Saturday, September 12, 2009


"I have never experienced anything as soothing and exquisite as Susan Kushnatsian's Spa Night."

It was like a treasure hunt. I was told to go to a private home in Porter Ranch for a private "spa night" given as a gift to several women from a true angel, Susan Kushnatsian. Susan is a wonder woman. Not only does she make all her own anti-aging products with all-organic ingredients, but she home-schools her teenage children! Her sweet, stunning daughter helped out too.

That night, I had no idea what was going to happen, but when I entered the candle-lit house, I was given a robe and slippers and immediately transported or "beamed up" into a stress-free zone. The scent of lavender and roses permeated the air. Several women quietly joined me. Incredible women: Gail Lara, visionary creator and founder of
Made in the (pictured at left between her two daughters); Sony Trieu, the famous, heavenly Yoga teacher and Thai massage expert who donated her time to give each of us a luxurious leg and foot rub with the most magical product on the planet, the Miel Body Veil. The other incredible women who were there included Trish Steele, founder — a non-profit that helps battered and abused women. Kristina Loken was there too. She is the beautiful star ofTerminator 3: Rises of the Machines.

I have never experienced anything as soothing and exquisite as Susan Kushnatsian's "Spa Night." The aroma of her body butters — Mango Tango, Rose Shea, Whipped Creme — and her most amazing product "Miel Body Veil" (made with rich, pristine organic honey, olive oil, essential oils, coconut oil) will sweep you away and eliminate your stress. Her staff massaged Miel Face Veil and Body Veil into the skin of my face, legs, feet, hands — and my skin never felt so soft after the treatment. It is still glowing.

There was a hot salt-water jacuzzi and swimming pool, and a table of delicious food: blueberries in papaya; lemon and cucumber water, red wine, cookies, cheese lasagna, herb salad, cake, pastries, chocolates, strawberries.

Exceptional Women * Exceptional Products * Exceptional Charities

Susan Kushnatsian - Bee Gorgeous Organics

Skin is the body’s hardest working organ. It holds us together, protects us from viruses, heat and cold – but while you’re conscious of what you put inside your body, do you ever think about what you’re feeding your skin?

Creator and founder of Bee Gorgeous, Susan Kushnatsian believes that all of us should readily know the answer to that question. Organic and green living is not just a lifestyle choice, but the only way of life for her and her family.

For over a decade, Susan has dedicated her time and efforts to creating a healthy and allergen-free environment for her household. Drawing from her extensive experience as a child care service provider for the past ten years, nurturing children with wholesome organic foods, coupled with her love of creating natural products, Susan has developed a private skincare line designed to meet the needs of many different skin types.

Using only reputable certified organic ingredients, Bee Gorgeous brings you quality skincare free of chemicals, in its purest form. The Bee Gorgeous skincare range includes customized facial products, body masks, lip balms, lotion bars, bath tea sachets and dream pillows. At Bee Gorgeous we provide all the tools for you to...

Bee Well, Bee Loved, Bee Gorgeous

For a complete listing of all Bee Gorgeous products and information, please visit

Did you know honey cleans and heals wounds, is an antibiotic, a curative for all sorts of ills from sore throat to insomnia to lethargy — and was used in World War I as the best wound healer? Doctors used honey mixed with cod liver oil to mend wounds and smooth scars.


GRANADA HILLS, CA (August 2009) – Look at the labels on your clothes or home goods and the chances are you’ll find the words ‘Made in China’. But now, a group of San Fernando Valley based entrepreneurs are creating products which will carry the label ‘Made in the Valley’.

‘Made in the Valley, the Valley Girls Grew Up’ is an alliance of women business owners who specialize in unique hand crafted goods and a return to creative gift giving. Customers will find custom made jewelry, organic skincare, tea, chocolates and a fragrance designed exclusively for Made in the Valley shoppers. And while buying a gift, shoppers will also be helping local charities too, at a time when charitable giving is down.

