Systemic Failure of Consumer-driven Corporate Capitalism births a New Economy

“This economic revolution isn’t being consciously driven, yet, however it’s an option that could prevail”, says Gar Alperovitz. It is spawning and evolving from the discontent and pains that our current system and its failures and lack of alternatives, is giving birth to. We’re at the pre-history, of something quite historic!

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I sat among the choir. A note about Annie Leonard speaking in Baltimore, an environmental activist whose Story of Stuff first sparked my attention, arrived in my inbox. We attended the “People and Planet First” IPS conference to educate ourselves, exchange information and spread the word. It was hosted at the University of Baltimore, September 19th, 2015. The final session was moderated by ‘Institute for Policy Studies’ Director, John Cavanagh.

The conference looked at our current challenges from a wider perspective; seeing the various systemic problems ensuing from our current corporate capitalism model, as quite interdependent. The environmental problems of mass extinction, pollution and rising carbon dioxide levels along with the social problems of inequality and injustice, are all tied to the current economic model; which maintains and concentrates its wealth by funneling it back to the source (the 1%), instead of redistributing wealth and power (and empowerment) among the citizens and the community. And spoke of an emerging business model from community gardens, composting, water run-off and waste management to setting up local business alliances, local banks, farmer cooperatives and student civic actions that join the local alliances to promote investments in local businesses.

Annie Leonard, US Greenpeace director of ‘Story of Stuff’ fame, presented her more recent informational video “Story of Solutions”. It points to the fact that we need to completely step out of what is driving the capitalism machine of quantity, to an entirely different game which seeks quality of life – equality and freedom for people and quality of life for all creation. A model beyond merely consumption.

Historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz presented his ideas amassed in the preparation for his latest book, “What Then Must We Do by Gar Alperovitz?”, talking of alternatives to Corporate Capitalism and Socialism, as clearly the American empire is in decay. On almost every indicator, there’s a deeper trend over the past decades which reveals that there’s a systemic crisis in the United States. The systemic design that we’ve lived with for a long time, in which corporations control the capital, reveal that the surplus is not being returned to benefit the communities and the people, but siphoned off to make the 1% who are the owners, more and more wealthy. This trend of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, of increasing inequality, increasing sickness within populations due to pollutants, decreasing prosperity among the 99%.

Corporate Capitalism and the American Empire as we know it, is giving birth to something new, which innovative Americans are creating all over the country. Gar Alperovitz mentions that this certainly isn’t anything the media is covering. In fact, many don’t believe that alternatives exist, until they see examples of what other groups and communities have accomplished. “Often we don’t know what our neighbors are doing”, says Gar. “Systems typically revolve around ‘who has control of the wealth’. The rule of royalty in the feudalism of the middle ages, in the present day manifests itself as ‘Corporate Capitalism’, of which the extreme is fascism, control by authoritarian rule.”

Sometimes noisily, but often times quietly, communities around the country – of which Maryland is an example of being ahead of the wave – are transforming our culture by decentralizing ownership. By democratizing the wealth through becoming owners of their own goods and services, they are able to maintain a number of things; circulating surplus back into their own operations and communities (rather than it being syphoned off to the 1%), empowering themselves, making conscious decisions to ensure that all aspects of operations have the lightest ecological footprint possible and generating freedom through participation in ownership and production and wealth.

We currently have a system of enormous waste, in which we continue to manufacture and create more stuff, because that is a NEED embedded in capitalism. Capitalism must produce more, to ensure profit.

Examples of alternatives are in cooperative enterprises, worker-owned companies, credit unions, 25% of American electricity is socialist in structure, social enterprises like CREDO (using profits for social and political purposes), neighborhood corporations, land-trusts that are socialized (to control land inflation and gentrification).

Following examples of success such as Mondragón in the Basque region of Spain. Mondragon Corporation networked democratized ownership where capital is being decentralized to empower and enrich the communities by circulating surplus back into local communities. Consciously making decisions to connect to all other suppliers and parts connected to the whole system, with conscientious efforts to localize and work within a ‘green’ system. It is just the beginning.

I apologize for any grammatical errors or gaps in information, however I must now leave to hitch to Washington D.C. to attend the People for Climate Justice Climate Rally in Washington D.C., coinciding with Pope Francis’ delivering his tenets of wisdom to the White House.

