Sunday, September 30, 2007

Building an Economy of Heart*

It’s been some time since I’ve spoken with you, readers. As I’ve mentioned in my blog, I have been, for a while, in a period of re-orientation—one that has refined and adjusted my lens of perspective so that I am now coming into a different focus and have begun to speak in a new way. Where I began my writings to you in 2003 through means of metaphor and rhyme, and continued my message in 2006-7 through the engagement of cultural myth and metaphysics (feeling that introspection and reflection upon my experience of life so far may be of value to others), now I find myself at a point in the process of self and soul expression where words of power and action are necessary.

For some time now I have pursued a spiritual perspective in understanding and coping with the happenings of our time. I have trusted in the dogma of the new thought alliance which has attempted to make a marriage between science and spirituality through developing a “unified theory of everything” that reassured us that, through attention, intention, desire, and prayer, we could change the world—a world we couldn’t change by our political action in the 60’s-70’s. And if we could not effect change by the former or the latter, we could, at least, hold ourselves in a frequency of peace and effect the same in our outer world (in the way of alchemy). We expected, in this paradigm, that the outer appearance of strife would worsen as the old ways, though weary and worn, were clung to by those who ruled under their sanction of power. Clearly, the ruling powers, both political and economic, would fight hard to prevent our seeds of consciousness from sprouting into a full blown vision of shared power and partnership in a caring economy.

And true to our understanding of the process, this war in the consciousness of humankind, has created war, chaos, and destruction in its physical expression. Many of “our kind” still maintain that holding the “OM” will get us through the fluctuating vibratory themes in the chaos of consciousness—warring beliefs, truths, philosophies, economic theories and ideologies—to the promised land on the other side of the storm. But, my friends, there does come a time when we can no longer remain in the blessing of the blueprint—we must act to manifest that which we desire from the ethers of inspired vision. We must sound the gong and initiate the call to action to fulfill the dream we so desire. And fulfilling the dream requires that we, together, formulate a clear and detailed plan of action.

Yesterday, I was reading an article (“Making a More Perfect Constitution”) by a professor, the director of U. Va.'s Center for Politics, Larry J. Sabato, who has spent the last ten years developing his dream of Constitutional reform and is publishing a book explaining his reasoning and his proposals. He indicated that such a process of reform (as is currently outlined in our Constitution) would likely be a ten year process. I commented that if we were to apply our energies to a ten year process of reform, it would better serve us to focus upon curbing the current abuses and excesses of corporate power, the henchmen of which are taking egregious liberties with our common good. Corporate interests have, over the last thirty years willfully and strategically infiltrated our government, our economy, our environment, our healthcare, and now are directing our military in an unlimited war with the Middle East for control of the supply and price of oil while we have been asleep at the wheel! (Or while reassuring ourselves meditating on the great OM!)

In my comment, I wondered why some of the progressive think-tanks such as the Rockridge Institute (who have been instrumental in developing a new narrative frame for progressive political thinking which successfully counters the neo-conservative rhetoric holding our public and its policy captive) haven’t been brainstorming about how to implement a new vision of economy, a more caring economy, that would act to preserve the common wealth of we the people, of our communities, both locally and globally. As you know, readers, I have been using the cycles and phases of the moon to guide my active imagination and my work of intention and manifestation, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, that no sooner had I announced my desire for a comprehensive plan of action, that in the fullness of the moon, I was given its unfolding in a clear and tangible form.

In my very next session of internet wanderings, I came upon “Yes” Magazine’s fall issue
which carries the theme: “Stand Up to Corporate Power”, and includes a diversity of articles which speak according to a frame of reference being developed by a think-tank and social change group known as the Strategic Corporate Initiative (SCI). This initiative is an organically formed group, one which has naturally come together after spending the last twenty years individually involved in developing strategies and campaigns for protecting the common wealth and good from assault by unethical and opportunistic power groups. See information about this group and its formation in the box below.

Over the past two decades, each member of SCI has been involved in often-successful campaigns to curtail excessive corporate power, from rainforest protection to social investing. We have worked on campaigns to abolish toxic chemicals, defend labor rights, advance corporate ethics, and block international trade agreements.
While we have helped make large corporations more responsible, we’ve failed to make them less powerful. We’ve come to realize that without unified action, we may win battles, but we will lose the war.
The Strategic Corporate Initiative is our attempt to ignite a critical discussion on the path forward. We believe that, if united, the scattered movements already creating change can be the catalytic force to create a humane, sustainable, democratic society and economy.
The Strategic Corporate Initiative (SCI) steering committee is made up of the authors of this issue's lead article,
Who Will Rule?, Michael Marx, director of Corporate Ethics International (CEI) in Portland, Oregon and Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital, with the Tellus Institute in Boston; along with John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, and Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC; Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy in Washington, DC; and Mari Margil, formerly with CEI and now with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

The SCI group put their heads together, integrated the wisdom of their diverse, yet common experience as agents of change, and developed a highly organized, intensive plan suggesting strategies that would change the very nature of the [corporate powered] market system, making it less destructive of the common wealth. These strategies, they say, would enhance the "countervailing powers" (those of the citizenry) to restore democracy. A central theme of their vision is the care and repair of livable communities, communities of people who have regained control over their futures. Communities are the front lines in the battle for bringing power back under the control of the people, for “bringing corporations back under citizen control”. Communities, they say, are where the movement begins, and I agree! See what you think of their plan. (By the way, it is quite readable—it is organized into three sections: an outline overview, then a short summary outline, and finally, a detailed proposal following the original outline that is quite lengthy--"126 pages of sanity", said one commenter of my posting on the Daily Kos!)

