Some people confuse
economic theory with economic reality and all too often those
people are economists, politicians, and others who have a
direct impact on government policy.. and then inevitably many
of us as well.
A little common sense could go a long way to clear up the
Economic theories are theoretical
constructs that make assumptions about how people think and
behave with respect to money and commerce. According to
theory, capitalism produces real wealth and not just for some,
but for all. Economists and politicians often forget to ask if
these theoretical constructs offer an accurate description of
how people really behave in the society we live in.
For example, in theory, capitalism
assumes that businesses and consumers always act in their own
best economic interest; that all participants in an economy
have equal access to necessary and relevant information for
rational decision making; and that selfish economic behavior
will maximize not only the well being of individual
participants in an economy, but also society as a whole
without anyone consciously intending that it do so.
Let me suggest to you, that in our
culture, none of these assumptions are true.
We are constantly misinformed—being
fed disinformation by corporate media, our own government,
religious institutions and others. We do not really consume
what we would want or need if left to our own devices.
Instead we are constantly bombarded with—and mesmerized
by—advertising, propaganda, and promotion that’s designed
to make us want what is not in our best interest to have, but
what is in the interest of those who stand to profit greatly
by the products, services, or ideas they want to sell.
That is why nearly all the cars, buses,
and rail operating in America today run on fossil fuel rather
than electric power; why public transportation in America is
not world class; why we are addicted to war; why every citizen does
not have free or affordable healthcare, why so much of the
food we eat is not good for us, and why so many people live
one illness or two paychecks away from bankruptcy,
homelessness, hunger, and despair.
Similarly, we are easily manipulated
during elections to focus on irrelevancies rather than on
substantive issues. We are so confused by our illusions, most
of which are propagated by the intellectually dishonest
arguments of politicians and corporations, that we end up
supporting the very people who demonstrably lack the vision,
courage, desire, or integrity to pursue what is best for us as
individuals, as a nation, or for the world as our extended
community. We refuse to hold our leaders accountable for
making sure that, as a society, we make continual progress in
the advancement of the human condition in all its aspects. Why
shouldn't we be able to expect this from our leaders when
every day we have the opportunity to advance our knowledge,
wisdom, and skill at managing our affairs?
We allow corporations to spend vast sums
of money to block or skew government regulation in order that
they might externalize costs and privatize profits even when
the long term consequence of doing so destroys our
environment, our health, and our happiness… and we allow
them to do this even when we know the destruction they promote
might be irreversible. Economic theory does not postulate that
this is how rational people will behave.
While decision makers have a fiduciary
responsibility to act in the best interest of constituents,
all too often they pursue their own self interest instead.
Adding to what I said earlier, political theory does not
postulate that this is how elected officials will behave.
Economic and political theory do not
assume that people will be dishonest or that government
processes will be opaque, deceptive, and fraudulent, nor does
it predict what effect the lack of integrity in government and
commerce will have on our collective psyche or on the planet.
The point is, economic or politic theory
is not relevant when it applies to a culture that promotes
dishonesty, irresponsibility, and disinformation. What I am
suggesting here is that it is really our culture that is sick,
not the economy; our economic tribulations are symptomatic of
a society that is drifting in unconsciousness; losing its
ability and desire for self-examination, reflection, and
Policy makers, people who populate
corporate media, and ordinary citizens seem oblivious to the
fact that our problems are kept in place by systemic
dishonesty. We all think our personal, economic, and social
problems are unpredictable, fortuitous, or naturally occurring
cyclical events. We are quite sure, of course, that we are not
in any way to blame.
All too often we hear media interviewers
ask policy wonks what kinds of strategies or policies we
should put in place to correct our struggling economy or
foreign policy blunders when, in fact, changing strategies or
policies will not get at the heart of the matter.
It is truly foolish to expect that
self-serving officials will ever solve the problems that they
themselves create and purposely keep in place for their own
purposes. And in our culture, once self-serving officials get
elected to office they tend to remain there for as long as
they want to stay. There are exceptions, of course, but for
the most part, this is now the rule. And it's not an
The central issue is this: to solve
critical systemic societal problems requires a certain level
of intellectual integrity from every citizen, and yet
intellectual integrity is demeaned and discouraged in a
culture that has no respect for it. It is cynical to
think that you can make things work by advancing the art of
advertising, promotion, deception, and pretense...
without any regard for substance. Things work when you
approach life with personal integrity and bring that integrity
to everything you do. It's called being responsible.
Governments and institutions cannot do this. Only individual
human beings, each making a personal commitment to him or
herself, can do this.
We go through the motions anyway. But in
the end we still keep in place the same political
“leaders” and their systemically flawed political
arrangements where our problems incubate and flourish. Even
though it’s clear that we need to replace these people and
the systems they created... with something that is inherently
more honest, transparent, and responsible... we apparently
have no intention of doing so. We don’t even talk about it.
The topic is taboo.
The pervasive corruption that now
pervades government stands in the way of any substantive
change we might postulate. And the answer is not to do away
with government. What we need is a government that
works. And yet an illiterate, undereducated, and
misinformed electorate is not likely to choose the kind of
leaders, or pursue the kinds of strategies, that will help us
fulfill our potential... at least not (apparently) until so
much pain is experienced by so many of us that we will finally
have no choice but to look for a new paradigm on which to base
and achieve our aspirations.
I am in no way suggesting that what we
need is a managed economy. I am suggesting that what we need
is to better prepare ourselves intellectually to accept the
challenges and responsibilities of citizenship.
Notice that (during the last eight years
particularly) the Bill of Rights and other tenets of our
Constitution have all but been destroyed (or at least
systematically betrayed) by the very people who swore an oath
to preserve and protect them. And this includes Article
6 Section 2 of the Constitution which incorporates
international law into our own, and certifies it to be as
supreme as what we call our own domestic rule of law.
That's what the Constitution says the treaties we've signed
and commitments we made are. How many of our citizens
even know this? How many care?
Read the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and
other documents we've signed; compare them with our foreign
policy or even our domestic policies, and see if you can
reconcile our country's behavior with those basic principles
of justice that the United States once championed, helped
bring into being, and promised to honor. Without
universal respect for the rule of law, or an intention to
honor our word as a sacred trust, we have no country worthy of
its name... nor any confidence that our country stands for
anything at all... let alone justice.
Yet these topics are hardly up for
discussion. Instead, we are now too worried about the loss of
our economic security to think about the loss of our own
political rights and freedoms let alone anyone else's. We
don’t realize that our failure to hold elected officials
accountable is why we have now lost both our economic and
political security. In shirking our responsibilities, we
abdicated our collective intelligence and sovereign power,
handing them over to people who are clearly untrustworthy.
Even after they betrayed us, we voted most of them back into
office as soon as we got the chance.
Theoretically, America is still a
constitutional democracy, but are we really? We are a people
who are not even conscious of what we’ve lost… how ironic
is it that we don't even recognize that WE THE PEOPLE are the
government we lost. How will we get our country and
our honor back?
We cannot solve real problems with
theoretical solutions to deeply held illusions. Until we as
individuals come to realize and take responsibility for
knowing the difference between a theoretical economy and the
economy we have, or the difference between a real democracy
and an illusion we adhere to— we, and those we love, will
continue to be stalked like prey by those who like things just
the way they are.
If we continue to accept the state of
consciousness as it is, most of us, and the rest of humanity,
will face a predictable future of uncertainty, fear, hunger,
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