Monday, November 12, 2007


November 10, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, CA/11.10.07--Dear Sisters and Brothers: In my Sept. 13th letter to you all, entitled "UCLA Study Predicts a 'Near Recession' For The U.S.," I suggested all should consider becoming more frugal, as America's--and our world's--belt is about to be tightened, and the wise will have set aside something to tide them over during the rainy days ahead.

This looming recession is now nearer, as those even cursorily monitoring Wall Street have noticed, since that barometer is looking six-to-twelve months into America's corporate and economic future. My own global business--which is entirely in the discretionary income field--began to reflect this in October. After almost perfectly tracking 2006 revenue through September, October's income fell by 66%, and this substantial drop-off is continuing here in November.

Discretionary income, as all know, is that extra bit in everyone's budget which can be spent on non-essentials. Thus, during recessions, when discretionary income gets seriously squeezed, people become worried about the future and cut back on discretionary spending. This means, of course, that they don't have to fast, or eat out in restaurants as often, just as many decide to skip seeing their doctor or dentist for things they normally might have.

Like a growing swell in the mighty ocean that is our world's most powerful economy, marry this growing lack of consumer confidence about our economy to individual fears about one's job or the ability to pay off one's credit cards, car payments or mortgage, and you can literally feel the increased suffering which attends all contracting economies.

THE PARENTS of many of us endured America's Great Depression, when an enormous percentage of the population lost their jobs and wound up in soup lines, still holding onto their pride by wearing their Sunday dresses, suits and hats--almost comical in its tragedy. Our global economy, which is presently stronger than America's, will eventually be affected, as well, since we're the importing market keeping the Chinese and Indian growth miracles booming, just as our buying helps the economies of Europe, Latin and South America. In other words, when America gets the flu, the rest of the world will eventually suffer, as well.

Again, please be wise and take this opportunity to save for the rainy days ahead. No one has to tell those just entering America's job market during this growing slowdown, that firms everywhere are not only cutting back on their hiring, but beginning to lay off employees in increasing numbers. This, in turn, puts more in the unemployment lines, while frightening those still working into spending less, as the snowball picks up speed rolling downhill.

America's retailers just reported their worst October sales in 14 years. General Motors just posted its largest loss in history--$39 billion. Wall Street brokerages, banks and mortgage lenders are in the process of writing off what may turn out to be a quarter-trillion dollars in bad loans, as a result of the current sub-prime mortgage implosion and resultant credit crunch.

Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate are crafting legislation to try to shift some of the tax burden off the backs of the working poor and middle class, and onto the wealthy whom Bush's tax cuts have favored during his two terms, at all others expense, just as corporate welfare ensured by armies of K Street lobbyists in Washington have enabled more than 60% of U.S. corporations to pay no taxes at all (and that doesn't include the growing number setting up offshore operations to avoid U.S. taxes altogether, or those shifting plants to China, India, Mexico, Ireland and elsewhere around the world where they can pay workers significantly less, resulting in millions upon millions of lost jobs which are not coming back.

THOSE OF US a bit longer in the teeth have suffered through recessions before, and know to start saving and preparing for harder times. Those of you who've not yet experienced such prolonged, economic downdrafts will want to follow our lead, as the fear of recession in 2008 continues to mount. Homelessness is already growing, just as the number of Americans unable to pay their mortgages has skyrocketed during the past year, throwing millions more into the rental market in every city, driving rents even higher with their competition for living space.

Meanwhile, the price of a barrel of oil is climbing inexorably toward $100 (hit $98 this week), and exogenous events from chaos in once-democratic Pakistan (now under martial law in a virtual military dictatorship in that dicey nuclearized nation housing bin Laden and more radical Islamic jihadists than perhaps any Muslim nation on Earth) to more than 100,000 heavily-armed Turkish troops massed on their border with Iraq, threaten to drive prices of a gallon of the gas most of us need to get to work, etc., before we know it to $4.00, causing our economy to further contract as consumers spend more on gas and heating oil, leaving them less for even basic needs, let alone 'discretionary' ones such as rewarding themselves with FAR greater health, happiness and healing power through prolonged scientific fasting.

The Federal Reserve, unfortunately, is caught between a rock and a hard place. If it lowers interest rates further to help stimulate the economy, it drives the value of the dollar down even further, increasing the prices of imports (including all that Made-In-China stuff filling the shelves of FAR more U.S. chains than just Wal-Mart), which fuels inflation just as surely as does the increasing prices of oil and commodities. We're already seeing the results in higher prices every time we go shopping for food.

Only the wealthiest among us will not feel pain. Ask any homeowner who's watched the value of her/his home depreciate over the past year, knowing things are not going to get better in the housing market anytime soon, just as these huge, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs which Detroit's shortsighted automakers have flooded our nation with, are driving them to record losses which also will not stop anytime soon, forcing them to continue cutting prices and offering 0-interest loans just to move their bloated inventory, not unlike U.S. retailers already announcing price-cutting not normally seen until the day AFTER Christmas. . .a Christmas when we might all be giving each other oranges, if the lowered expectations of America's retailers are indicative of what's shaping up to be a disastrous holiday season--normally, their busiest period of each year.

