Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Problems and Cause

We seem to have many world and national problems. They seem to be getting worse, and they appear to be in greater magnitude than in past history. Everything seems to be moving more quickly. We believe because of our prowess in science and technology that we are still in control. Are we? How do we know the ways to use science and technology? We need more insight and more wisdom.

What are some of the major problems?

1. Poverty: not just in Africa and South America. About 50 million persons in the U.S.A. are classed as poor or the "near" poor -- which means that any loss of income, any severe illness --- sinks them.
Yet, the U.S.A. is a nation of wealth. In fact, we are awash in money. We must be -- to give tax breaks to those with excessive wealth and to wage an unnecessary war, which is now calculated -- if one includes all its costs -- now and afterwards---to be in the neighborhood of 2 Trillion.

It is estimated that 24,000 persons -- each day -- die of hunger or hunger related illnesses.

I recommend that you check out this website -- especially if you are a Christian.

2. Illness: We have medicine that can cure or alleviate many medical problems. Yet, for the vast majority of humans -- these are unavailable to them. Why?

3. War: When the Friends Committee for National Legislation did a report in 2006 there were
15 wars of various sizes taking place.

4. Environment: The destruction of our eco-system continues. Global Warming is no longer considered by the vast majority of scientists and informed citzens as anything but a stark reality. Dumping of pollutants; wasting vital resources through little attention to conservation; failure to increase m.p.g. on vehicles; despoiling national forests; lack of control over coal powerplants --- the lists could go on for a page or two.

5. Human Rights: torture; lack of representation by competent lawyers; making it difficult for workers to join unions; lack of safety in the workplace; etc.

6. Democracy: The United States is becoming less a democracy and more a corporacracy -- a country in which people votes are limited by lack of choice in candidates; where the candidates are indebted to the powerful and wealthy; where what is good for big business rather than what is good for the average person is the norm.

7. Spirituality: The present climate of materialism-commercialism-"consumptionism" has NEVER seen an equal in recorded history. It is an acid eating away at what is left of human and spiritual attitudes and values.

I could go on with additional problems, evils...

My thesis, though, is that the present capitalist system and ideology that is rampant throughout the world and seen dramatically in multi-national mega corporations is a major, in fact, I believe, THE MAJOR cause behind the evils we see in today's society.

Of course, no matter what economic or political system a country has --- there will still be injustice, cruelty and destructiveness. My point is that savage capitalism as it has evolved and presents itself today --- provides the incentive, means, and atmosphere for a worse world for all beings and Nature itself. There is very little chance of making real progress today without addressing the stranglehold that global corporative power has on the world.

1. Poverty: How can we dig the majority of the world's population out of poverty by relying on present capitalist, "free" market methods. There must be -- by some means -- an income redistribution. 1 % of the world's people control 90% of the world's wealth. To increase production, to grow the GDP-- will hardly make a dent in the present inequity. There is no need to increase wealth if these ratios hold. It will not only be insignificant to humans but it will push the Earth, its ecology and resources beyond the limits possible.

2. Illness: Private Corporations oppose the decisions by countries like India and Brazil to manufacture vital proprietary drugs by their governments' producing generic equivalents.
Patents -- another form of private property are held more important than human lives and human misery.

3. War: Eisenhower would immediately recognize that his warning about the industrial/military complex has been ignored and that big business regards war as a growth industry. The U.S. has just approved the sale of military hardware to both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Two countries which have been leading us around by the "nose" for some time.

4. Globalization -- the extension of the control of mankind and the planet by the wealthy and powerful -- includes the rape of the Earth. The drive is to make as much profit as quickly as possible -- while deceiving many into believing that these actions will make us all happier and more prosperous.

In their global conquest, corporations enlist or purchase the leaders of countries -- especially in the Third World. This was especially blatant in Latin America. Fortunately, led by Hugo Chavez, Eva Morales and other Latin leaders--- many of these countries are reclaiming their natural resources for the good of their own people, and not a handful of corporate types -- who sanction and supported monetarily torture and murder to cement their operations abroad.

5. Democracy: Our main interest in fostering democracy in the Middle East is that we know that democracies once established can very easily be subverted by deals between the "representatives" of the people and global corporate powers. America is a prime example of a country where this has happened.

6. Spirituality: Present day, "savage" capitalism is opposed, IMO, to spirituality and to the main traditional religions and their "heart" teachings. I can speak better for Buddhism and Christianity. Can you imagine Buddha or Jesus approving what is happening today to the moral fiber, the compassion, the wisdom and the belief in the sacred.

George Will, the right wing columnist, was correct when he said (to paraphrase): America has a state religion. It is called capitalism. We are not, IMO, a Christian nation --- not if you mean a nation that respects and tries to follow the teachings, attitudes, and life example of Jesus. Jesus has been hijacked.

As Milton Friedman, Chicago economist and high priest of present day capitalism pointed out many times -- Corporations have only one allegiance -- to their stock holders and to maximizing their profits. The have no other legal or moral obligation.

Do we want our government to be run -- not by the people and for the people, but by the large stockholders and for the large stockholders?

"The richest 10 percent of families own about 85 percent of all outstanding stocks. They own about 85 percent of all financial securities, 90 percent of all business assets. These financial assets and business equity are even more concentrated than total wealth." Edward Wolff

(Edward Wolff is a professor of economics at New York University. He is the author of Top Heavy: The Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America and What Can Be Done About It, as well as many other books and articles on economic and tax policy. He is managing editor of the Review of Income and Wealth.)

I hope to continue on this subject in future blogs.