Sunday, September 5, 2010

Some Things Never Seem To Change

The 1934 Chicago Tribune political cartoon, “Planned Economy or Planned Destruction?” has resurfaced again (apparently an annual event). It again brings to mind the adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” The similarities between then and now certainly are uncanny and thought provoking.

Duncan K. Foley, Department of Economics, New School for Social Research, says, “Many of the debates and controversies over the causes and cures of financial economic crisis of 2007-8 that continues to plague the world economy in 2010 echo ideas put forth in the 1930s by John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich von Hayek, and Joseph Schumpeter.”

Although those ideas and controversies may be expressed differently today, essentially the debate is the same, and the fear mongering tactics that were prevalent in the 1930s have not changed either. As exemplified in the cartoon, the same national debt arguments have not changed -- “Plan of action for the U.S. Spend! Spend! Spend under the guise of recovery – bust the government – blame the capitalists for the failure – Junk the constitution and decree a dictatorship” -- except today, “dictatorship” is replaced by the label Hitler, and instead of Stalin, the label now is Marxist and communist.

As an aside, it is also interesting to note that the national debt, except during the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, have never been paid off. Moreover, even today, the political talk is about reducing the national debt; not eliminating it.

Although not depicted in the cartoon, the same old argument of burdening future generations with today’s debt continues to be the same political tactic today as it was then.

It appears we have not evolved. Rather we are going around in circles/cycles, returning to the same failures over and over again. Nothing has changed! It’s the consequence of looking backward and not forward, of not “thinking outside of the box.”

It certainly makes one wonder just how noteworthy today’s arguments are. What can an American “hang their hat on?”

It is clear that new changes in thinking are desperately needed. Not that I expect that we would get change anytime soon. The wealthy, who essentially deny economic freedom from the majority through the monetary power and control they wield, will not let any kind of systemic change happen that will interfere with those perks or their exorbitant lifestyle. Nevertheless, replacing the world’s money-based system with a resource-based system – creating moneyless societies -- it seems to me would be the answer to almost all of today’s economic and societal problems. No doubt, a moneyless system would bring with it a different set of challenges, but certainly not the chaos and calamity we have experienced within our current system and it would solve the problems of class supremacy, aristocracy, and many other things the current system has failed to correct. And we could finally shed forever those things that seemingly never change and move forward with things that we can change.

For the world can change, over time, but there will need to be significant paradigm shifts in thinking. It means more than a shift away from a money-orientated and a profit-oriented society, but shifts in thinking and actions taken that will inevitably invert the typical organization structure from top-down to bottom-up, and to heterarchical organizational paradigms.