Sunday, September 28, 2008
I propose that Congress enact an interest rate holiday for mortgages and credit cards. With interest rates at ZERO, all payments would go to paying down debt rather than the majority of payments going to interest. This would still give banks money back but they would not make a profit for a specified time-say, one year. After that, assess the impact and go from there. Maybe raise the rates slowly until some sense of normality occurs. This put money in the hands of the consumer, allows for debt reduction and can bolster the economy. Obviously, this would be for existing as of a set time, any charges after that time would be subject to interest rates. HOWEVER, there should be a cap on interest rates. How can you pay down a credit card when you are paying 18-24% interest? Time to put a cap on usury and give the break to the consumer and not the bank.
Thomas Jefferson's letter to Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin in 1802:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
Friday, September 26, 2008
History has proven that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” While many understand this concept with respect to political systems, it is also true in other areas of human activity. Absolute power over anything is a corrupting influence that casts its pall over religion, economics, news, education, economics and most other aspects of society.
While all desire a totally free society, we have found that human frailty and perceived imperfection has not permitted such a system. Even in the early dawn of civilization, it was evident that those with the biggest clubs and the strong would prey upon the weak. Big men stole from the small, big nations raped and pillaged the meek, and a concentration of power and wealth with accompanying abuse is the subject of World History I. From the Mongols and the Romans, the absolute monarchies of the 17th/18th centuries to Hitler and Stalin and Burma, it has been clear that absolute political power leads to abuse and atrocities.
The same soon appeared with regard to religious power. Those who did not follow the dogma and dictates of state religions were burned, fed to the lions and cast out. Even the modern religious institutions are rife with historical terrorism. Under the banner of “onward Christian soldiers” religions of cultures like the American Indians and those of Africa were systematically destroyed. The term Inquisition is well documented in the annals of theological abuses.
During the era of the great monarchies, economic systems were also subject to abuse and corruption. The supply of goods and services served one purpose; to increase the wealth of the king or queen. Under the system of mercantilism, lands were conquered for colonies, resources were stolen for the mother country and gold and silver were stashed in the king’s vaults. However, the growth of a middle class and increased agricultural technology gave rise to a new line of economic thought; CAPITALISM.
Out of the ashes of the absolute power of kings grew an economic system that called for no government interference in the affairs of business. Thinkers like Malthus and Smith said that an economy free of government intervention would grow and prosper. The Industrial Revolution had begun! With the movement of population to the city factories blossomed and society and business planted the seeds that have ripened in the 21st century. With absolute control over money, goods and services, industry created the highest standard of living in the world. But in keeping with the problem of absolute power, the system became corrupt as sweat shops, poverty wages, unsafe conditions, company stores, child labor, monopolies and other abuses demanded government intervention. Anti-trust legislation, safety regulations, child labor laws and other government regulations were enacted to save the public from the devouring mouth of unfettered capitalism.
Bring the history to modern times and we have Reaganomics once again de-regulating industry in order to free them to pursue globalization. Up until now, all appeared well,
but the ugly head of absolute power reared its head. It has been all about making more money regardless of how it was made. Profit became the new monarch and abuse has now brought the American and maybe even the world economy to its knees. If you have watched the news you must know that our financial institutions are collapsing. Congress and the White House have been trying to undo in one week what has taken years to create. Sides have been taken and the “free marketers” have lined up against the “regulators.” While it is clear that lack of oversight and regulation created an economic monster gone amok, there are those who still think that less regulation, tax breaks and guarantees. This is money for the rich and the few at the expense of the many. After all, it is the lack of regulation that has created the current crisis. The questions are: how much regulation is needed; how much will it cost to fix the problem and, who will pay the ferryman?
There is one thing that is certain, our economy is in very deep trouble and the blame has washed up on the shores of Wall Street. New house construction is at a recent history low, unemployment is up, job creation down, credit is tight, retail is down, durable goods are way off and the near future has the lights on dim. There is another certainty; the age-old top down fix will not work. Actually, it has never worked. While greed, corruption and misuse of economic power may be causal in the current crisis, the solution is at the bottom of this power pyramid in the hands of the people. I, for one, favor putting the “bail out” money in the hands of the consumer so they can pay their mortgages, pay down credit cards, buy alternative energy products and stimulate jobs. I also favor reducing absurd interest rates on credit purchases, putting a mandatory low interest on mortgages, banning flexible rates and closely regulating financial institutions. Democracy and a controlled economy are not antithetical.
Like the Grinch, Wall Street is in the process of stealing this Christmas and perhaps others. We can also take another Grinch lesson, the true meaning of most holidays’ lies not in things, but in the spirit of why the holiday even exists. The real way to reduce the power of the wealthy and Wall Street is not to want what they have, but rather to redefine the very concept of wealth. If money is the most important thing, then it, and those who control it, have power over your life. But if what they have is not valued, then they have no power to control your life. Be of good cheer, be informed, let your feelings be known and vote your conscious in the upcoming election and let the Wall Street Grinch get what it deserves.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Forget all those campaign promises of tax breaks. With the Feds giving trillions of dollars to bail out banks and corporations using your tax dollars any promise to reduce middle class taxes is impossible. Amidst the news that the nation’s “best economic minds” are going to solve the current financial crisis, the clear observation is that it is these very minds that permitted the crisis to occur. I am not in the least bit reassured that our financial future is in good hands. Furthermore, it is greatly dis-heartening that neither Obama, nor McCain can offer any better alternatives.
