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Soulless Economics


#1

Soulless Economics

Robert C. Koehler

Austerity, the tool of neoliberal capitalism, stands up to Greek democracy and stares it down. Oh well.

We’re remarkably comfortable with soulless economics.

Pope Francis, speaking this week in Paraguay, cried to the nations of Planet Earth: “I ask them not to yield to an economic model . . . which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit.”

But we have yielded to this economic model, in thought, word and deed:


#2

The current economic paradigm has been designed and developed to enrich the wealth concentrators by trying to maximize "economic" activity as the wealth concentrators, like trolls under the bridges, take their cut every time money passes. Until the minimization of poverty and pollution are folded into a new and truly economic paradigm, humanity is doomed to more folly and possibly extinction. Steinbeck's "Okies" understood economics better than Jamie Dimon's minions.


#3

A "new paradigm" is exactly what's needed and what is still sadly lacking. A vision as to how to transition away from fossil fuel powered electronically managed debt saturated resource guzzling contemporary capitalism into something that keeps everybody fed, unthirsty, and sheltered against all climates during the complex difficult transition phase.

I don't have such vision. I wish I did. I'm just another Chicken Little yelling that the sky is falling but with no answer to the great follow up question: "What do you recommend that we do about that?'


#4

Educate the young. The old are stuck in their ways and incapable of seeing any other option, or else so in love with what exists they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a new model. And i am including most people over 35 in the "old" group, because they were raised with this system and indoctrinated into thinking it's the ultimate in perfection, the sublime culmination of human aspiration.


#5

Don't exactly know; I'm clucking in the choir, too.


#6

Imagine TRANSPARENCY in financial transactions and policy !

This, to me, is the most important aspect of the 'block chain' algorithm that has given rise to 'crypto currencies' and is being applied to software for other purposes that provide integrity to combat the nefarious manipulations so characteristic of the off-the-rails 'economic' shenanigans of fraud.

At this point the ubiquitous manipulations are almost fully dissociated from anything even resembling oikos. Instead they are back-door and revolving door ideological invasions to eliminate diversity in societal, agricultural, ecological, temporal (yes, recognition of time itself) integrity under the dead weight of atavistic theories mashed together behind closed doors. Either the participants and manipulators are so blind tothe non-presence of the aspects that have for generations been off-the-books as 'externalized costs' or are under the delusion that their absence from ink on paper means that do not exist. Wrong!

The promising aspect of this that the breadth of reality this set of cabals is willfully blind to actually IS LIFE. And life to be reclaimed by all.


#8

I thought this run-down of neoclassical economics by HA-JOON CHANG on the Real News Network ... http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13830


#10

Capping personal wealth by yearly referendum would put a stop to financial games meant to enrich a few and impoverish the many.


#11

Thank you Robert for reminding us that our economic system is essentially a construct that only has the authenticity we grant it..


#12

We don't need a new economics. The problem with capitalism is that it has no way to answer questions of justice. This is because capitalism is predicated on Adam Smith's hypothesis that when humans act out of rational self-interest, the invisible hand of the market produces the best consequences.

The problem with arguing that what the market produces is good is that this is the naturalistic fallacy (defining good as the same thing as any natural property). If what the market produces is good, then the great inequality in the distrubution of wealth that results in capitalist societies is good by definition.

When people act out of self-interest, the result is "greed is good" (Gordon Gekko in the movie "Wall Street") and "selfishness is a virtue" (Ayn Rand, the high preistess of capitalism).

John Stuart Mill proposed that our ethic should be the greatest good for the greatest number. Capitalism stands this on its head. Instead of the greatest good for the greatest number, it is the greatest good for me and the hell with you.

Economics will always fail in being able to predict what will happen in the future, unlike Newtonian mechanics which predicts the motion of macroscopic objects with great precision. This is because economics is concerned with human behavior (how people act in markets). Behavioral economists have found that when it comes to money, humans are as irrational as when it comes to sex. You simply cannot predict what irrational people will do. Human behavior is almost certainly a chaotic (nonlinear) system like the weather. Meteorologists understand that chaotic systems are governed by the butterfly effect (the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in the Amazon can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic. So, it is impossible to predict the weather more than a week or so into the future. The best example of this is that about 3 weeks after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, all the sophisticated mathematical models of the Nationa Wealther Service predicted Hurricane Rita (also a category 5 storm) would pass thorugh Houston. It actually made landfall on a relatively unpopulated region of the Gulf Coast.

