Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cancel the Bonuses

Subject: Economy, response desired

Dear Mr. President:

Tell your Treasury Secretary - i.e. the guy who negotiated the AIG bailout - to cancel the AIG bonuses or tender his resignation. There is something far worse things than breaching contracts with the "best and brightest" people at AIG - violating YOUR sacred contract with the American people.

But these bonuses are just the tip of the iceberg. The whole revolving door arrangement between Wall Street and the Fed, Treasury, and regulating agencies deserves a full and cleansing exposure to the harsh light of day. Focus your anger on those who lobbied and agitated for the disastrous deregulations of the past decade. Let those who gambled their firms were too big to fail feel your wrath. The American people need to see justice - and we have not begun to see it yet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bonuses for Bailout Recipients?

Subject: Economy, response desired

Dear Mr. President:

Bonuses at companies that are getting bailouts from the US taxpayer? Outrageous! Absolutely not!

And forget baloney like "We have to pay big salaries to retain the best talent". The thing to do instead is to confiscate property from the arrogant executives who gambled that their firms were "too big to fail". The American people need to see REAL punishment for the mighty - not a slap on the wrist, not a few years at a country club detention facility, but honest-to-God justice.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ecological Economic Advisor

Subject: Economics, response desired

Dear Mr. President:

I voted for "change", not the same-old, same-old "Universal Demand Agenda" that Mr. Summers continues to spout. Show him and his cohorts the door and bring in a top economic advisor who "gets" that planet Earth is finite, fragile, and already badly damaged from Man's excesses of consumption, extraction, and subjugation.

There are a number of good candidates but I will suggest two: former World Bank Senior Economist Herman Daly and Dr. Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean "ecological economist" with the great good sense to recognize that human needs are few, finite, and classifiable rather than infinite and insatiable.

Stop spreading the lie that we will be able to "grow" out of the messes that greed and growth got us into. We need to learn how to THRIVE, Mr. President! And that means becoming humble enough to need one another again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Work for People

Subject: Economy, response desired

Dear Mr. President:

The problem in America - indeed, the world - is not that there isn't enough essential work to do. We need food and clothing and shelter. We need education and community services and health care. We still need - honest-to-God NEED - many goods and services. And so do a great many people around the world who are still very poor in material things.

The problem is that our ACTIONS show we would rather depend on machines and fossil fuels to do the work than depend on ourselves and each other. When we shop, we look for the lowest price. When we invest, we seek the highest rate of return. When we manage businesses; when we consider work to do at home; we look for every opportunity to replace human beings with "labor-saving" machines. If it was our express purpose to create massive unemployment, we could hardly do better! But we TALK like none of this is happening.

And this leads us to the real problem. We lie to ourselves, we lie to each other, we elect leaders who have to lie to get elected. We use words like "labor-saving" rather than "labor-destroying". We pretend that "growth" will save us.

Please stop the lies. If we want useful, honorable, wholesome work for ourselves and one-another, we need to get INTENTIONAL!! This is not an economic crisis. This is a spiritual one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Your Assignment

Subject: Economy, response desired

Dear Mr. President,

I can do no better today than to exactly quote James Howard Kunstler, a visionary who does not shy from blunt truths. God knows we need the truth right now!

"You are presiding over an epochal contraction, not a pause in the growth epic. Your assignment is to manage that contraction in a way that does not lead to world war, civil disorder or both. Among other things, contraction means that all the activities of everyday life need to be downscaled including standards of living, ranges of commerce, and levels of governance. "Consumerism" is dead. Revolving credit is dead -- at least at the scale that became normal the last thirty years. The wealth of several future generations has already been spent and there is no equity left there to re-finance."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feed our Children

"...we don't need economic growth. We need to feed our children, so they can grow. " - Automatic Earth, 23 Feb 2009

Subject: Economy, response desired

Dear Mr. President:

Just one thing: Please, please listen to Nicholas Nassim Taleb:

The guys who were in "control" of things going into this mess are not - repeat - ARE NOT the ones to charge with fixing it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Secret

Subject: Employment, response desired

What if the secret to more employment for people is less employment for machines? What if we were no less committed to “the least among us” than we are passionate about our vaunted economic and political theories? What if we really did put people first, firmly above climbing over others to get ahead ourselves?

If healthy, fulfilling, honorable work for everyone was our top priority, would tens of millions of Americans know – and a hundred million or more fear – that their fellow countrymen have no further need for their services?

What if more Growth for those of us already wallowing in stuff leads us away from true prosperity? What if a tide of material consumption that rises even further would drown humankind beneath depletion and ruin long before it lifted the leaking dinghies of the poorest of the poor? What if Edmund Burke’s warning is true: we are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to our disposition to put moral chains upon our own appetites?

Because the choice today – indeed, the choice for all time – remains very simple: to love and serve one another; or abandon ourselves to the pursuit of the lowest prices, the highest rates of return, and the opportunity to die with the most toys.