Author Posts

May 29, 2014 at 12:17 pm

This Op-Ed by Roger Cohen (a veteran Brit journalist with a regular column for the NY Times) is a great intro to what’s wrong with capitalism.  Basically, he says (and the governor of the Bank of England agrees) that banking isn’t an end to itself, but a vehicle for progress.  Our society has come to value financialization – profits – above all, as opposed to what capital can do for our society.  Unfettered capitalism is a recipe for disaster in that it fuels ever-increasing inequal distribution of wealth (rich getting richer) and the associated wide-spread feeling that the system is rigged for the privileged (basically, the poor getting poorer, and pissed off).

I’m looking forward to reading Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty First Century, a 696-page tome written by a very well respected economist, which indicts the rising income inequality over the past couple of centuries as a non-self-correcting phenomenon.  His book has generated lots of buzz – the fact that this giant book is a best seller shows that people are very, very interested in this topic.  Anyone who’s read this book, let me know what you think.

June 25, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Wow, what a powerful metaphor—eating one’s own young. My stomach feels queasy. Unbridaled growth is extremely self-(and other) destructive. One of my favorite quotes is that of Edward Abbey who said: “growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”. I’m still in total dismay that none of the investment banker criminals responsible for the subprime mortgage scandal and collapse of the economy have been imprisoned! Greed is a scary and powerful force, and one we often aren’t equipped to contend with both at the societal or personal level. When greed gets out of control or is rewarded we learn that it is something our culture values. The complex and potent economic forces at play can seem beyond our reach to influence. However, something that helps me cope with the powerlessness I often feel related to inequity and economic injustice, is to regularly practice generosity in whatever way I am able to at the time. I have found that in various periods in my life, especially when resources have been more scant, I am even better at being generous. The act of giving—of time, resources, the material, etc.-can be very grounding for me. And, while currently in a period of feeling squeezed, practicing giving or “paying it forward” reminds me that neither money nor the material are as significant as it often seems. For me, it’s just a matter of pushing just a little beyond my comfort zone and then I’m reminded that my own survival and happiness depends on so much more than money and things. There are some truly remarkable altruists, such as the shoe-shiner Kim posted about, but finding one’s own small way to connect with generous nature and spirit inherent in every one of us can be personally healing and contribute to a shift in our cultural values.