Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Individually “thinking outside of the box” in the New Economy (Part I): Survivial

It seems as many people are victims of the present morass in the present economy.  Many have been laid off as the private and public sector has downsized under the banner of budget cutting.  Others have just entered the job market, such as veterans returning from Afghanistan and recent college graduates.  Many are qualified, but few are finding jobs.  Those that do find jobs are finding that they are paying near starvation wages or unstable.  They are still working, but also looking for better jobs. Now, we know that the true unemployment rate is not approximately 8% but more near 20%.  Unemployment figures are being manipulated for the political advantage of both parties during the election year. There is just too much demand for the supply. Yet, before 2008, there was about 2 % unemployment.  What happened?   This has been covered by many economists. This is not a normal financial downturn, but the result of a major disaster caused by the wealthy grabbing more for them and the middle class getting the same income adjusted for inflation.  This is similar to the situation before the crash of 1929. Yet what has the government done? They bailed out Wall Street and GM, but didn’t alleviate the suffering of most of the population.   The battle lines have been drawn between the Right and the Left.  The polarization between the two is such that no compromises have been made to address any of the problems in the American economy.  What is the average American do to go around this and survive if not prosper?  As individuals, we cannot accept this situation as “the new normal” as some economist proclaim.
Our approach as the 99 Percent must be both short-term and long-term. is to think ‘outside of the box.’  We cannot continue to churn in the plight that has been delivered to us by the One Percent.  It is not acceptable for qualified creative people to be receiving unemployment or being unemployed on a micro or macro level. 

The first preliminary step is to recognize that the present system of capitalism is decaying and any effort to work within it will result in frustration and ultimate failure.  The second preliminary step is to visualize what you can do as an individual to go around this decay and build an alternative existence that will benefit you and your family and be in coordination with others building “the New Economy”, “the New Democracy” and the next paradigm.  Some of this is already happening ‘by accident’ and others by direct action.
 One of the problems inherent in this situation is a feeling of disconnection and lack of solidarity.  This is changing, but slowly. In fact, we have to recognize that this disconnect is being manipulated by the One Percent for their own selfish purposes.   The issues are extremely complicated and interrelated and can be seen as an insurmountable barrier.

In order to survive, we have to decouple ourselves from the ‘traps’ that have been set for us which mostly revolve around consumerism.  We have been brainwashed that we have to have things beyond just mere survival or what we need.  Most things we think 'we need', is the result of being fooled by the marketing ploys of major corporations. Our peceived needs have been developed to to get us hooked on credit and dependent on the One Percent, thus feeding them. In the remainder of this blog entry, I will start to enumerate ways that people can survive personally and also how this makes a statement in done collectively. Many people are already doing this. What they may not be aware of is that they are also making a a public statement. 

Step Number One is: eliminate all credit cards and live according to your family’s income and put money into credit unions.  This action works on various levels.  For an individual, it is absolutely necessary to survive.  For a message to the One Percent, it means I am divesting myself from you and giving you less power over my life.  If enough people did this , there would be a collapse of major banks and financial institutions. They would cease to have control and the majority of financial control would be allocated to the shareholders of credit unions.  You as a member of a credit union have a say in financial policies.  The major banks don’t want this, so they will do everything to prevent their downfall.

Step Number Two is:  buy nothing  new. 
You can find many acceptable items for your household such as clothes, appliances, furniture, automobiles etc. at yard sales or thrift stores such as GoodWill.  Most are more than reasonably priced and in good condition.  You have to be a discerning shopper as there are no warranties associated when you buy at these venues.  Most retail items are over-priced and wear out just as fast as those bought at yard sales and thrift stores.  If you avoid purchase of a vehicle in places that have good public transport, this would also be a good move that would decrease all the costs related to owning a vehicle (i.e., insurance, gas, etc.) These items are normally should be bought with cash or with available funds in accordance with the first step.  For those with minimal income, you will find your budget goes much further.  This ultimately sends a message to the One Percent that you do not buy into consumerism and over the long term will cause the collapse of ‘big box’ stores such as Walmart who pay workers barely above minimum wage, support outsourcing and exploit developing nations.

To Be Continued

Monday, July 09, 2012

Thinking ‘Outside of the Box’: A Necessity for Survival in the New Economy

I read today (9 July 2012) a tragic story in the Huffington Post  of a woman and her child that are now living in a storage locker (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-s-goodman/latest-jobs-report_b_1654661.html .)  The woman is not a drug addict, has emotional problems or otherwise unemployable.  She, like many are victims of a horrible economy where there are too many qualified people seeking a job in amidst a stagnant or declining job pool for their skills.  Meanwhile, those that could alleviate this problem are doing nothing.  The onus is upon individuals acting in concert to create solutions as those ‘elites’ which we once thought could give solutions absolutely do not care. 

