The Marina Dock Newsletter September
Dear Marina Dock members
and patrons alike,
It is in this time
of extremely difficult economic and geopolitical uncertainty that
the Marina Dock more and more owes its existence to those who
believe in our cause. Last month, August, although a seasonally
slow time of the year, we made up for it with a few decent contributions.
I want to thank those individuals, some of whom I am not even
sure I know, for their largess. I can say unequivocally that without
their support over the last year we could not do it.
stuck on keynes and
Over the last few months,
more out of desperation than anything else, I thought it was crucial
for me to access and somehow comprehend the inner workings of
current economic theory as it relates to free markets and "laissez-faire"
economics. This principle of non-intervention by government in
commercial affairs was first postulated by the Scottish economist
Adam Smith (1723-90). Smith's theory went something like this:
"Free economic, political, and religious markets are not
only more efficient, when properly regulated, but also more in
keeping with nature, more likely to win the approval of an impartial
spectator, than the monopolistic alternatives". Smith, in
his work, tries to show how virtue and liberty can complement
each other. So far, so good.
Then along comes a guy
by the name of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946). Keynes, although
continuing to theorize in the capitalistic tradition, rejected
Smith's notion of an invisible hand that would optimize the performance
of an economy without any intentional direction by individuals
or the government. Keynes argued "natural forces could deflect
an economy from a course of optimal growth and keep it permanently
out of equilibria."
So here I am with a
head full of economic theory and no capital when I came upon the
following. Friday's Financial Times provides additional
evidence of the current confusion among theorists, as to which
direction this economy is actually headed. It has more the appearance
of a free for all, rather than a free-market look about it. "Dollar
rise continues on fresh signs of recovery", "A surging
Nikkei, faster growth and supportive policy: is Japan's sick economy
at last making a recovery?", "Fall in new jobless claims
hints at slow recovery", "US troops may stay in Iraq
indefinitely". For me, the bottom line, when things get complicated,
I should go to a meeting, reach out to others, and be of service,
"the answers will come if my own house is in order".
taking my own advice
I decided to take on
the secretaryship of the Saturday 5.15 pm Marina Dock step study
meeting. Last week we had 20 people mostly newcomers there. It
seems over the last few years a lot of old-timers have moved out
of the city creating a dearth of long-term sobriety people to
carry the message. This results in what I consider a serious breach
of our fifth tradition where people, who are new, through no fault
of theirs, are been asked to carry the message, i.e.,
being asked to speak and secretary meetings. The fifth tradition
states that "each group has but one primary purpose. To carry
its message to the alcoholic who still suffers". Someone
who is still suffering (a newcomer) should not be asked to carry
the AA message to the group. This results in a dilution of our
singleness of purpose and ultimately the demise of the meeting
in question. My feeling on this issue is if there are not enough
people, with time, to go around, we should at least try to lessen
the damage by making the meeting a step or book study. At the
Marina Dock, there is definitely a shortage of long-term sobriety
people to cover all the meetings, especially in the 5.15 to 8.30
pm time frame at weekends. Last Sunday, when I was there we had
ten newcomers at the 6.30 pm meeting and no secretary. Fortunately,
my good friend Janet B, was there from the 5.15 pm meeting and
she agreed to stay to share at the 6.30 pm.
If anyone, with some
time, would like to help us out, please let the counter person
know you are available. The Marina Dock, in recovery circles,
is regarded as the number one place in San Francisco for newcomers
to attend meetings. This presents a great opportunity for those
of us who want to be of service.
Oh my God, I am so
over Keynes and Smith
On Saturday I was still
vibing on these two dudes, they were "messing with"my
head", so to speak. That was still the case when the 5.15
pm step-study got under way on Saturday, and lo and behold, wouldn't
you know it, we were on step three: "we made a decision to
turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood
him." We all got to read a segment from step three, and what
did I get to read? "We are certain that our intelligence,
backed by willpower, can rightly control our inner lives and guarantee
us success in the world we live in. This brave philosophy, wherein
each man plays God, sounds good in the speaking, but it still
has to meet the acid test: how well does it actually work? One
good look in the mirror ought to be answer enough for any alcoholic.
