Category Archives: Economics

Choking Ourselves?

via Daily Prompt: Premature

The air that we breathe in some places contributes to illness, alergy onset, sets off asthma, and, according some researchers, is now a cause of premature death. The Guardian report below is somewhat singular in focussing on China and India, but it makes the point that air pollution is a serious business. Truth is, no country is absolved of this, we’re all in it. The country that provides the coal, the oil, the petrochemicals, they’re right in it too.

It is a fixable problem. Renewables, especially solar, wind, battery are strong contenders to replace carbon energy sources. But what happened to walking, public transport, bicycles, car-pooling, reducing non-esential travel? These are just as critical in the whole scheme of pollution control as electric cars and solar power. The same can be said of consumption, buying stuff. Our material wealth may be choking us, literally. That is also fixable, reducing consumption is another strategy in reducing pollution.

So, it comes back to each one of us. There are no faceless people to blame, we’re all in it, time to face up to it and deal with our own lifestyles first. To set the example is more powerful than just complaining. Living what we say we believe is far more potent than asking people to do something. The other trick is not to be too self-righteous when one begins to adopt new ways, that just alienates people. The way to invite people into new patterns of living is to show how good it is, and by demonstrating how it pays off. The evidence is what will move people eventually. I suspect that most people simply want to see what works and how it works. We can do that where we are.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under chemicals, Economics, education, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science

Core Values

via Daily Prompt: Core

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Are there any angels in Politics? Gandhi, but so few others. No one is perfect, as the saying goes, and perception is probably 9/10 of the problem.

There are a number of political biographies that I read in my teens and twenties, and which have haunted me ever since. Martin Luther King Jnr., Sukarno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandella, Steve Biko, And Patrice Lumumba (photo above). My blood still boils at the injustices they have suffered.

It was the early 1960s, African nationalist movements were in full swing, independence was coming. The Cold War was the context, and African minerals were the agenda, especially uranium, and the West would do anything to preserve their access. If you then place a leader who is a strong nationalist in power and who then pursues independence and who rails against the old colonial powers, you have the risk of losing those minerals. What to do? Kill that leader of course. But first make sure that his country, and then the world, see that leader as deeply flawed, incompetent, corrupt, a communist, an extremist, anti-western, and so on. Then shoot them.

Lumumba was a Pan-African, he wanted to see an interdependent cooperative Africa, and to be free of colonial control. He believed that african nations could be great nations under their own people. He was intensely critical of the colonial powers, in particular, Belgium, who had ruled his own country Congo and had a murky record in governance of Congo. He was for nonalignment – the stance of not choosing sides between the US and the Soviet Union. His main principle of governance was “National Unity.”

No sooner had independence been grudgingly and conditionally granted to Congo by Belgium, that Lumumba had won government with his party Mouvemnet National Congolais (MNC). But then a crisis developed over political direction and dependence on Belgium. Lumumba began to extract Congo from colonial trade and patterns, this caused anxiety in the US, UK, and Belgium, all who were worried that this young primeminister would turn to the Soviet Union for trade and support. The western nations are implicated in wanting to remove Lumumba, but none have been directly connected to the firing squad that murdered him.

Lumumba was deposed, arrested and imprisoned by the military, tortured and later shot. The man who was behind this was Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko (with western suport), who installed a government under his own control, and later in 1965, he overturned that government and became direct military ruler of the Congo until 1997. The only real winners in all of this were the western powers, notably, Congo has never thrived, it has given western nations its minerals at great cost to itself.

Patrice Lumumba had strong core vlaues, his was a selfless desire to lead Congo into a strong independent nation, he wanted his people to have access to health and education, he had hopes to provide modernization, and decolonialisation. He wanted Congo to benefit from its own natural wealth. He talked of an egalitarian community where everyone was valued. For this he was painted as a communist and as a dangerous leader. For these values he was murdered.

In his famous speech before independence, a speech highly criticized by western leaders, Lumumba said: “The colonialists care nothing for Africa for her own sake. They are attracted by African riches and their actions are guided by the desire to preserve their interests in Africa against the wishes of the African people. For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches.”

How prophetic! He was absolutely right. He is still right.