The section dedicated to community care and repair through building economic relationships and empowering people with choice is the part of the larger plan that is of central interest to me. This is the section that touches into the territory of my thoughts about local community economies and forms of exchange that are a complement and an aid to the larger system. I will be writing more to you on this topic as the thoughts form coherence.

*See article by David Korten

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Question for our Time

On the question of healthcare:

If we think outside the box--pull from the inventive, from the unconventional realms of our thinking, aren't there some alternatives that would allow us to be less dependent on a large and distant, faceless, impersonal, unapproachable, and impervious system (whether corporate for-profit or public) to control and provide for our most intimate and personal needs? (Like what about the possibility of supplementing healthcare payments with local alternative/complementary currencies that would put "relationship" and "community" back into healthcare?)

Can anyone explain why in the 50's, 60's and the first part of the 70's we could afford to pay out of pocket for our healthcare needs, only needing insurance for catastrophic illnesses? I know I paid for both my Caesarian births and hospital stays with very little supplemental insurance. Could the main problem we're experiencing have more to do with the structure of our economy and our tax system being geared to gathering and preserving the wealth into the top .1% of our population (whose income rose 296% between 1979 and 2005 while that of the median household only rose 13%--Krugman's blog below)?

Hasn't this resulting loss of prosperity, of financial security within the broad ranks of the middle and working classes contributed to unaffordable healthcare? How about runaway corporate crime in partnership with political leadership? Dependency on an oil economy? And what about an unthinking large number of baby-boom investors (and 401K's) supporting this system of greed through its economic dependency upon it (investment in stocks and bonds--hedge funds)?

Shouldn't we be considering restoring progressive income tax and other reforms that would redistribute the wealth and its availability to the middle and working classes? Wouldn't that make "personal" healthcare affordable to the majority of "we the people"--(supplemented by insurance for catastrophic conditions)? And certainly, for those in circumstances of poverty and those who give or have given unpaid services to family and community there should be Medicare type provisions.

But shouldn't we mainly be asking the question why we would allow our economy to be debt-based, since this form, by its very nature, creates poverty and sustains it through policies supporting constant economic growth (which requires continued debt creation)? I admit I'm not at all educated in the field of economics, but some very simple explanations by Bernard Lietaer (one of the developers of the Euro-dollar currency) in his book, "The Future of Money", made this situation quite clear to me.

I've been claiming "it's the economy, stupid" for a long time, but I was glad to see today Paul Krugman's (NYT) blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal" pointing to the economy and major economic shifts being the primary and immediate issue needing to be addressed by us all--and to hear he's writing a book on the same subject. Here's the intro to his book:

"I was born in 1953. Like the rest of my generation, I took the America I grew up in for granted – in fact, like many in my generation I railed against the very real injustices of our society, marched against the bombing of Cambodia, went door to door for liberal candidates. It’s only in retrospect that the political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost, an exceptional episode in our nation’s history."-from

And here's an excerpt from the intro to a book I began last year pointing to the same issue (with my own twist to the plot):

"My generation, seeded in the sixties, recklessly wrought their brave-hearted assault up the walls from the path of least resistance, only to reach their peak at the ridge where reluctance and relapse dramatically drew them back into the vibration of the host mother’s economy of placental charm. Here all her mesmerizing material, emotional, and psychological seductiveness has held them where they languish still, deeply entangled in their dependency on her failing economy. Addicted they are to her homing frequency which lulls them into an illusion of false security and freezes them into a pattern that can only end in death.

It is not a death, however, in which they currently sleep, but a deep and drug-induced dream that locks this beauty in her tower of captivity. Here, she has been unwittingly, steadily, and deviously drained of her life-blood by an economy that ruthlessly feeds off her essence while paralyzing her with poisoned perceptions of reality..."

It's my premise that a generation awakened to conscience and to maturing consciousness, "Our Generation", the baby-boom group that through its sheer numbers has altered the culture at each and every stage of its development, is now empowered and so should feel compelled to make the changes that will sustain us all (humanity, and what we value as human beings) for the future. It is time to envision and activate, as "elders", wise and responsible economic and political leadership, and for the generation behind us, Gen-X, to join full-force into that mission, and for Gen-Y and those following, to responsibly hold our feet to the fire 'til we get it done!

Doesn't it just make sense that if our economy were working for the good of all people, there would be affordable and personable healthcare? And that we would be taking care of the environment on which we are dependent for the survival of all life? So isn't the economy the bigger issue? How do we wean ourselves from what is poisoning us and restore ourselves to the "pursuit of health and happiness"? That's the big question for our times. And there's a link below to a chart from Krugman's blog showing major economic shifts over the last 90 years--he says:

"The chart shows the share of the richest 10 percent of the American population in total income –an indicator that closely tracks many other measures of economic inequality over the past 90 years, as estimated by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. I’ve added labels indicating four key periods."

OK, so shoot me, I think like a weirdo!