Tag Archives: economics

On contemporary humanity:

We’ve seen a lot in 2017 so far, from wars to Despacito, what a Trump presidency looks like to China pivoting to a leader in environmental regulation. We live in interesting and exciting times to be sure, but today’s post is going to be a downer, while there are countless positive things going on right now, and the overall course of human history is on path I ( generally) agree with, as the song goes: “There’s so much trouble in the world”…

The trouble of which I speak can be traced back to a basic lack of empathy, it’s expressed by selfishness, fear and anger (Humanity’s oldest frenemys). (While I have harped on this prior it bears repeating) Hunger and homelessness are at this point 100% caused by too many people sucking too hard at sharing. Now there is much that can be debated when trying to answer why that is the case, but my base assertion stands fairly strong: 2017 FAO report has food prices remaining flat for the next 10 years, we have complicity to feed everyone, we (humanity) have had this power for decades. Yet hunger remains a daily part of life for millions, we’ve made progress to be sure, but 1 involuntarily starving person is too many (and here’s why).

Let’s take all the geo-political bs out for a second and look at the problem via analogy: your next door neighbor is in a bad situation, their home was blown up when their meth lab blew. They have both an immediate need (for food and shelter) and a long term need (without the meth lab they have no income). You can ignore them, but it takes a truly evil person to watch a neighbor starve while enjoying an excess of food. SO you invite them in, and solve their acute need for food and shelter. However, wanting to protect your own house from ending in the same way as their old house, you prevent them from going back to their old job. As a compromise you offer them entry level work at your place of employment, the hrs. are long and pay is low, but it’s what you went through to get where you are and is the best you are willing to do. Eventually you ask your neighbor to start buying their own food and get their own place so they can go on with their lives.

That’s kind of the model the developed world has taken with the developing world, and on the surface it appears kind enough (you did not let them starve to death remember). But the devil is in the details, and there are lots of them when it comes to how the developed world “helps” developing nations. 1st the house did not really blow up in an explosion, but was blown up. (Indigenous peoples by and large produce their own food, it’s not until they switch to producing commercial crops that they find themselves relying on outside forces for food.)  2nd the time you let your neighbor live in your house and eat your food, they have to pay for that ( with interest): The developed world is not really interested in giving things away, even when those things are knowledge of how to feed people. Loans for infrastructure projects are expected to be paid back, and beyond the funding the World Bank has (in the past) required privatization of entire sectors of public works. Lastly, that entry level job you got them as their very own path to self-sufficiently, that just puts them working for the exact same people who blew up their home in the 1st place.

I ask this, imagine you are across a table from someone who has starved in a corner of the world you don’t care about. They see how you live, what you care about (and they know that it takes about 1-3$ a day to feed a person), do they have a right to be angry? As I see it, not only are we in the developed world hording all the stuff, all the knowledge of how to make and get stuff, we are also very slowly selling that knowledge as we figure out better stuff. We operate under the guise of “helping” but really it’s exploitation, of the developing world’s ignorance, natural resources and very people. What’s stopping every person with over $10k in the bank from donating everything else? It’s not desire to help I can tell you that.

And that leads us to why hunger will be solved, why at some point the only people who starve will be those who freely chose to: It offends a very basic sense of fairness to horde when there is need elsewhere, and while those without are ignorant of the fact they have only their suffering to motivate them, however when the millions of people that are starving now ( most children) get wise to the fact that the only reason they are starving is because most of the developed world is hyper greedy, they will be motivated to change that power structure… Very motivated.

And all of us in the developed world have no moral leg to stand on, we allow people to spend billions on yachts and get-aways that benefit an extremely select few. That kind of individual extravagance needs to be eliminated immediately, and can be re-introduced in a scaled down form when we solve hunger and housing. Right now we are being wasteful with stolen goods, and their owners may not be wise to the scam yet, but they will be soon enough.

Getting back to the topic, Humanity is not being good to itself, we are exploiting the week for the pleasure of the few. While I have deep moral objections to the practice, it’s on the grounds of basic self-preservation I implore us to cut it the fuck out: The people we exploit today will remember it tomorrow, the nation’s we bankrupt and rape of limited natural rescores will remember as well. There will come a time when those same people and nations are across a table from us, and we’ll need their help and when that time comes the outcome will hinge on whether exploitation is standard practice for all humanity ( like it is now) or if exploitation has been relegated to our dark past.