Patrice Lumumba’s life ended in tragedy, but it wasn’t completely in vain. He inspired his people to seek the best for Congo. Many of his political ideals have been picked up across Africa, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his thinking has been embraced on a number of fronts.

For me, Lumumba’s story is a reminder that there is a cost for integrity in political leadership.  For Lumumba there was no other way, there would have been a cost for him personally had he caved in to Mobutu and the West. He was true to his vision and core values. He was far from perfect, but he died for his vision for the future of Congo, and that vision lives on.

Paul,

pvcann.com

15 Comments

Filed under Economics, history, Philosophy/Theology, politics, quote

Rebel Without A Gun

via Daily Prompt: Rebel

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James Dean? Che Guevara? Arafat, Mobutu, who?

Mohanda Karamchand Gandhi, the quiet revolutionary, and was living proof that violence isn’t requisite for societal, especially political change.

Trained in law in London from 1888, then he initially served the Indian expatriate community in South Africa for twenty-one years, and it is during this time that he formed his social and political views. He opposed the race laws that affected his people, which brought physical and political retribution against him, but he persevered, and peacefully, influencing people and decisions where he could.

But in 1915 he returned to India. There he immediately threw himself into the fight for independence from Britain. Gandhi used law, legislation, and commincation to take the fight through the people for Indian sovereignty. He harnessed the people and the process. Again he was gaoled, and targeted by the British administration. Yet his response was always peaceful protest. He organised peaceful protests, trade boycots, local product fidelity, and more. He hit the British economically, administratively and politically, a very astute leader. One high point was the famous Salt March in 1930 where Ghandi organised a boycot against the British salt tax, he and thousands who joined him along the way, marched 388 kms from Ahmedabad to Dandi on the coast, it captured the nation and wounded the British image irreparably. The administration loathed Gandhi, and Churchill branded him as seditious and dangerous, a Hindu Mussolini! He was a true rebel, but without a gun.

Indian independence arrived August 15, 1947. It was tainted for Gandhi by the seprate agreement of the British to allow the partition of India to include East and West Pakistan as separate states for Muslims. Gandhi opposed the move. Many died in the process, but civil war did not erupt.

Gandhi believed that love could win over hate. His life is testimony that it can, and it can bring down empires and open the door to new visions. His patience won out in the end.

Sadly he was assasinated on January 30 1948, but his life was clearly not in vain. He has been a model for many others of many cultures and beliefs, and an inspiration for peaceful protest for change (Aung San Suu Kyi and Benazir Bhutto come to mind). But he, I’m sure would be the first to acknowledge that what mattered was that he’d managed to inspire his own people, that’s my kind of rebel, peaceful, loving, grass-roots based.

Two quotes of his that I love are:

“the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

34 Comments

Filed under community, Economics, history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, politics

Taper Tantrum,

via Daily Prompt: Tantrum

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Graphic: clsinvest.com

Back in the 80s I took a minor in economics just for fun. Some people see economics as smoke and mirrors or star gazing at best. But I found it fascinating, it is a different logic, but it is a logic and it is a diverse as a field of practice, I think that’s what fascinated me.

Back in 2013 there was what economists call a taper tantrum. In the US as in some other economies, when there is a slowing of the economy and the risk is a crash (as per the graphic above) the Federal Reserve pumps money into the market to kick it along a bit (known in the trade as Quantitative Easing). In time spending cannot be sustained so the money must be slowed, and this is called Tapering, in short the money injection into the economy is tapered off rather than abruptly cut. The result in 2013 was what was referred to as an investor tantrum, an angry reaction to the tapering, hence, taper tantrum.

A tantrum about economics is akin to a tantrum about any other issue. When a child or adult has a tantrum it is because they have been slowed or thwarted in some way. One of my children once threw a tantrum in a supermarket because he couldn’t have something that was suddenly imperative. But the supply of money, and parental interest was tapered, and there was a predictable reaction.

The lessons we learned over the next couple of years are lessons we learned for life. Whether child or adult, a temper tantrum requires a particular response (other than ignoring it): empathy (acknowledging the emotions), listening, and resisting blaming. Not always, but often, you’ll get to the bottom of the tanrum, and in the least, you’ll maintain an open communication. Overall, you’re building a strong foundation of trust for the relationship. The principle of valuing the other, listening and holding the space for them to feel that they can trust you to hear their plight helps to diffuse the situation and bonds the relationship. One might taper the negative input, but love and compassion should be qualitatively and quantitatively increased.