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Free-fall Dream | Money | Barely Subsisting vs. Unparalleled Wealth

About a week ago I had another vivid dream. I was falling rapidly through a vertical shoot, with buildings and vegetation flying by me at an enormous rate of speed. I was however not ‘out of control’, but able to steer myself and reverse the gravity when I desired. The next morning, scanning the news on the online New York Times, I was struck when I saw this image,

"For the Love of Money" article in the New York Times by Sam Polk

“For the Love of Money” article in the New York Times by Sam Polk

This image was an astounding replication of my memory and perception of my free-fall dream. Sam Polk’s autobiographical story is about his Wall Street escapades and exodus. The irony is that both of these themes concern money. His story of someone suffering from an addiction to money, in which getting multi-million bonus’s was still never enough. My anxiety dream about not having enough money, was from someone barely scraping by. I delivered myself into my risky circumstances by moving to live abroad without having lined up a job ahead of time, which I did because of my familiarity of what I was getting into. My struggle is beginning to diminish presently, with projects springing up on the horizon.

Same topic – other end of the spectrum.

How is it that top executives and brokers are making bonus’s of multi-millions and still not satisfied, when in fact I can live quite contentedly, on a fraction of what they earn? Granted, I don’t have any dependents currently. Yet, I’ve learned to appreciate and value a different type of interaction with my reality. My happiness is less built on consuming, and more on creating. I derive appreciation from little things (the delight of the plethora of life forms surrounding us on this planet, albeit diminishing rapidly) and contentment from accomplishments built from what I have put effort into, deriving satisfaction in seeing the results. You can read about the millionaire’s discontents and discoveries in this OpEd article, “For the Love of Money“.

In light of this, a recent article in the Huffington Post by Robert Reich “Why There’s No Outcry“, mentions why Americans are too fearful to destabilize the little bit of security they have, to participate in a revolution similar to the “New Deal” or other ground-shaking reforms. I had alluded to this, suggesting what Obama could do, by putting people to work and dramatically turning around the economy. https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/notch-up-the-governments-role-with-obamaworks-a-version-of-roosevelts-wpa/

“Change is coming anyway. We cannot abide an ever-greater share of the nation’s income and wealth going to the top while median household incomes continue too drop, one out of five of our children living in dire poverty, and big money taking over our democracy.

At some point, working people, students, and the broad public will have had enough. They will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history.

Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter.”

Joe Paterno’s ‘old school’ values | not bought-out by BIG Money |

Having watched the memorial service for Joe Paterno and attended Penn State University when I lived in Happy Valley for two years, I was really moved and inspired by what I witnessed in those two hours. Joe Paterno – as a coach, teacher and mentor – influenced so many peoples’ lives in such a positive way. A kid who was raised in Brooklyn and went on to coach college football for over 40 years; he left a legacy of honesty, loyalty, integrity and commitment. Beyond what has become the big business of football, Paterno was never bought-out. He remained loyal to his commitment to Penn State and to the players, whom he personally recruited and remained in touch with throughout their lives. He encouraged each player to strive for discipline and excellence; not only in sports, but also scholastically; emphasizing to ‘do the right thing’ ethically. Paterno communicated to each; to think first and foremost about the team, to play fair and to respect their opponents. He recognized that whereas success is measured externally by society, personal excellence is something internal, involving the satisfaction and clear conscience of knowing you have done your best.

There are a list of great quotes that Joe Paterno made, one of which one player stated has remained with him as a personal challenge throughout his life; “Today you’ll either be better or worse, but you’ll never stay the same … which is it going to be? It’s your choice!” His message always emphasized the “we” and “us”, recognizing that we are all in this life together, and that it’s up to each of us to help one another grow, and to make an impact towards making this world a better place! I’m humbled and honored by this man’s life, who has inspired so many to strive to be at their best, and to work together – regardless of race, creed, socioeconomic standing, for the sake of all.

Paterno represents an ‘old school’ of thinking, that our country has been moving away from; when credit and notoriety come to a person or establishment commensurate with what achievements and values they display, instead of being measured and valued quantitatively, by monetary means alone. A message diametrically opposed to what has overtaken our country today; in which BIG money infiltrates the media, government, sports and other arenas. A world in which “corpocrisy” surrounds us, and short-sighted goals are dictated by a few (the 1%), often resulting in crippling the lives of the rest, in addition to causing environmental degradation. These values that Joe Paterno revered were once the prevalent messages that the United States had imparted to the world, with great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., before the myopic, economically driven pandemic rose, in which money has become THE incentive, choking out the spirit of these loftier aspirations. We absolutely need to honor leaders of this caliber, to disseminate similar messages, that will inevitably ripple throughout the world.

A fuse has been re-ignited today for me to presently write further on the topic of BIG money, which I’ll be posting on my other blog http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/the-collusion-of-big-money-eroding-the-quality-of-life-for-alls /