Founder, Gail Lara developed ‘Made in the Valley’ after years as a sales and purchasing manager for major retailers in Hawaii. After hitting the glass ceiling, Lara says she recognized the need for a woman centered business model; “Women are often their own obstacle to success. So Made in the Valley does three things. It CARES for entrepreneurs through monthly mentoring meetings. We SHARE information on San Fernando Valley based businesses to encourage consumers to buy locally. And every month Made in the Valley will GIVE ten per cent of sales from the catalog and website to selected charities.”

The Valley Food Bank in Pacoima is just one of the local organizations that will benefit from Made in the Valley’s charitable giving initiative. Director, William Hernandez says he’s looking forward to the partnership; “Meeting the women of Made in the Valley, I was fascinated to see the amount of networking and encouragement that takes place. It’s great that these business owners look beyond their own bottom line and remember the needs of charities, especially now.”

Made in the Valley is encouraging customers to ‘Buy Local, Be Local’ in an effort to stimulate the local San Fernando Valley economy during the credit crisis.

Founder, Gail Lara says it’s time for all of us to do what we can to ease the San Fernando Valley’s financial woes; “Buying locally helps local businesses to thrive, improves the lives of the families of local entrepreneurs and ultimately builds a stronger community.“

Made in the Valley has also teamed up with Safe Passage Home, a charity founded by Trish Steele, which assists women who have been victims of domestic violence. Through an eight week entrepreneurial training program in conjunction with the Valley Economic Development Center in Van Nuys, women from Safe Passage will be shown how to build a business from scratch – from business plans and licensing to marketing and branding.

To find out more about joining Made in the Valley or to order gifts, go to

For interview requests, pictures, audio and video footage, contact Joanne Griffith at Jane Hannah Media – or call 1 818 287 1092

Founder, Gail Lara was born in Lompoc, California and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Yes, she’s a Valley Girl. Gail moved to Hawaii to study, and spent more than twenty three years working in the retail industry, as a buyer and sales and purchasing manager for Liberty House, the island’s major retailer. In 1998, she became head of procurement for Pacific Century Financial before being headhunted to launch the logo marketing division for Hopaco (Boise Cascade). Gail set out to provide services to the top ten businesses in Hawaii and secured contracts with six in the first year. Returning to her Valley roots in 2001, Gail worked alongside another entrepreneurial woman starting her own jazz entertainment business, In-House Music, which gave her a further appreciation of what women go through when striking out on their own. But when the commute became too much, Gail started her own wholesale and retail business in 2004, Lara Unlimited LLC, which specialized in aloha merchandise from Hawaii. The planning stages of Made in the Valley began in September 2008 and it formally launched in July 2009. Gail was recently nominated for a San Fernando Valley Business Journal Women in Business Award.


BEE GORGEOUS Lotion Bars. These are so yummy. You can have them made in your favorite fragrance of essential oils: lavender, rose, vanilla, etc. They contain honey, shea butter, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil too. And they are all-natural so your body doesn't become hyper-frenetic and full of chemicals, parabens that are doing damage to our hormones and nerve endings. What you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your body just as food is.

Women's businesses of "Made in the Valley" contribute 10% of every sale to these charities:
The Valley Food Bank, Rescue Mission; Children Today; Tree People; Arts in Education Aid Council; RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network; Pet Orphans; Safe Passage Home, a Non-Profit 501(C)3 Corporation to shelter, educate, equip and direct women and their children to safety and survival of domestic violence. For more information please log on to; and Circle of Hope financially and emotionally assist underinsured and underinsured individuals with Breast Cancer; and many more charities.

This is the new small business model for today: helping others, helping women and giving back to the community by providing healthy products with integrity.

