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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

'You cannot see the future in a rear view mirror'

June 24, 2014 | 02:48 PM

The word means “a model.”

In essence, a list or compilation of everything we assume about ourselves, including our beliefs and aspirations.

This is the framework of what we understand to be “correct” and “appropriate.” It is our internalized social and cultural GPS mechanism.

And there is compelling reason to think it needs to be both reexamined and made over. The proposal is this: From want to need.

From price to cost.

From chasing supply to curbing demand. And, above all, from profligacy to parsimony.

From want to need.

There was a lady pushing her grocery cart ahead of me in the parking lot at Aldis. It was none of my business, except she and I were apparently only a car or two apart, so I noticed more that I otherwise would have.

She had been in front of me in the check-out line and that is why we now shared the same time and place. There were three children.

One at each side clung to their mother’s jacket and pant leg.

The other was held in the mother’s arms, while her free hand guided the perilously heaped grocery cart towards its destination.

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I do not think the cart could have held even so much more as a package of Jello. I pulled up short at the rear of my vehicle and raised the hatch to empty my own goods into the back of my Ford Escort. As I looked up, the lady I was walking behind reached her own conveyance. I was taken aback.

Towering before her was the largest Humvee I had ever seen. I remembered that she had used food stamps to pay her grocery bill and from what I knew about vehicles, I was pretty sure hers was on “loan” from the bank.

She had a family, and it is clear that a subcompact would not have worked out very well for the size of her family, but, whether or not she and her husband wanted a megalith like the Humvee, it became very clear to any observer that it was most assuredly not what they needed.

From price to cost.

There is a great deal of excitement about the recent natural gas and oil finds in the U.S. There has even been talk about how we are going to become “energy independent” by 2020.

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In the bargain, the automotive press has barraged us with an almost endless series of articles about the new technology in coming autos and mostly about the incredible increases in efficiency they promise.

Well, maybe. I have a friend who is financially very comfortable. He takes pride in announcing regularly that he can pay for just about anything that strikes his fancy. Including whatever the market is charging for a gallon of gas.

While his pronouncements oftentimes carry with them more information than is necessary, he usually overlooks the obvious.

The price is not a very good measure of what it may really cost society to bring a given good or service to market.

Endless devastation to our environment and the enormous penalty of burning ever larger amounts of fossil fuels will, by all estimates, present us with a “bill” that may well be impossible to “pay,” especially in the consequences we are left to endure. Being able to peel off a few bills to cover the price of a gallon of gas at the pump in no way reflects what its real cost may be to both us and our posterity.

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From chasing supply to curbing demand. Demography is destiny.

By the year 2030 the U.S. will have a population of some 410 millions. And if nothing is done to alter current projections, this will climb to nearly a billion by the 22nd century. In the year 2050, the earth’s population will grow from its present figure of approximately 6.5 to more than 10 billion human beings.

We do not need more oil and gas exploration, except as it benefits the automakers and oil companies.

Their interest are not necessarily consistent with those of society.

Two things are horribly wrong with thinking we can just keep on doing tomorrow what we did yesterday.

First, resource competition. We simply cannot find enough of anything to meet tomorrow’s anticipated demand. With more and more billions of people on the planet, all engaged in an ongoing struggle to lay hand to the same resource, it will be ever more difficult to find and acquire any of them.

Second, the systems we rely upon to give us life may be irreparably damaged by the careless and destructive pursuit of raw materials. We don’t need any more supplies of oil and gas, but we desperately need to find alternatives that will effectively curb demand for them;

From profligacy to parsimony.

Or, from selfish self-interest, greed and avarice to restraint and a more thoughtful stewardship of scarce resources.

I know people living on the lake who have in their closets more clothes than the sum total of those owned by all the inhabitants of some countries.

A slight exaggeration, but not by much. One in particular accompanies his wife on at least one and sometimes as man as two or three haute couture shopping trips to New York.

He will sometimes make light of the excursions, just to underscore his status in the hierarchy of the company assembled. The cost is claimed to be something like six figures.

In the Sudan today, this would feed and provide shelter as well as medical care for hundreds and thousands. Suffice it that we need much more of Thoreau’s parsimonious Pond and far, far less of our profligate lake.

As Marshall McCluhan so aptly observed: “You cannot see the future in a rear view mirror.”

Gordon Ammon, a longtime lakes area resident, has written a book entitled “Snapshots: The Cold War and Eisenhower Years in Williams Bay 1947-1961.” It is available for $25 by contacting Ammon at gordonammon@yahoo.com. A DVD is included. The book is reproduced on an order-by-order basis.

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