The political pundits are calling high unemployment and a stagnating economy for most developed countries, the ‘new normal.’  What an absolutely dismal prediction!  It also means by extrapolation, the increasing disparity of incomes and increasing of wealth, not only in the developed world, but the developing.  This may be sustainable in their eyes, but in actuality is non-sustainable, even within the present boundaries of capitalism.  The present state will result in a collapse of the retail/service sector as people will have declining income and a further slump in the housing market, as most will not be able to afford houses.  Although there is some indication that incomes are slightly rising among  the middle class and there is some increase in housing prices, this is an aberration among the reality of almost 20 Percent actual unemployment  and an overwhelming decline in absolute wages. These experts must realize that there is no status quo, that an economy must grow or it must decline.
This acceptance of this new reality is now present in the public forum.  It is commonly heard amoung the lackeys of the One Percent that those who do not have work are lazy and not open to other opportunities.  This basically translates into: “You are not willing to accept minimum wage jobs which equate to living at poverty level, while we (the One Percent) live off your labor, manipulate financial markets, and increase the funds that we inherited. “  In addition, many of the unemployed or under-employed hear the statements by others who may still have full-time jobs, “It could be worse. You could be living on the street.”  This is not comforting because it means with the end of your unemployment, the depletion of your savings and a low paying job, if you can find one, your fate will soon be that of a homeless person. This is the antithesis of the American Dream.  This has already happened to many  They have depleted their unemployment, their savings and have even lost a low paying  job, as referred to earlier.

This is not acceptable!  All citizens of the world must organize to create a different future.  There is a new economy and new political reality developing, but it is not status quo or a revision or minor reform.
The new economy is already developing as financial capitialism is declining.  The One Percent want us to accept this decrepit form of capitalism as the ‘new normal’ because it suits their short term aims of increasing their wealth and of completely turning the majority of the world into economic slaves and lackeys.
We, as individuals, must take responsibility for change within our limited spheres of operation which have been defined by the One Percent.  We must think “outside of the box.”  This “box” is a metaphor for a ‘universe’ or paradigm which is collapsing and creating multiple tragedies because whole populations have become victims of its perverse nature.  The ultimate tragedy is of those who have signed up willingly for the armed forces to fight not one tour of duty, but several and do not come back, or come back physically or mentally damaged. Many would not have signed up if the unemployment rate had not been so high.  The unemployment rate is serving the One Percent in their aims to solidify most as economic slaves for their purposes.  Now, they are planning their next war, which is one with Iran. If the developed world follows their dictates, it will lead to further tragedy.
 Working outside the box will not take the form of one form of action, but numerous  forms reflecting the complex and interconnected world that is now the norm. 
In future blog entries, I will explore some, but definitely not all of the methods that indivduals, cities, and nations can work outside of the box.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Wake Up!!

Many people in the United States and in other countries are still towing the line according what has been given to them.  You hear the tired phrases like:
Don’t complain; You will find a job---you just have to have hope; If you work hard, you will get ahead; You are just not looking hard enough and other meaningless platitudes.  Those that say this, with good intention, are merely saying this because they don’t want to recognize reality.   The first reality is that many people are unemployed, under-employed or fearful that that they will lose their jobs, or stuck in jobs that offer little increase in wages and no opportunities.  The second reality is that citizens of any country have absolutely no control of their destiny because everything is now controlled by corporations and the economic elite that have no interest in making things better for the public, just making higher profits for their stockholders and accumulating more money to influence politics, and enable speculation and financial ‘gambling’ such as hedge funds and derivatives.

Although it will not help improve the personal status of many people, the mere recognition that one is fully aware that: The American Dream is a now a Myth propagated by the One Percent; Democracy is a sham in the United States and other countries because of the pervasive power of multi-national corporations and economic globalization; There has never been a free market and waiting for a magical recovery is a delusion manufactured by economic royalty; Capitalism in its present form in obsolete and harmful to the majority of global citizens; and Deliberate, thoughtful, pragmatic and substantial  change, not readjustments in financial systems, is the only way to improve democracy and the economies of the world—is progress.  Political and economic changes will follow if Americans and other people recognized these basic premises.
It is now the time for global citizens to :Wake up!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Logic Gap

Somehow the members of the Tea Party have a hard time grasping the logical connection as illustrated in the above graphic. The US Government is controlled by the One Percent. Therefore, there is no difference between the two.  Actually, the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement should be on the same side. The Tea Party itself has become the vassal of corporate interests and the economic elite, being diverted from its original protest against the bailout of major banks. When they wake-up to the fact that they are supporting their oppressors, you will see all popular support will drain from supporting the puppets of the One Percent. This will further broaden the Occupy Movement transforming it from a minority to a majority movement.  Ultimately, We the People  must see that both parties have been corrupted by 'big money' and this is not a partisan struggle, but one of the majority confronting the tyranny of the economic elite. This is about defending American democracy and upholding the  values of the Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Capitalism Hits the Fan (Video of Richard Wolff, Ph.D.)

