Economics Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Edit Profile

Soaring Spirit with Tears » Economics  

  Thread Last Poster Posts Pages Last Post
  ClosedClosed: New threads not accepted on this page        

Welcome to Economics.

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 06:10 pm:   

This topic has been the hardest one to launch, but it may be one of the most critical to lasting stability.

In the textbooks I studied as an undergraduate, the issue was always put forward in the words, "guns or butter," the idea being that a nation may invest in might or daily needs. There is one e-mail going around the Internet suggesting that we bomb Afghanistan with butter. This speaks to many needs, but defense also has many ramifications and it has typically been one of the biggest expenditures of our government.

Noting this, we can also observe that all this colossal investment, often at the expense of other priorities that may actually have addressed more humanitarian concerns, has absolutely failed in recent years.

During the cold war, defense was equated to deterrent and perhaps it took a balance of power to keep the fingers off the buttons. Meanwhile, the entire world was held hostage to the psyches of the people with access to those buttons, and I think we could argue that individual sentiments of disempowerment, fear, adrenal stress, and so forth could be easily linked to cold war politics.

U.S. might did not win the war in Vietnam and we left with tails between our legs and decades of psychotherapy around the ailing American psyche.

Not learning from the U.S., the Soviets got into their war in Afghanistan. They not only left with their tail between their legs, but they broke into 16 countries. In other words, their nation was not able to heal the rifts that so easily divide.

The U.S. is now paying the price of supporting the Afghanis in their struggle with our old cold war foe, now ally. Though it is very difficult to understand how this could happen, it is very important that we do take the time to understand that it not only can happen, has happened, but that it almost certainly had to happen. Moreover, billions of dollars spent on defense failed to produce a shred of useful intelligence much less prevention.

The U.S. is a huge country with thousands of miles of borders and oceans, not to mention air space. We have always been security conscious. We have been populated by people who were fleeing injustice, unrest, famine, war, and epidemic. We know about the struggle for religious freedom but did not really learn about the Inquisition or its economic, political, and religious agenda. We knew about the Plague but did not really learn how it was used to divide people politically. We learned about famine and wars and even the Holocaust, but we seldom saw the seeds of social unrest as they were growing nor did we calculate the ramifications of colonizing a land that was already occupied.

Much that has been achieved by the great American spirit has been achieved at the expense of people who have become over the years increasingly disenfranchised. Our relationship with Native American Nations has remained duplicitous for countless years. I voted for Nader-LaDuke because I felt that we as a country needed moral leadership that was free of capitalist vested interests and that could serve as a bridge to our true relationship to the unique characteristics of country.

On September 11th, we witnessed a terrible attack on our way of life, but what emerged within minutes after the attack was the real American spirit. People reached out to each other; they prayed for each other; they raised money for the victims. I was proud to be an American, but disheartened when "God Bless America" became a battle hymn.

We must expand our spirit to embrace the whole world, not with weapons but with the same compassion we have for each other.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 06:11 pm:   

"U.S. Plans Massive Air Drop of Food"

Washington, D.C. The Dept. of Defense has been quietly putting together a parallel plan alongside its war scenario that calls for a massive air drop of food and other humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, hoping it would win the "hearts and minds of the people," a Pentagon official said.

The initiative arises after the administration received numerous requests from humanitarian groups to come to the aid of possibly millions of people -- both refugees fleeing the country and those displaced inside Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is considering several ways to provide assistance, including dropping supplies by air and using military bases in the region as staging areas for humanitarian relief. Russia this week gave permission for the U.S. to use its airspace for humanitarian missions. Japan also offered help.

"We are starting to look seriously at that issue," said a defense official, who asked not to be identified. "We are looking at the humanitarian angle from every angle."

But the task is likely to be extremely difficult. In addition to the problems of getting the supplies to vast numbers of people, Pentagon planners are concerned about the onset of winter in the next few weeks in mountainous regions, as well as the absence of international aid workers on the ground. All international relief workers have been evacuated.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 06:21 pm:   

Over the months ahead, I would really like to formulate a plan for global economic responsibility, one that does not involve competition and exploitation of resources but rather socially conscious use of the economic energies of the Planet.

