Times / Thoughts

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Yesterday kind of got out of control. I slept so shitty on Thursday night that I was useless until early afternoon on Friday. I went out for a ride with Bill and my brother Kris at 3. It was pretty nice out, nearly 60 and the wind was less than 15mph. We ended up going farther than I should have. Again. Something over 40 miles. I kind of ran out of juice the last half hour once again. We had nearly a 20 mph average. Again. When I got home, my lungs were toast. I had hoped to go to Lawrence early and have dinner with Brian (Jensen), but I ran out of time.

The Josh Ritter concert in Lawrence was at 7. Actually, the concert wasn’t until 8, but the doors opened at 7. The place was packed. The concert was great once again. Josh Ritter has been coming to Lawrence for over 10 years. He played a ton of different music than he did when I saw him in NYC last weekend. Towards the end of the show, Josh said something off the cuff like he could really use a beer. Catherine instantly asked me for some money and the next thing I knew, she was down on the main floor, standing at the front of the stage, handing him a cold Freestate beer. He downed it in about 3 seconds. He reached down to thank her, but she’d already taken off back to the balcony where we were sitting. Pretty funny stuff.

Anyway, toward the end of the night, he got into a little philosophical spiel about how great of a time we live in. He said something like, “Fuck nostalgia, we live in a great time.” It wasn’t quite like that, but it meant that. I started thinking about it while walking Bromont and I think he is pretty right. We live is a pretty great time. At least here in the US.

So here’s my little spiel about now-

We have it pretty good in the United States. We have heat in our homes. We have food. We hardly ever have to face the elements, unless we choose to. We don’t have to dig in the ground, again, unless we choose to. We have it pretty good. Our daily lives are much more comfortable than our grandparents were.

The only problem with our time is that everyone else on the planet is beginning to realize how we get to live. That wasn’t the case when I raced bicycles in Europe and elsewhere more often. Everyone then, just had this imagination of what the United States was like. Now, through the internet and television, nearly everyone on the planet can actually see, somewhat, what it is like to like in America.

That isn’t necessarily a good thing for us. Because, we’re living much better than the rest of the world.

I used to race a ton in South and Central America. On the road and MTB. I’ve race in Peru, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Guatemala, lots of places. I experienced a lot down there. I finally decided that I wasn’t going to race “South of the Border” anymore because of the inability of the locals to actually participate. I thought that the money my bicycle was worth could feed a family of 4 in most of these countries. For years. The sport of bicycle racing was completely out of reach for an average person that lives there. It didn’t seem right.

Then, a couple years later, I changed my mind. I rethought it and decided that it was okay to go back and race. I came to the conclusion that I was just entertainment for the locals. It was free entertainment at that. Most of the places I raced, there was a crazy amount of people watching. Unbelievable hoards. I decided that I was making their lives better by allowing them to leave their “normal” lives for a bit and see something not available to them. At a lot of these small towns, I was probably the first American that most of these people had seen. And they were curious. So it was alright.

But now, through the internet, most people throughout the world, now, have a preconceived notion of what America is. A lot is it is great. But, some of it seems wrong. At least to people looking in.

This time, right now, is an important time in human history. It is a time when nearly every human on the planet becomes cognizant of how every other human lives. It is super cool. I know more about the rest of the world, at this very moment, than I knew the first 30 years of my life. But, everyone else knows some about us. And it’s not necessarily the best things about us. That is the way it works. So, it doesn’t seem fair to a lot of people.

I’m not saying it is supposed to be fair, but the reality is that it isn’t. And, the problem with it not being fair is that there are a lot of people around the world that are not happy with us because of this unfairness. I don’t necessarily blame them.

Our lives are going to change a lot over the next couple decades. A lot. And we have some input to affect those changes. We need be compassionate. And knowledgeable about the rest of the world. We have an obligation to this. If not just because it’s right, then for selfish reasons. Unless someone comes up with some sort of cold fusion or a way to desalinate water, humans are going to have some issues with power and food. And we, as Americans, consume a lot of both of these things. Proportionally, way more than the average Earth inhabitant. And that is only going to “work” for so long.

