Archives for category: 1989 and the Global Financial Crisises.

What do we have an economy for?

To make ends meet? To make it easier for our needs to be met?

What do we have a banking/financial system for? To mobilize capital for the economy? To make it possible for our needs to be met easier? More efficiently?

Or just for profit to be made?

“It really is possible to do two good things at once: address the abuse of the working poor by payday-loan and check-cashing outfits while expanding the range of services provided by the USPS. Media outlets have called Warren’s proposal “radical.” That’s ludicrous. She’s simply using her position and prominence to highlight the findings of a new study by the Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General, which notes that roughly 68 million Americans are underserved by the private banking system. “With post offices and postal workers already on the ground,” says Warren, “USPS could partner with banks to make a critical difference for millions of Americans who don’t have basic banking services because there are almost no banks or bank branches in their neighborhoods.”

This is not a new idea. From 1911 to 1967, the Postal Service maintained its own banking system, allowing citizens to open small savings accounts at local post offices—actually a better approach than “partnering” with banks. The system was so successful that after World War II, it had a balance of $3 billion, roughly $30 billion in today’s dollars. Congress did away with postal banking in the 1960s, but post offices in other countries—including Japan, Germany, China and South Korea—provide banking services. Japan Post Bank is consistently ranked as one of the world’s largest financial institutions based on assets.”

Or, to put it the other way around,
‘what profit is?’

The well deserved ‘consequence’ – considered as such by the vast majority of the stakeholders, of a well-done job?
Or a self serving benchmark to be reached at all costs? Which costs are to be ‘shouldered’ by anybody else but the profiteer himself… till reality slaps us, all of us, over our faces…

Let’s face it, in the present circumstances the picture above might mean a lot of things.

It can be a prank – somebody might have made the whole thing up just for the fun of it.
It can also express the frustration of somebody who isn’t such a good speller. Or of somebody who suffers from dyslexia?

What really interests me is how we, the ‘intellectual’ public, react to things like these.
Do we understand the frustration which lies at the bottom of this?
Do we even try to?

Or we just dismiss it as being a manifestation of stupid?

No, I don’t consider the economy as being more important than life preservation. Some very sound arguments can be found here.

But I’m absolutely convinced that treating the ‘others’ with disdain is what brought us here in the first place.

You don’t like the manner in which the likes of Trump treat those who don’t agree with them?
Then why are you doing the very same thing?

You consider yourself to be better than Trump?

Prove it.
Be nicer than him, not worse.

Humberto Maturana teaches us that human consciousness can be understood as our ability to ‘observe ourselves observing‘.
In other words, consciousness might be reduced to self-awareness.

I’m afraid it’s not enough.
While no individual can be described as conscious if not commanding a certain degree of self-awareness, being able to observe their own observations doesn’t elevate an observer to fully conscious status.

How many of us have ‘enjoyed’ messing up ants or other insects just for the fun of it? When we were teenagers, of course.
OK, we continue to squish the cockroaches we happen to see and to spray our gardens against mosquitoes and other pests.
Only we no longer do it for fun. We employ a ‘healthy’ rationale to justify our actions – cockroaches/mosquitoes are ‘bad for us’.
And we try to do it in a reasonable manner. We don’t soak the entire garden with the most potent insecticide available. Simply because we’ve understood, the hard way, that bees are also important for us.

Otherwise put, it’s not enough for us to be able to keep tabs on what we do, we must also take responsibility for our actions.

After all, we’ve been able to notice that bison ‘engineer’ their own environment.

“Herds of bison milling through Yellowstone National Park may seem aimless to the average visitor, but a new study reveals the animals are hard at work engineering their ecosystem. By rigorously mowing and fertilizing their own patches of grassland, the big herbivores essentially delay spring until late summer.”

Maybe the time is ripe for us to understand that we, humans, have done the very same thing for quite a while now.
The world we live in is, to a certain – but rapidly growing – extent, the consequence of our own decision making.

The faster we learn to accept that, the higher the chances we won’t repeat past mistakes.

