Categories
Economics Future

The State of the World – March 2019

I’ve been very busy for the past month and I haven’t written anything here. Of course, that’s no surprise to anyone – we are all very busy. Very very busy. Especially in the United States and other developed countries. Personally, I think that’s by design – I believe it’s a massive control mechanism based on the model of ‘idol hands are the devil’s work’ or to put it more clearly ‘busy people don’t have the time or energy to create problems by rocking the boat’. Our busy-ness (business) is a control state’s dream come true.

I admittedly have a problem with thinking – I think too much. My brain never shuts down but just chews and chews and chews on things and carefully observes what comes out of the cud. Mind you, I’m not saying I’m a genius or above average intelligence (I don’t believe I am), I’m just saying that I have a problem with being cerebrally inclined and where most people can shut that annoying part of their human-ness down and watch a good sporting event or let some annoying event slide off of them – I don’t seem to possess that capability – although meditation definitely helps.

But back to the world. We are moving rapidly towards a massive societal change. I think of it as humanity being in lifeboats from a sinking ship on a giant river. There are only so many boats for the survivors to get on and we’ve occupied them – our boats have careened towards a massive split in the river – the current has picked up considerably – some boats have gone to the left, some have gone to the right, and some have stayed in the center – we know that there is danger ahead on all courses – but we aren’t sure what it is.

The middle course, the human tendency towards totalitarianism and massive control and exploitation seems to be carrying the bulk of us. Totalitarianism always ends with an explosion and a huge loss of life. So, let’s just say that for those on that path, the channel narrows and pours down into a deep chasm at the bottom of which is a huge deposit of raw sodium (which explodes on contact with water). Most on that course won’t survive.

On the right is total free market capitalism – a very small number have followed this because it is scary and loud and disruptive and dangerous – there is a big waterfall at the end and it cascades down to a paradise that ends with humanity achieving all that it dreams of – but it’s almost impossible to reach because every time a stream gathers some force – it branches off towards totalitarianism – ‘protectionism’, ‘protected capitalism’, ‘controlled markets’ and more.

On the left is what I call cooperationism – this is another paradise branch of the stream with a healthy world, healthy people, and all of the ills of humanity solved through cooperation – but of course, the tendency towards totalitarianism creates things like ‘war communism’ ‘centralized control’ and other ‘we’re smarter than you and will decide what’s best for you’ systems.

So, the bad news is that humanity is heading towards a 98% chance of full totalitarianism and the explosion that follows – there is virtually no chance for our survival. The good news is that there has never been such a great chance that we can fix ourselves and our way of thinking. Do I think we will? No. Do I hope we will? Hell yes. There are many small streams which are running towards paradise scenarios.

People are finally rethinking cars and ‘reinventing the wheel’. People are looking at the planet as what it is – a giant spaceship that carries all of us through a dangerous universe. I believe that more and more people are starting to see the very real possibilities and power of working together despite cultural differences.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us in March of 2019. We are on the verge of a tyrant seizing power in the United States, the peaceful cooperation of Europe seems to be crumbling with Brexit, the world has been so degraded by our actions that we have somewhere between 20-100 years before it is uninhabitable for us, unemployment is down and servitude is up, and – finally – there are technological disruptions coming on such a massive scale that the old apple cart is going to get blown up. We don’t have a choice about changing – we will have to.

Categories
America Politics

Where Does Capitalism Lead?

I’ve established (many times) that I am not psychic. So I won’t spend a few paragraphs guessing where the world economy (or the American economy) is heading. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. We are in uncharted waters.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what capitalism is and what it isn’t. One thing I’ve heard frequently is that the Chinese economy has moved towards capitalism – that is not true. First of all, let’s get a definition of capitalism out of the way. Websters offers the following:

an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

There are three key concepts here – private or corporate ownership and control rather than state (although I think corporate ownership is something altogether different), the use of investments for control, and competition in a free marketplace.

Ownership and Control of the Means of Production
In reality there are four types of economies. Primitive, Command, Market, and Mixed. In a primitive economy the means of production belong to the producer. A command economy gives control of the means of production to the state. A market economy gives control to the market itself and a mixed economy combines aspects of command and market economies – for example – the government controls education and the post office in the USA.

So, capitalism itself in a pure form would be a pure market economy with no government intervention or control. Essentially, capitalism leads to big fish swallowing small fish and small fish trying to get big enough to swallow smaller fish and eventually to swallow big fish. Capitalism may start with a level playing field (in an idealized world) but eventually it leads to Disney owning Marvel, Pixar, ABC, and every other entertainment company while Google swallows every new technology company, Facebook eats all the social fish, and JP Morgan eats all the other banks. In the meantime, the capital itself is consolidated into not just top corporate hands, but also into top tier individual hands – the 1% of the 1%. Capitalism is not about making a profit from your work – all economies are built around that. Capitalism is about mergers and acquisitions of the means of production, distribution, and disposal. It’s fish eat fish until there is only one fish that has nothing to eat and then we have a ‘Too Big to Fail’ situation where government steps in and saves the big fish – at which point, we are no longer talking about capitalism and free markets – we are talking about a command economy with the illusion of capitalism.

This is where capitalism leads. As I said at the outset, I’m not psychic. I can say for certain that capitalism leads here because it is where we are. As the World Bank and IMF sail into the bizarre waters of Quantitative Easing on the winds of salable debt and free spinning currency production – we have left the market economy behind though we still cling to the idea that a free market is running. In truth, the US economy has been a mixed economy for a long long time. We are closer to a command economy now than we have ever been. And part of the reason this has been allowed to happen is because people have this crazy idea that capitalism means making a profit. China is not capitalist. And yet, they make huge profits and have more entrepreneurs than any country in the world. China is a command economy. The US is a command economy with bizarre monetary leftovers of a market economy.

And that leaves everyone who is not in the top 1% vulnerable. The means of production and the power to overcome regulations to production, distribution and disposal exists only at the top of the pyramid. Capitalism leads to vast inequality first and then to an increasingly command economy ruled by corporate or private interests that are dependent on expansion and growth of market share. At a certain point, that expansion and growth can only be achieved by opening new markets through politics and war. And the gross inequality leads to either an altruistic super-state or to genocide of those unable or unwilling to produce for the corporate controlled government.

So where should we be heading? I’m not sure it matters. My personal preference would be a sort of socialist syndicalism market economy. That is, the government controlling certain essential industries (agriculture, medicine, housing, education, security) and worker/user owned syndicates or co-ops competing in a free market for everything else. But the question is moot. We can go nowhere until we see where our current monstrosity takes us.