Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Grinning While Rome Burns

Ah, the rewards of living a good honest life!  This, apparently, is what our world thinks is a "worth while" "job"-  conducting incomprehensible hocus-pocus with huge piles of money.  The benefits to the world are obvious of course- an improved standard of living, all around.

We DON'T have to put up with this, you know.  The laws could be changed.  In fact, it's time to OUTLAW the trading of food- and energy - for profit alone.  Just as it is obviously obscene to think about "holding" chemotherapy drugs for profit- it's JUST as obscene to hold FOOD- for profit.  And oil, at this point- people are dying- now for the lack of basic food and energy.  No, they don't starve- it's violence, first.

The big money managers are all a-flutter as to what to DO about starving millions- "oh, what can we do?!" they cry (see previous 3 posts).

NOT ONE of them, so far, has suggested CLOSING markets to speculators.  Would it be difficult?  Duh.  Could it be DONE?  


Start now.  Get the colleges riled up about it- START TALKING about it; CALL your legislator and RANT about the PURE OBSCENITY of "food profiteers" - and tell them you want hearings- and legislation - on how much of the increase in the price of food, and oil, is purely due to "speculation".

Start it moving.

Ask yourself.  Is it possible to truly "earn" - $3.7 Billion in a year?    From that article: "Combined, the top 50 hedge fund managers last year earned $29 billion." Personally, my answer is no, that's not "earning".  There's another word.  And golly, the World Bank can afford all of $10 million for the starving in Haiti.  

And- WHERE did that money come from?  It has to come from  somewhere.

Really?  Truly?  Ultimately it comes from all those like the people in Bangladesh - who last year were spending 40¢ a day on food - out of the $1 a day they have; and this year are spending 80¢ a day- on their one meal.  Out of the 90¢ a day they have.


So, today- crude oil hits a new record high; over $115- and the Dow closes UP 256 points?  Can you spell "totally clueless?"

Sorry, DC, I'm still really really pissed.  But I'm enjoying it, anyway.


Valerie Roberson said...

Obscene is absolutely the right word for this. Those yokels on Wall Street make me ill. It's as bad as watching the oil big-wigs "defending" there "earnings" to Congress. Sickening.

Great post, but I still feel like shit.

Greenpa said...
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Greenpa said...

Val- boy, do understand how you feel- but I've moved past that to FURIOUS. And it's not going away. I'll be DAMNED if I'll sit and do nothing while this goes on.

Fight. Stay angry. This is gross insult to our entire species.

One of the best allies in a fight like this would- the Society of Friends; the Quakers. They've fought before for the sake of humanity, and know how.

People NEED to get stirred up.

jewishfarmer said...

Good for you, Greenpa!!! Anger is a powerful tool, and I can't think of a better time to be pissed off and turning one's considerable powers to an obscenity.

Stifled anger is bad for you - I think outrage and fury at the suffering of others is actually damned good for all of us, and we could stand more of it. Too many of us aren't angry enough!



DC said...

Anger channeled in a positive direction is a good thing. We do need more people to take action.

There's been a lot of talk about the food riots and starvation in Haiti lately, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are growing concerns about food prices and security in India -- you know, that place with over a billion people.

In India, milk costs are 11% higher than last year, and edible oil prices have climbed by 40%. Rice prices have risen by 20%, and prices of certain lentils by 18%. Rice and lentils comprise the staple diet for many Indians. Roughly one out of four Indians lives on less than $1 a day, and three out of four earn $2 or less.

This comes at a time when American agribusiness is doing its best to drive small Indian farmers out of business. 140,000 farmers in cotton growing regions of India have committed suicide in the last several years. Traditionally, all cotton grown in India was produced by small organic farms. Then U.S. and European agribusiness came in and started aggressively marketing hybrid cotton seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to small farmers. They sold these things through local Indian companies and used Bollywood movie stars and representations of Hindu gods to market them – images of Ganesha and other deities were actually used in advertising literature. Unsophisticated peasant farmers, many of whom were completely illiterate, were shown videos of large American farms and told that they needed to adopt western farming methods to get out of poverty. They were coerced into signing contracts they didn’t understand that locked them into purchasing seeds and chemicals that they couldn’t afford. Heavily burdened with debt they couldn’t repay, many took their own lives by swallowing the same poisons they were conned into buying to improve their lives.

While agribusiness is busy screwing over Indian farmers, Wal-mart is trying to screw over the rest of India by opening retail stores there. India is a vast land of small, independent bizarres and markets -- every street is a market. Each day, hawkers bring locally grown organic vegetables to peoples' doorsteps in carts that use no fossil fuel and generate no emissions. They also sell slippers, saris, plastic toys, children's clothes and a host of other consumer goods. This is an integral part of the Indian culture and provides employment to over 100 million people. Wal-mart is trying to put all of these people out of business and replace them with a first world energy intensive retail model. This will increase the carbon emissions from India's retail sector exponentially and destroy the livelihoods of tens of millions of people.

We're just really flirting with disaster when we treat the developing world this way. If we want to stop terrorism and extremism, this is not the way to do it. Greenpa isn't the only one who is going to get angry, and the people who are directly affected by all of this may not be as keen as he is on the Quakers' pacifist model. This is, as Greenpa says, an insult to our species, and we all need to do what we can bring back a little sanity to the world before it's too late.

etbnc said...

One of the authors listed in my lengthy comment a couple of days ago has described our culture as the one that believes it's a good idea to lock up the food. I think of it as disparity by design.

Internalizing the belief that an obscene degree of disparity is normal, routine, expected, and acceptable, that obscene disparity is an acceptable basis for economic policy, that obscene disparity is an acceptable principle for governance, and that it's expected and acceptable for someone else to be "the decider" to determine who benefits from obscene disparity, I'd say all of that indeed qualifies as insult and insanity.

To me our culture looks like a great big web of dangerous and harmful beliefs. And the belief that ties the rest together, and keeps most of us tightly wound and knotted, is the belief that our beliefs cannot change.

Seeing our web of belief as nothing more than a web of belief seems like an important step. Pointing out that it doesn't have to be this way seems like an important step. Becoming motivated to modify our beliefs seems like an an important step.

Staying motivated seems like an important part of the change process also.

That's what I see of the iceberg we're pushing on. Thanks, Greenpa and all, for becoming motivated and for staying motivated.

katecontinued said...

I love you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am seething. I am so angry with old white men (rich ones, relax) that it is nice to know a couple who stand beside me. I count you and a neighbor who is Santa for a month out of each year.

Ken said...

ETBNC, the food has already been locked up. The key is money to purchase it from the grocery or wherever.
I was in Haiti forty six years ago. It was a mess then and I do not know how they have made till now.
Thanks for the post. Another reason to hoist the flag upside down.

etbnc said...

Ken, yup, the food has been locked up for a while now. About 10,000 years. There's considerable iceberg-size inertia that comes from the socially reinforced belief that "things have always been this way". But once we reach a social tipping point, when enough people decide that obscene disparity creates unacceptable consequences, things can change relatively quickly. To reach that cultural tipping point those of us who see and care must continue to demonstrate and share healthy human values with our fellow humans.

As more folks become motivated, and stay motivated, the iceberg moves. And so we carry on...

Greenpa said...
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