“Yes you can! No people to feel/live/see it, no spring.”

Remember Protagoras? “Man is the measure of all things”?

Without man, there’s no meaning?

Yes, our world becomes meaningless.
The moment we no longer care enough about it.
The moment we stop paying attention.

The other day I had a riveting conversation with my son.
With my 21 years old son.

I asked him to comment on my previous post.
The one about too many people allowing sentiment to cloud their judgement.
The one about even reputable news agencies using click-bait titles to entice readers. Hence reinforcing the habit of sentiment being allowed to cloud reason.

‘Life was never better for so many of us’, explained my son. ‘Since WWII most of us had enjoyed peace. Since the Spanish Flu, we hadn’t experienced a pandemic. Since Salk, we’ve led ourselves to believe we were safe from disease. Since the fall of communism, even the ideological divides have paled down. And now we have enough technology to feed the entire planet, comfortably. The point being that we have no idea how to deal in this situation. What to do. How to behave.
Simply because we have no relevant prior experience.
Until recently, historically speaking, we have successfully dealt with wars, famines and pestilence.
But it’s the first time that we experience such abundance.
We need to adapt to the new reality.
To transform it into an opportunity. Into an opportunity to go forward.
We have to avoid, at all costs, the pitfall of allowing this abundance to bog us down.’

Heartening, isn’t it?
That a person so young can find such deep meaning.
If I may say such things about my own son…

Some see here a herd of sheeple being led to disaster by:

The Democrats
The Republicans
The Government, in general
Any other con artists of their choice.

I see at least one guy who just figured out what was happening.
And who tries to share what they’ve learned!

https://i.imgflip.com/3ua749.jpg

Well, we must remember that solutions came a lot easier when we refuse to think inside a box. Inside any box. No matter how large or how nice.

Every time I understand/notice that somebody tries to frame my thinking process, I go ‘ballistic’.

I try to raise my mind perpendicularly above the frame. So that I may observe the limits.

Every time when somebody is presented with an ‘either/or’ option there is a strong likelihood that the situation merits a more nuanced approach.
As in ‘yes, the government was terrible at handling COVID-19’ and ‘yes, the government – as our servant, should be mandated by us, the people, to coordinate the help we need in our hour of need’.

How can we reconcile these two?
Simple.
Hire a better government and keep a keen eye on it!

And, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t democracy meant to do exactly this?

If you live on the Moon, or if enough time had passed since I’ve written this, click on the picture to read Jonathan Spyer’s excellent rendition of the facts which have driven me to post this.

Or you may proceed.

For me, there is a striking resemblance between what’s going on in Iran and what would happen in a hardcore libertarian society.

The mullahs are concerned only with spreading/enforcing their faith and consider everything else will take care of itself.

The extreme libertarians are concerned exclusively with upholding their understanding of liberty and consider that everything else would take care of itself. By itself.

And I’m convinced that everything will indeed take of itself!
After all, life has continued after communism had failed.
The communist leaders had been professedly concerned exclusively with enforcing their understanding of equality. And convinced that everything else would had taken care of itself. If only that equality could have been instated…

Yet I don’t think communism will be missed.
By those who had experienced it hard enough to understand it…

Let me make something clear.
Crystal clear!

Money, and its ‘derivatives’ – from ‘capital’ to ‘financial market’ and ‘stock exchange’, are the tools we used to get where we are now.
Without them we would be still foraging in the woods.

Only something rather insidious has started to eat the whole scaffolding from inside.
Same process has been happening with weapons. We invented them for hunting. Then used them for self protection. Against large beasts and fellow humans.
Finally, after using them to conquer and defend our liberty, we used them to subjugate others. To impose our will upon some other people.

In other words, we used guns to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Unwittingly.
Both as hapless individuals and as a cultural species.

Money – and its derivatives, have suffered the same degradation.
We used it, at first, to coordinate our efforts.
The Stock Exchange had been an excellent way to coordinate otherwise disparate means. Very few of the corporations who have changed the world into what it is now – for good and for bad, wouldn’t have come to life without the money which fuel them.
Nowadays, too many of those who trade on the Stock Market do it in a ‘barren’ manner.

They do not contribute anything but extract value.
The inside traders being only the visible part of the iceberg.
Which iceberg might tank the whole contemporary ‘arrangement’.

If we keep sleeping during our watch.
And there’s no one else on deck…

Smarter people than me are already prepping for the aftermath.
For the opportunities which will have ripened by then.

Which, let’s face it, is a wise thing to do. Most of us would have done it. Prepping for what we fear. And for what we covet.

Also wise would be for us to remember that everything we experience today – the good and the bad of it, together, is the consequence of how we have chosen to use the opportunities opened up by the previous crisis.

And by that before it …

My previous post was about the parallel fate endured by those who had experienced nazism/fascism and/or communism.

My point being that nazism/fascism had been powered by the feelings of those attempting to regain their previous, higher, status while communism had been powered by the feelings of those not allowed to ‘move forward’ by the social constraints paralyzing their societies.

Currently, people are ‘confused’.
Some say communism had been better than nazism – for various reasons.
Others find various excuses for the way both regimes had treated the general population and, mainly, the ‘dissidents’. Or, specially for the nazi, the ‘differents’.
There is, though, a convergence point. Nominally, at least. All sides declaratively abhor the violence employed by both regimes.

To add to the confusion, after the 2007 financial meltdown, more and more ‘concerned individuals’ have fingered capitalism as the main culprit for all the tragedies experienced by humankind in the last century and a half.

For me, this is the straw which will break the camel’s back.

So.
Nazism/fascism – which is nothing but a ‘condensed’ form of corporatism, is bad.
Communism – a similarly centralized manner of social decision making, only differently sold to differently feeling masses, is also bad.
Capitalism – a decentralized manner of resource allocation, is considered to be more or less equivalent to both nazism/fascism and communism. All three of them have been declared equally criminal…

Then what?
What are we to do next? Hang ourselves in despair?
Reheat either fascism or communism?

Or look forward than our own noses?

Both those who had followed Hitler and Lenin/Stalin were feeling desperate. Desperation drives you to do stupid things. And there are plenty of unscrupulous people willing to profit from this kind of situations.

Do we really want to prevent ‘unpleasant’ experiences?
Then we need to go beyond blaming the likes of Hitler and Lenin/Stalin.
They should be dealt what’s rightfully theirs, no doubt about that.
But we also need to make sure that the ‘run of the mill’, the ordinary people who make things work in this world, no longer feel desperate.

How to do that?
Taking into account that contemporary capitalism seems to be faltering?

What was the common thing between nazism/fascism and communism?
The fact that decision making was concentrated in a very small number of hands? Which had led to both regimes ending up in abysmal failure?

What is the apparently unstoppable trend in our contemporary societies?
The apparently unstoppable wealth polarization?

Then let’s tax ourselves out … America worked fine during the ’50s and ’60, when the highest marginal tax was 91%…
Yeah, only those years had been followed by stagflation.
And let me remind you that communism can also be interpreted as ‘100% tax followed by a comprehensive redistribution’. And it also failed.

Then how about ‘libertarianism’? No taxes, no government…

But how about less extremism? Of any kind?

How about remembering that liberal capitalism has made possible all that we have today? Liberal as in free-market capitalism, of course.

Free market as in competition working both ways.
Entrepreneurs competing among themselves for clients AND resources. The workforce being, of course, a resource.
The ‘compensated’ workforce representing the bulk of the clients…

What we seem to have forgotten today is that the circle must be round. If we want the ‘show to go on’, of course.

If some of us concentrate too much control over the rest of us – either way, the circle becomes lopsided. And everybody has everything to loose.

No matter whether this happens as a consequence of nazism/fascism, communism or even capitalism.

At least, capitalism has proved to be manageable.
Let’s make it work, again.

Until we discover something better, of course.

%d bloggers like this: