Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Empire Has No Clothes

In some ways, it could be argued that the system we call the United States of America has already lost it's momentum... Worse. In some ways, our system has already been monkey-wrenched and mugged. Worse. We've already consumed our easy to get resources. We've already polluted our back yards... Even worse. We've been immersed in American capitalist supremest culture so completely that we're unwilling to see the obvious. The Empire has no clothes.

That's what this financial meltdown has been all about.

We've been slapped with a reality check.

That reality check; we're not prepared for the present, much less the future.

But we don't want to think about it. All we want is for things to be like they used to be. Of course, that's the one thing we cannot have. We want an economic recovery, when what we need is an economic discovery. Part of that discovery is that we've been living a multi-layered Ponzi scheme. Next to nothing is sustainable.

We now know, without a doubt, that the “free market” can be played. The whole world has been played. Everyone who was anyone had a scheme to get filthy rich. And the consequences? Nobody really thought about the consequences. We still don't really want to be responsible.

They say that if we pump a few hundred billion dollars into the system and tighten up regulation a bit, consumer confidence will start building and we’ll pull out of this recession within a year.” And though we need these changes: “What they don't point out – and don't seem to understand – is that this prosperity came at a staggering price. We got rich by violating one of the central tenets of economics: thou shall not sell off your capital and call it income. And yet over the past 40 years we have clear-cut forests, fished rivers and oceans to the brink of extinction, and siphoned oil from the earth as if it possessed an infinite supply. We've sold off our planet's natural capital and called it income. And now the earth, like the economy, is stripped.”

... The party's over. Remember peak oil? Its already happened here in the US. How about peak water? Peak metal? Peak soil? Even peak food? We've got some real heavy issues to confront very soon. We simply can't afford to get into another war over resources (like we did in Iraq). Yet, though it all sounds so awful, for some people this means profit. That's what's wrong with our economic system.

We keep thinking in terms of profits (from scarcity).

- We need to be thinking in terms of benefits (from creating abundance).

We keep thinking in terms of paper wealth.

- We need to be thinking in terms of natural wealth.

We keep thinking in terms of status.

- We need to be thinking in terms of purpose.

We keep thinking in terms of better stuff.

- We need to be thinking in terms of better experiences.

We have flogged this horse long enough.

We can't go back.

The world has changed. We can argue about whether we caused it, but what we need to do is adapt.

Obama ran on a platform of “change.” But actually, the change has already happened. Our whole world has changed. The big question is; will we change with that change, or will we let it overwhelm us?

The American people can change. We want sensible, sustainable, healthy change. American people can create better ways of doing things. We are creative. But many of those in power don't want change. It might not be good for their profits. The real question is can we fix our systems enough to change – or will it be the same as it so often is with politics; too little, too late?

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