• Posted: May 05, 2012 14:22:29
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Economic stagnation is upon us. Just this week parts of Europe dipped back into recession with unemployment topping 10% overall and in some cases approaching 50% for young people. Capitalists fault workers' unions and socialist government policies for overburdening taxpayers and job creators. Socialists fault greedy self-serving capitalists for sucking wealth out of the system. It's an easy pattern to predict. Squeeze efficiencies out of workers while at the same time cutting their numbers, pay, and benefits, and for a while you get cheaper goods and services with more profit. But in the long term, you undermine the buying power of your customer base, your workers and borrowers, and put yourself out of business. Hence, the economy stagnates.
What we'd all be better off with is homeostatic sustainability. In essence, what some of us would love to see is the overall economy float, like a hot air balloon, with just enough lift to keep everyone on board above all hazard yet with plenty of temperate breathable air, water, food, and creature comforts. Business people insist they are doing just that with their own companies. But, they aren't. To the last one, they are not contributing enough in restraint and taxes to maintain the environment and infrastructure upon which we all depend, nor enough to educate the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs, nor enough to take care of our aging generations, nor enough to fund basic research upon which new businesses will depend. No, capitalist business models are far too simplistic and simple-minded to include all the actual parameters that would guarantee our economic system inclusively and sustainably float. For capitalist entrepreneurs and politicians to imagine they are the social equivalent of aeronautical engineers is, in most cases, pathetically laughable. In fact, wherever self-interest is the primary motivation, notions of including all citizens instead of just a select few fly out the window. The question that lingers is: what shall we do with all the leftovers?
It was pathetically ironic that arch-conservative Sara Palin once fancifully proclaimed "death panels" had been included in the most recent healthcare reform legislation. Pathetically ironic because conservative capitalists have been self-appointing themselves to death panels of every conceivable type for decades trying to trim costs, eliminate workers, slash benefits, curtail worker's rights, escape pension obligations, and eliminate or corrupt to dysfunction costly government programs. But never has any serious consideration been given by those same death panelists as to what will become of all that is trimmed, all the waste of humanity that has now been excised from those parts of society seeking buoyancy. Their unspoken and very unChristian assumption has always been "the fittest will survive", as if that particular laissez-faire ethic would cleanse them of all responsibility. But does it??
It's an interesting practical, philosophical, moral, and ethical question. At what point do the costs to include everyone become just too great for the larger society to bear? And when that point is, in fact, reached what will happen to all the leftovers our society can no longer accommodate?
The dilemma seems not unlike the philosophical exercise of imagining yourself in a lifeboat without enough supplies to sustain all of the occupants. A few must be sacrificed if the rest are to survive. But, who will make that decision? And, on what grounds? Are might and cunning, slander and deception the inevitable answers? Would it be better to leave the matter to chance by drawing lots? Or, would the election of representatives to serve as death panelists be most appropriate to our nature? Something to think about, for sure.
Many of us would like to believe the best in us, in terms of innovation and good will, will eventually begin to shine as things turn grim. But, will that be the case? Or, will our darker nature prevail, allowing those among us with guns and no reservations about using them become the last ones standing?
Serious questions. But do not despair or feel overwhelmed. Per many a democratic constitution, "we the people" have powers we've yet to exercise. Take a listen to talks by Paul Cienfuegos for elaboration on that assertion.
May your deliberations upon these questions enlighten and embolden us all.
Friday, March 16th, 2012
26.5 mm 126 mm