Short-term savings, long-term costs

One of the most important studies that we have on the effects of local business compared the impacts of $100 spent at a local book store versus $100 spent at a chain. $100 spent at the local book store left $45 in the local economy. $100 spent at the chain left $13, so we get 3 times the income effects, 3 times the jobs, 3 times the tax proceeds for local governments.

The principle difference was that the local book store had a local high level management team; it used local lawyers and accountants; it advertised on local radio and TV. None of those things were true of the chain store.

Excerpt from 'The Economics of Happiness'


Wal-Mart's lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems -- a controversial report that said America's biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.

"The overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores ... shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits ... pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies," [...]

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls a possible Wal-Mart store in New York "a Trojan horse."

"It looks appealing to a lot of families who are hurting but it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs," de Blasio said.

Despite the poverty in East New York and Brownsville, many residents are against the stores setting up here.

"It would be a disaster," said Mark Tanis, owner of an East New York shopping market about three miles from a proposed sites. "It would have a detrimental impact on our area."

Tanis said he fears a product he sells for $20 could sell for as little as $12 at Wal-Mart and drive him out of business.

East New York resident Darryl Williams, 43, echoed the view of many, saying, "Cheap things would be nice but if it's true that we'll end up with even fewer jobs, that's not good."

Courtney Laidlaw, 22, who lives near the two possible locations said, "We have become a society of bargain shoppers and having a Wal-Mart locally will definitely be beneficial.

"The small businesses that can adapt to the socioeconomic times that we live in will find a way to survive. Wal-Mart is just an alternative destination, not the only destination."

In Brooklyn, one of the loudest anti-Wal-Mart voices has been City Councilman Charles Barron from East New York, who has been leading demonstrations.

"We don't need Wal-Mart (which) has a history of destroying the local economy and hurting it, not helping it," he said.

"Wal-Mart draws ire even in poor parts of Brooklyn", Yahoo News

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Sailing the Turbulent Seas

< --------------------- 0 ---------------------- >

There is nothing, neutral point, ground zero. And then there is something, which is always a departure from zero point, in one direction or another.

Things have a tendency to remain the same, to (appear to) be balanced. In order for a thing to change it must go through a period of unrest, a transformation. This may be great disturbance.

The hardest thing is always transitioning from one balance to another. For example, when my leg was injured it was always most painful when I going from being still to moving. Once I'd grown accustomed to either state it was fine; only the transition was painful. Getting out of bed/getting into bed. It's fine once you're out, fine once you're in.

We see this pattern everywhere. In sports: to raise our level of fitness we must push ourselves, or "overload" as it is called in weight training. We must overload - place the body under stress, give it something it is not used to, push it beyond its current boundaries - if we want to progress, or change. After a period of transformation we will reach a new balance, a new level of fitness.

It is the same with stretching: our muscles will have a default length, which is really the length that our day-to-day activities (our environment) require them to be. In order to lengthen them we must continually stretch them - i.e. engage in new activities that require them to be a longer length. If we keep up these new activities - if our stretching becomes part of our day-to-day routine - then our muscles will remain at this new length. As soon as we stop stretching, our muscles will adapt to the new circumstances: they will shorten.

Stretching is like Acting. If our default mode is primarily selfish, then in order to counteract this we must "stretch" regularly - in other words, we must make a conscious effort to be unselfish.

We must understand what our default is. Default seems to be defined by environment. We can see strength as our ability to stray from our default, in other words our ability to Act or change. Through Acting we come to know our weaknesses; these are like ceilings on our ambitions, or boundaries beyond which we cannot stray.

In order to reach a new destination, you must be prepared to sail the turbulent seas.

Conscious Stretching and Acting is only necessary outside the bounds of a structured community. It is the action of a responsible individual. Within a structured community, we stretch and act automatically without knowing that this is what we are doing. In other words, we are constantly stretched to the right length in order to function in harmony with our surroundings. The necessities of this kind of life demand as much. Currently the individual must Act because he is not contained within a harmonious community, and he must carry various ideals within himself.

There is currently little motivation to Act or to stretch. We live in such comfort that we may not see the necessity of staying in good shape, either physically or ethically. There are supports that will catch us when we fall and that will prevent us from having to feel the consequences of our ill-health. We have devices that keep the body comfortable and that prevent it from having to exert itself; and we have devices that prevent us from having to be ethically responsible and that remove us from the outcomes of our ethical indiscipline.

Our default, as defined by our environment, is imbalanced, unhealthy. It is in poor shape, both physically and ethically. The individual who decides to depart from this default - who begins to stretch and Act in order to 'get fit' - will be fighting an tough battle, and may have to fight it alone. In departing from the general default - from the general requirements of his environment, his culture - he becomes an aberration; an obsessive; a misguided fool; a curious novelty. It is much easier to maintain a level of fitness if we are surrounded by others who are also striving to remain at this same level, or to reach higher.

Society sets the default. If the individual is displeased with this default then he must depart from the conventions of the society. He will be at odds with many "normal" things. If we live in an ethically excellent community - in other words, a community that is in balance with itself and with its environment - then we need no longer stretch and Act because our default will be sufficient. This is why the traditional community required little stretching or Acting. The traditional community hovered around the "0", the point of balance. The individual did not need to strive for excellency, this was a communal undertaking, a communal default.

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Kali Yuga

Kali Yuga : (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. "age of (the male demon) Kali", or "age of vice") is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga.

Hindus and Sikhs believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far removed as possible from God. Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as a bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.

A discourse by Markandeya in the Mahabharata identifies some of the attributes of Kali Yuga:

In relation to rulers

* Rulers will become unreasonable: they will levy taxes unfairly.

* Rulers will no longer see it as their duty to promote spirituality, or to protect their subjects: they will become a danger to the world.

* People will start migrating, seeking countries where wheat and barley form the staple food source.

In human relationships

* Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other.

* Ignorance of dharma will occur.

* People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.

* Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.

* Sin will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish.

* People will take vows and break them soon after.

* People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.

* Gurus will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to injure them. Their teachings will be insulted, and followers of Kama will wrest control of the mind from all human beings. Brahmins will not be learned or honoured, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in their dealings and Shudras will be allotted unreasonable 'caste-based' duties which they will avoid.

'Kali Yuga'

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What Are You Selling?

Well, I tried to tell them nice as I could, but I had to explain to them that you don't go out to the Indians with something to sell, not religion, not politics, not modern science or products or anything else, because that's not where it's at when you're dealing with Indians.

The white man's always got to be selling something - peddle, peddle, peddle, proselytize and propagandize. Maybe that's why you people here can learn a thing or two, because you don't have anything to sell.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.83


Daily training in the Art of Peace allows your inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally.

Keep your mind set on the Art of Peace, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions. The Art of Peace never restrains, restricts, or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything.

[Morihei Ueshiba]
The Art of Peace, p.50