Wealth, wages and having enough…

15hrA few stories on the news cycle have caught my attention. First, the fight discussion about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Then the not so revelation that we live in an oligarchy and not a democracy. Finally, the third National Climate Assessment released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Put all of them together and things do not bode well for our young heroes.

There is a Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, it doesn’t get more interesting than this. Luckily, I feel there is a glimmer of hope. It’ll take blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice. But perhaps we’ve lived too long in somatic comfort and we need a wake-up call. Here it is:

6_kannerCorporate capitalism has failed our workers, our environment and our freedom.

Hence the fight for a $15/hr minimum wage. Opponents shout “job killer” and “socialist” and “anti-American.” The truth is that currently, unless you’re making $15/hr a family of 4 isn’t even scraping by. In Washington State (where I live) the “living wage” for a family of 4 is $19.63/hr working full time 40 hours a week with benefits. This is just to live. Not to get ahead. Or save for college. Or deal with unexpected medical emergencies. Or a broken down car. Or to put a down payment on a home.

bs131213This is unacceptable. In a country as rich in resources, talent and technology as ours there is no reason a person working full time 40 hours a week shouldn’t be able to improve their circumstances. The most basic worker should be able to afford housing, food, education and be able to put a little aside for savings. The fight for a minimum wage just forces the issue because it’s been proven corporations and their owners are unwilling to pay a living wage.

Why? Because corporations care more about profit than they do about human beings and the communities they do business in. They don’t care about the worker, the family, or quality of life. They only have one mission: to provide executives and shareholders with growing profits. That’s it. Once upon a time, corporations used to serve the community. No longer.

mar-apr-large-600x419Another ramification of the gradual personhood of corporations is the destruction of our ecosystem. Oh yes, Americans have benefitted from this with our enormous cars, bottled water and cheap Wal-Mart goods. We’ve grown fat off our consumption so we don’t care about (and some even deny) the impacts our consumption has had on the environment. Don’t let the facts get in the way of MY lifestyle. Unfortunately the facts are forcing the issue.

As long as corporations (and the people behind them) only care about profit, environmental sustainability and human freedom will always take second seat to minimizing costs and maximizing returns. Remember, extreme wealth only exists because 1) it was built on the backs of workers 2) we allow money=speech 3) we let it exist.

live-simplyNow we are faced with a choice. Either drastically change our behavior, or face a future of extreme weather, rising sea levels and an increasingly uninhabitable world. This means learning moderation. Saying “no” to 60” televisions and fancy sports cars and million dollar mansions. Realizing that the community is just as important as the individual. Learning how to be content with $40k/yr, and changing the system so that $40k/yr can provide everything we need and a few things we want.

walking towardsIf we don’t change, it’s our children who will suffer. It’s my child who will suffer. Hell, a lot of people are going to suffer. Most of them poor, vulnerable and working so I can have a smart phone and designer clothes. I’m just another guilty man caught up in our economic machine. I’m trying to change; reducing what I consume and learning to live happily with less. But every small step I take towards economic justice is another small battle won against  tyranny. I only hope people are walking with me.

New Year, New(ish) Resolutions…

No turning back...
No turning back…

2014 really couldn’t have come sooner. While 2013 had a few high points (new job for wifey, family wedding, beer brewing) for the most part it was a difficult year (home invasions, car vandalism, cancer). My wife dropped a great saying on New Year’s Eve: “2013, on your way out don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you.” Now  it’s nothing but up and I’m looking to do some amazing things in 2014. Taking a cue from fellow peaceful warrior Chris, I’ve broken my resolutions down into some easy categories:



I’m carving out time every week to do some serious writing. I can’t do it at home; I’m too comfortable and distracted.  My office The spare bedroom is almost always occupied. The dog needs petting and there’re 4 seasons of Lost Girl to watch on Netflix. In order to remove excuses NOT to write, every Thursday after work I’m going to walk down to Wayward Coffee House and write. Easy, accessible, creatively inspiring… most importantly, doable!

Gotta get back into the groove!
Gotta get back…

Health & Fitness

I’m currently looking to join a martial arts studio. I’ve been away from Kempo for a couple years and I really miss it. So, do I want to return to Kempo or do I want to mix things up? There are a lot of Aikido and Kung Fu schools around; I just need to try them out until I find one that feels like a good fit. USSD Green Valley Dojo can never be replaced; but until they bring a school up to Seattle I need to get training again. It improves my health, reduces my stress, and keeps my reflexes sharp. I trained hard to earn my black belt; I can’t let all that time, energy and money go to waste.

Grad school bound!
Grad school bound!


The biggest item on my plate is going to be grad school. Seattle University just started a Masters of Divinity program with an emphasis on chaplaincy.  My goal is to start this fall. In December 2012 I listened to an episode of On Bring with Krista Tippett where she interviewed Unitarian Universalist chaplain Kate Braestrup. That interview inspired me to discern whether chaplaincy was my call back to Vocation. Even though I left seminary years ago, there has always been a drive/desire to serve and minister in some capacity. My fingers are crossed that this will be my next big spiritual step in the right direction.

Pointing toward the future...
Pointing toward the future…

None of these resolutions are impossible. If I fail any of them, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough. I feel I made a lot of excuses in 2013. Looking back, I realize I gave into laziness. I kept on saying “oh, I’ll brew beer next week” or “I’ll write that blog tomorrow.” Tomorrow easily became weeks and months. I can’t let that happen this year; I’m way too old and time is too short for that kind of nonsense. So it’s Thursday, I’m sitting in Wayward and I’m getting shizzle done.

Happy New Year!