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Different from empathy and sympathy compassion is the strength to be willing to try and ease someone's suffering, to help them ho...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Zombie Economy

Zombie Money 20 is a drawing by Kevin Boatright which was uploaded on June 29th, 2014

Labour, defined by time and effort, is valuable. Barter enables the direct exchange of the physical products of labour. Currency is a medium to allow labour's value to be  stored and exchanged when direct products aren't possible or desirable. Rarity doesn't create value, it increases the labour involved.

Labour is money. Labour is capital. Workers are capital not costs resources or costs. The labour required to produce a product determines its true value. This is true even if the labour is the planet's.

Over time, the perception of labourers as part of enterprises declines into dehumanizing stratification with the majority viewed as expensive abstract data instead of essential participants. At first all are equal partners, then inequality arises in partnership until most become servants, then beasts of burden, robots, cogs, and then numbers. This is the structure of corporations and the foundation militarized society.

Great wealth is created by hoarding other people's labour, damming the flow of currency and raising the high water mark, drowning those below it. This raises inflation far swifter than raising the minimum wage and faster than the the minimum wage can keep up. Great wealth expands poverty not the real economy. Much of our growth since the 1980s has been an illusion.

Banks being able to loan many times more money than they have as a resource, compound interest , and other tricks and schemes of the financial sector create currency without equivalent labour and based on no actual resource, just money. These tricks only make it seem like the economy isn't a zero-sum game. Every resource, as well as labour, is finite. Value gets altered in form but not quantity. Traded not expanded. Labour however, does increase as our population does. Not infinite but  with open potential. That means that capital has open potential and can potential fuel open-ended growth.  Reagan's Neoliberalism was built on smoke and mirrors for the purpose of fooling the Soviets into defeating themselves through economic burnout. But the show still goes on and the world is paying. Their illusion is generating a nightmare.

Energy is the ability to do work. It is life. Labour is energy is action. Currency without energy turns  the financial system into a zombie plague creating a zombie economy growing by devouring the living. Eventually the hoard will turn on those who believe themselves its masters.

It almost happened in 2008, prevented only by a sacrifice of nations.

Underemployed, underpaid, unpaid, and unreal, labour is draining strength from the economy. Don't work for free.

Fair-use and free-trade without compassion is exploitation. The world needs fair trade.

The 0.1% and 1% control 50% world wealth. They make up far more than 50% of the "investment" that every government is desperate to attract. They are the financial markets. The neoliberal financial growth model is a tyrannical disaster. For-profit banking, especially investment banking, draws currency from the system into the hands of their shareholders, a small number of investors who often hold shares in "competing" institutions. No wonder that economic gains of the growth of the past thirty years have not only failed to "trickle down", but have actually gushed upward. No wonder banks are so happy to provide tax-havens.

Our present method of globalization is creating a world Profitocracy. Limited liability equals zero responsibility. All professional criminals are just doing their jobs and maximizing profit for their investment. Rights and lives trump trade. Slaves and the dead don't buy or sell. They have been reduced to bodies without vital humanity although both may appear healthy or better-off. 

False scarcity created by artificial production limits, planned obsolescence, refusal to sell parts for repairs, making repair too costly, and concentrated market-share (monopoly, duopoly, tripoly , etc.), is a waste of labour and resources of all types. Products should be good no disposable. It creates false demand, corrupting the economy. worse than speculation, it is determinism. It devalues labour and everything rippling from it.

The economy is based on an addiction to waste driven by a unquenchable appetite that nourishes nothing. We are becoming the Working Dead, shuffling along with the pack and totally ignorant of one another, wanting only a taste of the life of those that our labour sustains. Those who appear human but castoff any among them that we actually touch. If we get too close, gather nearby in too large a group, or shuffle through their safe-zones, they blow our heads off.

CBC Radio Ideas

Monday November 28, 2016

It's The Economists, Stupid

(Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

Interest rates.  Unemployment. GDP.  Markets. Austerity measures.  Economists tell us what we, as societies, can and can't afford.  But how do they decide? What values are at play? IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell speaks with two economists about how modern mantras on the economy limit our choices and shut down civic debate. **This episode first aired September 9, 2015.