THE BUDDHA, in his wisdom, mentioned that we should all learn to live with both poverty and plenty. As our severely-threatened home called Earth moves more rapidly toward resource wars--particularly over oil (the TRUE reason for the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq, sitting astride the world's second-largest known reserves, just as Iran sits atop the third, unless you're factoring in Canadian oil sands)--and devastating climate change resulting from over-population and over-pollution, the suffering will increase exponentially, with my own generation bequeathing our children and theirs a world so fraught with wall-to-wall problems they'll all have to be geniuses to even attempt to solve them. . .while trying to pay off America's staggering $9.1 TRILLION national debt, which presently works out to $30,030 for every one of our 303,496,748 citizens, and thanks to the present Administration's perpetual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (not to mention the one they're itching to start in Iran before they're forced from office in January of 2009), has been increasing at an average of $1.49 BILLION per day since Sept. 29, 2006.

Are such wars inevitable? Will there be any Social Security, MediCare or corporate retirement plans left for our children and theirs? Will the debt-ridden American empire go the way of the British, Ottoman, Romansand Mongolian before us? Will we continue reproducing our over-polluting selves into climate-changing disaster? Is there anything else we can do beyond fiddling, while Russia's oil-rich President Putin embraces Iran's oil-rich President Ahmadinejad--the former systematically taking out his challengers just as ruthlessly as President Musharraf is right now in a devolving, nuclearized Pakistan, while Ahmadinejad insanely denies the Holocaust ever happened and pledges to erase Israel from the face of our Earth.

Meanwhile, the no-longer-sleeping dragon known as China, having developed an insatiably increasing appetite for commodities and oil to continue stacking skyscraper-level billions in national SURPLUSES as our world's largest sweatshop, supplies arms to both Iran--threatening America's geopolitical designs there--and Sudan, enabling a genocide long in uninterrupted progress there. . . .and not just small arms.

China is now promoting its FBC2 and J10A fighters to Iran. The J10A was officially offered on the overseas market this year, but under the name FC20. The new generation YJ6-2 and C802A anti-ship missiles are also being promoted to Middle East countries including Iran. Sudan is reportedly seeking to acquire FC1 fighters from China.

As China faces an ever-greater demand for energy, it is challenging America's hegemony by importing more crude oil from Middle Eastern countries. It is also exerting greater political and military influence upon this region, through expanded sales of military weapons. The long shadow of Chinese weapons has fallen over all six Gulf countries, and continues to do so. Iran has already become an important source of oil for China, as well as a key target-market for China's arms exports.

And the U.S., bogged down in unwinnable wars in opium-rich Afghanistan and oil-rich Iraq, burning our nation's national treasure as rapidly as California wildfires, has its foreign and military policy in the hands of a small, radical, extreme, right-wing cabal of neoconservative Masters of War who've never served our nation in war one day, themselves, yet thump their collective chest while shipping others' precious sons and daughters into their perpetual meatgrinders, forcing those naive young men and women into second, third and fourth tours which increase their chances of being blown apart, maimed for life, or becoming victims of stress-related suicide and broken marriages, already showing up back on America's streets joining that one-fourth of our nation's homeless population who are Viet Nam vets and will similarly never be 'right' again.

Who are these Masters of War controlling our nation's foreign policy, supported by precisely the Military-Industrial Complex our Five-Star Army Gen. and President Dwight Eisenhower warned us against in his "Farewell Address To America" upon leaving office. . Masters of War INCREASING by tens of thousands the number of U.S. troops in Iraq despite the MAJORITY of the U.S. electorate rejecting their Iraq War last November--finally understanding it was based in its entirety on lies, fabrications and deceits. . .a war about to enter it's fifth year, engineered by these Masters of War who chose NOT to serve our country (as I did as a paratrooper for three years--two in Asia--in America's famed 82nd Airborne Division, whose members derisively referred to all on the following list as "chickenhawks") when their own generation was called during the Vietnam Era, such as Bush (who hid out in the Alabama National Guard after allowing taxpayers to spend over a million dollars training him as a pilot), Cheney (similarly gamed the system for five deferments, none for physical reasons), Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith, Eliot Abrams, John Bolton and William Kristol, holding others' coats right along with their armchair comrades such as Dennis Hastert, Tom Delay, Roy Blunt, Bill Frist, Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum, Trent Lott, John Ashcrof, Jeb Bush, Saxby Chambliss, Vin Weber, Richard Shelby, Jon Kyl, Tim Hutchison, Christopher Cox and Newt Gingrich.

