Archive for the ‘debt’ Category

Department of Redundancy Department

2017/10/08

Saying the same thing over and over again is something I try to avoid, so sometimes I don’t write very much.  But I will revisit certain themes, such as Greed, which is on my mind constantly these days.  The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower in London, a horrific fire which killed dozens of people, brought this to mind, as I was researching the death toll as of several months following the fire.  The police are having to sift through about 15 tons of material on each floor of the 24 story building, looking for human remains, which might be fragments of bone.

Then the puzzle of trying to determine if the remains are part of a body which remains have already been found, or if this is a new individual.  So far, the death toll has not gone up, and some are saying that it might be somewhat less than the ‘about 80’ figure given out shortly after the disaster.  So far, 69 victims have been identified, and 13 remain unaccounted for and missing.  But there were quite possibly people in the building who were not listed as missing, and don’t show up on the tenants lists.

Greed is the reason that those people died, the intentional disregard of safety for the sake of profit.  Added to the insult of the deadly cladding being installed just a year ago is the fact that only one stairwell was usable at the time of the fire, as well as the lack of any central fire alarm.  Greed is destroying people through stress, depression, and insanity.  There is nothing wrong with working, especially when what you do contributes to the well-being of others.

If we insist on trying to live on profits from investments, we suck the energy out of the venture, when reinvestment, better staffing, or paying retirement costs are vitally needed.  Contributing more than just money to something makes that project much more likely to succeed. I am starting to repeat myself, so I will stop.

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The wrong stuff

2017/05/01

America was made great by companies working together with employees to build products which would last and last.  America was made great by governments investing the public’s money into roads, bridges, and water systems.  America was made great by working people sacrificing part of their lives to an employer, or by people who built their own empires from the ground up.

America is being destroyed by greed, the belief that work is somehow demeaning, only fit for inferiors.  Greed which drives corporations to focus on practices which drive away customers; cutting costs often means cutting staffing, so there are fewer people to provide customer service.  The emphasis on profit has become obsessive, driven by shareholders who demand an income from lending money to a company.

Capitalism may have been great during the early years of the United States, but it is doing great harm today.  Wealth is so concentrated that the economy is capsizing.  Debt is considered an essential financial tool, instead of last resort.  Banks no longer are lending depositors money, but money from investors hungry for immediate rewards.  Many dwellings are mortgaged for more than they are worth, and there are vacant homes all over the country.

Taking care of the people should be the most important aspect of society, insuring that there are healthy, educated, well-fed people to perform the work needed to support an advanced society.  Single-payer health care is an essential aspect of an advanced economy, protecting the employer from the costs of employee’s health care for life.  This health care should include dental, vision, and behavioral aspects, as the prevention of problems is far cheaper than dealing with the problems.  Providing minimal housing is another essential government role, insuring that everyone can sleep indoors if they want to.  We don’t need a three-bedroom home for every person, but a shipping container can provide superior protection from the elements for a very small price.  How you fix up the inside is up to you.

Taking care of the people is like taking care of your car.  Unless you don’t care about costs, taking care of tools, vehicles, or plant and equipment is essential.  People are our most valuable resource, and we have been exploiting people without mercy.  The rewards for submitting to the constraints of employment have been diminishing for decades.  Our spiritual lives are frequently empty and barren, amidst a society obsessed with material things.

Our culture  of greed is making people sick, to the point of killing each other, and themselves.  Our society is destroying us, exploiting us to death.  We cannot go back to earlier days, nor can we afford to continue as we are.  Change is inevitable, and the longer it is delayed, the more disruptive it will be.

Debt: Destroying us with money.

2017/03/14

“Money and debt make it possible to influence people without having public executions.” Justin Michael Barnett 2017/03/14

Money has been fundamental to human development. Debt has been an instrument of mass destruction, which is ravaging our society, our entire planet right now. Debt is funny money, money which has not been made yet. However, debt can be recorded in American accounting as an asset, increasing the monetary worth of the lender, even though collection of a certain percentage of debt is impossible. Debt is the American contribution to the world, a slavery made possible by using material things as a basis of our self image.

