Monday, May 11, 2009

The 'Common' Good

Greetings good citizen,

After posting last night I came upon this piece over at The Economist’s View which asks the question whether or not economics, as it is taught today, is a ‘failure’ and what (if anything) can be done to remedy this problem?

It is not an unfair question and in part illustrates the nature of the problem. Especially when we consider that the number of non-economists that accurately predicted this crisis dwarf the number of professionals that even suspected something was amiss.

Naturally, this unseemly outcome is the product of the ‘assumptions’ upon which both sides based their ‘models’.

With that said, why do you think a large majority of the population remained ‘blind’ to what in hindsight was a slow motion train wreck of epic proportions?

Once again, I posit that the error resides in most people’s basic assumptions. How did so many people get it so wrong? We have to rewind to the beginning for the answer.

Every Democratic Republic on the planet was founded primarily to protect the ‘Common Good’, yet as we gaze out upon the scorched earth that is the world economy, there is so much poverty and neglect that it is obvious the world’s Democratic Republics have failed miserably at their ‘founding principle’.

Some people have done well at the direct expense of the rest. So it becomes obvious that the definition of ‘common’ has become corrupted.

This is why so many people didn’t suspect that there was anything wrong with exporting the bulk of our economy because they ‘assumed’ the government was ‘protecting’ the common good.

Employers enjoyed lower labor costs/benefit obligations while consumers ‘enjoyed’ (kinda sorta) lower prices and everybody wins! Except when they don’t.

As we can clearly see today, it is (and was) absurd to claim that no one ‘foresaw’ the ultimate outcome of such a policy. Why didn’t anyone point out that reducing the size of the labor force would naturally produce a huge unemployed population?

What happened over the last two years was we reached the ‘tipping point’ where the number of workers made redundant over ran the number of consumers necessary to support economic growth.

You’d think the ‘credit bubble’ would have been enough to wake people up to the fact that the government had failed to protect our interests. I mean, when it becomes necessary to spend more than you make just to keep your head (temporarily) above water, obviously ‘somebody’ has dropped the ball.

People, a vast majority of them, foolishly believed the government ‘had their backs’ because they believed that the government existed to protect ‘the common good’.

What should strike everyone as odd is there has never been a public dialog regarding what, precisely, constitutes ‘the common good’.

Which is not to ignore that there has been no shortage of people making proposals for ‘the common good’. Every proposed new piece of legislation has the ‘common good’ as its foundation…even if it is not particularly ‘good’ for all members of the public.

Understand good citizen the government is a ‘shield’ that is supposed to protect the interests of society from the rapacious appetites of the powerful…but that’s not how things have worked out, have they?

The banks ‘lobbied’ the government to repeal ‘restrictive legislation’ that prevented banks from being engaged in what can best be described as monetary activity that posed ‘dangerous’ conflicts of interest.

That done, the banks immediately proceeded to engage in precisely these activities; in less than a decade they managed to ‘re-create’ the conditions that brought about the last Great Depression’.

Only this time it’s worse…those toxic asset the banks (knowingly and willfully) created, well, most of them ended up in your retirement account! (How’s that for the perfect ‘trash for cash’ scheme?)

Now that a majority of the world’s pension funds are worthless and this is being used as a ‘justification’ to hand the banks taxpayer funds!

The government knows who perpetrated this ‘heist’…you’d think they’d outlaw these toxic, unregulated assets and ‘claw back’ these funds…but that’s not happening!

In fact good citizen, it’s become pretty obvious that ‘our protectors’ are no longer looking after our interests.

While the Neo-cons wail and gnash their teeth at the prospect of ‘nationalizing’ even one bank, all of these criminal enterprises (Investment banks) should be put permanently out of business and everyone above the level of file clerk should be arrested and charged with felony fraud! (With no bail possible.)

Let us subtly change gears here so we can address the central issue, which is, don’t you know, the degree to which what passes for ‘our’ government is now a ‘criminal enterprise’.

Perhaps the first thing to address is the issue as to whether or not the government, as established, was EVER intended to serve ‘the common good’.

If you examine our government’s structure (even casually) you will notice that it is specifically designed to limit the input of the, um, non-powerful. Whether this is a ‘flaw’ or an ‘oversight’ is immaterial as nobody has bothered to correct it in over 200 years.

The next ‘loose board’ in our political building is the total absence of a meaningful accountability lever. The most a citizen can do if their elected official acts against their interests is not to vote for them once their term expires…and by then the damage is done.

Californians succeeded in ‘recalling’ their governor but there are no such provisions to recall people elected to Federal Office.

It is no coincidence that most states don’t have recall provisions in their constitutions either.

It’s a fairly new initiative and its being fought tooth and nail by…gee, once again the finger is pointed at the neo-cons!

We stand as much of a change of ‘persuading’ a sitting member of congress to endorse a federal recall measure as we do of finding one that will champion the most basic right of us all, the Human anti-exploitation law.

These are two very sad failings indeed because they both act to keep the common person powerless to defend themselves. Not only is it impossible to dump corrupt politicians but you can’t sue the government for its criminal acts!

Here I am compelled to enumerate the criminal acts of, um, this government.

1. The abject failure to protect the jobs of this nation’s workers.
2. The abject failure to prosecute criminal fraud in the financial sector.
3. The ‘pardoning’ and overturning of convictions of politicians and political appointees.

We could add the failure to even investigate the lack of oversight or accountability of various government agencies.

Um, I am in full agreement with the notion that poverty is not the ‘natural condition’ of mankind. Hundreds of millions of US citizens have been ‘marginalized’ in a vain attempt to maintain the ‘status quo’.

This condition is aided and abetted by a government that ‘shields’ the right of the wealthy to profit unjustly at the expense of the population at large.

When a government goes this ‘bad’ it is time to clean house and replace it with a system that reflects our new ‘realities’.

Infinite growth is neither possible nor desirable. The only way to successfully derail the drive for endless growth is to put an end to the incentives that make raping society ‘profitable’ for the owners of resources.

This locking up of ‘common resources’ for private gain is directly responsible for the mounting wave of impoverishment that threatens to return our civilization to serfdom.

The ‘common good’ is no different from the ‘greater good’ yet there isn’t a Democratic Republic on the entire planet that places the needs of the majority of its citizens ahead of the desires of their wealthiest citizens.

It should be obvious that Democratic Republicanism is no different from economic dictatorship, the government exists to protect the interests of the wealthy and only the interests of the wealthy.

I don’t know about you good citizen but this is NOT what I signed up for.

I did not sign up for this ‘illusion of participation’ that is used to prop up the corresponding illusion of freedom.

You have no say and therefore you have no choice…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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