With Bush/Cheney having presently moved four U.S. Navy carrier groups into that Middle East caldron for their next war in Iran, they've similarly no exit plan, let alone care much in their game of global hegemony, about what will happen if Iranian missiles--purchased from Russia and China--plug the Strait of Hormuz with sufficient tankers to drive the price of oil well over $200, sending global markets and ALL our retirement investments into a bloody tailspin that will increase the present, unnecessary suffering of our looming recession by several orders of magnitude.

WHAT TO DO? Well, besides immediately paying off credit-card debt and saving for the coming rainy days of recession, you might go see a film just released nationwide as an urgent, impassioned wake-up call for our nation. Entitled "Lions For Lambs," starring Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, along with 3-time Academy Award nominee Tom Cruise, the lions are the soldiers who do the fighting; the lambs are the unworthy politicians who send them into battle, and "Lions for Lambs" is a feature-film response to the war in Iraq, and to currents in post-9/11 American life.

Some say our society's values are reflected in the politicians we elect to represent us in Washington. As a lifelong political Independent, I've never believed all the best ideas or politicians were in any particular party. However, it's clear to all but those with their heads in the sand that our nation's democracy was hijacked during the final decade of the last century when few were paying attention, and that we're presently a Corporate Oligarchy led by Big Oil, which pulled George Bush and Dick Cheney right out of their Oil Patch and twice bought their way into our White House.

Perhaps it's time we changed ourselves, so that we can then begin to change those we elect to guide our nation, in our name? How to do this? Well, my friend and teacher since 1982, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, invited 40 of the world's most innovative thinkers to his Dharamsala, India, home-in-exile (where I was blessed to meet one-on-one with Him three times in late 1987, after returning from Tibet with my son Atisha, then 12, and daughter Malika, then 10, and asking Him how I could help; He asked me to write a book on the "Tibetan Crisis," which I did--"Tibet: The Final Solution"--for which he wrote the Foreword), to discuss precisely how we CAN begin to solve our world's problems.

That film, about another type of mind transformation, has been making the rounds of the world's best film festivals, today premiering in both New York and Los Angeles at one-day screenings. Thus, it's not out yet, but will be soon enough. Entitled "Dalai Lama Renaissance," it's narrated by Harrison Ford, and you can check out its video trailer at ( As Harrison notes in introducing one of the most thought-provoking films of our time: "Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing her- or himself."

After watching the trailer, you might wish to click just to the right of it for "Related Videos." There, you'll discover a treasure trove of others, from Barbara Walters' interview with His Holiness, to a three-part "Dalai Lama--Exclusive Interview 1 (ONE)," in which H.H. responds to a devil's-advocate interviewer giving China's view of Tibet's current appeal for autonomy. Know that a couple of the videos there are unworthy, including some satirical garbage entitled "Steven Seagal--Dalai Lama," and another showing President Bush's meeting in the White House with His Holiness, into which the filmmaker unfortunately introduced out-takes from previous Dalai Lama teachings to make his points.

Several among those reading this know the Columbia University Chair of the Religious Studies Department, Bob Thurman, Ph.D. (father of Uma and four others), who's one of the half-dozen most dynamic speakers I've heard in my life. Bob gives a superb introduction to a priceless, four-part video you can view there entitled "Dalai Lama: The Four Noble Truths." Other excellent ones include: "10 Questions For the Dalai Lama," "Dalai Lama In Chicago," "Dalai Lama Visits UB 2006" (Univ. of Buffalo in upstate New York), "The Dalai Lama At Woodstock," "Dalai Lama In Harvard University," "Compassion--Dalai Lama, Muhammad Ali, Thomas Merton," "Dalai Lama Speaking In Long Beach," et. al. Kick back and relax with some good organic juice, and just surf there to your heart's content.

TWICE IN THE PAST YEAR, I've taken three-day, mind-transformation teachings with thousands of other fortunate beings in New York and San Francisco, given by the Dalai Lama. I've been blessed to take Atisha, Malika, her husband Rob, and other friends on this Esoteric List with me. Those teachings were among the most precious and meaningful I've received from any human being during my 66 years on this Earth. My longtime friend and teacher who gave them will be 73 next July, and will not be here forever, just as you and I will not. Thus, if you ever have the chance, do yourself an enormous favor.

As a lifelong social activist, I've provided the above overview in hopes it inspires you to prepare intelligently for the more difficult days ahead. . .for all of us, both in America and around our globe. My hope and prayer is for each of you to enjoy a stable, meritorious life. Alone, we're helpless to solve our world's growing problems, but collectively--once we've learned to open our hearts to ALL living beings, with equanimity--we CAN perhaps achieve the quantum leap in human consciousness I believe is now required to save humanity from itself. . .and leave our children and theirs a world worth inheriting.

Beyond that, my Sisters and Brothers, may you each be happy; may you be healthy; may you be peaceful and at ease, and may you be filled with loving kindness. May goodness and virtue flourish. Practice, as much as possible, loving kindness, compassion, empathic joy and equanimity, remembering these words from His Holiness: "The key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion." Big Love; your friend, Dennis

Posted by dpaulson at November 10, 2007 11:10 AM

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