Americans probably were not the ones who came up with the idea of a company store, where employees can charge food and other goods to an account. The company never paid quite enough to get by on, so most of the employees were in debt to the store. But if they quit, they would have to pay off the company store. American companies went into Nicaragua, bought up most of the countryside, and planted bananas. Then the locals were offered employment with the banana company, (Day-O! Daylight come and me want go home.) or they could starve. Or move.

But that was not the worst. In order to keep consumerism from collapsing due to the American public having spent their savings completely, easy credit was introduced. Debt. This was a creation of the banking industry, the idea that someone would be allowed to purchase something with money that they had not earned yet. The idea of individuals being able to borrow money is exceptionally recent, compared to the immense history of banking. But then, so is the economic model of consumerism, which is the structure of the American economy.

As consumers, we are expected to consume. However, we are not making enough to consume very much, in spite of how cheap everything has gotten. Things are so cheap because they are made from American materials shipped half way round the world, processed into goods by people making a dollar or two a day, and then shipped back to the United States. That is a simplistic generalization to illustrate the insanity which prompted manufacturers to abandon a labor market which demanded health care benefits, retirement benefits, and vacation time. Calculating the worth of products in money makes it seem worthwhile to ship materials to China to get finished goods back. There is no monetary way of calculating the value of jobs, health care, extended families, and happiness.

Those are some of the things that we have lost because of money and materialism. We should also include the environment, courtesy, patience, and sharing. Money allows us to live outside of the community, not dependent on group resources to survive. Debt shackles us to the past, destroying our future.

Do you believe?

2017/01/26

We Americans are being asked to believe in something.  The people behind the new administration want us to accept that we are not all broke.  No matter what, they say, there will be money to spend.  They can build a wall to keep out the real money, just like the Soviet Union did.  They can censer the news, make sure that you only hear what they want you to hear.  But who are they, and why do they want us to pretend that we have money?

As long as we buy into their illusion, our debt remains real.  As long as we are convinced that we can spend, we will try.  Because the economy no longer is based on reality, we can say “Charge it” and walk home with it.  What the people behind the scenes want is for us to continue to think that money has value.  Even though it can be created without work, without effort, money is still supposed to represent something of value.

Money not only is supposed to represent value, but it also represents debt.  The money that was spent and not repaid is still in existence, in some computer somewhere, waiting to be taken back, with interest, fees, and fines, of course.  As long as we imagine that we are not all broke, that debt can live on in the shadows, in some ‘bad bank.’  They had to create banks that were different from real banks, so that they could keep track of the debt without letting it destroy the economy.

There is no money to spend making America great again, there is only more debt.  The wall will be paid for with money that does not exist.  This is why the stock market is going through the roof, because people expect to make money from the deficit spending.  As long as we all agree to believe, we can spend and spend.  You had better believe it!

Taking too much

2016/12/17

Everything that we do is an investment of energy, a gamble that we will get more out of something than what we put in.  Sometimes, we lose, sometimes, we win.  When we lose too frequently, we are diminished, lacking that which makes life possible.  Many of the interactions that we have generate energy, a surplus beyond what we have invested.

When this surplus is taken away from the people who produce it too often, the process of production begins to fail, as fewer and fewer people will invest their energy into something which will inevitably cost them.  What is wrong in America is that too much taking of surplus energy by people who are not creating that energy is going on.  There are too many people trying to get rich too quickly.

These people see the potential surplus of a deal to be theirs regardless of whether it is actually created or not.  They feel victimized if they are not allowed to extract every possible bit of surplus for themselves.  To claim that you have been robbed because you didn’t make as much as you could have is to deny the right of others to receive the fruits of their labors.

Paying a living wage means paying more than the minimum, giving the producers a surplus to spend on themselves.  This creates the energy to drive the system.  Raising the minimum wage will not alter the inequity of our economic system, raising the average wage is what will increase demand for goods and services, stimulate innovation, and produce satisfaction with our lives.

The darkness descends

2016/11/25

Black Friday.  Materialism is in control of the television, the radio, the newspaper, even the web.  ‘Save Now!’  ‘Lowest prices of the season!’  Sanity deserts the shopping malls, the strip malls, the streets.

