Wednesday, January 21, 2015

‘It is profitable to let the world go to hell’

    In a Guardian article, ‘It is profitable to let the world go to hell’, Jo Confino describes the 42 year frustrating struggle by Jørgen Randers to inject a note of sanity into government climate policies.
    "It is cost-effective to postpone global climate action. It is profitable to let the world go to hell.

    "I believe that the tyranny of the short term will prevail over the
decades to come. As a result, a number of long-term problems will not be
solved, even if they could have been, and even as they cause gradually
increasing difficulties for all voters."
    We see this inability to include a long term perspective down to the local government level.  City of Santa Cruz Water Department managers are unable to view future water supply challenges in terms of population growth, insisting that water neutral development, that is increased water use efficiency, will allow population growth indefinitely into the future.

    Of course, increases in efficiency are a short-term solution, since efficiency can only increase to a point of diminishing return. Population increases will inevitably overcome efficiency of use.

    But the bureaucratic mentality cannot embrace this viewpoint, because that means the entire capitalist consumer approach must be abandoned on the scrap heap of history. So the blinders remain fully in place as the opportunities for meaningful and effective change swoosh rapidly downstream to the ocean.

 



Sunday, January 11, 2015

Finding Balance Between Individualism and Society

One thing I learned studying anthropology is that all societies deal with the struggle between the needs of the individual and the needs of society. Society requires stability, knowledge of the rules, the consequences of ignoring the rules, and participation by all members of the society in its maintenance.

The core problem in modern “liberal” societies is the fact that the majority of their members are inadequately prepared to function as contributing members of the society, instead encouraged to act as individuals in pursuit of individual “rights” and “freedoms.”

We see this in daily social discourse here in Santa Cruz. At a recent County Commission meeting, public comment on the dogs off-leash issue was dominated by an unruly demand by a small group of dog owners that County government give them what they wanted, which was freedom to pursue their individual desires with no consideration for the broader public good. The meeting devolved into intimidating mob rule, rather than consideration for others and cooperative participation in the course of local government.

Organized religion once was the domain of family and societal values, a place where members of a society learned the rules and the means and methods of carrying out public life within those rules. Since the Enlightenment, religion has lost its place as the arbiter of public values, with nothing to take its place in a society dominated by science, with its lack of overt values, and industrial commercialism, with its overweening values of independence, individualism and consumption.

In addition, schools have been stripped of their responsibility to teach values, and therefore, young parents no longer have the skills to teach values to their children. And children, being the learning vacuums they are, pick up their values ad hoc from popular culture: their peers, popular music, film and television. 

We therefore live in a society that no longer knows how to conduct itself in its own interest. The desires of the individual are paramount, while the needs of society are left wanting. 

As we move into a time of increased societal stress, as a result of environmental changes piling up due to corporate structured, value-free society, this lack of social nurture will bode ill for the survival of our society. 

That which cannot go on forever, won’t.


Friday, January 09, 2015

Where can I take my dog off-leash on the beach in Santa Cruz?

It seems that everyone wants to come to Santa Cruz, California to let their dogs run off-leash at the beach!

Even during the winter, a percentage of visitors to the beaches of Santa  Cruz County are from out of town. It must be the sun... or something. A percentage of those visitors bring their canine charges with them as  well and can't wait to get their dogs sandy and smelly at the beach. Go figure!


How are they to know - before they get here - that their off leash dogs are not allowed  on Santa Cruz County beaches (except Mitchell's Cove before ten and  after four)? Or that there are five beaches (Main Beach, Cowell, Natural Bridges, Wilder Ranch and Scott Creek) that don't allow dogs at all?!

As it turns out, there's an app for that, or at least, a web site.

Click HERE for the answer to this and other questions at Santa Cruz Off-Leash Beach!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Parks Commission Gives in to Bullying Dog Owners

   Late last year the off-leash dog controversy came to a head with the December 15 meeting of the Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. Over a year ago, the Commission requested that County staff produce criteria for off-leash dog facilities and an inventory of County Parks properties suitable for fenced or unfenced off-leash dog parks. 

    The four Commissioners in attendance on December 15 listened to the Parks Department Staff Report, which concluded “County Parks does not recommend further consideration of unfenced shared use areas where dogs would be permitted off-leash.” 


    Following the Staff Report, the meeting was opened to public comment on this agenda item. Many comments from off-leash dog proponents were loud and peppered with foul language, as they demanded that the Commission “give them” an off-leash dog area on “their beach.”
The F-word was heard as often as in a modern motion picture.

    The atmosphere created by off-leash dog supporters turned ugly and intimidating. Members of the audience expressing support for the Staff Report were repeatedly interrupted by rude remarks. When the public comment was closed and the Commissioners began their discussion, the off-leash proponents continued their interruptions, moving forward toward the Commissioners, waving and gesticulating, and taking pictures with their cell phones. At times the gathering felt more like a religious revival than a Commission meeting.

    The process of careful government deliberation was destroyed by the unruly behavior of the off-leash proponents, replaced by
an escalating mob atmosphere by those intent on getting their own way.

  
Unfortunately, the Commission Chair failed to control the abusive outbursts, even beyond the public comment period and into the Commissioners’ discussion that followed. Even worse, two Parks Commissioners rewarded the off-leash proponents and gave them legitimacy by taking their demands seriously and proposing a motion to recommend that the Board of Supervisors look into a pilot program for off-leash dogs on a County beach.

    What message does this send to the public that looks to County Commissions to advise their Board of Supervisors on County policy? Is abusive and bullying behavior to be rewarded by obsiquious Commissioners? Is County policy to be determined by those who shout the loudest with the most foul language?