Author Archives: reine de miracle

Tarred and Feathered but not Unbowed

BP, the oil industry, fishing and tourist industries and the waters of the gulf can emerge from this crisis stronger if we let them.

My first reaction, like many, to the crisis of the Deep Horizon spill was one of great sadness for the living waters of the gulf, the families coping with loss of loved ones on the exploding rig and the coastal communities whose livelihoods were already dealt a big blow after Katrina.

Living in the midst of a beautiful landscape here on Coniston Water with a clear view of the Old Man, I am acutely aware of the importance of the commons we all share –  the land, water, forests and air –  to our survival.

Right now the most important task at hand is to stop the leak.  The best way to make this happen is by co-operation.  This calls for the best of team playing.  Forget pointing fingers, get on with the job.  Give everyone the backing they require and move.

The relentless finger pointing and castigation of BP is futile while this crisis is ongoing.  Whipping the backside of the main company you are calling upon to save multitudinous lives from future despair is nothing more than theatre and extremely dangerous.  For there is no good that can come from robbing the only one with pockets deep enough to save you from the motivation to keep going.  In 2009 BP made 25.1 billion before taxes.  The previous year, a record, they made 34.3 billion before taxes.  These pockets, while deep, will have no motivation whatsoever to provide for the many mouths and hands outstretched if retribution is whipped up to a feeding frenzy.

This calls for sound judgement.  To the brink but not beyond.   The cure may hurt but must not destroy.   Working together, everyone can grow from this disaster.  Vigilantes beware.   No good thing will come from the destruction of BP and the oil companies that have provided, through good times and bad, the energy that drives the economic miracle that we call capitalism.



I don’t know about you but I find it awfully hard to comprehend the numbers flying around in describing the massive debt load of the U.S. government.  Here’s something that might help.

Today it was announced that 68 billion dollars of TARP money would be paid back to the Treasury.  If every one of those dollars was a second, how many years would this sum represent?  The answer is 2,156 years OR 147 years before Christ.

Just for curiosity, I thought I would run the numbers for 1 trillion of debt.  The answer to this question is truly unfathomable at 31,710 years.  I leave you to wrestle with the implications.


Misery Commiseration

The media show for the G20 Summit is full of hype and promise.  Yesterday’s camera action included thugs casting large steel arms into the windows of RBS.  Then there was the awkward moment of the 3 point turn in front of Downing Street.  Pity the poor man leading them in.  When this throng goes away, where will he get his next act?  Michelle dutifully plays her role and of course she makes a great distraction from the real action and meat of the day.  Whatever happens, she will make us all feel better about ourselves.

I wonder what would happen if we had a media free day.  The actors need a stage and if they spent less time staging, there would surely be a huge savings.  Why for instance does Obama need an entourage of 500?  Then again, those leaning towards violence would also lose their power if no-one gave them the coverage their acts are bent on taking.

As I look out my window, the sky is a  glorious blue, the new seedlings I planted a few weeks ago are coming up smartly in the propagator on the windowsill, and the bird song this morning was a total delight.  Maybe if we all spend more time in the natural universe, we’ll have a plan for tomorrow worth living for.

As I contemplated the implications of a GM bankruptcy the other night, thinking about the food chain and all the businesses and therefore people along the way who would be impacted, my husband shook up my thinking by reminding me that at the top of the chain is food itself.  Without it we all die.  I sat there in shock and said, ‘But what about civilisation?  I hadn’t gotten it yet.  Without food there is no civilisation.  That is why it matters how we treat the earth’s resouces.  No matter that every attempt has been made to put the world’s first industry away as an ever smaller part of the economy.  In the end if we cannot feed ourselves, we cannot live.

I note today that the UAE is going hell for leather into nuclear power.  Having read John’s vision of the last days in Revelation, I’ve often wondered how such a scenario could play out.  No longer.  Whatever the temporary benefits of this major push into nuclear power, the seeds of our annihilation are being sown.  And just like our weaknesses being played out in the last financial folly, the plan hatched today by the G20 will lead to new folly and the other half of that great end game also prophesied in Revelation.

In the meantime, it’s all smiles for the G20.  The misery commiseration has been lulled at least temporarily into euphoric stupor.


