrifice at the local level. It means accepting that the government, and the people who continue to benefit from government spending, is going to continue to rip us off. It means deciding to work together to find local solutions to local problems even when there is no money. It means caring enough about what happens to us and our neighbors that we’re willing to do what it takes to make things work for us.

These things can happen, but people have to do them. I will give you an example:

This year, the village of Covington, Ohio and several enterprising individuals started a farmer’s market (Facebook) on Friday nights in the parking lot of the government building there. It’s a small market, one I participate in, but it has the distinction of having no government involvement except at the local level.

Now, this market will live and die on two things: will people from the area who are doing things participate, and will people who live in the area frequent it? Frankly, this is a test of whether people believe a local thing can work, and it’s up to the local people to make it work.

Some might say that it’s just a farmer’s market, but I say it’s more than that: it’s local; it’s independent; it’s focused on the community; it’s the way jobs and the future will be created. But, these things will only be true if people actually participate.

So, here’s the test: will people participate locally, or will they keep expecting someone else to solve the problem for them? It’s up to you to decide.

DLH

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Worldview: “Keep your head down” represents a compromise of the Christian worldview

I hear this idea or something like it often: “We should just keep our heads down and mind our own business.”

Usually, it comes from conservatively minded people, often from Christians, and mostly in relationship to ongoing world events the speakers find troubling. Every time I hear the idea expressed, I wonder how it jives with everything conservative Christians know about the faith and worldview we are supposed to possess.

How can we be salt and light, share the Gospel with the world, or let our gentleness be evident to all if we’re hiding from the world? How can we do the good works God has created for us to do if we keep our heads down? How can we be the citizens of a shining city on a hill if we’re minding our own business?

From my point of view, these ideas represent a fundamental compromise of the Christian worldview, and the result of that compromise has been the demise of the good our forebearers accomplished.

The Christian worldview is on that can only be lived out loud. Look at the history of our faith. It is filled with men and women who refused to be silent even in the face of exile and death. Many of our American ancestors came here as an expression of and because of their worldview. It was, in part, from their loud proclamations of belief that the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights derived their legitimacy.

Yet, modern American Christians, in great part, would rather hide when the command is to shout and make a spectacle. If we do not declare what we know and believe, how will anyone hear?

As for me, come better or worse, I will not be silent, nor will I be afraid.

DLH

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