I hope many will contribute their ideas, but I would like to seed the discussion with the thought that money is really not much different than air or water. It is something we earn and spend, use for a moment and then release for others to use. In economics, this is actually called the multiplier effect, but while many can use the energy while it is circulated, it does no one any good when it is hoarded. Likewise, even when money is circulated very quickly, it does not create in any long-term way. It provides jobs and opportunities, but it only builds for the future when it is used very carefully.

Weapons are like stockpiles, massive amounts of materials that from the day they are produced begin to experience obsolescence, but they require storage and maintenance, and when they are used, they destroy. From an economic perspective, weapons constitute one of the biggest wastes of resources imaginable so somewhere between protection and safety and wild consumption of resources, a rational middle ground has to be found.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 06:23 pm:   

Next, by way of kicking off this topic of discussion, I would like to propose an exploration of what in Buddhism is called "right livelihood." This is work that creates no karma for the future, no seeds of destruction, and, of course, no harm. Ideally, right livelihood also involves work that allows one to practice goodness, the term used by my Tibetan teacher, Nechung Rinpoche.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2001 - 10:41 pm:   

Spend, Spend, Spend - Patriotism or Disconnection?

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. Environmental News Service

"If all of us acted in unison as I act individually
there would be no wars and no poverty.
I have made myself personally responsible
for the fate of every human being
who has come my way."
-- Anais Nin

In the wake of the September 11 tragedies, people all over the world began doing what our political and business leaders have deemed unpatriotic - they stayed closer to home, spent more time with their families, and bought only what they needed. A glorious opportunity was missed by those that govern us to begin fostering a nation and a world whose values could not be disputed.

The last few weeks have provided undeniable proof that the indicator chosen to measure a nation's health - the economy - is a flawed, outdated, environmentally and socially destructive concept that is totally unrepresentative of the true values of a culture.

The world's leaders all missed a pivotal moment in modern human history. They missed the chance to tell the world, "Our endless quest for wealth so that some can be rich while others are bitterly poor is over. We will now make our business the health and welfare of the people of the world."

But of course they would miss it. They are the leaders appointed by the world of business, not the world of humanity. Their job is to employ the masses to produce consumer goods so that the masses will buy them. And we have bought this line of garbage, as the fishers would say, hook, line, and sinker.

Amidst the blather of the endless radio and television talk shows over the last few weeks, people have been expressing their confusion and desire to do something to help. Rather than ask for an outpouring of compassion, the government has asked for increased consumption. Many are realizing that our leaders are not there to protect the health and welfare of their people. Rather, they are the ultimate publicists and cheerleaders for businesses, many of which they own.

Just when we started to get access to that inner strength that comes from staying home, facing and holding loved ones, and examining one's life to find out what is really important, our leaders came on the TV and essentially told us to return to being consumers, to take hard earned money out of our pockets and give it to that mysterious entity called The Economy.

What is The Economy, really? We are told that it is a collection of business and property owners who act on demand from the population and extract resources from the Earth as needed to create the goods that we demand. But how many of you have ever really demanded a product from a manufacturer? We are told that in order to be happy and content, we must purchase these items.

And now we are being told it is unpatriotic NOT to buy. How convenient this is for the business owners.

The news media is wildly playing into this strategy. Every channel is broadcasting endless analyses of the events, creating more and more unmanageable fear. We have already been taught since we were children that to feel better, you buy something, so the current orders from our President to consume fit right in to that psychosis.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, we were beginning to feel less like isolated individuals and more like beings who were part of something larger and more important than our daily lives. We began to feel less comforted by the shopping mall and more secure in the arms of our families. We began to look out our windows and see a sky filled with clouds rather than airplanes and their noise and pollution. We began to think about the future and realize that we can decide what it looks like.

But by beginning the process of restoring our connection to ourselves and the natural world, we threatened the very fabric of the part of American culture owned by the one percent of the population who controls 90 percent of the property and money.

Since these people are the very ones who run our cities and our nation, they were able to regain control, to tell us to separate from our innate values, and to return to being the frightened, isolated beings whom they have carefully crafted.

Individual consumers are separate from everything. They need no one and nothing except their credit cards and checkbooks.