What we need is to heed the words of Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican, no less). Old Teddy was so outraged by the inequality during the Gilded Age (it was worse then than it is now), that he proposed steeply graduated income and inheritance taxes to redistribute the wealth.


#13

http://positivemoney.org

http://www.feasta.org

http://www.monetary.org

http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org


#14

The oil industry too will likely ignore the Pope's climate Encyclical.
Corporations are as immutable laws of nature.


#15

Agreed. Reminds me of John Lennon's "War Is Over If You Want It." I'd put this issue in the same category, except it doesn't end there. Millions across the world don't want artificial, arbitrary austerity, and exploding oil bomb trains - nevertheless, we've got both.


#16

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#17

Regarding the US: The tragedy of this era is that the Left has been driven out of the public discussion, blocked out of liberal media, for years, as we continue to promote middle class elitism. We have watched the right-wing takeover of Democrats and our liberal bourgeoisie. Look at the results: When Reagan was first elected,launching the long campaign against our poor, the overall quality of life in the US was rated at #1. By the time Obama was elected, the US had already plunged to #43, and we can no longer adequately compete in the modern world market. The middle class War on the Poor has taken an extraordinary toll on this country. Yet liberals maintain their motto: "Stand in Solidarity for the bourgeoisie -- and not a crumb for the poor!"

The current austerity discussion shines a light on our hypocrisy and class elitism. The US and Greece simply chose different strategies for implementing the austerity agenda. We chose to roll it out slowly, from the bottom up, while maintaining a public re-education campaign about poverty and the poor. The US has been in similar messes before, of course. Each time in the past, the poor and middle class, workers and the jobless, ultimately united to push back.That can't happen this time. The rich are moving forward to do to the middle class what the middle class already did to the poor. There will be no united push-back by the masses this time, so we are making a much smoother transition into the corporate dictatorship than Europe.


#18

It's different in the US. It is our middle class that demanded the implementation of the austerity agenda. Even liberals have been entirely comfortable with what we have done to our very poor, and many of our unemployable. Are middle classers even aware that we've been rolling out the austerity agenda for years, from the bottom up? Think of it this way: In the real world, not everyone can work and there aren't jobs for all. The US shipped out a huge share of our jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. There are currently 7 jobs for every 10 people who are desperately trying to find one. What do you think happens to the 3 who are left out? Did you ever think about it? Right now, it sounds like the rich are moving forward to do to the middle class what the middle class already did to the poor, and there's nothing we can do about it.


#19

Please! why does everyone refuse to see the wood in the trees?
There is one, and only one, cause of all our economic woes. During the early 1900's our stupid/corrupt politicians signed away our Sovereign "rights" , that allowed us to print and issue our own interest free, debt free money; and since then we have all become "debt slaves". Our rights to print and issue our own money out of thin air were ceded to private banking Corporations, thus now, we borrow all our money from them, and they simply print it out of thin air, and charge us interest for the privilege. Given the nature of our economic cycles, the booms and busts, it is virtually impossible for us ever to repay all such debts, especially since, when they print our borrowings, they do not also print the money to cover the interest repayments. This particular economic consequence was recorded centuries ago in the well known fable about the boy who possessed a goose that laid "golden" eggs; he sold the goose for a paltry sum and forever thereafter he was destitute.

The remedy for our problems is simple; we abrogate any agreement previously made, reclaim our Sovereign "rights" to print and issue our own debt free interest free money.

This will enable us to stop income-taxing of individuals; we may pay everyone that needs it a social wage, based on a break even computation, this will eliminate poverty and deprivation; those in receipt of the Social wage will be encouraged into employment, without loss of this Social wage, and to work for any employer for additional income, mutually agreed between them. this gives control of work and income to the "workman". Employers will gain a workforce of people willing to accept much lower wages than previously paid, thus making the employer production cost significantly lower; plus, the employer no longer collects taxes for the Government. The employer Corporation/business will pay tax annually as usual. The collection of V.A.T. or G.S.T., consumer taxes will cease.