The American public is now in the middle of the same old refrain, more money for huge corporations at our expense so that they can continue to make more money. Between the funds for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, AIG and who knows who else, the Feds are committing at least $4.1 TRILLION to salvage these institutions. This is being done, we are told, to salvage the free market system: a system which, since massive deregulation, has run rampart in its effort to consolidate control over the world economy. Under the guise of globalization and free trade, these companies have grown to a proportion that would make even the economist of the early twentieth century shudder.
All that these great minds have managed to do is to give more money to those who created the problem. It is like giving more bullets to Russia because they used them up in Georgia and want to use more somewhere else. The claim is that there is little alternative. This makes no sense. If this same amount of money was given to every American household, they would get close to $15,000 per household. If just given to family households, the amount would be about $57, 000. With this money in the hands o9f the consumers, mortgages could be caught up and other debts paid down. Good for banks and good for the consumer. The government could even have deducted out mortgage payments and then distributed the balance. What would happen if the Feds mandated that all mortgage interest rates be dropped to the prime lending rate? Banks would still make some money and people could afford to make payments rather than suffer foreclosure. How about mandating that credit card interest rates be kept to 8% rather than 15-24%? Consumers could pay the bills and the banks make money. How about, like we have done for poor countries, forgive the mortgages of those under a certain income level? Keep people in the homes and refinance at a real low rate? The point is that there are alternatives worth exploring other than having our money chase bad money. Keep in mind that this $4 Trillion will not spur new economic growth nor create jobs. All it is doing is making sure that big corporations survive. What is even worse is that in this process, companies like Bank of America has gotten even bigger and now controls a greater amount of money. What does that do to help the taxpayers? What happens if they get into trouble?
As taxpayers, we are being hit from all sides. The cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, billions needed for storm damage recovery and now our very bank accounts are put in jeopardy. How can we ever expect to improve education and health care when hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs, food and fuel prices are soaring and many have been relegated to a day-to-day existence? Our economic system is broke and the “laws of economics” need to be re-written. We need a consumer based system that puts customer and taxpayer first, not the mega-rich. There is plenty of money but there seems to be none for us.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Whatever your political leanings, you might enjoy reading this. Keep in mind that the National Organization for Women endorsed Obama today, 9/16. In that context this letter might offer some additional reasons why..
Eve Ensler, American playwright and feminist, on Palin
Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for "The Vagina Monologues", wrote the following about Sarah Palin.
Drill, Drill, Drill
I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around
their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen
one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.
I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about
Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.
But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering
women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.
I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the
destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately,
this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.
Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not
believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken
and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."
Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether
they have their rapist's baby or not. She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth
control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.
Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.
Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.
Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.
I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S. , but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It
will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear,fundamentalism and aggression.
If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think
of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.
Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?
September 5, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Politics and the Law of Attraction definitely mix. When people think of the Law of Attraction (LOA) they tend to focus upon money, health, relationships, employment and generally personal issues. However, the basic tenet of the LOA is that it operates all of the time, in every situation and at every level of society. There is no time or place or issue that is not under the LOA. Gravity works on the planet for the rich and the poor, for the young and the old, for Republicans and Democrats as doe the LOA.
On a societal level, the LOA has determined the course of history. It has brought peace or war, abundance or poverty, power or weakness, freedom or slavery to the world’s nations. The LOA basically states that form or reality follows thoughts. The more powerful the thoughts, and the emotions and intentions behind those thoughts; the greater the manifestation of those thoughts. This occurs either consciously or unconsciously. Nations whose people live with an underlying fear of neighbors are frequently at war with those neighbors. A nation that is confident of its goals, hopes and future tend to thrive. People, both individually and as a society attract what they either desire or what they fear.
With respect to the American election process, it is clear that it is adversarial; one party against the other. The “Secret” indicated that all too often, people fight against something, rather than for something. In this process more energy is often put into what is not wanted than what is wanted. Frequently, this results in the undesirable being manifested. The more energy, thought and emotion that goes into fighting against a candidate results in that candidate winning; form follows the thought. This is why those who teach the LOA try to get people to understand not to fight against something, e.g. war on drugs, war on poverty, war on terrorism, fight against cancer or obesity. This very mindset creates and attracts what is not desired. My new book, POLARIZING YOUR LIFE TOWARDS PERFECTION (soon to be released by Cambridge Book), shows how this process works and how to avoid this mindset.
In the current campaign for president, both Obama and McCain have fallen into the same old process of campaigning against each other. Debates are scheduled, the rhetoric is flying and ads attack the position of the other. Furthermore, supporters of these candidates tend to be ‘against’ the opponent more so than ‘for’ their desired the politician they support. Most discussion is centered on what is disliked rather than what is liked. The result is a polarized thought form that creates tension and discord. Perhaps Obama came closest to a proper understanding of a more correct process when he said that the election is not about him, rather, it is about the people. If the election process ran on this basis, we would not have debates, but rather forums. There would be no negative ads, but rather commercials that say what the candidate believes. We lean very little when debates are merely one politician attacking the other. A better system would be to have each candidate present their ideas, their record and their programs with audiences able to seek clarification, but not debate. In this way we attract quality discussion void of negativity.
The bottom line is that Americans must decide what they are for, not what they are against. In this way the LOA will create the desired result. When the focus is on the problem, even if you are seeking solutions, you still add energy to the problem. But if the focus is on what we want for education, health care, jobs, culture, and what we see as our role in the world, we have created a positive mindset that will create positive results. If you desire to consciously use the Law of Attraction in this election, give your thoughts, attention and emotions to what kind of future you want for America. Be ‘for’ something and not ‘against’ something. It is the only way to create a process with positive outcomes.