This photo is of me was taken less than a month ago, on August 23, 2009, at Trish's wedding at the Bel Air Bay Club in Malibu. This was taken on Sunday, one day after the Bee Gorgeous Spa Night. My skin never looked better or felt more silky. I love Susan Kushnatsian and Bee Gorgeous Organics
and Gail Lara of Made in the

Friday, September 11, 2009



Eight years ago today, one of the most beloved men in New York, Patrick J. Brown, died at the World Trade Center. Captain Brown was the most decorated member of that city's fire department.. He died trying to rescue badly burned civilians.

Here is what one of his men read at his funeral:

Eulogy for
Capt. Patrick Brown

by FF Mike Moran
On the morning of Sept. 11th, enemies of the United States attacked the World Trade Center. Their followers rejoiced, they even danced in the streets. They thought they had achieved success. But they did not.

They made the mistake on the morning of Sept. 11th, when all they saw when they looked at the WTC was 2 buildings. What they failed to see was the nation that stood behind them. What they failed to understand was the terrible resolve they had awakened.

And if there is justice in the afterlife, and I believe there is…..

Those fanatics who crashed those planes into the WTC did NOT get to meet Allah......... They did NOT get 70 virgins. Instead, they met Patrick J. Brown. And they discovered they messed with the wrong Marine.

Because you don’t mess with 3 Truck. You don’t mess with Patty Brown’s guys. Not when he is working.

When Patty first came to 3 Truck, he earned our undying respect when on 2 different occasions tough guys thought they could push Patty or his guys around.. They found out the hard way that Patty was not only a Black Belt in Karate, but also a heck of a Boxer. He was what my father would call----"Good with his hands".

We used to joke around in 3 Truck and tell the officers that they were not ‘in charge’---they were just responsible. Well, we never, even whispered that about Patty, because we all knew he was in charge. And not because he yelled. But because he spoke softly. He was humble. He led by example.

He was bigger than life. Therefore, a simple request from him was like a shouted order from another.

Late at night you could usually find him in the kitchen talking with the guys. He liked to shoot the breeze with the men. It is a testament to his character that with all the famous people he knew; all the mayors that pinned medals on his chest. All the big chiefs that were relieved when they saw his familiar visage enter the fire ground.

That Patty liked nothing better than hanging out with the men. Because Patty never stopped being a fireman. He only cared if you showed enthusiasm, if you were willing to learn. He didn’t care how many medals you had on your chest or how many bars you had on your collar. He only cared about the content of your character.

Guys that had had problems in other houses wanted to come to Ladder 3, not because the Capt. was soft---but because he was strong. He didn’t pre-judge you, he let you prove yourself to him and the great thing about him was---you didn’t want to let him down. We were becoming the Oakland Raiders of the Fire Dept.

And I will tell you this---we loved having him. He was not only a great storyteller; a true raconteur; he was also a great listener. He took tremendous interest in the guys’ lives and well-being. The funny thing is---most of us never realized that in those informal chats that the Capt. was teaching us. That is what he was doing. He was teaching us the Fire Dept. Way, the 3 Truck Way, and most importantly the Patty Brown Way. He was respected and loved because he lived his life so well.

I am reminded of the movie Braveheart when the men saw William Wallace for the first time. It wasn’t much different than when the Capt. First walked through the doors of 3 Truck. It was whispered, "This can’t be the man they call Patty Brown, he is not big enough. Patty Brown is 8 feet tall." Well, he wasn’t that big, but his heart was. That is the burden of being a legend. One that Patty carried with tremendous grace and humility.

To hear the stories and legend of Capt. Brown was to be inspired. But to actually meet the man, to be led by him, to follow him down that long, dark, smoky hallway was to be blessed. Because Patty’s strength, courage, and experience were a tremendous comfort in tough times.

When you went to Capt. with a request or a problem---his usual reply went along the lines of: "Don’t worry, we’ll see what we can do, we’ll take care of it." Anything for the men.

So, I can only imagine that is how it was on those final moments of Sept. 11th. Capt. Brown leading his men. Helping those 30 to 40 severely burned people down those dark stairs.

