Systemic Failure of Consumer-driven Corporate Capitalism births a New Economy

“This economic revolution isn’t being consciously driven, yet, however it’s an option that could prevail”, says Gar Alperovitz. It is spawning and evolving from the discontent and pains that our current system and its failures and lack of alternatives, is giving birth to. We’re at the pre-history, of something quite historic!

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I sat among the choir. A note about Annie Leonard speaking in Baltimore, an environmental activist whose Story of Stuff first sparked my attention, arrived in my inbox. We attended the “People and Planet First” IPS conference to educate ourselves, exchange information and spread the word. It was hosted at the University of Baltimore, September 19th, 2015. The final session was moderated by ‘Institute for Policy Studies’ Director, John Cavanagh.

The conference looked at our current challenges from a wider perspective; seeing the various systemic problems ensuing from our current corporate capitalism model, as quite interdependent. The environmental problems of mass extinction, pollution and rising carbon dioxide levels along with the social problems of inequality and injustice, are all tied to the current economic model; which maintains and concentrates its wealth by funneling it back to the source (the 1%), instead of redistributing wealth and power (and empowerment) among the citizens and the community. And spoke of an emerging business model from community gardens, composting, water run-off and waste management to setting up local business alliances, local banks, farmer cooperatives and student civic actions that join the local alliances to promote investments in local businesses.

Annie Leonard, US Greenpeace director of ‘Story of Stuff’ fame, presented her more recent informational video “Story of Solutions”. It points to the fact that we need to completely step out of what is driving the capitalism machine of quantity, to an entirely different game which seeks quality of life – equality and freedom for people and quality of life for all creation. A model beyond merely consumption.

Historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz presented his ideas amassed in the preparation for his latest book, “What Then Must We Do by Gar Alperovitz?”, talking of alternatives to Corporate Capitalism and Socialism, as clearly the American empire is in decay. On almost every indicator, there’s a deeper trend over the past decades which reveals that there’s a systemic crisis in the United States. The systemic design that we’ve lived with for a long time, in which corporations control the capital, reveal that the surplus is not being returned to benefit the communities and the people, but siphoned off to make the 1% who are the owners, more and more wealthy. This trend of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, of increasing inequality, increasing sickness within populations due to pollutants, decreasing prosperity among the 99%.

Corporate Capitalism and the American Empire as we know it, is giving birth to something new, which innovative Americans are creating all over the country. Gar Alperovitz mentions that this certainly isn’t anything the media is covering. In fact, many don’t believe that alternatives exist, until they see examples of what other groups and communities have accomplished. “Often we don’t know what our neighbors are doing”, says Gar. “Systems typically revolve around ‘who has control of the wealth’. The rule of royalty in the feudalism of the middle ages, in the present day manifests itself as ‘Corporate Capitalism’, of which the extreme is fascism, control by authoritarian rule.”

Sometimes noisily, but often times quietly, communities around the country – of which Maryland is an example of being ahead of the wave – are transforming our culture by decentralizing ownership. By democratizing the wealth through becoming owners of their own goods and services, they are able to maintain a number of things; circulating surplus back into their own operations and communities (rather than it being syphoned off to the 1%), empowering themselves, making conscious decisions to ensure that all aspects of operations have the lightest ecological footprint possible and generating freedom through participation in ownership and production and wealth.

We currently have a system of enormous waste, in which we continue to manufacture and create more stuff, because that is a NEED embedded in capitalism. Capitalism must produce more, to ensure profit.

Examples of alternatives are in cooperative enterprises, worker-owned companies, credit unions, 25% of American electricity is socialist in structure, social enterprise like CREDO (using profits for social and political purposes), neighborhood corporations, land-trusts that are socialized (to control land inflation and gentrification).

Following examples of success such as Mondragón in the Basque region of Spain. Mondragon Corporation networked democratized ownership where capital is being decentralized to empower and enrich the communities by circulating surplus back into local communities. Consciously making decisions to connect to all other suppliers and parts connected to the whole system, with conscientious efforts to localize and work within a ‘green’ system. It is just the beginning.

I apologize for any grammatical errors or gaps in information, however I must now leave to hitch to Washington D.C. to attend the People for Climate Justice Climate Rally in Washington D.C., coinciding with Pope Francis’ delivering his tenets of wisdom to the White House.

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Citizens United is anything but…what it claims

The Christian Science Monitor released an article in January “Four years ago today, the Supreme Court ushered US democracy into a new age of big money and pay-to-play politics. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled in favor of unlimited independent political spending by corporations and other outside groups, which ultimately led to the creation of “super political-action committees,” or super PACs. The consequences were immediate and clear: Outside campaign spending exploded, making politicians more beholden than ever to their biggest donors, and creating an appearance of political corruption that threatens to further undermine voters’ trust in US democracy.

Although overturning the Citizens United decision would be the most direct path to undoing big donors’ newest power to secure special treatment, that is unlikely without a shift in the court’s membership.”
Public Integrity explains in an article

Public Integrity explanation of Citizens United

Public Integrity explanation of Citizens United

What's Worth Fightin For

Elizabeth Warren’s book “A Fighting Chance”

progressive political manifesto is coming out: “A Fighting Chance“. It’s one of the most important books of the year, which lays it all out there: how Wall Street continues to rip off the 99% and how corporations are using Citizens United to buy our democracy—as well as Elizabeth’s own story of how she rose from being the daughter of an Oklahoma City maintenance man to becoming a U.S. senator.
Demonstrator before Barclays Bank in central Lodon dressed as banker throwing away paper money bills.