Meanwhile, the days grow shorter, and colder.  Winter is upon us, and our instincts are screaming ‘conserve’, ‘hibernate’, ‘hunker down’.  Survival has always meant eating very little, staying indoors, dressing warmly, because what we have now will have to last until next Summer.

Many people find this season depressing, the desire to spend freely on loved ones conflicting with the reality of an empty pocketbook.  The expense of a gift overshadows the concept of giving a gift, as if the amount that we spend on someone reflects how much we care about them.  People will go into debt to insure that the gifts that they give are ‘acceptable’.

This is a time when we should be reflecting on the year past, and remembering our ancestors.  This is a time for working on handicrafts, making gifts for those we love.  When we spend hours on a gift, we work our love into it.  The energy we pour into that item will be received by the person we are thinking about, a gift which can not be bought.

The darkness is a time of love, of remembrance, a time for sitting by a fire, knitting, carving, painting, creating a unique gift for a unique person.  If you wouldn’t spend hours working on a gift for a person, perhaps they don’t deserve anything beyond a card.  The important thing is to remember others, not to try to impress them with how stupid you are.  Don’t spend money you don’t have trying to get someone to love you.

Imaginary Money and Inescapable Debt

2016/10/14

The world economy is stumbling forward in fits and starts, unable to find growth in any sector.  Banks are beginning to charge negative interest, where it costs you money to deposit yours in a bank.  Yields on bonds, the world stock markets, everywhere things are just barely holding their own.  Perhaps the times of imaginary money are drawing to a close, the times when wealth could be created out of thin air.

When a person defaults on a loan, unable or unwilling to make the payments, the people who own the loan have the opportunity to sell it to a collection agency.  Usually, collection agencies buy debt at a fraction of the face value, say, thirty cents on the dollar.  This is their incentive to collect the debt, the difference between their costs and the total amount of the debt.  But they go beyond that profit level, and charge ‘acceptance fees’ for taking the debt, and this cost, and that cost, until they have added nearly the entire face value of the original debt to the amount the person owes.

From personal experience, I can attest that a 600 dollar delinquency can balloon into a $2000 dollar debt in nothing flat.  These fees, and added costs, and penalties, are just creating wealth out of nothing, no work, no investment, just by saying it is so.  Well, as in my case, I didn’t pay back the debts, or the fees, fines, and other charges, so where is the money that I didn’t have?  Some accounting agency would have listed it in the books of the company I was borrowing from as an asset, which could be used to secure, or justify, another loan from another bank.  Another bank may have loaned that money that I was supposed to pay out to somebody else.  Did part of your car just suddenly disappear?  Or is it just gradually going away?

Real wealth takes real work to create, adding value to something, digging it out of the ground, providing a service.  To claim that wealth created by saddling more debt on someone who is in arrears is real merely prolongs the illusion that we can grow out of our huge indebtedness.  Debt is strangling our society, this relentless pursuit of what someone claims someone else owes them.  It is pure materialism rotting away the spiritual nature of human existence.  We are here because we have worked together and shared what we created.  Denying people employment because of poor credit history is completely counter productive and self-defeating.

Money has become worth less and less, in spite of the supposed low inflation rates.  Corporations are constantly getting caught violating ethical standards, trying to raise profit margins so that the shareholders will benefit more.  I don’t see the benefits of being a shareholder in a company that goes broke because the only goal of management is to cut costs and raise margins.  Companies were started by people who wanted to provide a service or a product that they could be proud of.  Making huge profits is a fun fantasy, but rarely has this happened.  Instead, steady growth, re-investment of profit back into the company, improving relations with the workers, these have been the backbone of economic growth.  Bringing prices down as development costs are absorbed used to be common.  Now, reducing prices is unthinkable, even if production costs have been drastically reduced.  Improving compensation for the people who actually create the wealth seems to be out of the question, too.

We are scrabbling after imaginary money, trying to fuel our materialistic perversion.  All of us are broke, because there is so much debt that it has destroyed all the money.  Personal debt in the United States now totals nearly 11 trillion dollars, and then there is the corporate debt, and the government debt.  What percentage of the total money supply is debt?  Is debt being loaned out to create more debt?  How much of that debt is imaginary money, created by inescapable debt?  We are the richest broke people who have every lived.

At least the war on the middle class is going well.