Patty giving ‘Maydays’ that saved many other firemen’s lives. But he and his men refusing to leave those people behind. I can see the guys from 3 Truck---turning one last time to Patty and being comforted by a nod of his head, a shy smile. "Don’t worry fellas, we’ll take care of it." And they were inspired.

So this marks the 12th, and fina funeral for the men of Ladder 3. And it is fitting that Patty go last. The last man out.

Patty never would have left any building until all his men were out. He couldn’t leave the scene or the firehouse until all his men were cared for. He would even come by on his off days to take care of things for his guys.

So, on behalf of the surviving members of Ladder 3----"You can ‘take up’ now Capt. All your men have been cared for. And they have gone home. You should join them there and rest easy. Any problems that come up----don’t worry, we will take care of them. For you taught us well. You taught us the Patty Brown Way."

Another one: Yesterday my cousin Tim Meier, a Jesuit priest, celebrated his 30th anniversary of sobriety. As some of you know, Tim became a U..S. Army chaplain during his 50th year on earth.. He just came back from Iraq, where he won a Bronze Star. Now he is off to Kosovo as part of a peacekeeping force.

Tim and Paddy did not know each other. But I can guarantee that they would have loved one another.

Mike Graham

Saturday, September 05, 2009


For Immediate Release: LYDIA CORNELL to guest on radio's "THE LINNDA DURRE SHOW" 09-08-09, 12-1 PM (EDT) 9-10 AM (PST)

Listen to live-streaming audio by clicking the ON-AIR logo in the upper right-hand corner - Local residents can listen on 810 AM radio in Central Florida.

Call 407-774-1085 for Q & A with Lydia Cornell on the debut of “The Linnda DurrĂ© Show,” on Tuesday, September 8th from 12-1 PM (EDT).

Linnda Durre' is a radio and TV talk show host, author, writer, and award winning filmmaker. Contact her at 407-739-8620
photo: August 2009 Lydia and Jim Bullock
About Lydia Cornell

· Actress - AFI Best Actress nominee and People's Choice Award winner, best known for her role on ABC's Too Close For Comfort (as Ted Knight's daughter "Sara Rush")

· Recently on HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and in the new indie film "Damage Done"

· Has been Invited to contribute her writings to The International Museum of Peace, which houses letters from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou & Sir Edmund Hillary

· Comedienne - Improv and stand up in Las Vegas at the Riviera, Sahara; opening for Paul Rodriguez at Pechanga 1500 seat theater

· Author - “Falling Up” of 5 books in her upcoming humor book series

· Blogger - Best Writing awards, World Report, Thinking Blogger, Weblog and known for being attacked by Ann Coulter

· Radio Show Co-Host AM morning drive Las Vegas, the only Progressive talk show in Vegas

· Recently interviewed Pulitzer Prize Winners, White House advisers, presidential candidates, Senators. Congressmen and women, and bestselling authors.

· Mentor/Volunteer - Mentors teens; volunteers with sons at homeless shelters.

· Wife & Mother - Happily married to a Neanderthal with a son and stepson

· Received the USO Distinguished Service Award for her trip to a war zone, Beirut.

Lydia Cornell is an award-winning actress, writer, comedienne, and talk-radio host best known for her role as "Sara Rush” - Ted Knight's dazzlingly beautiful yet stereotypically dumb blonde daughter on ABC's '80s hit sitcom, “Too Close for Comfort.” Lydia starred in over 250 TV shows & films including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Full House, Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, A-Team, Hunter, Hardball, Hotel (2), Love Boat (6), Fantasy Island, T.J. Hooker and the pilot of the cult series Quantum Leap with Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. She signed hundreds of autographs at their convention earlier this year in Los Angeles.

As one of the most popular sex symbols of the era, Lydia won the People's Choice Award, was a Best Actress nominee at Method Fest for her leading role in the AFI film "Miss Supreme Queen" and has She recently co-starred with Larry David on HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and is in the new indie film “Damage Done.”