Dr. Wolff  discusses the problems of the present global  political economy in a very straight forward manner.
These are not contrived or manipulated statistics, nor are the basic assumptions, which other economists, such as Reich, and Krugman agree. What is different is Wolffs proposal for the future which is basically the formation of worker-owned enterprises overtaking the present economic system. This is happening 'under the radar' with the diversion of money from corporate banks into credit unions, the increased proliferation of energy co-opts, the formation of state banks, and the slow increase in worker or employee owned small enterprises. This is the beginning of the New Economy, slowly eroding the control of the One Percent and pointing toward a new and better future for all citizens.

Capitalism, as we know it, is 'gasping for breath.' announcing the demise of a plutocracy dominated by  the One Percent.  Why do you think that the multinationals and the economic elite are pouring millions of dollars into the campaigns of 'their owned party"--the Republican Party?  (Be also aware that their multinationals are loyal only to the U.S. as it serves their needs for increased profits, have no social concussions, and will without hesitation abandon any nation not serving their needs.) Why do you think they are using their media to convince the masses that the status quo is the best for them and spewing out some of the most egregious propaganda about the left, including the Occupy and Progressive Movement and stooping to mud-sling  moderate Republicans and Democrats.   They know that the end is near for their domination of politics and the economy.  They have no solutions.  Do you think that magically that by cutting the budget, eliminating departments, reducing regulations, keeping lower taxes for the wealthy and continual unrealistic defense funding that the economy will  suddenly  recover? Absolutely not.  You wonder who can believe in the Republicans' 'half-baked' economic proposals, which only serve the One Percent.  The systematic problems with the American political economy (and also the global economy) as outlined by Dr. Wolff in the video, are  deeply structural and beyond minor adjustments.  Unfortunately, the Middle Class followers of the Republicans have realized this yet. When they do, they will leave the Republican Party in mass and join the present Occupy and Progressive Movement.  The Republican Party will go the way of the Whigs and be an anachronism--which they are now. but the majority in their party have not realized this yet. The electorate of France and the Netherlands have already determined that austerity is not the solution. However, neither is going back to a stagnant economies burdened with crippling social programs. structures.

We are 'on the cusp' of a new political economy that will prosperity to all the citizens of the world,  and environmental and energy sustainability.  The solutions revolve around significant changes in democracy, the economic structure, global cooperation,  and adopting measures that will ensure sustainability, both for Europe, the U.S. and for developing nations.  These changes will not be without turmoil, conflict or further strain to national political and economic  The demise of the control of the One Percent is inevitable. But, in this struggle, the new reality and paradigm will slowly emerge.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Has soliciting for campaign funding in US politics become a barrier to democracy?

Everyday, I receive messages from various Progressive candidates and the Obama campaign urging me to give more so that they can equal the amount of money that is being spent by the Republicans. (Although I support the message of Progressive candidates, I find their frantic messages about funding distracting to their message.) The message is clear, although these candidates are blind to it, is that American politics is not about the issues, but about how much money one can spend to spread partisan propaganda. The underlying fault now in American democracy is that campaign funding has become a barrier to its even partial functioning. We have to eliminate or reduce campaign funding by corporations and wealthy individuals and return democracy back to the people. The real issue is not if this or that candidate is elected, but that the basic underpinnings of American democracy which are being threatened by the increasing influence of the One Percent. This spending frenzy is the direct result of the Citizen's United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is above politics. The American electorate is deluded that contributing to one candidate or another will change anything. Real change will only happen when there is a bipartisan effort (demanded by the people) to change the operation of the political process through a Constitutional Amendment. Although radical, my proposal would be change the present system into a parliamentary one and have funding of elections though a blind fund where no individual or corporation will know who their money is being directed. (This was proposed by Robert Reich in his book, Supercaptialism.) However, the evolution of American politics and capitalism will not ocurr overnight, but unfortunately will be brought about by another crisis.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Capitalism is Dead!

Although somewhat dated, this is a very good video and good introduction to the text below. Notice that in this video that the commentator states that even the head of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012 stated that 'capitalism is dead.'

Yes, capitalism is gasping for breath. We have been experiencing the death of capitalism for at least thirty years. It has not been apparent because it was masked by many factors. The world has changed and many are holding on to a paradigm that emerged in 16th Century and persisted till the late 20th Century. The evidences of a dying system are: income inequality, environmental degradation (i.e, global warming, depletion of the Amazon rain forest, over-fishing, genetic engineering and decrease of agricultural species), a dependence on non-renewal resources for economic growth sustenance, uneven regional economic development, domination of multinational corporation over national interests, and faltering economic growth (slow/stagnant in developing countries, erratic in developing countries.) 

