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Justice Grace Vineyards blog. Where politics, social justice, and wine intersect.

Never Business as Usual: Part II

Social Justice Wines at Justice Grace Vineyards

Please See Part I, previous Post...

Consumer Culture:

This even permeates the companies we idolize. Google, the self-proclaimed "Do no harm" company, one of the most well known brands in the world, derives roughly 97% of its revenues from advertising. While organizing the world's information, they also seem to be indexing your emails, following you on your trips, and storing your searches; generally motivated to create products which enable them to capture more information about you so that they may place ever more “useful” ads in front of your face.

Recently, a frenzy of speculation and wealth was bestowed to another company, Groupon. While Capitalism seems to instill a sense of competition and antagonism among us in so many ways, the one place it is now encouraging us to pull together-- is shopping.

Sadly, I think Groupon might be the perfect embodiment of Adam Smith's theory: You "save" so that We All "save".

The constant media frenzy around the massive fortunes earned in and around Wall Street, the consumer culture and ad driven paradigm we drown in; this is what feeds the quest for the so called "American Dream". The desperate quest that results is what opens the door for predators, and speculative bubbles.

Bizarro World of Capitalists:

In October 2009, the New York Times reported what should be an inconceivable fact: that “over the last decade the financial sector was the fastest growing part of the economy, with two-thirds of growth in gross domestic product attributable to the incomes of workers in finance.”

During the recent housing bubble, the commercial and investment banks (Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs et.al.), committed one shameful fraud after another-- to millions of people. Institutionalized cultures of exploitation enabled employees up and down the line to do this for years during the bubble (earning massive bonuses along the way), and astoundingly, even after they received bailout money. Yet people still have their checking and savings accounts, and retirement plans at these institutions?

In the bizarro world of Capitalism, the victims become the scoundrels, and the sheisters themselves ask their legislative contract labor for bailouts from their very targets... And get them.

Confounding Paradigm:

Practically speaking, the fate of much of the world rests with corporations, and by extension, Capitalism. Distressingly, in the US, our banking, housing, energy, healthcare, education, and manufacturing sectors are currently all in crisis. Even the Earth itself is in crisis. If human suffering were the sole indicator of success in improving "the lot of ordinary people”, mass populations would have to look with incredulity at their leaders as they continue to assent to world bankers and economists given the solemn evidence on the ground for the past few decades.

Perhaps they might even revolt.

On the whole however, it is not the citizenry, but Capitalism and business-as-usual, that rages ahead.Mainstream media has managed to frame the discussion during this time of crisis as simply “How to fix” what ails these industries; while neglecting to consider whether the system itself is fatally flawed to its core.

In the Bizarro world of the Capitalist paradigm:

  • man-made resources are scarce, while natural resources are limitless

  • the richest nation on earth has an abundance of scarcity: greed, fear, and antagonism towards your neighbors result

  • you build a community to shop together, but antagonize the community that cares for children, the disabled, or elderly

  • you buy material things to feel free

  • low-price to you (today) is more important than low-cost to society (or much more expensive to you tomorrow)

  • outsized monetary rewards are to be earned through exploitation rather than nurturing or caregiving

  • we demonize the working class while celebrating the monopolists, barons, and tax cheats

  • labor is a cost center within a profit driven business, to be reduced or eliminated over time; but at the same time is also corporate america's biggest customer

  • consumers have become so accustomed to corporate amorality and fraud, that actually prosecuting executives for misdeeds is the outlier

  • banks are "too big to fail"-- even though, they already have

  • the super-rich ask for, and receive, financial "bail-outs", from those woefully less fortunate than themselves. And get it.

  • our consumer culture is so dominant, we have accepted the sale of our own democracy

  • you “support the troops” by sending them into harm's way, on behalf of our nation's “interests” without the armor they need to survive, but you are unpatriotic if you demand their safe return home

At the end of the day, it seems to me that Adam Smith's invisible hand is controlled by the mind of a sociopath.

New Paradigm, “Alternative Business Models”, Coming?:

Stephen Covey, in his influential "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", notes:

"The term paradigm shift was introduced by Thomas Kuhn in his highly influential landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn shows how almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms."

What will it take to change the widespread view that Capitalism is mankind's greatest benefactor?

Ordinary folks breaking through the endless 24 hour news cycle noise (produced and paid for by corporations) with eyes open wide, and heart ready to feel compassion and empathy for your neighbors once again. And supporting their neighbor's efforts with every means at their disposal.

I might know. I wasted 15 years of my adult life in New York City's financial sector, ever-so-slowly opening my eyes, largely in disbelief.

Now, I actually can believe them again.