If everyone’s standard of living is going to get better, then, most likely, ours is going to have to get worse. It already has. Prices of commodities are at all time highs. And they aren’t going to ever go back to “old” prices. Our infrastructure is going to be much more expensive to maintain. Prices of oil is going to stay high. So, the price of fixing roads and buying car tires, and lots of other stuff, is never going to be what it was a decade ago. Everything is going to cost us much more.

I’m okay with it. I don’t mind giving up a little of my standard of living if it allows a lot of other people elsewhere to live a little bit better. But, I’m not sure I’m in the majority here. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority. But, it actually doesn’t matter. It’s going to happen either way. It already is. We need to accept this as something that is going to be. Something like global warming. It really doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not. It is happening and we need to accept that. The same way that this is happening. And hopefully we’ll address it.

Let’s all remember that we got really lucky with the “roll of the dice” and were born in the United States. Let’s act accordingly.

11 thoughts on “Times / Thoughts

  1. dew

    Part of it is becaue you have morons running these countries. Economic freedom always preceeds personal liberty.

  2. Gary

    We are very lucky, but another point to make is that Americans are some of the most giving. When another country needs aid we are usually the first to act. To a point that it is almost expected.

  3. C.P.

    Thanks for reminding me of what is so easy to forget/ignore/pretend doesn’t exist.

    FIVE PERCENT of the entire worlds population living in relative super-affluence = America.

    Out of the total world-wide population, 1-2 BILLION Live in Poverty/Abject Poverty.


    It’s possible for it to get much worse than we may imagine.

    I agree and hope THAT won’t be the case. Hopefully there will be the will to take corporate responsibility for the world that co-emerges into existence as a result of everyone’s informed/mis-informed activities.

    With the fetish for individualism added in…. possible that NO ONE will be willing to take that corporate responsibility. The West should know better. I hope.

  4. Hudson Luce

    Part of this is that these other countries are run by US-sponsored dictators, who assist in the impoversihment of their own people for their own benefit and the benefit of their corporate masters in the US … and this has been going on for well over 100 years. Most of these foreign dictators and the troops which they use to rob and subjugate their people get their training at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Columbus Georgia, and they get the weaponry and material aid from the US … and maybe on occasion CIA and others will go down to help things out. The US is by no means passive in this. That’s why the Obama Administration doesn’t really like the Arab dictators being run out of power – they’re bought and paid for by the US, and their armies are supplied and trained by the US

  5. Ted Lewandowski

    First of all your observations are good but without merit to a degree – take no offense.

    To address the standard of living issue there are at least a half a dozen countries that have quality of life better than the United States (in order as of last year – France, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand and Luxembourg).
    So while South Americans might view us in the United States with RELATIVE envy, there are countries (listed above) that the average citizen has it much better quality of life than in the USA – this is fact not opinion.

    In regards to your resources observation, the same thought was made in 1798 by a reknown economist – Thomas Malthous – who published a benchmark book by the title of “An Esssay on the Principle of Population”.

    History has disproved his theory largely by the fact that he did not factor the advance of technology into his theories – as you have above.

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Robert_Malthus

    Furthermore, in regards to income and income distribution, which is the same as GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – the top 1% of the population in the USA controls nearly 36% of the income (wealth of this country) – the next 19% controls 50% – YES LEAVING 14% to the 80% of Americans – NO WAY NO HOW YOU CAN CHANGE THAT!

    Also commodities prices are high because of the built-in inflation factors into currency prices and inversely – the price of gold. This will change when the world economies stabilize and function on their own – rather than being on artificial life support by Central Banks – as they are now.

    This was best documented when the price of oil went from $150 per barrel in the Fall of 2008 – to $35 per barrel in the Spring of 2009.

    Commodities and currencies are tied into each other – you cannot look at one without looking at the other.

    What’s the bottom line? Gold has reached its peak and it will level off somewhere around $800 in the next 24 months bringing down other commodity prices with it.

    The advance of hybrids and more specifically plug-in hybrids will lesson the demand for imported oil – also bringing down the price to somewhere around $65-70 per barrel (next 48 months).

    With ultra-low interest rates this is also a time to purchase real estate – foreclosures specifically – as investments.

