Monday, December 22, 2008

TV and the four directions

There are four basic needs for a citizens- home, food, health care and a job. The last one because how else can you pay your taxes? The first two are easy to justify. The third is essential if you want to get to work so that the government can tax you for the scandals to warm to.
Quoting Stanley in the Times:
The nation is engrossed in an orgy of scandal, a 24-hour cable news burlesque of greed, graft, cronyism and corruption, with appointed villains so lurid and over-the-top they could be characters in “Bleak House.” (Even their names, Madoff and Blagojevich, have a Dickensian ring, like Skimpole or Pardiggle.)

Credit is frozen, the stock market looks perilously close to flatlining, and neither politicians nor economists can begin to predict the short- or long-term consequences of $700 billion government bailouts and a national debt topping $10 trillion. The root causes — an impenetrable tangle of derivative securities, heedless lending and binge corporate buyouts — are too vast and uncharted to examine for long. The solutions are insoluble.

As Neil Postman writes in Amusing Ourselves to Death we are distracted from the four basics by nonsense by the elites need to reduce taxes instead of jobs.

For one the government is not addressing jobs and homes or health care for all.

And maybe it can't, a whole new emphasis on where we are in the era of Peak Everything.
Quoting Uchitelle in the Times:
“It is not in the nature of a market system to have adequate private investment all of the time,” said Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “So we used public investment to smooth things over and improve the climate for private investment.”

That changed. In the 1970s, the public reacted against high taxes and growing budget deficits, and conservatives argued that putting money in private hands would lift the economy more effectively. Public investment tapered off, and was used less as a tool of economic policy as the economy experienced the increasingly sharp ups and downs of the 1980s, 1990s and the new century.

If shortages drive up prices, a good thing, then the pain of being unable to consume frivolously , like the paintings of Dahen, will be difficult to impossible. This will allow resources to go farther since shipping trash around will be impossible. China to the rescue? No but we can learn to live within our means- a concept presently unknown to government, the concept of business itself and us.

For example what's with the rootless society? If we really need a home why don't we settle down and build community and family linked to the neighborhood? Because GM has driven over the dream and created a gridiron of streets which imprison homes away from the community and neighborhood. Without the proximity of a walkable neighborhood there aren't any services, like dentists and farmers markets, wherein to meet and talk to neighbors, and so we move in search of "home."

What missing from this whole scenario? An acknowledgment that without equity we can't solve the peak everything problem and keep from deteriorating into balkanized walled rioting communities. Mumbai is a measure of how far the outside world penetrates comfort to create the trend to balkanized communities. In the movies we get tough on crime, poverty, and punishment delivered. Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood, can erase the margin between constitution and Guantanamo, squarely under the holy cross of Abu Grahib. On the front page America continues to get tough on black and Hispanic youth, spending a whole generation, on the slogan of a racially neutral class free society. Even a fiscal disaster in California won't stop our racist drive over the edge. "Class resentment is the rage" but it doesn't extend to equity in prison spending, education, keep the home economy with jobs, or health care.

Instead we knock charity for economically distressed communities, like community developers (remember Oboam versus McCain), without acknowledging the role of economic empowerment provided by the organizations nominated. In the Brundtland Report which gave us the common parlance of the phrase "sustainable development" we must overcome our elitist disregard for the conditions pf poverty under the mask of a sustainable meritocracy.

Brundtland laid out four principles in Our Common Future in 1987
1- the elimination of poverty is necessary not just as a human right but as an environmental issue.
2- we in the first world must reduce our consumption of resources and production of wastes.
3- Global cooperation on environmental issues is no longer a soft option.
4- Change toward sustainability can occur only with community-based approaches that take local cultures seriously.

Brundtland said they must apply simultaneously to achieve global sustainability.

Work toward the four basic needs is the only way to keep the goddess happy and the home from being nagged to death as any laid off fellow will tell you.

No comments: