I insist we need deep examination of historical and current economic systems if we, of the human family, are to ‘make good’ on our potential – the potential we claim our due, based on our ‘superior cognitive capacities.’ These two statements are true: “We haven’t yet invented, created, social structures that maximize both individual uniqueness and commons abundance, and “We continue to accept misery and suffering as if we can do nothing about it”.
Right now, across the globe, human social structures are disrupted. Unpleasant realities are coming to light. We demand better, and admit changes are necessary for improvement. But we don’t want to stop digging the hole deeper! We say we need ‘a different shovel’: “Maybe this time we can make publicly funded incomes and services, (our one effort to explore inborn cooperative spirit), go away – if we replace these cooperative institutions with for-profit systems, maybe that will repair our experience.”
Union-busting legislation presently underway in Wisconsin is planned by several states. Meanwhile, across the pond, the UK national government has dropped plans to privatize publicly owned forests due to outcry, but is taking aim at health care services with ‘private interests might do better’ statements. (Linked article note – American readers may think “more management to GP’s” is a “to-grass-roots” move, but the shift would give ‘foot in door’ to profit-seeking health management systems. For all the real ‘warts’ of the NHS, this is no remedy, this is an appeal to the Profit God, who shows up later in this post.)
A more humane 21st Century? Dear Friends! If we accept this, our complacency mocks our own history, and mocks people-oriented struggles across the globe.
The middle class is historically and significantly the result of union worker-rights action. As ‘workers’ gained, their discretionary income increased, private sector worker gains followed suit. Two high prizes became affordable: home security and post-secondary education for children.
(The middle class covers a wide income-range; most people in America self-define as ‘middle-class’. It’s important to note this, because it suggests the immense size of the American “pool” that dreams of these prizes, and is willing to invest in both.) When ordinary income people invest in serious dreams, money circulates within the community.
Further attacks on the middle class, especially on those of ‘lower-income middle class’, but including ‘middle-income middle class’, logically extend into a future that is bleak. We are told this is ‘cyclical’, and asked to dismiss cycle frequency or duration; we are asked to dismiss a potential “Charles Dickens future”.
Increased economic inequality, increasing income disparity, (happening also in the UK), reduces disposable income choice for many, while enhancing wealth-empowerment of a small few. Fewer dollars circulate within communities. (Rich richer, poor poorer “more true than any time since the Gilded Age.”)
It is magical thinking to believe wealth distribution is “irrelevant” to a “determined, dedicated” hopeful lower-income person and the family to which they belong. Horatio Alger, as model for anyone and everyone, is myth. (I’ve not found a brief, isolated, definition of magical thinking; I offer: Magical thinking is any cause-effect belief not examined, which would, if examined, give no evidence of fundamental (natural) truth. If a single exception can be found to a believed ‘fundamental truth’, it is not true. See also, Socrates thinking skills, this website.) It is mythical thinking (aka magical thinking) to believe disposable income is not critical to quality of education, quality of housing, quality of food. It is “magical thinking in ignorance” to believe “expansionist capitalism” is logically compatible with “balanced income distribution”.
We are coached by our top-strata, power-wielding, Priestly class. (Some of whom, we are told, must be given great treasures or they’ll go away and not serve us; “These people have knowledge, experience and skills without which the Church of Expansionist Economics will fail; we must pay them very well, even if we do with less.”) We are given mantras, myths, which our Priestly Class hopes we’ll accept. We are to worship the economic system they identify as God. Regrettably but truthfully, it must be said, we are generally compliant with priestly instructions.)
A key mantra is “We must do this or our children will be impossibly debt laden far into the future.”
This mantra, and others, serve to “justify” stripping our societies of essential human support systems (public owned and operated, for the most part). Public libraries can go; public education can be further squeezed; utilities can be privatized. Unemployment by squeezing these services is “unfortunate”, as is loss of shared community when real humans offer real services to other real humans in these now besieged systems.
We must believe in the Profit God, we must believe the mantras. We must sacrifice by priestly decree, cannibalize our own. Our Priests observe from their place of comfort. They are pleased when we act in accord with their God. We are promised that if we sacrifice our own, we can salvage a bright future for our children from this “unexpected, unpredictable, temporary but alarming” condition.
So long as we measure all human cost and achievement by dollar value, and do not attend to how the dollars (resources) are distributed; and so long as we treat every human as “potentially expendable”, we do not manage our affairs, our societies, for the sake of anyone presently alive, or for any future one who inherits our legacy.
So long as we refuse to “stop digging”; so long as we don’t believe ourselves up for a truly remarkable challenge of “humanity serving humanity” as goal for the 21st Century, we will find ourselves repeating current, or past, human failings – with all the misery already proven as outcome, including misery for children.
How can we humans possibly claim “superior cognitive abilities” while we resist making use of those same abilities in solving resource distribution issues!
At the very least, we should ask ourselves why we resist, that we might better understand “who we are”!
You have my best wishes! –MaggieAnn