Sludge Report #185: The iDeal
By Alastair Thompson & Jim Cousins
October 1, 2008
Make no mistake. The next five weeks is the greatest opportunity since man first used an object as a tool, to reshape our destiny.
To think that this predicament is a surprise is preposterous. And to think that any amount of ransom money, will fix it is ludicrous. Here’s the real scoop: $700 billion is only intended to be enough to get the U.S. through the election without all hell breaking loose. And that is clearly what’s on the horizon. Nobody in the press wants to say panic, and neither do we want to say it:
However panicing is what we are all doing nevertheless. It is understandable. It is rational. What was once "money in the bank" is not anymore. Up is down. Down is up.
And you are in a rowboat merrily, merrily, merrily rowing gently down the stream.
But you’re not on a stream, you’re in the middle of a boundless sea and an ocean liner is bearing down on you.
So take control of your boat and for God’s sake, change course!
There are three clear options:
1. Full steam ahead. Put your faith in markets, a human concept that nobody in the world can understand or predict. That’s why they call it faith. And if you can’t go full steam ahead, why are you going in that direction?
Many “free market” economists are saying it’s your own fault for not looking at a map and now just ride it out and the wisdom of the markets will save you. They’ve got the market religion all right, like good old Jim Jones. But where do you put your faith, in a faceless human-created entity of markets or in mankind?
2. Starboard. Put your trust in the institutions that got us here.
The “expensive market” economists are saying that $700 billion will put our faith back in the markets. Hmmm… not feeling the religion over that? This is a problem created over 20 years of deregulation and this is exactly what the markets provide. And $700 billion is going to fix it…. Really? It’s that simple?
The reason they haven’t sold this plan to the American people is that they haven’t actually developed a plan. Like Vegas odds placers, they simply calculated a bet: How much do I have to commit (of your money mind you) to get us through the election? There is no thoughtful long-term plan. This $700 billion is an expensive Band-Aid, but will do little to change the fundamental of our economic system that brought us to this point
3. Port. Put your faith in the human potential and your feet back in the real world. Get back to grounded economic fundamentals that everyday people can understand and discuss around their kitchen tables.
We have 5 weeks to make this happen. It’s an historic opportunity for democracy to really shine, for an informed citizenry to elect people intent on making a better life possible for everybody. This is the time for sweeping change, of electing the candidates who subscribe under the mandate to reshape The USA. If this doesn’t occur, the world will have its next brink of financial crisis by February, 2009.
As a starting point to talking of a solution we offer the following.
What about people creating a web2.0 wiki-legislation for the new congress/president to enact? What say the campaign for the election of President becomes the well spring of a new source of hope.
We do not know the answers at present. But here’s a short list of things which are worth thinking about:
- An additional Bill Of Rights (communication, transportation, education, housing, food and energy). Those things that increase individual success and therefore the success of the broader community and economy to survive;
- Abolish the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and rewrite a system that the people/government own, not private individuals, a system of currency based on consent not coercion;
- Local banks/local currency, it is not an insane idea in a crazy world. If the alternative is no commerce then locally made commerce is a lot better;
- Revoke charters of incorporation of companies that do no act in the interest of the public good and allow communities to redirect the private failure to public good.
- Wiki based legislation writing, speeding the capacity to reform;
- Executive pay based on 5-year performance not on instant gratification;
- An open source economy, one in which the generators of wealth share in the benefits of its creation;
- Finally fix electronic voting system manipulation by outlawing electronic vote counting and doing it the old-fashioned way, by hand. This is one simple objective which is neither expensive nor difficult to achieve. It is also one which at the very least may allow communities to reliably conclude that they are governed by those they have chosen and not those that have been chosen for them;
- Publicly Financed political campaigns would help in the next round of elections assuming it is too late for 2008;
- Replace the overt globalisation goals of super-capital with a community driven global network of strong, sustainable communities;
- A real green economy, not sophistry and green posturing;
- Redefine GDP so it only includes positive contributions and calculates pollution and destruction (war) as a negative;
- Introduce morality into capitalism. Provide value in outputs other than simply profit.
The above list of thoughts is just a starting point. The objective ought to be to harness our creativity to find a set of solutions which work for us.
Money is at its most basic level a confidence trick.
When Lehman Bros. and Merill Lynch fell the confidence was smashed into a myriad of pieces. To quote from the tale of humpty dumpty:
"All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again."
The Federal Reserve has tried to do so over the past two weeks and failed. The illusion that the US banking system can create an unbreakable chain of liquidity to the market cannot be remade.
It is time for us all to consider alternatives.
The time has come for a poetic revolution.
Let us not fear the future but rather embrace a new promise.