Lydia will talk with Linnda Durré about her life and career in Hollywood, her hilarious experiences with famous stars, and her depression after Ted Knight died and the show ended.

Her spiritual enlightenment that ensued after dealing with a drinking problem transformed her life, resulting in a very funny and "catastrophic" awakening.

"I began experiencing so many uncanny events, I can only call them miracles. What appear to be miracles are actually natural laws. We have been conditioned to believe that the external world is more real than the internal world. Quantum Physics says just the opposite: there is no solid matter. What’s happening on the inside determines what’s happening on the outside. Our world is shaped by our thoughts. So our loving attention to something literally alters the physical universe.

The key was acceptance and surrender; I surrendered all my fears and worries to a higher power and began the road to humility. I love the acrostic: EGO = Edging God Out. I began investigating Quantum physics, because I wanted to understand how these miracles happened. I now believe science proves the existence of God, but I'm talking about the God of love, not religious fundamentalism. Religion is man-made; God is within each of us.

More about Linnda Durre

One of the greatest sources of frustration and tension in our lives comes from the workplace.

Linnda Durre, Ph.D., one of the nation's most popular psychotherapists, says sometimes it is the root cause of problems in our relationships at home as well.

Her latest book, "Surviving the Toxic Workplace," is a practical manual for dealing with a variety of issues, from how to handle annoying coworkers, inexperienced bosses and intolerable situations.

The book, which will be published by McGraw Hill, doesn't come out until Feb. 19, but you don't have to wait until then to start learning how to survive and thrive at work. Click the play button above and start changing your life today.

If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Durre, check out:

Or call 407-739-8620

Greg Proops, Cheryl Hines, Lydia Cornell (in gold gown) in the Green Room backstage at the World Travel Awards, Barbados. Richard Belzer, Davy Jones, Martha and the Vandellas, Sharon Case from Young and the Restless; Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos. Below: group shot

Friday, September 04, 2009


The other day I woke up, reached over and started petting our little rescue dog Sasha, on her smooth belly. She sleeps on her back, and usually ends up in the middle of my husband and me, like a child under the covers. (When we first got her, I woke up and she had her head on the pillow; she was staring into my eyes, with her head was sticking out from the covers like a little child.

Anyway, on this particular morning, just before dawn, it was hazy but I could see her longish tan torso/tummy and I felt the back of her skinny little legs which were extended. I kept rubbing her smooth belly and then I panicked. She wasn't moving or breathing.

I said, "Paul - wake up! Sasha isn't moving. I think you're smothering her! I kept pulling her torso out from under my husband. It seemed as if her head was under his armpit and all I could feel was her belly. I kept pulling, trying to pull her out from under him, when I heard a bark from the end of the bed. It was Sasha barking at me. Who was I petting then? Suddenly it became clear that I had been "petting" my husband's inner arm the whole time! The inner arm was smooth and the outer sides had hair, so I just assumed it was the dog -- and in the haze his arm was just her size.

What I thought were her hind legs, were actually my husband's fingers. YOU HAD TO BE THERE! I still can't stop laughing about this!



I Just received this from Obama's office. It thoroughly lists the TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH about Obama's public health care option. Please read it.

8 Ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without Coverage

1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.

5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.

6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.

7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Learn more and get details:

8 Common Myths about Health Insurance Reform

1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.

2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.

3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.

5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details:

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more:

2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more:

3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more:

4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more:

5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more:

6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more:

7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more:

8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more:



Remember, the purpose of physical life is to learn how to love everyone unconditionally, including yourself. And to serve all other people with loving kindness.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009



If there is to be a human future, we must bring ourselves into balanced relationship with one another and the Earth. This requires building economies with heart.
- David Korten

Living Wealth

If we are to slow and ultimately reverse the social and environmental disintegration we see around us, we must change the rules to curb the pervasive abuse of corporate power that contributes so much to those harms. Taming corporate power will slow the damage. It will not be sufficient, however, to heal our relationships with one another and the Earth and bring our troubled world into social and environmental balance. Corporations are but instruments of a deeper social pathology revealed in a familiar story our society tells about the nature of prosperity.