All Government expenditures will be provided by the planned issue of our own debt free interest free money using legislation approved by Parliament. Health, Education, University courses, Infrastructure of all kinds, etc. etc.

Provided that all of these expenditures are actually "spent" into circulation they will not create inflation; inflation will occur, for instance, when too much money chases too few "goods". The Government must own and run it's own Bank, just like the original Commonwealth Bank. No Private Bank or Corporation will be permitted to create money, under any guise; our financial system will revert to one of "sound " money. Sound money is that which turns around sound borrowing and lending, controlled by being liquid cash, backed by the ownership of assets, and strict criteria keeping them in balance; borrowing and lending outside of these criteria, characterised as "high risk", will be permitted between parties willing to accept such risk, and then, only when it involves their own wholly owned assets.

Interest rates in the private sector will be set by the private sector. The floating exchange rate will be converted into "fixed" rates decided by Government, and as decided between Sovereign Nations and embodied in trade agreements. Our currency will not be traded on "Exchanges", our Nation will be immunised against the manipulated predations of the "Market".

The foregoing explains the broad brush strokes involved, but in summary we would have a Nation with little or no foreign debt, a Nation whose domestic economy sits on a solid unshakeable base, a Nation better able to compete in the wider World, a Nation without poverty whose peoples are empowered to think and work for themselves, a Nation rescued from the avarice of the "Money Lenders", and above all, a Government able to be free and Independent, instead of being owned by Corporate money and influence. This is named "The Universal Economy" because it will operate anywhere.

For those who doubt the efficacy of this proposal, I suggest they study the United States example. The clever banking Corporations engineered the U.S. dollar to be the Worlds reserve currency. Ever since the U.S. has been printing money out of thin air, previously the only Nation to do so, now they have more than one thousand and seven military bases in Nations across most of the planet, they have engineered regime change and wars in countless Nations, and recently have printed trillions of dollars, called quantitative easing, and poured it into foreign banks and financial Institutions trying to prevent the next meltdown; but it is not working because their printed money was not spent into circulation, instead it inflated the prices of shares and real estate, the bust cometh.


#20

Great article:Capitalism and slavery-maybe this should be a question for elected officials and those running for office. Are Capitalism and slavery intertwined? Is Capitalism an out dated economic system that is dependent on wage slaves. Or how about a slogan Capitalism=slavery.


#21

." It is our middle class that demanded the implementation of the austerity agenda."

You are so full of it, that you need an enema.

The middle class means WORKING people.

You are turning the working person into the false enemy of the poor. Like "Atomsk" and before that, "Rosemarie Jackowski," you push a narrative that takes what the corporatists are doing to this nation and brands it as the acts of the Middle Class.

A better frame is recognizing that Fundamentalist Christians back politicians that gut unions. They over-identify with their religious "brand" and allow in shits like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and other anti-climate change ignoramuses who push Calvinism: every man for himself. This, of course, is the antithesis of what Christ taught.

You repeat YOUR false frame (what was it dreamt up by Frank Luntz and distributed to paid message shapers like yourself and your forum clones?)

"Are middle classers even aware that we've been rolling out the austerity agenda for years, from the bottom up?"

Koehler uses the WE frame in an inaccurate manner and you went and ran with it.

It's CLEAR that policies shaped by congress, the President, and lawmakers largely deviate from what the majority of citizens--that same Middle Class you work so hard to demonize--want. The Page and Gilens Study proves it.

Corporations are writing the rules. Corporations are behind the decimation of the commons. If any middle class citizens go along with any of it, it's mostly to get $ for their religious charter schools. Again, it's a religiously led motivation.

Koehler, like you, PRETENDS that it's everyday people who set up the financial logistics. This presumes that people have the power to change things. In an ideal world where justice held and armed guards were not standing by with loaded weapons and spying on all conversations and actionable groups... that would be somewhat true.

In the present situation, as is clear from the stronghold over Greece, Big Money is what's running the show.

Your argument that the Middle Class is responsible is about as accurate as the forum dingbats' argument that in a pre-vetted, absolutely controlled election system, that voters voted for the policies their leaders gave them... even when these individuals 100% betrayed the positions they promoted as candidates.

YOU traffic in false frames.


#22

Quite true Cookies, GNP's failure is that rather than a summation, it is only one side of an equation where the other side would include resource consumption.