    Other than that, pay-off your credit cards, buy used cars (never new) and pay for everything with cash AND ALWAYS RIDE YOUR BIKE 🙂

  6. Hudson Luce

    1. Never buy real estate with a mortgage, you’re dealing with banks and you *will* get screwed. If you’re going to buy real estate, buy it with cash.

    1(a). Be VERY CAREFUL about buying foreclosed properties, make sure you get a warranty deed in fee simple absolute, and not a foreclosure deed or quitclaim giving you title only to the “right, title, and interest” owned by the bank – because you might very well end up with nothing at all, or a redeemable interest or some other such nonsense.

    2. The rise in the price of gold is directly attributable to the increase in money supply – all those failed Treasury auctions being bought up and thus monetized by the Federal Reserve. It’ll take a revolution to end central banking, and I’m betting that revolution won’t happen in two years.

    3. Unless there’s some way to refit the commercial trucking fleet and the railways with hybrid engines, as well as most currently-owned cars, hybrids will not be a factor in anything for at least the next five to ten years, if then. Oil prices are most likely to go up, not come down.

    4. Buy used cars – always good advice, new cars lose half their value when they’re driven off the lot; pay cash, that way you are painfully aware of how much you’re spending; shred your credit cards after you pay them off; and always ride your bike…

  7. Thad Whalen

    I think I have heard all of that for the last 10 years, how bad we are- the parasites of the earth & every one else is the victim. I am now officially tired of the “Social Justice etc.” sales pitch. I look at my own life, they guy across the street, the people I fix their homes and guess what- they are pretty good people. They too work hard , try to pay their bills, feed their family and save what they can. We have the freedom to do that for the time being, although less and less every day. There are those spoiled Americans who live decadent life styles and burn oil, gas, electricity more than the average American. Al Gore comes to mind and a few other Hollywood pukes. We know the bunch, I call them the Ruling Class. They tell us how we need to change, give more money to them and trust them in administering all of this necessity. If we don’t, the world will end tomorrow. Of course China, India, Mexico to name a few didn’t get the memo but thank God Europe and the rest of the intellectual leaders of the world along with the jokers in our government feel free to tell us Americans that we must change. I say no thanks! I to just like to race my bike.

  8. Ted Lewandowski

    Point 2: I disagree with – what failed Treasury auctions specifically? T-bills? There are no failed treasury instruments because that in itself would lead to default of the US Government!

    What lead us into the financial crisis was arcane financial instruments like credit default swaps which most bankers do not even understand even now.

    FYI: The Federal Reserve is NOT a government agency – nor more than Federal Express is – and the chairman is only appointed by the President and acts independently to set fiscal and monetary policy (largely to benefit the 1% of the population).

    The entire debate goes back to Andrew Jackson who had many memorable quotations about bankers and control of the monetary system – you can google them – and he turned out to be right on the money (no pun intended).

    One such quotation…

    “Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves.”

    Watch a segment of the History Channel on the Bilderberg Group to get an insight on secret societies that set policies without anyone’s knowledge.

    YouTube.com Secret Societies – Bilderberg Group


    Point 3: Yes Peak Oil is a factor – but the US is on the verge of a major change in regards to its Energy Policies – combination of wind, solar coming online will lessen the demand for oil which will act in tandem with the introduction of electric cars in the next 5 years – every car company has one in the product line – Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt are the first of such cars (even though the Volt has a range of 40 miles before the gas engine kicks-in).

    I disagree – price of oil is going to be stuck at $75/barrel for the next decade (it closed at $86 yesterday so that is not too far off base).

  9. Biff Stephens

    I do feel lucky, I have also been many places and see a difference in peoples perceptions. I think your right on it too….the media controls. People used to think when I said Oklahoma that we all road horse’s and lived on a farm. I would tell them I was born here and have never actually ridden a horse. NOW? People from Oklahoma have tornados every few days and New Jersey is where Snooky is from and everyone from New Jersey is like her.

    Everything about the USA isn’t great BUT the media is painting a very poor picture of life here….it would be interesting to find out how many families just one episode of “cake wars” would feed…

    Most people really do eat scaps in the rest of the world and we have TV shows about waisting food on contests.



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