Monday, January 19, 2009
First let us define our terms.
Economics: the exchange of goods or services for other goods and services usually with a mediator such as I.O.U., coins, cash or vouchers of some flavor.
The Human Condition: On the definition of this term the whole question turns.
1. Humans are inherently bad or evil.
2. Humans have a predisposition to learning to be evil and to do bad.
3. Humans are inherently good and are forced into situations that create within them the capacity to do evil.
Putting the pieces together would pose questions such as: Can an evil humanity create a just economic society? Why do some people prosper while others who work just as hard fail? How do the few hold economic sway over the many? The questions could be nearly endless depending upon the shading one would wish to take with the above definitions.
But is there one system of economics that can cover the full spectrum of meaning, or does it always break down at some point?
Free market leaves itself open to corruption and greed.
Regulated markets can fall into the hands of the "haves" who can control who the regulators are and how they choose to regulate.
Socialism and Communism as economic systems can fall prey to the "haves" or the party elite creating their niche markets and safety zones.
At first glimpse it appears that there may be no justified economic system. There will always be those in power, in control and in the money who can dictate to the rest how things will be. Even if we were to find highly enlightened individuals to make up that cast of "those in power," those who are not in power would become jealous or angry about the power situation and make moves to amend it. It is an eternal struggle of the classes. But certainly we must just not wander aimlessly from one theory to the next. Certainly there must be one that stand above the rest to assure fairness of trade, equality of living standards, checks and balances on business and lending institutions. An informed and educated citizenry will go a long way in making some of those balances, but it may also breed new villains.
Is economic justice and equality a real and meaningful thing or is it a pie in the sky dream?
Friday, January 9, 2009
The way a ponzi scheme works is by paying yesterday's debt by tomorrow's earnings. A ponzi scheme promises investors with higher-than-normal returns on investments. It sounds good so people invest. The return is payed by future investors wanting in on the good fortune. It works because there is always a larger flow of cash into the system. It collapses when the flow stops or too many people try to withdraw from the scheme.
Kind of sounds like the basic premise of capitalism. The key word being "capital," as in needing to continually raise more this week to support last week's payments. The capital to be raised may be goods, or money, or workers. But without the increase it self destructs. Why else would 3% growth (inflation) be good? Is less or more bad? Less and it all falls apart, more and it threatens to run away.
In 1929 the premise was questioned and was found lacking. The result: the only thing that keeps a ponzi scheme afloat is to throw more money at it. The New Deal did just that. It shored it up for a while, then a war helped it along. In the aftermath of the Great Depression the real questions about capitalism were not addressed. Business boomed with a lot of hard workers and the world's resources to fund it (more and more capital). A few hiccups were felt and should have been warning signs. But a ponzi scheme this large would take decades to unravel and more capital was raised (Hence the Cold War and the hot wars in the Middle East countries).
But now the world is running out of capital to invest. The last few pounds of earth and flesh are being eaten as we speak. Soon there will be nothing left but revolving debt: 700 billion now (coming from where? DEBT) and another trillion later (again from DEBT). The ponzi scheme will be over and there will be no capital left to throw at it (The Middle East countries and China are the last of the big money men and look how heavily we are invested in their interests. Yet even they are eating through whatever capital they might have at an alarming rate). Finally the premises of capitalism must be questioned.
When the ponzi scheme is over then capitalism dies. So what is next? Hard to tell. It may be possible to prolong the death for a few more years... but in the meantime, we better all learn Chinese.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
But then after the sell I have this momentary let down, like losing a good friend. That piece has been hanging on the wall for so long that it has become part of the natural enviroment of the studio. So I will miss it, but be glad I made the sale. I hope there will be more to come.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
On to the topic. Predictions. Art and predictions don't seem to go hand in hand... but with a dem. moving into the White House in January, perhaps more money will be freed up to support the arts. Which leads me to think of both the political and economic realms of life. So my predictions:
- The Dow will fall to 7,000 by this time next year before making a recovery.
- Unemployment will reach 10% before recovering to a more stable 5-6%. It will bottom out next year and take another year to 16 months to recover.
- President elect Obama will have two years to run as far as he can with his agenda, then the Senate will switch power. The House will stay in the democratic party control.
- Partial pull out of US troops from Iraq will instigate even further civil war fighting in that country and spreading further across the Middle-east. This will require not only a larger US force but also UN Peacekeepers and NATO force involvement. Russia will use that time to move in on some of its former states. Watch for this to happen in the late summer/fall of 2009
- US social life will reach new highs, even as the economy sinks. Escapism will boost movie sales, book sales and other inexpensive get-aways.
- Three movie stars will marry and later divorce (each year for the next gazilion years).
- Baliwood will begin to rival Hollywood for dominace on the world market by the end of 2010.
OK so some of these predictions seem far fetched. Can Anyone really eclipse Hollywood? And some seem common sense. But those in the middle... well, time will tell.
Come buy my art or a print of one of my pieces. Just click the Fine Art America box at the top of the page.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The promotion of university as the pinnacle of education needs to be done away with. There are valid reasons to continue on with education, but it should not just be "the thing to do." For this reason, trade and technical schools should be created, funded and promoted as equally valuable avenues of education. Let us prepare educated, thinking and well trained people.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I grew up in a very conservative denomination of Christianity where spirituality is defined morally. If one wants to please God then one must act in a predefined moral way. Of course the outcome of such thinking is legalism (as a side note, legalism is death to spiritual maturity). Legalism is a strict moral code with God as the final authority. But as I began to explore my own faith and spirituality I found that morality is not based in legalism, but rather righteousness.
Righteousness is striving to act in the right way in the right time. There are no set and hard rules, for each situation will be different requiring a different right action. Which brings us to the point of this post: How do we know how to act? How do we determine the right action in the right time? I believe it comes down to character development.
I am not sure if we are all good or bad from birth. I think much of it is learned over time. I think it comes down to finding that balance between good for the individual and good for the community. Finding that balance is no easy task. As I reflect upon writing this post, my mind keeps moving towards specific, but I am trying to keep it abstract. So how do we teach character development and moral balance without falling into the legalism of endless does/don'ts lists?
I will end this post here and wait for a few comments to help find a direction for further posts on this subject.