Demonstrator before Barclays Bank in central Lodon dressed as banker throwing away paper money bills.

Annie Leonard who originally did an educational environmental awareness project explaining to the public about the waste built into a materialistic capitalistic society called http://storyofstuff.org/ As this link demonstrates, the original educational video has become a movement.

Here they embrace the same subject matter as Elizabeth Warren was moved to deal with, the hypocrisy of the United States government calling themselves a Democracy, when in fact, the high-bidders are now hiding behind a third party agency that floats political leaders, without disclosing the source of their financial backing. http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-citizens-united-v-fec/

An article in the Christian Science Monitor

Hilarious Pharma ads | Corpocrisy posing as Democracy

Speaking of comedy. Here in the USA, pharmaceutical commercials have in the last 5 to 10 years surpassed those of the automobile industry in terms of bombarding the public airwaves. Saturday Night Live or some comedy act should do a spoof on these. The commercials are hilarious, without intending to be satirical. The first 5 seconds of the advertisement talks about this or that wonder drug and what ailment it conquers, followed with a voice talking as fast as humanly possibly (as if reading the fine print) packing all of the warnings of the drug into the remainder of the 60 second spot. There are so many potential hazards and risks of the drug that they can barely squeeze all of these ‘warnings’ into the ad. Hilarious! Then there’s always an authoritative voice recommending that you ‘consult your physician’ which is basically through ‘power of suggestion’. My family would laugh at these ads, as my father WAS a physician, and the big pharma were turning the scenario upside-down. Instead of a patient consulting their doctor to examine their condition and give advice, the pharma’s are suggesting what their verdict for treating this or that condition is, without having a clue about an individual person’s situation or the overall context of what may be causing these symptoms to occur. The pharma’s suggest that you should be running to ask your doctor to prescribe this or that, while they are at the same time wooing the doctor’s with conferences in exotic places and practically throwing gifts at them, luring them in to suggesting these drugs to their patients, the more the merrier. It’s a joke. A dangerous joke. And since all drugs are distilled from some sort of plant or substance that is organic – which occurs in nature – it’s important to maintain a healthy planet where things can grow. Most dis ease can be prevented; through healthy diet, drinking lots of water (replenishing that which already makes up 75% of our body), having a healthy attitude, alleviating stress. Balancing healthy amounts of exercise and physical movement with having a very sanctimonious relationship to the act and art of eating; cooking and eating is fun, delicious, and something that can bring people together. Meals can be cherished, rather than rushed.

It’s the unintended hilarity of the pharmaceutical ads that reminds me of how upside-down and hypocritical the America political system functions. The country is not even remotely a ‘democracy’, but a plutocracy. It is wealth that lubricates people’s entry into the political arena. The rise of politicians has little to do with a person’s credentials or leadership qualities. Excellence seems to have been eclipsed by BIG MONEY. Now private companies funnel money to the party, discretely, so that its source can not be determined or traced. Democracy, no longer. Transparency? Far from it. Corpocrisy i.e. corpocrazy, is the standard. No longer individuals consulting their politicians to represent what they believe is ‘healthy’ and their ‘rights’, but the BIG MONEY dictating what they prescribe; which often loops into more money coming right back to their source.

911 | High Alert | Bankers Beware | Bitcoin has Arrived

Gently, bitcoin has come into my awareness. bitcoin logo
First, standing around a campfire after hitching from Berlin, Germany to Slovakia to attend the 2013 Hitchgathering. There have been a few articles floating around to inform me a little more in the last months. However, it wasn’t until I read this article, thanks to a share on FB, that the implications suddenly burst into my consciousness.

bitcoin cryptocurrency

Several paragraphs into this article in the New York Times by Marc Andressen “Why Bitcoin Matters“, it hit me.

“What kinds of digital property might be transferred in this way? Think about digital signatures, digital contracts, digital keys (to physical locks, or to online lockers), digital ownership of physical assets such as cars and houses, digital stocks and bonds … and digital money.”

zerohedge-dot-com-demographics-bitcoin
Upon reading this last line,
“All these are exchanged through a distributed network of trust that does not require or rely upon a central intermediary like a bank or broker.”
I leaned forward to let the last sip of my home-made espresso with hand-frothed milk dribble precisely back into my cup, it could have lead to an explosion and expulsion of my coffee bursting from of my mouth. It was not merely that the liquid was too hot, but the realization of the implications of that last sentence was volcanic. I sprung out of my chair thinking to myself, This is un fucking precedented for the human race! No central authoritarian, monopolizing bodies of power manipulating the fees and controlling the wealth? No monarchy, kingdoms, fiefdoms, corpocrisy-driven plutocracy, bankers or brokers or the 1% controlling the wealth and transaction fees?

Yet as I read on over the ‘pros’ of switching to Bitcoin, as the author detailed all the ways that one can break down payments, ad infinitum, into fractions of cents, “A third fascinating use case for Bitcoin is micropayments, or ultrasmall payments.”

I started to feel a growing discomfort, with the disturbing sense of this overzealous monetizing of every little thing. Could this inevitably lead to a new technocracy of rulers, those in control of the machines?

Here is an additional article I just came across explaining ‘bitcoin’ http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/dealbook/2014/01/21/why-bitcoin-matters/

Hmmm, well you can’t have everything, but step by step progress can be made.