Exploring the nature of capitalism

Capitalism and Christmas: Peace on Earth?

Junk Drawer fillers, Trinkets, Collectibles, Fantasy,
Resignation, Betrayal and Déjà Vu

Once again, it’s the week before Christmas. This is the time when we, in the West, get ourselves into a festive mood; it's "Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry Christmas to you all!".

But we won't look too closely, or our tinsel brightened surroundings will lose their glitter; the despair of those who have found it all too much to bear will seep through and ruin our celebrations; we will see the reality, rather than the fantasy which we all so desperately want to be real.

So, what is that reality which we want to conjure up this Christmas?

Is it the reality of the apostle Paul?

… the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

… We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
(Romans Chapters 14, 15)

Or is it a superficial time-out when we can be jolly without the ongoing commitment which Paul's vision would require?

We all know which reality this festive season is about! 

… Read more»

We need Capitalism tempered with Wisdom: It is time to stop blaming the victims

Capitalism tempered with Wisdom

I couldn’t possibly enjoy my lifestyle without modern equipment. I live in a very privileged time. I’m not anti-capitalist, how could I be? I live in a capitalist world and I depend on the products of capitalist enterprise.

But, I know that we, as relatively intelligent beings, have a responsibility not only to enjoy life, but also to tailor our institutions and activities to ensure the greatest good for all; to enhance human welfare everywhere.

How appropriate for our times is the observation, made more than 2500 years ago and reiterated by humanity’s sages throughout history:

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!…

Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
(The Proverbs (16: 16, 19))

It would be truly delinquent to abdicate responsibility for our futures to those who have hijacked them; who have placed self-interested greed before human welfare and loudly insist that we are all better off for this.

We have a responsibility to mitigate the social and environmental consequences of the often antisocially driven predilections of a few real-world Scrooge McDucks who have plundered our communities and our environments for their private benefit.

It is not anti-capitalist to question the status quo. It is not ‘socialist’ to suggest that obscene accumulations of ‘wealth’ should be recycled back into the real-world economy of productive enterprise and social wellbeing; whatever might be claimed by those intent on protecting and ‘growing’ their ‘asset portfolios’.

But, I know that they already hold the high ground. They already control the opinion-shaping apparatuses of capitalism.

There is little or no scientifically valid data to support the claim that the wellbeing of the real economy and the social welfare of people requires that those who accumulate wealth should be able to keep it – as much as both the ideologically driven and wealth accumulators of the world might want us to accept this. Most of that accumulated wealth becomes trapped in vortex economic activity.

On the contrary, there is a great deal of scientifically validated evidence that, as Iglesias and de Almeida (2012, p. 85) put it, normal market exchange activity results in a concentration of wealth in very few hands:

…the system converges to a very unequal condensed state, where one or a few agents concentrate all the wealth of the society while the wide majority of agents shares zero or almost zero fraction of the wealth.

… in the low and middle income classes the process of wealth accumulation is additive (and mainly due to wages), causing a Gaussian-like distribution, while in the high income range, wealth grows in a multiplicative way, generating the observed power law tail.

… a frequent outcome in these models is condensation, i.e. concentration of all available wealth in just one or a few agents. This final state corresponds to a kind of equipartition of poverty: all agents (except for a set of zero measure) possess zero wealth while one, or a few ones, concentrate all available resources.

The system on which we rely for our well-being can only deliver a better quality of life for all if it is tailored to that end. Clearly, we need capitalism; but we need it shaped to the long-term benefit of all.

Let’s Stop Blaming Our Victims!

It really is time to ensure the well-being of all, not merely the absurd wealth of a few at the expense of the rest. As the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a Message To Congress Reviewing The Broad Objectives And Accomplishments Of The Administration. June 8, 1934 explained during the 1930s ‘Great Depression’:

These three great objectives: the security of the home, the security of livelihood, and the security of social insurance–are, it seems to me, a minimum of the promise that we can offer to the American people.

… Read more»

Capitalism: Sovereign Debt, Quantitative Easing (QE) and the Vortex Economy

Where Has All the Money Gone?

Winter has come; the last leaves have blown from the deciduous
trees; their bare branches are silhouetted against a threatening, grey sky. There is a chill wind blowing squalls across the property. The chores are done, it’s time to go inside, stoke up the fire and… ?

So here I am, sitting at my desk, trying to find a reason not to succumb to the common early winter depression to which human beings so easily fall prey. And this year that is not as easy as usual.

In the simplistic models to which too many politicians and economists are addicted, pumping money into the economy through financial institutions should result in increased lending at cheaper interest rates. This should stimulate both consumption and productive enterprise. That increased activity should result in:

  • job growth,
  • consequent reductions in unemployment rates,
  • generation of new wealth, itself recycling into the economy,
  • resulting in ‘a take-off into self-sustained economic growth’
  • and consequent communal and individual wellbeing.