Empire Prosperity Story

The prevailing prosperity narrative has many variations, but these are among its essential elements:
* Economic growth fills our lives with material abundance, lifts the poor from their misery, and creates the wealth needed to protect the environment.
* Money is the measure of wealth and the proper arbiter of every choice and relationship.
* Prosperity depends on freeing wealthy investors from taxes and regulations that limit their incentive and capacity to invest in creating the new jobs that enrich us all.
* Unregulated markets allocate resources to their most productive and highest value use.
* The wealthy deserve their riches because we all get richer as the benefits of the investments of those on top trickle down to those on the bottom.
* Poverty is caused by welfare programs that strip the poor of motivation to become productive members of society willing to work hard at the jobs the market offers.

This money-serving prosperity story is repeated endlessly by corporate media and taught in economics, business, and public policy courses in our colleges and universities almost as sacred writ. I call it the Empire prosperity story.

Few notice the implications of its legitimation of the power and privilege of for-profit corporations and an economic system designed to maximize returns to money, that is, to make rich people richer. Furthermore, it praises extreme individualism that, in other circumstances would be condemned as sociopathic; values life only as a commodity; and diverts our attention from the basic reality that destroying life to make money is an act of collective insanity. In addition to destroying real wealth, it threatens our very survival as a species.

Earth Community Prosperity Story

Consider these elements of a contrasting life-serving prosperity story that looks to life, rather than money, as the true measure of wealth.

* Healthy children, families, communities, and ecological systems are the true measure of real wealth.
* Mutual caring and support are the primary currency of healthy families and communities, and community is the key to economic security.
* Real wealth is created by investing in the human capital of productive people, the social capital of caring relationships, and the natural capital of healthy ecosystems.
* The end of poverty and the healing of the environment will come from reallocating material resources from rich to poor and from life-destructive to life-nurturing uses.
* Markets have a vital role, but democratically accountable governments must secure community interests by assuring that everyone plays by basic rules that internalize costs, maintain equity, and favor human-scale local businesses that honor community values and serve community needs.
* Economies must serve and be accountable to people, not the reverse.

I call this the Earth Community prosperity story because it evokes a vision of the possibility of creating life-serving economies grounded in communities that respect the irreducible interdependence of people and nature. Although rarely heard, this story is based on familiar notions of generosity and fairness, and negates each of the claims of the imperial prosperity story that currently shapes economic policy and practice.

The High Cost of Making Money

It took me many years in my work abroad as a member of the foreign aid establishment to wake up to the fallacy of the Empire story-the idea that advancing economic growth by maximizing returns to money is the key to ending poverty and healing the environment. The epiphany came during a conference in Asia at which nongovernmental organizations were presenting case studies of the social and environmental consequences of large aid-funded development projects undertaken to promote economic growth. In case after case, the projects displaced poor people and disrupted essential environmental processes to produce benefits for those already better off.

Eventually I came to realize that conventional economic growth indicators rarely measure growth in human prosperity. Rather, they measure the rate at which the rich are expropriating the living resources of the planet and converting them to products destined for a garbage dump after a brief useful life. The process generates profits for people who already have far more money than they need while displacing people from the resources they need for their modest livelihoods. In summary, the primary business of the global financial system and the corporations that serve it is to increase the wealth gap. It works well in the short-term for the privileged few, but it is disastrous for the society.

We see the effects in the current state of the world. The market value of global economic output has tripled since 1970. By conventional reckoning, this means we humans have tripled our wealth and well-being.

