Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Finite World Is A Problem

When President Reagan's regressive economic policies were bruited at the beginning of his reign I wondered why a rising tide that raised all boats was a good thing. I mean if you were in a lifeboat a rising tide simply raised your...lifeboat. It didn't help you into a yacht. Not that I wanted a yacht for the asking but if the tide was good for the people at the top already in their yachts it should do more than simply lift my lifeboat, no? It turns out, no surprise to me that reducing taxes and increasing costs by all Presidents, including Reagan himself, screwed the national economy for a start. Off-shoring production, destroying unions (the people that brought you the weekend among other things you take for granted in the workplace) and holding down wages and benefits leave us where we are today. The promised pensions that corporations looted for shareholders are unfunded but shareholders are doing fine with their gambling on a Wall Street, finally throw in a few wars paid for with blood and credit cards and here we are.

I am grateful every day for my job, I like dispatching and I like working for Key West PD; I get good pay and great benefits, and I live in a part of the world that I have slowly come to love warts and all. I have my own financial problems, thank you Wells Fargo, and change is in the air, but neither my family nor my blog is going anywhere north of the seven mile bridge. I know there are people in this country, never mind further afield that are suffering horribly and unnecessarily. They are our neighbors and they live in a world where less than 3,000 people own half the entire planet's Gross Domestic Product. Half of all wealth produced. And you aren't the least bit pissed off? Is it still envy if you and I are doing okay, but the unemployed have no jobs, no dole, no hope? I am astounded how powerfully the message of "class warfare" has been spread through the proud people of the US whose children face a bleak future in a playing field no longer level, while at the same time many of the people they live next door to, White, Black and Hispanic are on the ropes.

Then I read this clear concise well researched essay (below) and I thought to myself, someone is explicating clearly and unemotionally what I feel. One of the most profound divides I have felt with the right in this country since 1981 has been the notion that economics is zero sum. When the movie Wall Street accidentally put about the mantra that, intended ironically, "greed is good" the notion that selfishness was worthwhile took off among my fellow baby boomers. And because of who we are, boomers went to the ends of the Earth to prove the fictional Gordon Gecko right. I always understood that if I have a dollar, it's a buck you can't have. It seems to me that's unarguable but argue it milton friedman did. The notion that there is only so much wealth to go round was laughed off by the greed is good crowd.

Since I was born in 1956 the population of the world has doubled to seven billion. Bearing in mind pre industrial agriculture supported a world population of less than two billion and bear in mind also that energy is costing more to extract and refine and the idea of zero sum (defined here: Investopedia) should gain traction if it weren't so scarey. I know there are alternative technologies being promoted and promises of some deus ex machina to alter the course of the future, but history has a habit of biting in the butt those of us not paying attention. Check it out, it's not difficult to read:

Why a Finite World is a Problem | Our Finite World

These kinds of ideas always have one wondering what should I do? And as far as I can tell all we little people can do is hope for the best, coping as we are with climate change by ignoring it. I think those of us outside the five percent have to accept we don't count, which as a middle class white male raised in the seventies is hard to do. Yet I don't see our leaders, who clearly understand the extent of the problem, don't want to deal with it, quite likely because they also don't know how to start speaking about an issue that will provoke panic and revolt. The only way to deal with a finite world is to ask questions that require hard answers. And no one quite knows what those answers really are so we bumble along.

My answer is to try to stay aware and keep on living. I have a job, I have no kids and I have lived well. I have absolutely no fucking clue what comes next and I keep hoping I will be dead before the bozos in charge have to fess up and admit they screwed the world while the world slept.

From me to you, wherever you are, Happy New Year and let's all hope the ball of wax keeps rolling...