|Sent on:||Saturday, October 2, 2010 10:21 AM|
Well written Troy,
I hope that your visibility on the internet does not end up hurting you. You experience reminds me of my own career in business.
My experience was that, even in a “enlightened” company, I repeatedly had moments of “trauma” when I saw greed and naked power used and rewarded as long as it created more profit. I remember a night I left a business concave in Breckenridge where I was required to present while carrying a sense of alienation and hidden identity, and drove to Denver shaking, to collapse in the arms of my partner Gary sobbing. And I remember how I searched for a place of safety, keeping my head down, etc., only to stupidly expose myself to leaders in moments of rage against their polite selfishness and my own shame of collusion. Finally, I resolved to get out ASAP, and it took me 7 more years to do it. I spent a lot of time formulating ideas of ethical participation in corruption.
That phase in my life transitioned 12 years ago, and I am finding some peace, although this message probably doesn’t sound at all peaceful. I am excited. These days I am dubious at best of any claim of “enlightened capitalism”. And my shackles are raised any time I hear a claim of positive contributions from orange meme institutions. There is only not as bad as, never good. Indeed, even Integral, Wilbur, et al, seem to me to be over-invested in making profit, and accumulating wealth.
So, I hope you can get some sleep after calling it out, and find resolve to place yourself and your family somewhere perhaps still modestly prosperous and still more ethically sincere, and working to oppose those powers of “monetization” of human survival.
My condolences for your experience and my congratulations on what you have made of it,
901 S. Downing St.
Denver, CO 80209
Here's a recent experience I just had to write about and share with integral folks.
Oh please, please integral lenses, help me find perspective.
I had just left the St. Regis hotel in Aspen and couldn't wait to get out of town. I felt like I was in the belly of the beast and needed to escape.
I was there with a coworker to present my company's sales strategy to the board members of our parent company, which happens to own significant water and oil shale rights. Our presentation was to come before the actual board meeting, which we weren't invited to.
Things went reasonably well. After all, my company has enjoyed a record year, and profits have been great. But mainly nobody gave a damn about our business. They were there for something much more exciting — water and oil shale.
We left the board room and walked to the courtyard where lunch was to be served before the board meeting. There was a group of people standing next to each other in the courtyard, all dressed in suits, whom I hadn’t seen before. Turns out they were with some kind of water company to give a separate presentation about a proposition they had. As we flowed into the courtyard we took our turn shaking hands with the new people. After I made my way through the procession, hardly remembering the names of the folks I just met I heard someone mention that Bill Owens, the man I just shook hands with, was the former Governor of Colorado. I felt silly for not recognizing him.
After the hand-shaking had concluded, people began serving themselves at the buffet and then took seats around one of the two large circular tables in the courtyard. My coworker and I sat at the same table with the former governor, a board member whom was also a Rhodes scholar, the chairman of the board, and some other board members. Sitting directly to my left was a lady whom apparently worked with Owens at the water company, which I found out later is a land and water development firm.
The governor seemed quite comfortable working the table, striking up individual conversations with just about everyone at the table, discovering that almost everyone was originally from Texas, like him. When he started talking about water it was no longer a one-on-one conversation. He was speaking to everyone, and everyone was listening. He cited some facts about water which I had known, but never heard spoken so bluntly. “15% of the people of Colorado live on the western slope, and have 85% of the water. 85% of the people live on the eastern slope and have only 15% of the water,” Owens said. He went on to say that much of the water in Colorado is from non replenishable, or one-time (I think he called it), aquifers. Which means once it’s gone, it ain’t coming back. He hit a little closer to home when he said that Douglas county (where I live) and Arapahoe county have less than a ten year supply of this “one-time” water.
That’s when I told him I was sorry I wasn’t from Texas, but actually from Douglas County. Specifically, a town called Parker. Even more specifically from “The Pinery” neighborhood, which has its own underground aquifer water supply. “You need to sell your house and move to Denver,” Owens said with an emphatic laugh. (Denver, according to the lady sitting next to me, is actually sitting pretty good on water.) I didn’t tell him we have been trying to sell our house for close to 6 months. Confused, I asked about the new Rueter-Hess reservoir they just built in Parker. “That,” said the lady “is a black eye in the water business.” Owens chimed in, “they got a big empty hole in the ground with no water to fill it with.”
He went on to tell the group that he thinks it’s a matter of time before the title companies and mortgage companies wisen up. “Why would they allow for 30 year mortgages, when there’s only ten years worth of water left?” Owens asked the group. I thought to myself, that’s probably not a feature I should have my realtor put in our house description.
As if I didn’t already want to run out of there, I overhead the folks at the other table behind me slamming Obama and the liberals. Then the people at my table, including the former governor, started dissing the “greenies”, as they called them, every which way, but mainly for standing in the way of “progress” on the water scarcity problem, and the solutions of natural gas and oil shale. Um, I didn’t think I should mention in this crowd that I have “greenie” inclinations.
Instead I just listened, thinking to myself about all the water that’s required in oil shale extraction, and all the water that’s used to grow green grass on lawns and golf courses in the desert of Arizona, and the ground water contamination that occurs when they use a process called “fracking” in mining natural gas. Fun stuff that I dared not mention to this crowd…if I value my job.
Owens then made a statement that pretty much summed up what it’s all about. “We are are all going to make millions, maybe billions off of water.”
So, in trying to get my head around all this, here’s what I got. Water is very scarce and becoming more scarce. In the old west people fought and died over water rights. These business people know a lot about water scarcity and are trying to monetize it…aka, profit off it. In some type of “Tragedy of the Commons” logic, they think that through the privatization and monetization of water, they are actually providing an honorable type of service. Alrighty then.
I’m thinking I’ve seen this movie before…they deplete a finite resource and on the way down make lot’s of money. It’s hard, after all, to make money on abundance. They don’t care about solving the problem equitably for all, or for that matter solving the problem. They don’t care that this will affect their grandkids’ generation, as long as their grandkids themselves are insulated (wealthy). They don’t care about destroying the very ground they stand on, as long as there’s money to be made.
I was relieved when my boss said I could take off. After walking past the “outfitter’s (gun) shop” and the gilded framed sketches of country gents hunting on their estates, I tipped the valet and drove off. (At this point I was trying very hard to keep my green egalitarianism in check after experiencing such orange opulence and blue business-as-usual traditionalism).
I have never had lunch with such a concentration of wealthy conservative business men (and one woman). And I never did find out what Bill Owen’s water development company was proposing. But I left feeling that not much good could come out of the St. Regis Hotel that day. (Have you seen the 8 minute video “The Story of Bottled Water”? Google it.)
I’m trying hard to be integral about this, to find a balanced perspective. I recently read “The Genius of the Beast” by Howard Bloom, which some have said takes an integral approach in supporting capitalism. I bet had Mr. Bloom sat with me at the lunch table that day, he would have been hard pressed to find the “genius” in any of it.
I think I’ll wait for the new movie “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” to come out on dvd. And I told myself that If I’m ever going to have lunch with board members again, they better be on the board of a solar company.
Thanks for reading,
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