Chellis Glendinning describes our modern day definition of our personal boundaries in her book, "My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization." She calls it a "fence, a national boarder, a property line, a suit of armor or a Giorgio Armani suit, a well-fed ego, a psychological defense mechanism." Our concept of psychological boundaries mirrors our political and economic systems. The Earth is viewed as a thing to be acquired, divided, used, and defended just as our psychological boundary is to enclose, protect, armor, and, ultimately, alienate.

But we can't be blamed for succumbing to this mindset. We are afraid. Fear paralyzes so many of us and keeps us from achieving our dreams. How differently we would all act if we didn't have fear of losing our jobs, not paying the rent, our bosses, of standing out in the crowd, of someone else stealing our work and getting credit, of not being powerful, of being harmed by a terrorist, and on and on and on.

Fear keeps us from acting, from challenging assumptions, and from calling things by their right name.

Where do so many of our life assumptions come from? Many come from our families of origin, to be sure. Yet many are supplied by the culture from the moment we are conceived. Glendinning says we have a deep mindset, a mindset of imperialism and of domination. Virtually all of us have been touched by the disassociated and disconnected values of our culture. How else can we explain that in a single day, people of the United States:

throw out 200,000 tons of edible food
use 313 million gallons of fuel - enough to drain 26 tractor-trailer trucks every minute
take 18 million tons of raw materials from the Earth
use 6.8 billion gallons of drinking water to flush toilets
throw 1 million bushels of litter out of car windows
add 10,000 minks to their closets and coat racks
spend $200 million on advertising
saw up 100 million board feet of wood
use 250,000 tons of steel
use 187,000 tons of paper
We have been practicing this disconnected way of life for a very long time.

Early in the 16th and 17th centuries, the last vestiges of thinking of the cosmos as alive and of identifying the Earth with human beings in spirit and body was considered naive, barbaric, and childish. The image of the universe was far from alive any longer. It was, as Isaac Newton spoke of it, a giant clock, a machine.

Kirkpatrick Sale says this time marked the demotion of god and goddess to little more than clock-winders. Slowly and powerfully, the values we embrace today were formed, and this paradigm transformed the attitudes of Western society toward nature and the universe.

Sale, in his book "Dwellers in the Land," says that Europe's treatment of the New World that was opened up about the same time was being formed by these new values. He reminds us that, "Two continents, pristine jewels of unimagined glories, were perceived as nothing but empty spaces for unwanted populations, repositories of wanted ores, tracts of trees to fell and fields to plow, virgin territories with no other purpose but to be worked. Those who inhabited those spaces could be honorably and properly displaced, for they were only hunters and foragers who did nothing to 'improve' the land and thus had no standing in the eyes of European law."

Over the next century and a half, the New World was ravaged and plundered with the aid of forced labor of over 100,000 slaves per year. Many mindsets were formed during this period and a new relationship with nature became firmly entrenched in our culture. Nature became the provider of resources, the wild land to be tamed, and the prize to be owned.
It is imperative that we all believe that we were NOT wrong or unpatriotic to return from the malls to our homes and reclaim our souls over the last few weeks. That was the right thing to do. Don't succumb to the call to show the world our might through our consumption. We must show the world our might through our compassion and our willingness to look within and see what is really important.

When you look inside, the imperative to shop is NOT what you see.


Need help getting off the consumer treadmill? These folks can help:

1. Read about redefining the American Dream at:

2. Learn how to simplify your lives from the Simple Living Network at:

3. Learn how to redefine your relationship with money from the New Roadmap Foundation, the producers of the transformative book, "Your Money or Your Life," at:

4. Take back your life with the help of Seeds of Simplicity at:

5. Visit the Center for a New American Dream at:

6. See the effects of the media on our lives with the help of the National Institute on Media and the Family at:

7. Learn how to get rid of your TV from the TV Turnoff Network at:

8. Redefine your relationship with media with the help of The Media Reform Information Center at:

9. See beyond the commercials with The Media Foundation, producers of Adbusters magazine, at:

10. Keep an eye on corporations with the help of Corporate Watch at:

11. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and e-mail them. Tell them that you want an end to the rhetoric that spending is patriotic. If you know your Zip code, you can find them at:

{Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle. He can be found flying an Earth Flag and saving what little money he has for his child's future. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at and visit his website at:}

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration