The Collusion of Integrity with Money | Eroding the Quality of Life for All | Distributism

A fuse was recently re-ignited in my mind, regarding the dramatic unequal distribution of wealth in so many arenas within the United States. And this capitalistic encroachment, will inevitably ripple throughout the world. I’d written about the solid values that Joe Paterno proposed; discipline, loyalty, honesty and the pursuit of excellence. http://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/joe-paternos-old-school-values-not-bought-out-by-big-money/ These are an ‘old school’ morality, which he and leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. represented, before the collusion of money with ethics.

We have watched as various real estate bubbles have risen, in the late ‘90s in San Francisco with the ‘.com’, in New York City in the last decade as properties doubled and in the recent housing crisis. Geographical territories no longer define teams, but whoever has the most money to purchase and trade the best players. Instead of values or beliefs which speak for a politician, there are a bunch of Hollywood cookie cutter images and rhetoric. It’s not those with the most credibility, but financial assets, to beguile the public with their self-promotion.

My sister has worked for years with marginalized youths who have behavioral, addiction problems; either due to chemical imbalances or damaging or non-existent family structures. Her non-profit group helps to build teamwork, communication skills, self-esteem and responsibility. The youths come on an outpatient basis to create and build a show, which they all participate in and take pride in. She mentioned recently that the kids involved in the program are more difficult, due to the fact that the kids she typically would work with are now cut out of these programs and mainstreamed, and those that typically would have been institutionalized, are now in these outpatient, less strict programs. She maintains that this is due to the trickle down effect and squeeze on available funds, resulting in a re-distribution of money that affects all programs. Those challenged youths who were typically in her program, are now without any program or guidance at all, whereas those who had required much stricter supervision, who actually benefited by being institutionalized, are now in outpatient, rather than inpatient programs. Another result of this down-sizing, is that many professionals who still have jobs, have much heavier work loads and burn-out.

There is allegedly ‘no money available’ to pay for education, health care, health and social infrastructure, housing … and yet our government has a $ Trillion plus debt, due to our involvement in serial wars all over the world.
No money, yet a baseball player signs a contract to receive $ 10 Million a year, the average NFL player has a salary of $ 1.9 million and the cost for a 30 second commercial in the Super Bowl is $ 3.5 M. Yet there’s still no affordable health care in the U.S.

There’s a bit of a discrepancy here. Instead of investing in long-term savings through health prevention and education, there’s this greed induced financial crisis because of the interest of a few to make profits on the short term. Our plutocracy and corpocrisy dictates a consensus of what is admissible. Many statistics which reveal what is unjust, don’t even appear to turn peoples heads. Corruption has become the norm. It’s a collusion of merit with money.

A politician or an athlete no longer is a representative of his or her own hard work and skill, but a commodity infused with money or steroids. We are a culture of misrepresentation and illusion, an economy that must drive forward. Honesty is no longer a player, instead illusion and stealth. Welcome to the new American values. No wonder there’s such a huge demand for pharmaceuticals and a pandemic of addictions: over-eating, porn, alcohol, shopping. It’s a nation misinformed that material wealth will somehow provide security and gain, which has nothing to do with personal excellence and the process of striving and generating something through work.

What can we do about it? What organizations or people could influence a re-distribution of wealth? What could influence people’s attitudes to value merit and honor through hard work and joy and pride through the process of development? Sigh! Are there organizations who will encourage this or that pro athlete or Hollywood star who is making multi-millions per year, to redistribute their wealth to ensure that all people have proper health care, access to education and jobs? Obama’s plan to invest in creative new technologies, renewable energy, education & health and compatible programs that ensure raising the quality of everyone’s life sounds great. Yet at the same time, divesting from dirty energy and toxic industries sounds even better.

“According to the Distributism economic ideology of Catholic social teaching, property ownership is a fundamental right, and the means of production should be spread as widely as possible, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism), a few individuals (plutocracy), or corporations (corporatocracy). Distributism, therefore, advocates a society marked by widespread property ownership. Co-operative economist Race Mathews argues that such a system is key to bringing about a just social order…Distributism has often been described in opposition to both socialism and capitalism, which distributists see as equally flawed and exploitive.”