On the corporate veil:

 

This is on a very specific and not discussed power of being incorporated, statutes and case law that protect individuals while in the service of a corporation, the corporate veil. This is indented just for protection in civil cases, but in practice it represents an entire mentality we (I’ll go w/ the entire west here) are mired in and perpetuating at least up to the time of this writing. I use the most recent case with GM as an example, it is actually so wide spread that we think it’s just the way things are or some such non-sense. So Gm made a whole bunch of cars that were not safe, GM knew them to be unsafe, but due to costs made them anyway, as a result at least 12 people died. Those are all pretty much undisputed facts, here is what I am talking about with the corporate veil, Gm is made of people, a small number of whom knowingly ( and for profit) manufactured a deadly product, but there are no indictments, no subpoenas, not at all, as I see it any attorney general from any state in which there was a fatality related to this has a case against PEOPLE, individuals who made the decision to kill for profit. But instead we have Congressional hearing with the new CEO while the people who profited of the deaths of their customers continue to live lives of extravagance, it is appalling to every sense of morality, but just another day in America. What is being investigated is did GM react quickly enough? (http://www.nbcnews.com/business/autos/federal-prosecutors-explore-criminal-case-against-gm-n50276) Note this is not a probe looking into who made the call to use a dangerous car design, which is the crime, no just to make sure that GM corrected the problem it caused… If this happened outside of a corporate setting the outcry would be loud and the justice quick, but because corporations are given rights which only living things should have I would argue. The people who run them are allowed to do down right despicable things and then get a “well I was just doing my job” free pass. Sadly this is indicative of the larger problem, the public should not be at the mercy of privet enterprise! Seriously, if you make something that kills people (especially for a base reason like profit) you should be prevented from making anything unsupervised ever again! That seems like a common sense kind of approach, but we let corporations again and again commit heinous acts in the name of profit and let them go w/ a slap on the wrist. (How is BP doing after the worst environmental disaster ever? Wait is Exon went out of business after the Valdez right?) If a random person killed 12 people through his negligence it would at least constitute manslaughter, maybe he is imprisoned for a few years. Here we have a corporation ( admit to) doing the same thing and… nothing, GM is still in business, the leaders who made this happen are still VERY wealthy people and the wheel keeps on turning…

Current affairs:

I prefer to keep away from things that are happing now, not that there is a lack of interesting things happing. Rather I find that looking at anything so close from a historical perspective simply lacks a whole lot of value, there are people far better than I keeping a historical account of matters.  So as I waste time today watching a video on the infoweb (as I sadly do more than I care to admit) I saw an advertisement for McDonalds…

 

In the advertisement roving groups of McDonalds employees were driving around and handing out ( presumed) free McDonalds breakfast foods to people, the people were VERY happy to receive this food. It I assume it was intended to convey many things, but the three that came across to me were: first McDonalds is giving away free food they are a good company, 2nd I might get free food, people like McDonalds. So why am I talking about it? It is just a perfect, to the T real life demonstration of real cost of capitalism, and here is why:

The core of the advertisement was that McDonalds is giving food away, this is a mischaracterization McDonalds is in the business of selling food, not giving it away I will not get into the semantics of it’s charitable, work ill gotten gains and such.  How is this a cost? Time and resources, human capital and public good sentiment! The entire concept here is an insane waste; just to produce this commercial McDonalds expended thousands of man hours, production costs, real resources some of which humanity (as a whole) has limited amounts of. The reason behind it all was to improve as many people’s opinion of McDonalds as possible, so as to increase there likelihood of buying McDonalds.  Here we start to see the problem, McDonalds is not “good” for people, and by that I mean on the whole, It uses (or at least used) old dairy cows for it’s beef, and filler (I read fast food nation a wile back). That is probably not a surprise to anyone, but think of it this way: if you were going to cook a meal for your friend, yourself, anyone, would you inject non-food filler to make the meal cheaper? I think it borderlines on poising, but we as a society have almost no problem when someone dose it in a business setting . Far from it, that kind of practice is the publicly accepted norm!   This leads to organizations that have almost no interest in public good commanding HUGE amounts of public resources!  And for what? What do we gain for this humongous waste? Two things, a very small, very luck group of people get to command tremendous power over their fellow man, 2. In wealthy nations like the U.S. an unskilled, un-educated sixteen year old can work at McDonalds and make twenty thousand dollars in a year. If 20k seems like a small amount then it is a good indication of where you lie on the socio economic ladder, in some nations that is a fortune!  I know there are better ways, this kind of stuff is needless, we have real problems on the planet that need to be addresses, but instead we waste time as a species with this kid stuff.  Because “freedom” I think that most of the time I hear people talk about it they have no idea what it means, how about we move on to “happy” or “ needs met” .  This will not happen with McDonalds as it is ( really most any Co.) there modus operandi is bad(profit), we should not be trying to exploit each other as a form of motivation…

Political action 2014:

So a new year has arrived, I wish everyone well for the coming year. Sadly for some (not anyone reading this though) the year will bring with it a grate deal of suffering, whether being deprived of life sustaining foodstuffs and medicine, or being deprived of other things desired. I think it is the job of any good government to provide for the happiness of the citizens, all citizens.  I take a page out of Mill’s book on this one, the principal of utility is probably a good one to go on when planning national or state level policy, when we get to the local level it might still hold well, but at that point it might be feasible to think in terms of people, in which case I defer from Mill to Kant. Either way I do not believe it is the purview of government to be solely self sustaining, this is a necessary function, but it should NEVER be the main function.  ( As a side note here I don’t think we as a species need a government, however when the time comes that we no longer need one they will dissolve on their own)

So getting back to the here and now; our current scocil-econimatic and political systems, as you might imange I think we can do better. First the problems, and I think no matter what side of the aisle you are on we can all agree there are problems.  I think the basis of most of our problems comes from conflict, but that aside I will leave it at we have un-happy people, and say that is the problem.  Now I understand that is a odd way to define so many and varied problems, surely the solution to someone upset by inner city crime is different than someone upset by police corruption or someone else upset by out of control local spending… I argue no, those are all the same problem, one of distribution and ownership. People steal, and kill for (most often, when mental illness has been ruled out) for financial gain, in other words they do not feel like they have as much money as they deserve and act in a manner that they think will restore the perceived imbalance. Police corruption is the same thing, only a degree removed, the people the cops are “stealing from” are willing participants, we the public at large pay the real cost of such actions, but still the idea is a cop will not become curopped if he thinks he is being paid fairly, or if he event believes in fairness. Lastly the person who thinks taxes are too high, again the same idea, just the other side of the line. He believes that the amount of money he has is fair, but an amount 20% less would not be.   I could go on, most of the things that make us un-happy can fit this model ( I’m sorry I can’t get your high school sweet heart to love you again, some problems we must face alone ^^).

So how do we make everyone happy? In a word homogeneity, in a few words; we eliminate in-equality as best we can. And with today’s knowledge base and technology our best could probably be pretty dam good. To be specific: people like me and most Americans would see income freeze, or be reduced. We have 6 billion people on the planet, we have to get used to a live that can be lived by everybody, and that means no car, max temp of 58 deg in the winter time, meat only once a week ( I would advocate never, but got to pick the battles ^^)   Like always here is the rub; to the SUPER wealthy this would be a MAJOR shock, and they ( logically so) do not like the idea of massive re-distribution, to the point that if such policies were to go into effect they would be motivated to work against such policies. If you  are a wealthy business owner, who has worked hard your entire life to build a business it would be quite upsetting ( to say the least) for the government to come in and take all your assets by force, or to ( with only the treat of force) tell you how to do your job.  The owner can just make some “simple mistakes” and the business becomes a mess.  This applies to the middle class as well, ( and might to the working class) it would mean less stuff, all around.  There are 2 things to address now, first why reduce the standard of living of the wealthy and increase it for the poor, and 2ed why this is better than the idea that we can all be rich. 1st. the wealthy are in the drivers seat on this one, in a silimler way to the way that whites were in the drivers seat on ending slavery. The poor are not going to take this one with force, in the same way the slaves were not going to rise up and overthrow the government. So the wealthy need to understand why starvation is bad and how by hording resources and living extravagant lives they are f-ing the entire species. 2. I think most wealthy people are capable of reason, that with enough time and expose to suffering (most) will understand and possibly agree with this kind of thinking. On the other hand there is NO amount of reasoning or logic that will convince a poor person he dose not need to eat, or that he is less worthy of being happy than anyone else, so again the ball is in the hands of those with means.

So to close out, we need re-distribution, but more important than that us we need happy people so GOV get your ass in gear.