Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Ways of Thinking: A New Economy

The video and interview link at the bottom of this page is worthwhile listening to, or if you prefer, read, which I hope that you do, and that it will lead to serious contemplation of the views of David Korten.

In someway, shape, or form, Americans need to take actions that will lead America to a paradigm shift, a shift in the direction of recognizing communities as the foundation of political and economic initiatives; developing heterarchial vs. hierarchical/patriarchal systems of order in our organizations and in every other aspect of our lives; and, an understanding that the fundamental viability of a democracy is systemically embedded within the grassroots of community organizations, created by individuals in the community; and an understanding that it is a bottom-up and not a trickle-down economy that works.

This paradigmatic shift must include a new way of thinking: a model framed around the economic philosophy of Adam Smith, and not the in vogue contemporary Keynesian model of our current government manipulated economic system. Government needs to regulate and create boundaries, put into place regulatory controls to prevent monopolies, which also includes not allowing companies to become too big to fail, which if allowed, in-and-of itself monopolizes whole sectors of the economy; but beyond that there should be no interference. America needs an economic solution that is based on Main Street, and not Wall Street.

In a metaphorical economic sense, we have to use fire to fight fire in order to combat this current Keynesian Wall Street quagmire created by government, Wall Street, and Main Street, before we can start building the real changes that are necessary.

The reality: the enemy, collectively, is "... government, free markets and capitalism," i.e. in its present form.

In America we have an aversion to "That Accursed Propensity to Save." In my youth saving was an essential prerequisite to spending -- you could not buy that for which you had not saved. This, too, must be imbued into a new way of thinking.

And, last, but certainly not least, to achieve a better life for ourselves, as David Korten stated, "... let’s really get serious about world peace."

David Korten's "Agenda for a New Economy" should not be ignored.

“As President Barack Obama reveals more details of his $825 billion economic stimulus plan [interview took place on January 26, 2009], we turn to David Korten of YES! Magazine. In his new book, Korten argues that the nation faces a monumental economic challenge that goes far beyond anything being discussed in Congress. He writes that now is an opportune moment to move forward an agenda to replace the failed money-serving institutions of our present economy with the institutions of a new economy dedicated to serving life.”

To read, listen to, or watch the whole story: Democracy Now

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Ways of Thinking: Compassion and Forgiveness

Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

"In 1984, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino testified that Ronald Cotton was the man who raped her. Eleven years later, DNA evidence cleared him of the crime. The two are now frequent speakers on judicial reform. They live in North Carolina with their families."

This is a powerful and perfect story of fear to hate to revenge, and then to compassion and forgiveness, and finally to healing the suffering both Jennifer and Ronald had endured.

It’s this sort of deep personal introspection and understanding, a very profound compassion, that if all of us would practice will help us to mold a World at Peace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Ways of Thinking: “Be the change you want to see in the world”

Journalist Mark Danner’s US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites, an article based on an International Committee of the Red Cross report leak obtained by him on the treatment of fourteen "high value detainees" in CIA custody, puts light on torture legitimized by the United States of America under the Bush Administration.

Out of fear, America wages war, allows torture, allows violations of our laws and our values, and we allow the President of the United States and others to circumvent the fundamental tenets of our U.S. Constitution. To act out in anger, out of fear, is not a courageous act; it’s a cowardly act and a sign of weakness. To act out in hate and anger, because of fear, is a serious flaw in our personal and national character. On the other hand, fear is a natural and necessary human response, but when it is not an understood controlled behavior it becomes a determent by not acting at all, or it’s a determent when we do not act in an appropriate way, so, instead of fear being a warning to use caution -- a heads-up -- our behavior turns to anger and hate.

Because of our fears, instead of being outraged that a violation of our American values have taken place, it has become apparent that Americans will allow human life to be violated, allow violations against the sanctity of life, and will tolerate crimes against humanity and the civil liberties of others including our own. We allow the torture of another human, and look for ways of excusing ourselves from that fact by a redefinition of something that does not need redefinition, and by putting torture in the context of complex legal definitions. We redefine and put in legalese the sin of torture as aggressive interrogation technique, or extraordinary rendition to obfuscate or make oblique -- words that cloud what is really taking place -- the torture, or handing-off of a human being to another state to be tortured on our behalf.

Disturbing as it is, the Stanley Milgram experiments of close to fifty years ago, and the more recent study by Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University in California, have shown that most of us would torture others if ordered to do so. These studies reveal that most people would obediently deliver painful electrical shocks to others if encouraged to do so by someone in authority, even if it conflicted with their personal conscience. We therefore must reject any directive, by anyone, until we take the time to logically consider and critically think-through the mandates of people in authority or those in charge, or anyone else, no matter who they are – even if it is the President of the United States. We must always heed our personal and collective conscience.

These were abhorrent, deplorable actions that the United States of America took and should not be ignored. What our President, Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and of State, Congress, and some Americans sanctioned were unacceptable violations of the Geneva Convention. They constituted a form of sabotage on America of which if it had continued under our new Administration would ruin America and that, up until Bush’s presidency, the core values of which she stood -- and by the way to an extent already have done great damage. America violated national and international law, America has put Americans at risk in the event of their capture, and America failed to provide fundamental human decency to those who, enemy combatants or not, were in our custody and therefore we were responsible for their safety and care. The Bush Administration, Congress, and every American who did not take action, or at the very least did not speak out against these policies, should be chastised through public hearings with ensuing investigations, and those who could be measured as having violated national or international law should be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent that those laws provide.
How can America with any credibility be critical of others of their policies on civil liberty and human rights when America’s own civil rights and human rights record are so vile. When we simply overlook them, and move on. When we claim to be a nation of laws and yet be example prove the contrary.

It is morally reprehensible that the United States of America has allowed this to happen.

Obama’a response has been not to look backward, but in "looking forward" rather than "looking backwards." In general I do agree, however, if someone commits murder should we not look back at what occurred and take action to protect others by investigating the crime, and prosecuting those responsible? Of course we should. Obama’s response is disappointing, it’s political, and in itself demoralizing.

I have lived a long life, and what I have learned is that in so many ways, even in the face of so many good things America has achieved, what has been preached by Americans regarding American core values have been lies. Those American lies have made a Laughing-stock out of our Constitution.

Let’s make a change, and as Americans let’s represent the values America has preached and of which it wishes to embody. Americans need to, as Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently stated, “be the change you [they] want to see in [America and] the world.”

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Savings Glut

That Accursed Propensity To Save, an article by Antal E. Fekete is a good reading add on to my previous post, "The Enemy: government, free markets and capitalism." In the article Fekete speaks to a March 2, 2009, column in The New York Times under the banner title "Revenge of the Glut" by Paul Krugman.

As Antal Feketed says "Saving always and everywhere had to precede consumption. Saving has always been primary and consumption secondary, like it or not."
I remember my dad, in the days before credit, putting aside money from his pay each week in seperate envelopes labeled with the goal of his saving: a refrigerator, rent, a car repair, new knobs for the kitchen cabinet ....

We need to get back to basics.

The Enemy: government, free markets and capitalism

What Peter Schiff and Ron Paul are saying in a sense makes sense. What they say seem to be logical: the dollar has become sub-prime currency creating a bubble on its own, which will bust as all bubbles eventually do; a phony economy, one based on spending borrowed money; government should get out of the way and let the free market work; to spend and borrow all based on printer-press money is a problem.

However the reality is, despite how logical the aforementioned seems, that government, capitalism, and free market have not worked. The problem is that there is no-one who knows how to get out from under our financial crisis. To solve this problem there must be a unified focus, and there is none, there is no consensus. We have an ideological propensity to defeat and humiliate our opponents as opposed to work in cooperation with them. We want to bludgeon others with our point of view. There must be an incarnate consensus that will lead to practical human action in order to solve our problems.

We have become a nation of consumerism, i.e. that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial. It is a market based on supply and demand out of which grew irrational exuberance for credit, and an unacceptable inclination for avarice, which drove it to its demise. Our markets grow based on waste, destruction, and diminished quality. Those things we buy are purposely not made to last, there must be this cycle of waste/destruction so that new things are needed, or need to be replaced, and are consequently produced for us to buy. We have become a country based on an economy that depends on goods and services that are at some point disposable. In the investment arena it occurs as Peter Schiff makes reference to as flippers. Markets for goods are created, a marketing strategy of creating a need, they are not based on real necessity. Saving and thrift are the enemies of our current market paradigm. My view is that government, free markets and capitalism are collectively the enemy of those of us who simply want to live a life of peace, freedom, and one that is a healthy, and substantive.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dow Jones Change: Bush Versus Obama: A Response

From Lighthouse Blog

Dow Jones Change: Bush Versus Obama
Bush: DJIA 12/12/2000 - 10,768.............1/16/2009 - 8281

Over 8 years, including 2 major wars and 911, the market dropped only 2487 points from final election results to the end of the Bush presidency.

Obama: DJIA 11/05/08 - 9069............3/6/2009 - 6488

In only 120 days since Obama was elected, the DJIA has dropped 2581 points!

Is there any question what type of economic policies are better liked by the markets, and thus grow taxpayer wealth?


My response to such an accusation:

Markets don’t like Obama’s economic policies because they in the market, Wall Street, operate within the world of the upper-middle and upper classes of our society. Wall Street believes that common people of a lower class then themselves should be taxed - -and apparently exploited and cheated, as well) - - but not them. They believe in the trickle-down economic theory. They believe in free markets. I believe, they, more often than not, are representative of Conservative or Republican capitalism and free market ideology. They loved it when Bush and Paulson came to the governmental financial aide of Wall Street, but the same is not true when it applies to government financial aide for the common people, Main Street. They fail to see that their unregulated free market shenanigans were the cause of this recession. Greed is what the market is about, and if there are systems in place that restrict the creation of wealth, as the market perceives regulation, they will always react negatively towards it. As Greenspan admitted the market cannot regulate itself.