It sounds so logical – inevitable even! Yet, it hasn’t happened!

Here we are, half way through 2012, and unemployment levels in
Western countries have grown, not shrunk. Investment has stalled. There are increasing numbers of destitute people thronging the highways and byways of our cities – and even our country towns.

Nations are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and banks are still under threat! And all this was supposed to have been prevented by the wide range of ‘stimulus packages’ devised by our brightest economists and implemented by compliant governments. What on earth has gone wrong?

… Read more»

Capitalism: global restructuring, sovereign debt, benign bloc politics, safety nets

and New Year’s resolutions

Let’s face it, we’ve lost control. Unregulated internationalized capitalism is in the driving seat, and it is demanding that countries, communities and individuals subordinate themselves to its needs and interests.

As countries find themselves with unmanageable sovereign debt, they are being subjected to ‘structural adjustment’ to make them more accountable – and vulnerable – to an internationalized capitalism which has gained the whip hand.

It now demands that we accept our lot; that we reduce our lives and our vision to its horizons; that we accept that we are nothing more than a malleable, expendable ‘workforce’ for its activities and a ‘consumer base’ for its products.

As this happens, you and I are similarly being ‘adjusted’ to the requirements of an unregulated capitalist world.

It’s time to take back control of our communities and our individual lives. It’s time to make capitalism the servant and not the master of countries, communities and individuals.

… Read more»

Capitalism, the Spirit of Christmas, a Bleak New Year

and a hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach

Bill Geddes
17th December 2011

'Tis the week before Christmas!

Apparently we're not buying enough, not eating enough, not traveling enough, not decorating enough, not getting into the Xmas Spirit!

How on earth are we going to be able to afford Christmas this year? The credit cards are already 'maxed out'. It's going to be a tough new year!

And this was supposed to be a time when people stepped back from crass materialism, re-examined their lives, re-ordered their priorities, and shared their loaves and fishes.

… Read more»

Capitalism, Renewable Energy, Ennui and the Fabled Ostrich:

This is as good as it gets!

Bill Geddes
12th November 2011

We have reached the high water mark in our responses to climate change in Western countries.

Bold initiatives, contemplated over the past several years, such as:

  • subsidies to encourage the deployment of solar panels on house roof tops;
  • schemes aimed at making green house gas emissions costly, or at least of building the cost of emissions into production costings;
  • a range of re-forestation, biochar and similar programs to sequester carbon;
  • A range of CO2 ‘Capture and Storage’ projects

are now in retreat.

In Western countries, politicians who clearly disbelieve and dismiss the reality of climate change; who assume that claims of environmental damage resulting from capitalist activity are ‘socialist’ conspiracies, are winning political office. As they do, the first tentative advances made by their predecessors are being dismantled.

… Read more»

9/11 and the nature of capitalism:
“The once-distant prospect of terrorism has become an inescapable reality”

Bill Geddes
18th September 2011

It is now 10 years since the events of 9/11, but the date and the events remain fresh in the minds of Western people everywhere.

Another year has passed and, once again, we have remembered the tragedy of September 11th 2001. But, this should not just be a time to remember the dead, it should also be a time of serious reflection

The late Henry Hyde, then chairman of the U. S. Committee on International Relations, explained its consequences clearly:

With the September 11 attacks on the United States, the once-distant prospect of terrorism has become an inescapable reality for all Americans. The impact of this assault is greater than the tally of physical destruction, greater even than the tragic loss of life. The images forced into our lives are permanent ones.

The realization that human beings are capable of performing such deeds forces us to accept that evil still exists among us, especially in our modern era when many had hoped it might be abolished altogether…

But what does this mean?

  • Are we now to live in permanent fear in our own country and adopt a defensive crouch as part of our national character?
  • Do we remake our country and communities into fortresses?
  • Must we sacrifice our entire foreign policy agenda in order to address this suddenly urgent problem?

Events, since that day, demonstrate the truth of Henry Hyde’s observation:

The realization that human beings are capable of performing such deeds forces us to accept that evil still exists among us…

Our response to the tragedy compels us to ask those questions once again:

  • Do we now live in permanent fear in our own countries?
  • Have we adopted a defensive crouch as part of our national character?
  • Have we remade our countries and communities into fortresses?
  • Have we sacrificed our foreign policy agenda in order to address what has become a perennially urgent problem?
  • Have we, in responding to the perceived terrorist threats of the past ten years,
  • forfeited our freedoms,
  • and created hidden, poorly regulated institutions to root out both real and imagined threats in our own countries and communities?
  • Have we trampled on the rights and freedoms of other countries and communities in our determination to protect ourselves from new assaults (whether real or imagined), not only to intercept and frustrate them, but to eliminate new threats at their source?