Should his own image in the mirror be too awful to contemplate
(and it usually is), he might first take a look at the results
normal people are getting from self-sufficiency. Everywhere, he
sees people filled with anger and fear, society breaking up into
warring fragments. Each fragment says to the others, 'We are right
and you are wrong.' Every such pressure group, if it is strong
enough, self-righteously imposes its will upon the rest. And everywhere
the same thing is being done on an individual basis. The sum of
all this mighty effort is less peace and less brotherhood than
before. The philosophy of self-sufficiency is not paying off.
Plainly enough, it is a bone -crushing juggernaut whose final
achievement is ruin." (p.37, Twelve by Twelve).
Thank you, God! The obsession with human psychological foibles
and market frictions had been lifted, and all because one day
many years ago, Bill Wilson, an alcoholic, and a stockbroker to
boot, decided the loud talk in the jazz places uptown where everyone
spent in thousands and chattered in millions, could no longer
fend off the demons, horror, and hopelessness he found himself
in, that bleak November in 1934.
Some new meetings
In case you have not
checked out our schedule lately, we have several new twelve-step
meetings going on. There are NA meetings on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
evenings. We have an Emotions Anonymous meeting on Tuesday evening
and SLAA on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. We also have
a new AA step study on Sat 5.15 pm and Sunday night at 10.00 pm.
In October (probably on Wednesday night), we are planning a new
"Art Therapy Workshop". My friend Jody H from my years
at the Ohlhoff House will lead this workshop. Jody has a great
way of approaching the concept of healing through art. I saw her
perform miracles, especially with newcomers at " The Skip
Byron" program. We have a workshop on Monday nights led by Paul, that has
a huge following. Then we have The Swami's workshop on Sunday evenings at 7.30 pm. The
Swami's workshop is, in my opinion, the best-kept secret in town.
Here is a guy so calm and so cool that he exudes serenity. I want
what he has. Again, we would like anyone, who has some recovery
time, to come down and get involved with the AA meetings. There
is ample opportunity for twelve-step work.
Leaving Las Vegas
I have said this before,
and I will say it again, we in San Francisco, are totally pampered
and spoiled when it comes to meetings and quality of life issues.
In late July, I decided to make a run for it and head up to Vegas
for a few days, to check up on my fellow Irishman and kindred
spirit, Frank K. Yes, I have to confess, I also wanted to check
out "The Las Vegas Hilton" a former stomping ground
of the now deceased "King." Meetings were hard to find
and it seemed like people were smoking everywhere. I made it to
a couple of meetings and actually ended up speaking at a meeting
in Bakersfield. I liked the Bakersfield fellowship, nice little
club and well run. When I visited the shrine of "The King"
at the Hilton they had desecrated it, the suite was reconstructed
some years ago and the bullet holes in the ceiling and the shot
up TVs were gone. Darn!
Financial report to
members and contributors
This month, I am sending
each person who contributed, a statement that gives you your total
contributions to date for this year. If you detect any errors,
please let us know and we will gladly correct them. Also, anytime
I make an appeal for funds, which is all the time lately, if you
feel you have given enough, please do not feel obligated. On the
other hand, if you are flush and unscathed by the current economic
woes, we could use your help.
Happy Labor Day
I visited Frank B recently
with " Big Joe", and "Chicago Mike". Normally
if you have three guys with names like "Irish Tony",
"Big Joe" and "Chicago Mike" paying you a
visit, you are probably going out the back door. We sound more
like a bunch of goons from "The Godfather". I told Frank
one of his favorite stories from his earlier years. That's something
you have to know about Frank, he likes you to tell him one of
his own stories. You have to tell it well. This one involved the
legendary redhead Renee S, now deceased but still too dangerous
and controversial for her last name to be used.
PS: There is a buffet
on Saturday and Sunday of the Labor Day Holiday weekend (August
30 and 31 ).