Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter September 2003

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 smith

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.

"Irish Tony"

PS: There is a buffet on Saturday and Sunday of the Labor Day Holiday weekend (August 30 and 31 ).


[ Back to archive index ]