Participants in this episode: 
  • Dr. Julie Nelson, Department Chair and Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
  • Dr. Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute, Canberra City, Australia.

As a group, economists don't have a great track record: they largely failed to predict the oil crisis of the 1970's, the dot-com bubble, the U.S. housing collapse.  Even the O.E.C.D. -- the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development -- admits its forecasts have been way off.  One of its staffers even conceded: "maybe we suffer from group think".  Little wonder that economics has been known as "the dismal science" since the 19th century.

John Kenneth Galbraith once explained that, "Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment… for economists".  However, there are deeper, more serious fissures.  Economists explain how the turbulence of housing markets, mortgage rates, inflation and income inequality affect us all.  But who are they speaking to and whom do they represent?

Economist Julie Nelson
Julie Nelson

Feminist economist Julie Nelson believes most economists no longer represent the public good because they're operating out of self-importance and greed.  "You can find economists shilling for all kinds of groups.  If they're not consciously shilling, they're incredibly careerist."  The University of Massachusetts Department Chair and Economics professor thinks the media obsession with the state of financial markets doesn't tell us how we're doing as a society.  "Maybe we should be asking, who's eating and who's not."   Richard Denniss concurs.  He's Chief Economist for the independent think tank, The Australia Institute, and calls himself a "whistle-blower economist". He believes we've come to view markets as gods.  "The market does this, the market does that… as if it's something magical. It's really just a small group of people with a lot of money who are gambling on making more."   
Economist, Richard Denniss
Richard Denniss

Richard Denniss and Julie Nelson believe current economic group think produces a mantra that supports cutting taxes, reducing deficits, massive down-sizing, bloated CEO salaries, and "shrinking social programs till they scream".   Julie Nelson concludes these trends not only generate more poverty; they hollow out the middle-class, and that's bad for capitalism.  She says: "this was figured out a long time ago.  Henry Ford wanted to pay a wage to his workers that would allow them to buy the kinds of cars they were making.  And that makes a whole lot of sense.  If you want a market for your product, you have to have people who can afford to buy that product.  But that basic logic is drowned out by all the austerity rhetoric that we're hearing from industry and government these days".  
Reading List:
  • Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, by Richard Denniss and Clive Hamilton, Allen & Unwin, 2006. 
  •  Economics for Humans, by Julie Nelson, University of Chicago Press, 2006.
  • The Skeptical Economist: Revealing the Ethics Inside Economics, by Jonathan Aldred, Routledge, 2010.

Related Websites:
**This episode was produced by Mary O'Connell

 From BBC Radio:

Future Tense

Employment in the era of exploitation

The idea of work takes on a whole new dimension when there’s no promise of payment.
About two thirds of Australia’s workforce are regularly expected to do unpaid overtime. And the value of that to employers, according to the Australia Institute, is around $128 billion a year.

Then there’s the growth in unpaid ‘internships’ and 'freelance projects'.
Exploiting employees has always been an issue, but in a world of growing inequality, employers are now doing it on an industrial scale – and those in the creative sector are among the most disadvantaged.

    Globalisation Backlash?

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    The impact of globalisation has been very much in the spotlight with the wave of populist rhetoric of late. We heard it in Britain with the Brexit referendum to leave the EU, and now with the arguments of US presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who thinks recent trade deals with China, Latin America and beyond have short-changed American workers. Until the global financial crisis of 2009, free trade seemed like an ambition everyone believed in. Today - not so much. Currency manipulation, tariffs and state support - they all mean that one person's free trade is another person's rip off. Is globalisation now in retreat? Should it and can it, be abandoned? And what is globalisation anyway?
    The BBC's Ed Butler is joined by Jeffrey Sachs, US economist and UN adviser based at Columbia University, Michael Stumo, Head of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, which opposes many of his country's recent trade deals, and professor Pankaj Ghemawat, from the Stern School of Business.
    (Photo: Demonstrators pull a Trojan horse as they protest against the transatlantic trade deals CETA and TTIP in Vienna, 2016. Credit: Georg Hochmuth/AFP)