Thursday, November 17, 2011

Money Changes Everything...

So Let Us Change the Currency That We Trade

I was downtown visiting the bank, making out a check to my landlord. She is a decent person on the whole, but I can't help think how I am investing in the artificial value of real estate here in Austin. My landlady likely bought the place when housing prices were higher and she is reluctant to sell because she will lose on her investment. This is where the renter class becomes so valuable to bankers and property owners, to bolster the artificial value of the product. Not to mention that if it were not for the globalized economy, housing prices would not be nearly as high as they are today, because people would not have access to the occupations and the sums of money that are made, by a minority of people, which increases the value of homes. If multinational corporations are hiring and people are moving there, the real estate is valuable. This is what makes college towns vital, the LACK of a local economy. If and when we do have local economies, local currencies are vital to protecting the local economy from being undermined by the global and corporate interests that aim to siphon off cash from communities that they take from, impose on, but do not serve.  Money is about faith and trust in the value of a standard unit, but also faith and trust in what it will buy us. While Martha Stewart was thrilled when her stock went up and she became a billionaire, most people are concerned with being able to afford food, shelter, gas, and clothing. When the value of my work, that earns me those paper dollars, seems to afford an increasingly lesser quality of life, and when there is not money to give to people for their labor, when it is being hoarded and misused, it undermines the value of the currency.  It begs the question, why do we work for it, the money? Why does it not work for us? These were the concerns of U.S. citizens in the beginning of the creation of this nation. They did not want to be slaves to the papered aristocracy.  In a post WWII era, after which the mantra was to promote security and to eliminate the need for war by increasing the fluidity of the market between nations, the fix was locked in. If you read Candy Bombers by Andrei Cherny, it is discussed how the Russian's reluctance to join the allied forces economically after the war was for fear of being slaves to Wall Street. It is also highlighted how the decimated cities of Germany could have just as easily been cities of the U.S. like Detroit or New York. A notable observation today, as one of those cities has been decimated by the business practices of Wall Street, while the other has been worked politically to be part and parcel of Wall Street and to validate it's existence therefore.  Global markets and their peacekeeping fluidity are a quaint theory, except what we are dealing with now is the lack of fluidity of money that is caused by human vice, the seven deadly sins if you will...and maybe a few others have evolved that we do not have a name for. Banks have come to a place where they are allowed to behave and believe that they are self sustaining and valid entities and they are not. THEY ARE NOT. They only have this power because our government offers this legitimacy to the major banking is vital that we ask WHY? Then again, we all know why. It's because it is intoxicating to the ego to have access to so much wealth, access that was legislated over time but not understood and accepted and debated adequately by the people who ultimately had the most to lose from these policies. That is what so many politicians conveniently forget when they are being wooed by lobbyists, that they are there to set public policy that works for the people, not for the profits of the few. It is amazing how they perpetually forget this and how they fail to recognize how their lack of governance will ultimately undermine their own influence, as it already has.  But back to my previous point, about what money is. There are so many euphemisms for what money is, love, energy and that is what it can be, but what it is in todays' crude economy is power.  It is this way because money buys the things we need and want, be it clothes, shoes, homes, housing.  When banks and politicians and interest groups decide that they want more, it means that We the People, will eventually get less...if not immediately. Our streamlined currency has made it easy to siphon off the value of labor to the point that it practically and factually undermines the value of labor.  No one can make 500 plus million dollars in a year with honest toil,  which begs the question, what in the world has traditionally made them think that they are so special as to believe that they are intrinsically that valuable? Well, the cops are the first ones, then it is our elected officials at the local level, then it is our Federal Government and in the meantime it will be Xe, formerly Blackwater,  a military contractor known for nefarious deeds in Iraq who is readied on the payroll of the U.S. government to attack U.S. civilians if they should, and we should, defy the corrupt and unjust system with which we deal.  We should not be docile peons eager to "be competitive in the job market." What for? So we can eek out a meager existence for the purpose of making a handful of of people wealthy? So that the Federal Government can print out more artificial money to pay for the unethical wars we fight in? This is not in the interest of We the People. So much of what we are dealing with is our own lack of esteem and self esteem, as we have intimated the factual inferior status that we enjoy in this society. As Emmanuel Wallerstein explains in one of his works, The Decline of American Power, we live in a hierarchical society that is based on sexism, racism, ageism and classism.  We pretend to want to chip away at the former, but we do not and cannot, because they are integral tools to upholding classism. First Lady Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson explained on Charlie Rose how he and his sister were told by their parents that, simply because someone may treat you like you are less because of their prejudice, that they did not have to intimate this.  This surely was not the advice that their  forefathers gave to their offspring. They couldn't because racism was an institution by law and fact. Today, racism is employed by fact and is inextricably linked to class. For all the trite discussion about race not mattering in America after electing a black President, let it be admitted that it is the white half of him that had access to private education, as his white grandmother was the main stability in his life. It was the white half of him that was elected as President of the esteemed Harvard Law Review.  He likely would not have been so chummy with a bunch of white guys who had an affinity for Constitutionalism were he not privileged in his own right and it is the white half of him who was and is privileged and who was elected President of the U.S.A. Barack Obama explained candidly that he did not empathize with the angst of the Civil Rights surprise there, but that doesn't mean it was not real for those who endured those turbulent times. Perhaps Obama knew how detrimental it would be to lend credence to the real, perpetual and obvious disparity in African American communities. That said, no one tells their children that just because they are poor that they do not have to behave that way, as poor is apart of rich, they are labels used in the institution of classism.  Yes, the myth of the classless society has been promoted for the purpose of taking the focus off the policies that have been employed to make classism increasingly rigid.  It's a joke, as people with half their wits about them don't feel intrinsically inferior to anyone because of money; and certainly not to the mass produced "stars" that are churned out on reality t.v.  We understand that ones superior wealth has to do with luck and for some hard work and intellect.  The latter are sometimes beneficial to society, but not always and sometimes not at all. Am I to think someone who makes a fortune exploiting child prostitutes is laudable? No, I do not, but the money they make from this unethical and illegal act gives them power and freedom. The major banks are not different. Their gains are ill begotten and therefore illegitimate. The people of OWS who are in the streets raising awareness about this are far more integral than the dubious currency...if only because the people who need it the most have been cut off from it. Get a job! Yeah, right, so I can be exploited as a cog? Corporations need people, people do not need corporations. If the banks can use our elected officials to design an economy that works for them, why can we not use our government to make an economy that works for us? In the meantime, let us look at the businesses in our communities and ask what they do for We the People. Please, spare us your low wage and benefit free jobs, as what we are in need of are dignified systems of work for us and that do not chip away at our dignity, our integrity and our autonomy.  We do not want to be identified as fodder, as mere workers or consumers, but as humans and citizens in a Democratic government. With work and luck we'll get there. The first step is for us to change our minds about who we are. As Harriet Tubman is supposed to have said, the greatest challenge she had in freeing people from the bondage of slavery was in convincing them that they were slaves. What is curious is about the slavery of our current corporatized economic system is that it makes slaves out of all persons.  Some are just better paid than others. Maybe we can enlighten the bankers to the finer things in life, that which is finer than needing to assert ones superiority and anothers' consequent inferiority. In the mean time, it is time for us to stop buying into the mantra of might take some time.

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