In the ashes of a dying capitalism, a phoenix is rising to take its place. It is now nebulous, but slowly coalescing and has been for decades.  With the economic crisis of 2008 and the continuing stagnation, it  is evident that this is ‘the end of the line’ for capitalism. (It is not the end of the free market for the exchange of goods, services, ideas, technology and now, software.  This is alive and well, but has been manipulated for the benefit of the One Percent under the guise of protecting capitalism.)The solutions that have been applied and are being proposed by nation-states, supranational organizations and think tanks are merely ‘band-aids’ to a system that needs not just overhaul, but creative destruction.  The present form of capitalism will not slip quietly away, as those who have a stake in its present form will use any means to keep it alive so that can ‘pick off the remnants of the corpse.’ 

The clues for the formation of this new paradigm are being found in emerging movements such as the Occupy Movement, Progressive Movement in the U.S., the international Pirate Party, the democracy movement in the Middle East, Africa and South America, global environmental movement, and the growing dissent in China.  These coalitions are presenting not just alternatives, but the building blocks for the next paradigm, replacing those of Modernism/Post-Modernism, Industrial/Post-Industrial, Fordism/Post-Ford- ism, and Realism/Noe-Conservatism/Liberalism. While many from the traditional Left and Right would like to tag these movements within the context of Marxism/Socialism/Anarchism, it is not following or adopting the overall premises of these philosophies, to the dislike of both political spectrums who would like to either bring them under their umbrella (the Left) or discredit them (the Right.) 

The emerging paradigm is a hybrid of past political and economic philosophies being energized and transformed by globalism and technology.

What do we call this new paradigm?  The best so far has been to term the next form of economics ‘natural capitalism’ as outlined by Paul Hawkins, Amory Lovings and Hunter Lovings in their book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution.  (For further information, go to the books website at: http://www.natcap.org/ .)  However, this does not adequately encompass the developing paradigm.  There are hints of the formulation of this paradigm in works by Robert Reich (Beyond Outrage, After Shock, Supercapitalism—for more information go to : http://robertreich.org/), Richard Wolff (Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, Occupying the Economy: Challenging  Capitalism, Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It and many others—for more information go to : http://rdwolff.com/ Paul Krugman (End this Depression Now!, The Conscience of a Liberal, and more—for more information go to: http://www.pkarchive.org/ .  Always controversial and interesting is Noam Chomsky, his new book, Occupy, concerns his views on the Movement and  can be order via the Zucottti Park Press at http://www.zuccottiparkpress.com/chomsky.html.  A new book, which I am just starting to read is a collection of articles concerning the Occupy Movement, The Occupy Handbook, offers diverse and interesting views from a wide variety of authors. It is available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/The-Occupy-Handbook-Janet-Byrne/dp/0316220213 ) or Barnes and Nobles (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-occupy-handbook-janet-byrne/1107957786 .) 

The above authors are not political pundits, such as Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and others speaking for the Tea Party and the new conservatives (notice the little ‘c’ as I don’t believe these guys are true Conservatives.) If you take a more than casual glace, among them are experienced energy experts, professors in Economics and Political Science, a renowned linguist  and social critic, and a Noble Peace prize winner.  These people are not flakes, wild-eyed kooks, but knowledgeable and sane individuals who have studied problems and present the framework for a new future.  

The Tea Party which is dominating the Republican Party are merely stooges for the One Percent. They betray the Conservatism that W.F. Buckley, Jr. single-handily created which was intellectual, fair, respectful of the opposition, and well-grounded in Conservative economic and political theory.  I think he would be appalled at the viciousness of the rhetoric of the Tea Party, the brazenness of the supporters of the Republican Party to pour money into campaigns to malign candidates, the uncompromising positions being held toward moral issues, their anti-intellectual nature and the overt and ‘not so’ covert adoption of the principles of Ayn Rand. In addition, the Tea Party has drawn to it those who believe in conspiracy theory, survivalists and perhaps Neo-Nazis. It is a motley bunch that true Conservatives are probably hesitant to be associated. 

The body of work that are being created by the aforementioned intellectuals are preparing the foundation of a new future. It is one of hope, prosperity, equality, justice, direct democracy, peace, protection of the environment, responsible energy use, and ultimately the creation of a sustainable world. The Republicans and their brand of conservatism represent a thinly veiled attempt to maintain the status quo mainly to keep the One Percent on top, controlling the world for their selfish ends and maintaining a capitalism that is corrupted and unsustainable.  This is a Hobbesian world through the philosophical eyes of Ayn Rand. Their agenda will surely fail because it translates into tyranny and many in the U.S. and the world now know exactly what is their aim.

Capitalism is dead and the future is here!