If the answer to any or all of these is ‘Yes’ then we have headed down a dangerous path.

Henry Hyde’s vision of the future might well be mild compared to that which we will bequeath our children and their descendants.

… Read more»

Capitalism and parables: It's all about gardening!

Bill Geddes
17th July 2011

Look around you - wherever you live - and you will see the result of uncontrolled capitalism. It is rampant. It has out-competed all other forms of material need and want provision and, in the process, has choked communities and fouled environments.

Thoroughly regulated and subordinated to the requirements of communities, it can be a positive, very effective means of material need and want provision. Unregulated and internationalized, it rapidly grows into a rampant ecological and social disaster.

The problem is not capitalism, it is us!!

Read more.…

Global Capitalism: The Exploited Planet, The Torrent of Garbage and the Warnings

Bill Geddes
8th July 2011

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There are thousands of web sites focussing on the issues dealt with in these blog entries. Many of them present very well reasoned, informative, insightful and interesting material.

The overwhelming consensus from these sites is that unregulated capitalism, driven by snowballing consumerism, is propelling humanity toward a precipice. The ravine is deep and the species may barely survive the plunge. Yet, those involved in capitalist enterprise and in consuming its products and services are accelerating down that dead-end road as though it was an unlimited expressway to utopia.

Are we blind? Do we believe ourselves indestructible? Do we believe that before we get there something or someone will provide us with a bridge over the ravine?

It seems that our ideologies, beliefs and prejudices lead many of us to disbelieve and dismiss the thousands of clearly reasoned, well researched and documented explanations.

Why don't we take this seriously?

Perhaps we are suicidal.

Many of those who have arrogated the right to filter and interpret what is presented to us as 'news' and 'informed commentary' urge us to ignore the warning signs – "No Through Road" and "Ravine Ahead".

Whatever the cause, the consequence is clear. We now live on a grossly over-exploited planet, with a rapidly deteriorating biosphere. We are, to change the metaphor and put it bluntly, defecating in both our own and other communities' and species' nests.

Globalized, deregulated capitalist organizations continue to exploit the planet's resources at an accelerating pace. Well-meaning, often-concerned, Western people (and those who emulate their lifestyles) continue to expand their needs and wants, accumulating increasing quantities of marginally useful goods and consuming ever-more unnecessary goods and services.

Read more.…

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The History and Nature of Capitalism

By Bill Geddes

Revised: 8th July 2011

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It is said that the aphorism 'Know Yourself' was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Finding out who we are can be an unsettling experience.

Not only do human beings gild memories of experiences in their own lifetimes, they are extremely adept at reinventing those of their historical past. It can be an educative experience to strip away what the French philosopher Voltaire called the 'fable upon which we are all agreed'.

It's time we, living in capitalist countries, got ourselves into perspective.

Over the past three centuries, people living in Western (capitalist) countries have increasingly imposed their understanding of reality on others. Now, they are becoming aware of a growing antipathy toward 'The West' around the world. Henry Hyde's view of the problems facing Western countries is not isolated,

Let us begin by accepting there is no single enemy to be defeated, no one network to be eliminated. Al-Qa'eda is but our most prominent opponent, but its outlook is shared by many others who are equally committed to our destruction… we know now that we have permanent, mortal enemies who will seize upon our vulnerabilities to bloody us, to murder our citizens, to commit horror for the purpose of forcing horror upon us…
(US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations October 3 2001)

For the past decade the West has confronted what it perceives as a growing 'climate of terror' around the world. While estimates vary, it is reasonable to say that thousands of lives have been lost and billions of dollars have been spent in pursuing, capturing and killing those deemed a threat to the security of Western nations.

It is time to take stock. Before continuing to pursue phantoms and shoot at shadows (and, in the process, alienate thousands caught in the crossfire) we need to understand what is producing this apparently burgeoning antipathy toward Western capitalist countries.

Read more.…

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 Capitalism and Christmas: Peace on Earth? Junk Drawer fillers, Trinkets, Collectibles, Fantasy, Resignation, Betrayal and Déjà Vu  

Capitalism: It is time to stop blaming the victims

Capitalism: Sovereign Debt, Quantitative Easing (QE) and the Vortex Economy

The Consequences of Capitalism: Is that a Road-Train behind those lights?

Capitalism: Let's Re-regulate the World!!

Capitalism, Renewable Energy, Ennui and the Fabled Ostrich

Capitalism and parables: It's all about gardening

Pre-empting Henry Hyde's Nightmare

Global Capitalism: The Exploited Planet, the Torrent of Garbage and The Warnings

The History and Nature of Capitalism - The Book


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