We should not be measuring performance of the financial system by wealth creation; it should be measured by the ability of people to live substantive lives, a life as measured by our constitution, i.e. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For some wealth is happiness, for most of us to be free from financial burdens is all we require. America, so far, has not fulfilled that constitutional commitment.

I find it hard to accept this critique of a falling stock market by placing blame on President Obama, considering he has been office for only 45 days (1/20/2009 thru 3/06/2009). I don’t know how this analysis could even be considered. Bush’s presidential performance over two terms in office was poor by any measurement one could make. The economic mess that President Obama was given came from eight years of the Bush Administration, and six of those years dominated by a Republican Congress.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We Support Rush; Obama's Policies Should Fail

The conservative (politically Republican) folks who have been in office for the last eight years have failed America.

Their leader, George W Bush, told us that we had a healthy economy, that we were not in a recession - -“our economy is strong, it's productive and it's prosperous." George W. Bush, January 30, 2007. Then towards the end of 08 we were told that we actually have been in a recession since the end of 07; even though the administration was in a position in which they could have and should have known where our economy was headed, they simply continued to keep their head in the sand and failed to act.

Under the past Republican Administration spending increased and revenues declined; on top of this, adding to the deficit by conducting a war of their choosing that was never funded - - the national debt grew from $6 trillion to $10.6 trillion. They have touted free markets and the benefits of capitalism, allowing financial institutions and markets to operate without regulated boundaries, all of their philosophies of which have failed. They ignored the common folks, then as now, by giving tax breaks to those who do not need it - -a $1.35 trillion tax cut - - and ignoring those who could boost our economy the most - - as oxymoronic as it sounds, it’s not trickle-down that works; it’s trickle-up that works. Conservatives talk about socialism by referring to it in an untruthful and derogatory way as Communism, and Marxism, when their free market philosophy simply failed America. They are against improving health care by socialistic means and prefer the invisible hand of capitalism and free market; the very thing that got us where we are today - - why do they simply want to repeat their failed policies? Everyone rushed to Washington, McCain even breaking away from his campaigning in urgency, to caucus and pass as quickly as possible a bail-out for Wall Street; yet, when it came down to a bail-out for Main Street the Republicans became indignant and complained it simply cost too much, when in fact the stimulus (US$789 billion) did not cost that much more than that of the Wall Street bail-out, which authorized the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to US$700 billion to purchase distressed assets. And we had a Social Security surplus when Bush took office, we don’t have a surplus now.

The Bush Administration has had many failures or failures to act: scant job creation, unemployment high and rising - - from 4.2% when Bush took office to 7.2% - - declining real median incomes, record budget deficits, record home foreclosures, a large trade deficit, no energy policy, no health care policy, and increasing poverty rates, among other problems: Bush’s legacy has been eight years of descent.

President Obama has been in office for around five to six weeks and is trying to put into place things that might turn our economic crisis around. Obama’s reaction is one where the government is going to intercede and take control. Something the past Administration should have done a long time ago. Instead, Republicans, the Conservative mindset, depended on capitalist and the free market to solve the problem, which by the way they want to continue to do to this day. That’s the republican response to this crisis. It did not work over the past eight years, so please tell me, other than the free market plan, what is their plan?

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Jon Arthur, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Jay Severin, et al. all have said implicitly, or as Limbaugh’s and a blogger on Lighthouse Blog have said explicitly, they hope this administration will “FAIL!!!!!” In effect they are saying that they hope the American people will fail to fulfill sustainable economic lives.

The aforementioned political dissenters all have said despicable things; they lack civility, and take the perverse side of things. They do not do the Republican Party or America any good, there is no benefit that can be derived from their rant, and they cause unacceptable polarity. The only benefit derived from their hyperbole is the promotion of their talk show.

"I'm in the business of ticking people off, that’s why I'm chairman," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. He like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and all of the others, and many Republican politicians have the same mindset.

Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has said “Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election.” Many Democrats are of the same mindset.

Democrats and Republicans, political and layman alike, treat each other as if they are in combative opposition to each other, a win-lose mentality, treating each other as the enemy.

Dissension, hate, and divisiveness are not the direction in which we should head if we really want to solve any problem; “United we stand, divided we fall” - - “The team that stays together, plays together, and succeeds together” - - “The family that prays together stays together - - should be the attitude and mantra call. What this country is in desperate need of is new ways of thinking in cooperative and transformational thinking, ridding ourselves of taking intransigent positions or that negotiation is analogous to appeasement, looking forward to making beneficial changes over time, compassion and civility.