Lights on the Horizon

Last night I received a delightful note from Daniel Webb.  Danny is a really bright child simply beaming with energy and drive.  All of 9 years old, he dressed up in his finest and presented us his tidied room on arrival to his home at Christmas.  There was a gift on the bedstand and a Christmas ornament he’d just made.  There are signs all over his bedroom walls with Daniel ‘isms’.  ‘Yes you can’ is widely displayed.  With an engineer’s heart, tape is one of his prized possessions.  To make it is better.  He is one idea after another.  A sign posted on his desk notes his business on advice and insurance.  He is a budding star and a bright light.  Having recently seen a deck of cards full of English insults, I couldn’t resist picking it up and sending it to him.  The thank you note received last night had me in hysterics.  I’m sure he will dazzle everyone around him who will be wondering what hit them when he launches his new tools.

On an earlier visit Daniel was reciting poetry that he had written, memorised of course, and enjoying every second of his limelight.  What is most remarkable is his ability to fit in with adults as well as his twin sister, older sister and friends.  I see plenty of children in our tiny village who totally clam up and walk away rather than engaging in something or someone that would test them and encourage them to go beyond the tried, true and comfortable.  Danny is a gift and you know what, there are more Danny’s and gifts out there of all ages.

The foundations on which many of us have built our lives are being shaken.  How we respond to this shaking, will determine the future of not only our lives but the lives of everyone in the world around us.  There are opportunities in this gloom.  In all the strangulating cut backs, we must keep our vision, figure out what is most important, and move forward.  Follow the lights and don’t look back.



A New Dawn

A New Day Dawning

Obama’s victory speech was memorable for what it was not. He was respectful not jeering, he was humble not haughty, he was inclusive not divisive and he was full of grace not judgement. To act otherwise is not in the man. As he said, his time and our time is now. Open a new page. This is a new beginning.

The changes taking place in the highest office in America should be repeated up and down the land in every school, in every business and in every institution. How can each one of us play our part in helping each person we are in contact with become what they were made for? God created each one of us for a purpose. He has plucked Obama out of the land and lifted him up. Now is his time. Are you ready for yours?


Crash and Burn is Not the Only Way

The Falling Rocket


The waterfall at the entrance to the northern gardens was in full flight today following torrential rains overnight.  it seemed an apt description of the falling rocket otherwise known as the stock market in free fall.

Looking at the PE’s of companies following last night’s meltdown I can’t believe my eyes.  The current markdowns are beyond all reason.  Then I think back and realise that I also thought the same thing at the silly prices shares were trading at earlier.  Why should I be so surprised?  The same irrational exuberance that flowed freely on the upside is resulting in the monumental meltdown before us today.

Before we all hit the panic button and get out our 1929 scripts to see how this is going to play out, I was given a revelation that maybe there is another way than the crash and burn that has been with us in our capitalist system.  Crash and burn may work for the one off disaster but now that nothing is exempt from the current pain, it is time for a new way.

First of all, let’s address the housing market.

Banks have already written down a good chunk of the value of their current holdings. Rather than turfing everyone out on the street when they cannot pay the going rate, here’s an alternative:

Take the current value of the loan on the books and reclassify it as a housing trust investment.  Rent the property to the individual at a rate they can pay.  Amortise the housing trust investment at the current cost of capital.  Offset the amortisation against the housing trust rental income.  The difference will go to income or loss.  On this basis, people would still be able to live in their homes but equity would not be built up.  If on the other hand they wish to build equity in the process, the income/loss would be applied to a deferred profit or loss account and this would allow some ownership to be built up and accrue to holders of the property over time.  It would be up to the banks to set up the amortisation period.  This doesn’t address the subprime packages of debt sold off by the ton but it does provide a working solution to manage the debt and reduce the current pain.

The result of this plan would be an immediate reduction in the number of For Sale signs up and down the land. Psychologically, this would improve the chances for a housing recovery.

Alternative to Employee Layoffs

With all the panic on the street, the layoffs that will result from this process of crash and burn will be a total disaster for the economy.  Here’s an alternative:

Rather than laying people off, cut cash salaries in half and issue share options for the other half.  This would have the effect of encouraging all employees to improve the share price to increase the value of their options.  It would improve current earnings of the company, thereby automatically improving the share price not to mention employee morale.

With everyone working together to improve the company and the company share price, this would unleash new innovation and creativity at a time when it could be severely strained.

As for the impact of the reduction in earnings, the banks already have a way of dealing with mortgage pain from the above example and this would provide help to employees on lower salaries.

Needless to say, there are variations in between for both of the above measures.  It would allow for progress with a minimum of outside governmental assistance.  It also encourages everyone to work together for the good of everyone.  It is in everyone’s best interest to encourage full employment, it is in everyone’s best interest to encourage home ownership, and it is in everyone’s best interest to encourage equity ownership.

Let’s get off the crash and burn bandwagon and buy America now!