There’s a fear-factor which is perpetuated, as long as there’s a huge disparity in wealth and opportunities between the haves and the have-nots. This would dissipate, as this gulf shrinks, and all people would genuinely be happier. We need to cure a society that has become lopsided and sick, in its denial and greed. I know we can do it!

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Paul Heise Professor Economics | A Happy New Year is your proactive responsibility |

Having not lived in the United States for a while, I’m not familiar with this writer nor his column, yet the contents of his words reverberated. Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. This was published in the Opinion section of the Lebanon Daily News, January 5th, 2012. He suggests that Americans let go of their fears and apprehension, and open their minds to seizing new opportunities; through actively taking proactive steps and taking responsibility for creating the life that we want, to once again set examples for the world to follow!

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A happy new year, if we will work at it

By PAUL HEISE

The new year is a good time to seek out and celebrate the opportunities that life presents us.

The actual happiness of this new year will depend not on fate or accident but on how we respond to the opportunities we face. The opportunities are there, and we face a bright future so long as we do not panic and retreat into fear.

Certainly, our highest hopes flow from the physical sciences because they are the base of the technology that sustains us. The theoretical scientists, working in real time, promise new worlds as yet undreamed of.

For example, in biology, DNA research offers the opportunity to change the very nature of humanity. In physics, the search for the boson particle offers us the excitement of a possible fifth dimension. These opportunities are so stunning that they are and should be frightening.

America as a nation spends huge sums on scientific research. While too much of that is military, a lot does spill over to the private sector. Advances in robotics in regard to artificial limbs have been applied to the general population. GPS technology is good for more than just smart bombs targeting terrorists. Similarly, drone technology has been applied to rescue people as well as to slaughter them.

Managing these technologies promises a future of both jobs and wealth, if we are willing to spend the research money directly on domestic needs.

Technically and economically, the world can produce enough to feed, clothe, house, medicate and educate to a reasonable middle-class standard. The only problems in the way of that are political. The 30-year stagnation of the wages of the middle-class and therefore much of our poverty are not accidental. They are the result of class warfare.

We now live in a plutocracy, government by the wealthy, with extremes of inequality in wealth and income not seen for more than 80 years. These inequalities are also the underlying cause of our current depression.

America will get a growing, prosperous economy in 2012 only if we give the middle-class a wage increase commensurate with their increased productivity.

If we want to have a prosperous new year, we must put our political house in order. The financial sector does not have a right to the money it stole or the political power it purchased with that money. We need to demand accountability for the criminal behavior of bank presidents and not just crack addicts.
Our Constitution and all of our universal and unalienable rights, especially freedom from warrantless search and seizure, must be defended and not given up because we are afraid. Corporations have limited liability, uncontrolled size and immortality; no person I know has any of those attributes.
The tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement agree on at least this much, so the country is surely ready to fight those battles. Coordinated SWAT team action and pepper spray should not deter us.

America is still the most powerful cultural force for good in the world, and politically the world is going our way despite what you hear.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, with its attack on income inequality, was quickly copied across the developed world. Divergent forms of democratic capitalism are emerging and being welcomed. The repressive aspects of Chinese state capitalism are being challenged by the Chinese people themselves. India’s combination of socialism and capitalism is still emerging. Latin America is quietly slipping free of the IMF and North American corporate control. A democratic Arab Spring is outperforming militant Islamism. Across the world, the creation and spreading of wealth is becoming more important than political ideology.

If we revive the middle class here at home and reach out to others, we will have a great year, and the world will go along. Instead of projecting power in the Far East with aircraft carriers, we will share with China the development of an emerging Southeast Asia. Instead of threatening Iran, we will recognize its natural position as a leader in the Middle East. Instead of fighting the world consensus on global climate change, we will be leading the repair of the planet. Instead of fearing science, we will complete that stalled particle accelerator down in Texas. Instead of closing our borders and our hearts, we will open them so we are still the land of the free.

List your own favorite tasks, and we will all have a daunting but exciting agenda.

America and the world face the prospect of a prosperous and peaceful world. But America is still the only country that can lead us all forward. If we succumb to a bickering fear – of technology, of dark-skinned people, of ourselves – we will not lead.

Let’s look at the new year not just as a gift of opportunity but as a task to be accomplished. Then it will be a really happy new year!
A resident of Mt. Gretna, Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. His column appears every other Thursday. He maintains past columns and can be reached through his blog, paulheise.blogspot.com.