Thursday, May 28, 2015

Conserving the Have-Nothings*

Today's U.S. economic inequality threatens American's very freedom. More alarming our future economic growth is being undermined.  It is not just that a CEO may make 300 times more than what his workers make-there is a fundamental misbalance of haves with the have-nothings.  
Edward Wolff at the New York University cites the following; the richest 1 percent Americans have 35 precent of the U.S. net worth.   The next 4 percent of our population have 28 percent of the wealth while the next 5 percent of us have 14 percent net worth. The next 12 percent of Americans have the next 10 percent net worth and after that the next 9 percent have the next 20 percent of the wealth. Finally, the last 3 percent of the U.S. citizens have the net worth of 20 percent of our population.
The bottom 40 percent of U.S. citizens have nothing or even a negative net worth.  They owe more money than they own.  Recently the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development documents that the richest 10 percent of Americans earn 28 percent of the U.S total income. This same group has 77 percent of the wealth in the U.S.    
The math is simple if we do not balance this income disparity both our prosperity and basic liberties are threatened.  Two-fifth's of our country have little choices and opportunities.  It is shameful today how American's allow predatory lending, advertising and other practice exploit those have-nots.  Who is vanguarding the interests of this 40 percent?  Certainly not our government or the private sector. These economics have serious national security impacts and social ramifications that we, the people will have to address.  
Maybe we can create a cap on billionaire's that after $5 billion, forty percent goes back to the 40 percent. Once your have several billions do you really need extra billions to feel secure?  Spreading the wealth more will help all Americans and provide new opportunities to those have-nothings. 
* Think income inequality is bad? Wealth gap is worse.  Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, F2, 5/24/15

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Conservation Does Matter

Why is conserving so needed? Simply with billions more people now on this earth requires us to be more efficient with our resources for the future. Conservation matters because investing in the best use of our land, air and water is in our best interest.

There are millions of ingenious ways we can better this place. We can bike or walk instead of drive. We can shut off lights, computers and tvs not in use reducing our electricity requirements. Water from our roofs can be captured in rain barrels for watering our plants. Promoting sustainable economic growth by transforming waste is an investment in our happiness. What we do affects our planet, and also impacts our very spirit.

It is all about ecology and economy. "Eco" comes from the Greek meaning house and it is time to do some serious cleaning both inside and out. A new prosperous frontier helping this blue/green planet  if we become thrifty. 

I have been fortunate to be a participant in several conservation tipping points. America consumerism impairs our prospects.  Mending is certainly better than ending.  Can we see that our natural resources are not separate from us but interconnected with everything. Yes conservation matters, and so does the America spirit. We are innovators who can improve our environment thus stimulate life-affirming and life-enhancing choices.

Protecting our environment is tied to the very notion of human excellence. Americans can demonstrate their virtue and promote a healthier relationship with our planet. Just the simple act of doing more with less can lessen the threat of further loss.  Simple changes happen when we become more creative and innovative.  Any way we can better this planet directly betters ourselves.

As we reconnect with wise use, we plant seeds of new opportunities.  Our very freedom is a green reawakening-best management. Let's show greater self and eco-respect giving hope to our next generation.  In return we find such leadership liberates us with a peace of mind. Responsible action equates to greater possibilities.  Let's enjoy our life and profit all things by conserving.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Being Consumed

I recently heard a friend describe her life as being consumed by her gardening for a farmer's market.  The next day I heard this term as a book title.

William T. Cavanaugh’s book, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Eerdmans, 2008), explores our free market economy.  He critically examines world hunger, globalization, economic abundance, and consumerism as being flawed.

 Cavanaugh’s  suggests that our “free-market” results in just the opposite; it imprisons us. He believes the concept of the “autonomous individual” as being controlled by a dominant few lacking in any good purposeful end.  He sees our “free-market” economy creating endless wants and desires.  Consumerism creates a never ending downward cycle, lacking any good social ends, short changing our very humanity.

Cavanaugh contends that the so-called “free-market” fosters economic enslavement by corporations and Madison Avenue. This powerful and select group stimulates consumer addiction in many ways.  Also he argues that companies supply very limited information to consumers that further limits people's ability to adequately decide. For example, Cavanaugh talks about meat market and how many are unaware of the terrible conditions cattle endure. He questions whether the public is truly able to make good decisions since they lack enough information.

Writing as a Christian, Cavanaugh questions whether they can exercise true economic freedom and ethical choice.  Being Consumed is about a larger story about how money affects all facets of our lives and the larger moral questions.

Cavanaugh writes first how our economy is controlled by an endless chain of consumer desires that lack any meaningful ends especially since people are never satisfied because it is based on  enslaving consumption fueled by endless desire. Next, he examines a economy motivated by love of God and of neighbour. This economy does not operate in terms of competition and private exchange but rather as communal giving.

Being Consumed the author’s views economic practice in a greater theological perspective. Cavanaugh wishes that Christians live more economically responsible. He provides inspiring examples of how various people and communities successfully demonstrating alternative free production and consumption.

Cavanaugh’s book raises many interesting ethical questions how Christians and others may wish to reexamine their consumption and conservation. Changing our buying habits with greater sustainable decisions is a win/win situation where we are no longer consumed yet now saved.