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Do we have a story crisis? The Monetary Issues

Why Monetary measurement of wealth in the twenty-first century is wrong!

Prologue

Gautama felt as though a prison which had confined him for thousands of lifetimes had broken open. Ignorance had been the jail-keeper. Because of ignorance, his mind had been obscured, just like the moon and stars hidden by the storm clouds. Clouded by endless waves of deluded thoughts, the mind had falsely divided reality into subject and object, self and others, existence and non-existence, birth and death, and from these discriminations arose wrong views—the prisons of feelings, craving, grasping, and becoming. The suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death only made the prison walls thicker. The only thing to do was to seize the jail-keeper and see his true face. The jail keeper was ignorance. . . . Once the jail-keeper was gone, the jail would disappear and never be rebuilt again”. Thich Nhat Hanh on Buddha’s enlightenment


The first post in the series “Do we have a story crisis?” discussed The Corporation and the difficulty of speaking the truth freely in the framework of powerful institutions such as The Corporations. Furthermore, the enormous rise of multi-corporations over the last 30 years, and the fetish for economic growth without any thoughts about environmental degradation and exploitation of common natural resources. The economic growth will sooner or later crash with the ecological crisis. Materials needed in one place will be missing in another. Gaia is not in balance. The world is in an ecological crisis. All around the world are signals of a globe in trouble, melting ice, extreme weather; the disappearing rain forest corporations and their shareholders put money in water resources and not oil.

The new world order

Global markets are now dominated by global corporations which are among the most undemocratic and unaccountable of human institutions and behind these corporations are a few powerful families that control not only the money but about everything. They are identified as the Rockefeller, Rothschild’s, house of Morgan that through a monetary system called The Four Horsemen of Banking (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo) own the Four Horsemen of Oil (Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP and Chevron Texaco). These eight families established The Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 and have a “license to print money”.

The corporation, the most important institution and agent of modern capitalism, destroy everything beautiful. By its nature, the corporation creates an enormous concentration of power legally and simultaneously shield the power holders from accountability for ecological consequences. Therefore addressing climate justice collective or on an individual level is hard. In 2010 there were more than 63000 corporations, back in 1990, there were less than half. The largest 100 global economies 54 are corporations. Each of them has a higher GDP than 130 nations, Exxon Mobil is larger than 180 nations. The impact of the corporations cannot be underestimated and even more powerful the new world order that controls the monetary system. In less than 50 years the corporations have transformed large parts the global nature into manufactured landscapes, more than 15% of the earth’s land or an area bigger than the United States and Mexico combined, is now classed as degraded as a result of human activities. Around half of the world’s rivers are seriously depleted and polluted (UNEP 2002)

That under capitalism money is life

Once upon a time, debates about climate policy were primarily about the science, now the debate has turned into a non-scientific climate economics whereof, how every climate initiative could hurt the economy. First of all nature does not know or care about the economy, secondly, the complexity of climate change hardly fit into a cost-benefit analysis. Simply because without resources delivered by environmental economics cannot exist. As long as an economic view interfered with the ecological, we blindly start to create stories based on false premises. We create stories we like to hear and not the truth because the idea of a less comfortable life threatens our ego and as well do not have the freedom or knowledge to do it.

However, as much as we like to blame the corporations for the ecological crisis, they are in reality only the symptom, finding a cure for Gaia, the story we tell is essential for the remedy. This has proven very difficult because some of the most powerful and wealthy families behind the corporations via their monetary system, PR & Advertising agencies, media ownership, and lobbyists twist and manipulate the truth from being delivered. They protect their power and wealth by controlling the money sequences, food supply, health, interest rates, loans etc.

Therefore, we are obligated to rethink past actions. The big question is how shall these problems be solved? If we continue with an economic paradigm based upon money sequence we might face huge ethical and dangerous international situation; toll barriers, water taxes, exploitation of landmasses, war, poorness, violence, and protectionism. This obsession for monetary measurement of wealth in the society has created an economic growth fetish that fits very well into the human instinct of collecting objects. Almost everything we measure regarding the wealth in a society is rooted in money sequences; gross domestic profit, consumer price index, GDP, inflation ’s deflation but are these instruments showing the right picture? No, never in history has there been a larger gap between rich and poor people. These instruments are in the hand of an elite that manipulates the systems we all are a part of for their own benefit.

The consequences of monetary measuring of wealth and human well-being in the twenty-first century

The inequality manifest in the fact that Less-developed countries use 25% of the world’s pesticides, but suffer 99% of the deaths. Around 80 countries, amounting to 40% of the world’s population, were suffering from serious water shortages by the mid-1990s. Around 1.1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion to improved sanitation, mainly in Africa and Asia. A population of 2.8 billion live on less than a day with 1.2 billion of them barely surviving on the margins of subsistence with less than a day. Every year about 11 million children die of preventable causes, often for want of simple and easily provided improvements in nutrition, sanitation, maternal health, and education. This gap is actually the worst threat to society’s wealth if we look at social happiness as a true goal.

The fact is that in every aspect, a society where the wealth is more equally shared the positive values is far best than in those societies who have a bigger gap. Equally shared society has more innovation, better education, better health, more trust, less violence, less mental illness, less homicide and less crime. In the book, “The spirit level Why equality is better for everyone” Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson presents years of research provides hard evidence that almost anything from life expectancy to mental illness is affected by not how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is.

Money is a very poor indicator for measuring human well-being because it triggers mental poisons of the mind such as greed, anger, and over-consumption. Corporations CEOs tend to be naturally greedy, nevertheless, rarely in line with what they have achieved. In 2004, average CEO earnings in leading US corporations were million or 431 times more than those of the average worker. Just Ask Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco if they miss their CEO’s? And that is just the top of the iceberg, and if it was not enough before the stock price crashed most of the CEOs had sold out their stocks while regular workers and other shareholders lost their savings and investments.

The difference between the richest and poorest have become significantly larger historically. For example in the U.S during the economic development in the late 18th century, the top 1 per cent of Americans are thought to have owned about 15 per cent of the wealth. By 1855 the figure had risen to 30 per cent ( U.S. Census) and inequality reached a peak in 1935 when the top 1 per cent owned 45 per cent of the national wealth. Due to World War II the peak declined, however, inequality started to rise in the 1970 and when the Regan administration let the “bull loose” at Wall Street during the 1980s it grew significantly and it has not stopped since.

Today, the top 1% earn an average of million a year three times as much as in the 1980s according to CNN Money. At the same time, the bottom 50% of the American population earned an average of in pre-tax income in 1980 and stood still since. Around 2010 approximately 1% of the population on earth owned 40% of all wealth.

The danger lies not in the fact people are being poor but feeling poor. A high GDP is an indicator of a wealthy country, war, terrorism; health care problems are, in fact, good for the GDP but can hardly be of good for a society’s well-being or happiness? Since many indicators such as economic growth are measured in GDP does not indicate that money is a good tool for measuring human well-being or happiness; it’s just another tool for measuring money sequence. Corporations drive an economic cycle that accelerates profits the faster it spins. Time is money and corporation is the tool capitalism are depended on to create value for its owners.

How does the cyclic consumption work?


The corporation is the employers who have employees in order to produce goods to consume. The corporation uses increasingly a lot of their income on R&D, PR, and marketing strategies to trigger the employer’s hunger to buy, the corporations feed constantly newness of products so always enough to keep the cycle spinning. To avoid the wheel from stopping or slowing down many products are made with poor quality. Making long-lasting products is not really difficult, nevertheless, since everything is measured in money sequence the basics of the capitalistic model: minimize the cost of production and maximize profit margins by mythmaking and storytelling.

Therefore, corporations work in every single process of production with cost efficiency. The cost efficiency leaves leave traces of human and ecological ruin behind just to move their businesses elsewhere as soon as they find cheaper labour forces elsewhere. They actually decide how long a product shall last. Intrinsic obsolescence or planned obsolescence must happen otherwise it destroys the cyclic consumption. This cycle is totally depending on consumption if it stops everything will fall apart and there will be little or no ROI to those who have the power. The enemy of this cycle is efficiency, sustainability, and preservation. Increasingly resources have to continuously feed the system so it does not stop. However, at the same time, we are at a fast tempo using global resources of important minerals that we simply cannot live without, or develop new products or technologies that can help us in the future. The landfills are full of cheap mobile phones, TV, videos that have valuable components and minerals like nickel, silver, and gold. For example, will titanium that is significant for aircraft production last 12 years more years, Indium which is an important part of making solar panels and LCD screen latest for another 13 years, Lead used in bullets and car batteries 14 years.

Epilogue

Global capitalism tremendous ability to produce monetary wealth while at the same time an integral part of the so-called negative externalities poverty, insecurity, ecocide, resource demanding are manufactured. The destiny of capitalism is to destroy everything beautiful, manifest to grow or die syndrome, therefore as it matures it takes escape routes globally penetrating all spheres of human existence, become unstable, corrupt and leads to public disturbances, protests, riots, revolt and finally civil war. Can it be stopped, is there a way out?

Yes, the final post will discuss alternatives to monetary measurements of human well-being. Remember those who own the most will lose everything when nature strikes back. It lies in the nature of self-destructive forces such as capitalism, corporations, and power-structures such as the new world order will live in fear to protect their wealth and everything will be lost. The universe always seeks balance. After darkness comes light. Just like the Prolog by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh on Buddha’s enlightenment every day more people open their eyes and find the truth. The jailkeeper called Capitalism will no longer have a hold on us. We can be truly free.

The next post in the series “Do we have a story crisis? ”will deal with our personal responsibility and collectively how we can freely speak the truth without fear of being punished for our view from people, corporations, governmental, police or military sanctions, and punishment. In order to defend our rights to speak freely and get the right story told how far should personal involvement at present go? Passive resistant, political boycott and other methods of actions. The last post will discuss alternatives to the monetary measurement of wealth such as GNH ( Gross National Happiness) and the ethical vision for the future called Earth Charter. The ethical principles needed to “bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Continue reading Do We Have A story Crisis? Part Three The Final Warning for Humanity.

FACTS ON GLOBAL CORPORATIONS-WEALTH- INEQUALITY-POVERTY-RESOURCES


  • Global Corporations: In the 1990s there were less than 33.000 global corporations by 2010 more than 64.000
  • Largest Economies: Of the 100 largest economies globally, 54 are corporations
  • Economic Power: Exxon Mobile is larger than 180 nations
  • CEO And Global Corporation: CEOs average earnings in leading US Corporations were 11.8 million or 431 times more than average workers
  • The Top 1%: The top 1% of the population earnings in the US 1.3 million a year three times as much as in the 1980s.
  • The Bottom: The bottom 50% of the American population earned 16.000 after pre-tax income in the 1980s and stood still since
  • Wealth Historically: During the Economic development late in the 18th century in America the top 1% owned 15% of all wealth,
  • Wealth Historically: Around 2010 the top 1% of the global population owned more than 40% of all wealth
  • Water Supply: Some 80 countries or around 40% of the global population suffer from serious water shortage already in the 1990ś
  • Clean Water: Lack of clean water kills more people than war and hunger altogether
  • Lack Of Clean Water: Around 1.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
  • Number Of Deaths: Every year about 11 million children die of preventable causes, often for want of simple and easily provided improvements in nutrition, sanitation, maternal health, and education.
  • Poverty: 2.8 billion people live on less than a day
  • Poorest: 1.2 billion barely survive on less than a day

  • Land: 15% of the earth’s land or an area bigger than the United States and Mexico combined, is now classed as degraded as a result of human activities.
  • Rivers: Around half of the world’s rivers are seriously depleted and polluted
  • Natural Resources: Titanium that is significant for aircraft production 12 years more years
  • Natural Resources: Indium which is an important part of making solar panels and LCD screen 13 more years
  • Natural Resources: Lead used in bullets and car batteries 14 more years.

SOURCES AND RECOMMENDED READING

  • The Spirit Level. Why Equality is better for everyone by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Published 2010 Penguin
  • The Future of Sustainability, Editor Marco Keiner Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich. Published 2006 by Springer
  • Encyclopedia of Global Justice editor in chief Deen K. Chatterjee. Published 2011 by Springer
  • Limits to Growth. The 30 Year update. by Meadows DH, Randers J and Meadows DL Published 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing
  • The Vanishing Face of Gaia A Final Warning by James Lovelock published 2009 by Perseus Books Group
  • New Corporation 2020: transforming business for tomorrow’s world by Pavan Sukhdev. Published 2012 by Island Press
  • One World by Peter Singer published 2002 by Yale University Press
  • Capitalism at the Crossroads by Stuart L. Hart published 2007 by Warton School Publishing
  • Red Sky at Morning by James Gustave Speth published 2005 by Yale University Press
  • The Bridge at the Edge of the World by James Gustave Speth published 2008 by Caravan book.
  • One Nineveh by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future Published by Island Press 2004
  • A Guide to the End of the World everything you never wanted to know by Bill McGuire published by Oxford University
  • The Thrive documentary: what on earth will it take? (to change it)
  • Zeitgeist documentaries. Addendum (2008) Zeitgeist The movie (2007) Zeitgeist Moving Forward (2011)

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