Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Green Safecracker?

It seems like long-term priorities get all screwed-up when we have to suffer through disasters or a depressed economy. Yes, I did use the "D" word. Politicians and economists alike have been very careful to avoid using the "D" word in front of a microphone or TV camera, despite the fact that many know that's exactly what we're in and have been saying so, privately, since the end of 2008. Hey, I understand, it's scary stuff. In addition to it being too scary to talk about, it also seems to be too scary to define. I'm sure nobody really wants their own personal definition of economic depression to be adopted by the talking heads in the media, i.e. "Doyle's Definition": "A recession is when YOUR NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS lose their jobs or businesses. A depression is when YOU lose your job or your business goes belly-up." Just kidding, I didn't really say that. That's been around since the last great depression.

OK, I really am gonna get to get the point. I only bring that scary stuff up as an example of the kind of stuff that distracts us from seeing the big picture. Successful businesses, economies, governments and civilizations are those who can see the big picture and plan for the long haul, not a year down the line, not five years, but fifty or a hundred years. What's the point of having a healthy financial quarter or a great portfolio if your kids won't be able to earn a living or even be able to breath?

When I think about the future, I can't help but think about two films, made in the 70s with decidedly anti-corporate themes and the bleakest of outlooks. Bleak, that is, if you're just a regular person and not a corporate-person or a new globalist. I believe these films are an accurate prediction of things to come in the next 10-20 years if we don't take our collective heads out the sand. Rather than give my own opinion and interpretation of these two films, go to the IMDb links, read the synopsis, reviews and commentary and let's see if you don't agree?


OK, are you getting a hint about the depressing point I'm trying to make? Every couple of days, at my local supermarket checkout stand, I used to have to go through the mildly agonizing decision of whether I wanted "paper or plastic?". I'd think about it and talk about it with the woman behind the register and other customers who were waiting to check out. What's the point? If I say "paper", then I am condemning a tree, hurting the environment, but providing a living to loggers and their families, but killing spotted owls. If I say "plastic" am I not doing pretty much the same thing in only a slightly different way?

One of the greenest things that I do is to turn an old safe into something useful again. If I can also restore it to it's original function and appearance, the owner might tell me that it was money well-spent because, in addition to having a good, well-made safe to use, he now has an antique with considerably more collectable value than any modern safe could ever have and he receives admiring comments about it from everybody who walks into his office and sees it. "Wow" is usually the first word out of their mouths.

Another scenario might be that I go out to open a safe that has been sitting, neglected, for 30 years, but the new owner of the house or business wants to see if there is anything in it and also if it can be made useful again. Sometimes, if the safe looks pretty good, all I have to do is open it and do a little long overdue maintenance to return it to useful service. Sometimes, after the safe has been opened, repaired and serviced, the owner may want to paint it and decides to do that himself. Others may want to go the whole nine yards and asks about the ost to restore the safe to its original glory. Either way, what's happening is that we are recycling a useless hunk of junk that is in the way and turning into something of use, value, a sometimes a thing of beauty that reminds us, not of the age of cheap, throw-away, Wal-Mart-style consumerism, but of the age where people made things of beauty and craftsmanship in America. I think that is being green with a capital G!

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© 2011 by Ken Doyle
Licensed Professional Safecracker
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