January 02, 2008


At this time of year, lots of people join gyms. El Cabrero is all set to cash in on this trend. I hereby announce the founding of the Hillbilly Health Club. It's all right there in the perty picture.

It has the latest in exercise equipment--including sledge hammer, wedge, splitting maul, wheel barrow and sycamore stumps--and offers a comprehensive exercise program with the following elements:

*Resistance. Splitting and chopping wood. Sycamore is all about resistance.

*Flexibility. Bend over, pick up the split wood, and put it in the wheel barrow. If you are anything like El Cabrero, this can be the hardest part, especially after an hour or so of splitting and chopping.

*Aerobics. Push the wheel barrow to the woodpile.

Holistic health--Appalachian style!

Annual memberships are now available, with special discounts to Goat Rope email subscribers. Ask about special family rates.

SHOCKED, SHOCKED. El Cabrero would like to round out the week of New Year by mentioning three 2007 books that are worth a look. Today's choice is Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Her basic thesis is that economic, political, and ideological elites have taken advantage of human-made and natural disasters to impose an extreme version of unregulated capitalism on populations that would otherwise have rejected it.

Klein does an interesting job of weaving the history of shock therapy and other efforts at mind control with the rise of the Chicago School of economics as represented by Milton Friedman until his recent death. Friedman opposed unions, social programs, public education, business regulations, safety laws, etc. in the name of the "free" market.

He acknowledged that most people would find this distasteful, and said that

only a crisis--actual or perceived--produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

Friedman got the chance to put his ideas into action when General August Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected president of Chile in 1973 and imposed a military dictatorship. Then, with the help of mass murder, repression, and torture, he was able to advise the regime on how to impose the blessings of the "free" market.

Klein's book looks at several examples of disaster capitalism in the U.S. and around the world. Katrina was a classic case in point, as was the development of Iraq's "Emerald City" as a free market utopia under the direction of Friedman disciple Donald Rumsfeld in Iraq. Both of those went over real well...

It's interesting that in WV, some advocates of "Unleashing Capitalism" have tried to create a climate of panic and crisis in the hopes of pushing through a political agenda which includes attacks on union membership, worker safety rules, etc.

SAD NEWS from Kenya.

PUBLIC OPINION ON IRAQ is at odds with the views of many presidential candidates, according to this item.

THE STATE OF THE NATION in the Bush years is the subject of this New Year's Eve NY Times editorial.

LABOR UNDER ATTACK. Here is some info on the anti-union bias of the Bush Labor Department.

TWO YEARS AFTER SAGO, mine safety is still an issue. As Ken Ward reports in today's Gazette, 67 US miners have died since that disaster.



NH Farm girl said...

It is a wacko world. People pay money to get their driveway plowed and lawns mowed by other people - so they can pay money to go to the gym because they don't get enough exercise. Personally my body wishes I was still farming and putting up 5 cords of wood a winter. Tho I must say, a couple of weeks ago when I was sick I sure appreciated not having to split and haul wood. Nothin' quite like doing that with a temp of 103.

El Cabrero said...

Good point about the occasional break. I didn't make it to the "gym" yesterday because it was a little snowy, cold and windy.