Yet indicators of living capital, the aggregate of human, social and natural capital, tell a very different story. The Living Planet Index, an indicator of the health of the world’s freshwater, ocean, and land-based ecosystems, declined 30 percent since 1970. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 15 of 24 ecosystem services examined “are being degraded or used unsustainably, including fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water purification, and the regulation of regional and local climate, natural hazards, and pests.”

Indicators of human capital-the skills, knowledge, psychological health, capacity for critical thought, and moral responsibility characteristic of the fully functioning person, and of social capital-the enduring relationships of mutual trust and caring that are the foundation of healthy families, communities and societies-point to equally unfavorable trends.

Even as living capital shrinks, the population that depends on it continues to grow. Meanwhile, the growing concentration of money means a few people are able to claim an ever-larger share of a shrinking pie of living capital to the exclusion of everyone else. According to a recent United Nations study, the richest 2 percent of the world’s adults own 51 percent of all global assets. The poorest 50 percent own only 1 percent. This distribution of ownership is a measure of the global distribution of power-and the gap is growing at an accelerating rate. The power imbalance allows the privileged minority to change the rules to accelerate their expropriation of the declining pool of real wealth, which increases the hardship and desperation of those excluded. We are on a path to an increasingly violent last-one-standing competition for the Earth’s final tree, drop of drinkable water, and breath of air.

By our measures of financial capital, we humans are on a path to limitless prosperity. By the measures of living capital, we are on a suicidal path to increasing deprivation and ultimate self-extinction.

Putting Life First

If there is to be a human future, we must bring ourselves into balanced relationship with one another and the Earth. This requires turning existing economic priorities and models on their head and making the values of the Earth Community story the foundation of our economy. We must:

1. Turn from money to life as the defining value, from growing financial capital to growing living capital, and from short-term to long-term investing;
2. Shift the priority from advancing the private interests of the few to advancing the individual and community interests of all; and
3. Reallocate resources from supporting institutions of domination to meeting the needs of people, community, and nature.

We have enormous potential to improve the lives of all by reallocating resources from military to health care and environmental regeneration, from automobiles to public transportation, from investing in suburban sprawl to investing in compact communities, from advertising to education, from financial speculation to productive investment in local entrepreneurship, and from providing extravagant luxuries for the very wealthy to providing basic essentials for everyone.

The champions of Empire dismiss any such reordering of priorities on the ground that it will bring economic disaster and unbearable hardship. They ignore the simple fact that those results are already the lot of roughly half our fellow humans. The proposed reordering can avoid the spread of hardship and begin to alleviate the existing suffering.

Economic reallocation and democratization are no longer simply moral issues. They are imperatives of human survival and must replace economic growth and the pursuit of financial gain as the defining purpose of economic life.

The work of bringing forth a new economy devoted to serving the needs of our children, families, communities, and natural environments begins with building public awareness that there is an Earth Community prosperity story that offers a vision of hope and possibility for a positive future. Although a story so contrary to the prevailing Empire story is likely to be greeted with initial skepticism, the Earth Community prosperity story enjoys the ultimate advantage because it expresses the truth most of us recognize in our hearts: if our children, families, communities, and natural systems are healthy, we are prosperous. Whether conventional financial indicators like GDP or the Dow Jones stock index rise or fall is irrelevant.

Rules for Conserving and Sharing

To get from where we are to where we need to go we must recognize that the market is an essential and beneficial institution for allocating resources in response to individual choices. But it is beneficial only so long as it operates by rules that maintain equity and competition and require players to internalize the social and environmental costs of their choices. And it is not sacred. Without responsible governmental oversight, the market can lead to highly destructive social pathology.

By its nature, the market creates winners and losers. Furthermore, the winners are often those most skilled in finding ways to pass social and environmental costs onto others. The winners increase their share of the resource pie, which increases their economic and political power to shape markets and rules to improve their future prospects. The result is a self-reinforcing spiral of increasing concentration of wealth and power. This supports the unjust hoarding and profligate consumption of resources by a privileged class. In an increasingly environmentally constrained world, learning to conserve and share resources is an essential requirement of social order and well-being.

