Friday, November 21, 2008

My Comments to the President-Elect: Energy Policy

To some, freedom means low prices. To others, Freedom means independence. With the recent economic crisis, energy costs have plummeted, particularly for oil and its byproducts. With this refreshing change, I fear we may soon forget what it felt like to be at the mercy of foreign corporations.

I think the primary focus of energy policy ought to be independence from foreign interests.

I agree that our national energy policy ought to be a policy that allows us to be good world citizens and also to better care for the commons that we all share. While expanding offshore drilling and developing protected lands may be a better choice than continued dependence on foreign powers, seeking alternative sources of energy would help us more in the long term. Now that the auto industry finds itself in arrears, it could be the perfect chance to change how we think about energy and transportation.

Ultimately, I'd like to see America's energy production owned and operated by Americans, not by government or foreign interests.

In summary:

1) Energy independence is better than low cost energy.
2) Local oil production is better than energy dependence, but alternate energy is the way to go.
3) Energy production in America should be owned and operated by Americans and energy should be produced closest to where it is used in proportion to local demands.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Letter to the Senator

Dear Mr. Senator,

I am writing in regards to the recent Senate Bill S.3688, Introduced by Senator Harry Reid. As you know, this bill is designed to provide "bailout" funds to the US automakers, or more specifically, to "automobile manufacturers and component suppliers that have [...] operated a manufacturing facility for the purposes of producing automobiles or automobile components in the United States[.]"

I am writing to tell you that I oppose using American funds to maintain any corporation, US or otherwise, if it means propping up the present status-quo. In addition, I do not consider companies that maintain significant foreign operations to be "US" corporations in any practical sense. Foreign multinationals, even if they consider themselves US corporations, should never receive American money as a matter of principle.

While I feel no compassion for corporations, I am sympathetic to those fellow Americans whose jobs are on the line because of the present crisis. In fact, the managers and pencil-pushers that have no part in the physical production of useful goods reap the highest rewards from the profits. They have now failed even in their sinecure, and are of no further use to the workers who depend on them for their living.

If taxpayer money is to go to these companies, I would like to see it happen only under the following conditions:

1) That foreign operations shall cease. Automobiles are for the convenience and necessities of actual people, not for profit. American cars should be produced where they are most efficiently consumed, that is, on American soil.

2) That the corporations shall cease to be publicly traded, and that once they have been set aright, shall be returned to the hands of those who operate the factories and produce the goods. According to our theory, those who create property also own it. It is an injustice to place ownership of these things in the hands of investors who care little about the goods produced, other than as a means for profit. Such contracts should be discouraged in America.

When healthy and skilled men and women - who live in a land of plentiful resources - find themselves at the mercy of panicked investors and greedy executives, they can not be Free. America has failed them.

We are now confronted with the unprecedented opportunity to return to sanity. We can return to the America where individuals once relied on their own ingenuity, on their local communities, and on the good graces of Providence to thrive on this abundant land. A Free people must never become dependent on "other people's money" lent at usury, nor on the Invisible Hand of a fickle Wall Street, nor on the benevolence of Leviathan.

We have traded our American Dream for the American Illusion, which is the belief that renting from the bank at interest is the same thing as owning property, and that work for hire is just as good as directly owning and profiting from the produce of our hands. Thus a core value of American Democracy has been eroded, i.e., the proper and proportional ownership of private property.

Please use this opportunity to help Americans instead of corporations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Violin

Here are some pictures of the fiddle I recently finished making. I had a lot of help from Will Bartruff, and from my friend Chuck Thomas (he lent me the Stroebel book), and also from a local apprentice, Sam Barker.

One of the things Will pointed out to me is that the strings are supposed to lie over the saddle on the tailpiece, not under the tailpiece, as I have it in these photos. So, I have since restrung it. Sam checked my sound post and confirmed what Will also told me: it is too close to the bridge. He tried to reset it, but I have it a hair too long. Those are some of the improvements I am still making, in addition to thinning my neck a little bit more.

But it sounds great, and you can see how it has turned out. Prior to beginning this project, I had never handled a real violin in my life. Now I am learning how to play it.

I'll be working on a couple more instruments in January.