Even with adequate regulation to minimize social and environmental abuse, the health of a market system also requires public intervention to recycle financial capital continuously from winners to losers. In the absence of such recycling, financial wealth and power accumulate in perpetuity, increasing the fortunes of a few family dynasties at the expense of democracy, justice, and social stability.

Recycling financial wealth to maintain a democratic allocation of access to real resources is, of course, totally contrary to the self-serving logic of corporate capitalism. Yet it is essential to democracy and social health, both of which depend on an equitable distribution of power, and an essential function of democratic government.

Community-based Economics

From a system-design perspective, a healthy society must either eliminate profit, interest, and for-profit corporations altogether, or use the taxing and regulatory powers of publicly accountable democratic governments to strictly limit concentrations of economic power and prevent the winners from passing the costs of their success onto the losers. This creates yet another system design issue. As government becomes larger and more powerful, it almost inevitably becomes less accountable and more prone to corruption.

Paul Hawken has correctly observed that big business creates the need for big government to constrain excesses and clean up the messes. To maintain equity and secure the internalization of costs, democratically accountable government power must exceed the power of exclusive private economic interests. The smaller the concentrations of economic power, the smaller government can be and still maintain essential balance and integrity in the society.

There will be less need for a strong governmental hand to the extent that we are successful in eliminating sociopathic institutional forms, making community-based economies the norm, and creating a public consensus that predatory economic behavior now taken for granted as “just human nature” is actually aberrant and immoral. Responsible citizenship may then become the expected business norm. There will always be a need, however, for rules and governmental oversight to deal with what hopefully will be a declining number of sociopathic individuals and institutions who seek to profit at public expense.
Equalizing economic power and rooting it locally shifts power to people and community from distant financial markets, global corporations, and national governments. It serves to shift rewards from economic predators to economic producers, strengthens community, encourages individual responsibility, and allows for greater expression of individual choice and creativity.

The Essential Choice

The human species has reached a defining moment of choice between moving ahead on a path to collective self-destruction or joining together in a cooperative effort to navigate a dramatic turn to a new human era. The profound cultural and institutional transformation that is needed goes up against the short-term interests of the world’s most powerful people and institutions. The barriers to what we humans must now achieve are daunting. By any rational calculation, the needed transformation is not politically feasible. Yet it is essential to human survival and prosperity, which means we must set ourselves to the task of figuring out how to make the impossible into the inevitable.

David Korten is co-founder and board chair of YES! His latest book is The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.


Some of my ideas:

1. Cars should be made of fur; there would be less fatal traffic accidents. Think about it. A fluffy furry foam shell with no metal parts, except the engine. It could be waterproof. Why not?

2. We should desalinate the oceans, at least the Pacific in Southern California, which is suffering a severe drought and water rationing. We are not allowed to water our lawns on certain days. If we invest in desalination plants, we will create jobs and fresh water, as a bonus, we'll help curb the rising tides due to global warming. Maybe it sounds wacky but if we are using vast amounts of ocean water, won't that help balance the melting ice caps from overflowing and flooding? At least a little bit?

3. We should have water pipelines from the Northeast states where they have too much rainfall. The pipelines would carry excess rainfall down to Nevada and California during drought season.

4. We need to create Green companies and new energies right now, which will create jobs. Solar panels on all businesses and grocery stores, as in Germany. They will receive tax subsidies for this. Wind, solar.

Why can't these things be implemented now? Also, if we allocated 2% of our GDP for public education and Universal Medicare, we'd all be covered.

Health Care is a National Security issue, a safety issue and a basic human right. It should not be for profit. GET STRONG OBAMA! Stay true to your promises, the way Ted Kennedy would. He was a true public servant in that he put the PEOPLE who have no voice first; not the ruling elite.