I like what Thich Nhat Hanh said: “When you look deeply into your anger, you will see that the person you call your enemy is also suffering. As soon as you see that, the capacity for accepting and having compassion for them is there.”

He was speaking into a different context, but the principle is the same once you trade the word enemy for loved one, friend, colleague … love thy intemperate  neighbour.

the pressure I feel
my heart is drowning fast
ah, look, a warm smile

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

11 Comments

Filed under Economics, Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, quote, self-development

Rivulet of Hope

via Daily Prompt: Rivulet

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Every year the creeks would dry up, the rains would cease, summer would arrive, the heat would brown the paddocks and turn the soil to hardpan. As summer streched into pseudo summer, the early part of autumn, we’d be craving the rains. The damns would be low, the pools down the creek almost gone, and the land crying in thirst.

But then the rains came, slowly, a shower here and there. And then the heavens would open, and down it would come. Some days after the water had prepared its own path, soaking into the creek beds, the soil would take no more and, at first a rivulet of water would appear, then a trickle, and then a flow, and the granite would shine, wet and glossy, the cascade decked with white froth. The sound of running water, a sound that brings joy, relief nd new life fills our ears. Soon the frogs would be calling.

Nature’s like that, it gives what is needed, it takes what is needed.

The economy is a whole other world. Conservative politicians the world over talk of ‘trickle down’ economics. Give the money to the rich and it will eventually trickle down to the poor. It never has, it never will. The economy, unlike nature, takes and takes and keeps on taking and only gives back to the rich and those in power.

I my view, an economy that is based on sharing, taking only what is needed and also giving back is a balanced one, but one that ensures there are less cracks to fall through, less barriers to surmount for the poor, more opportunity for all. A shared economy has to bid farewell to greed and selfishness, and requires a change of heart towards consumption. The dog-eat-dog cycle we’re in is doomed and the world cries out for releif and justice. But we are the change that needs to happen.

For my part that requires an ever growing awareness of others needs both near and far. It requires an awareness of my responsibility in my love affair with nature. It requires that I give back in generous ways. It requires that I model the economy I beleive in by not consuming the very lives of others. If everyone dropped a pebble in a pond it would cease to be, but if everyone took a breath and backed off from supporting the madness of consumption we’d make a dent. Of course, realistically, the other thing we need to do is exercise our vote with discretion towards those goals. And then the trickle will flow and become a stream, a river, a torrent of justice, a rivulet of hope.

The late Brazilian archbishop Helder Camara, an advocate for the poor, especially the slum dwellers, named it when he said: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

We still need to ask why!

politicians lie
money will not trickle down
let love flow instead

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

23 Comments

Filed under Economics, Farm, Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, nature, politics, quote, Uncategorized

The Efficient Inefficient

via Daily Prompt: Inefficient

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I think there are different types or contexts for inefficiency. I get worried about any inefficiency around protecting the environment. Protecting water, soil, air, all life forms are for me, absolutely vital. I get annoyed when I see leaking garden reticulation, those who flaunt the water restrictions, those who ignore recycling, the use of plastic, and so on.

I think too, that government agencies are amazingly inefficient, but that is not always unhelpful 😀

But in a sense, efficiency is a construct. If efficiency is about cutting waste that endangers life then I’m all for it. But, if efficiency is about productivity and profit, then no, I’m not too concerned. Capitalism drives economic efficiency, well, a type of economic efficiency, and one I’d prefer not to be too enmeshed with. If you go back to the works of Charles Dickens, you discover a world of cruel and base living in order to survive the machine that is economics, the drive to produce more and produce more efficiently. And, has anything changed since Dickens’ time? This form of economics has sucked the life out of our planet, it has weakened our politicians who have no resolve to confront the power of production, it has duped us into brand lust, and it has lied to us about the benefits. It is our addiction. So, the idea of efficiency for the sake of money – especially someone else’s money, which in fact becomes environmentally inefficient, is not attractive to me.

But in capitalism there is also a brutal twist, it becomes efficiency at the expense of life. Productivity becomes life threatening. Tar sands, the destruction of fracking, oil spills, pipelines burst, trees lost, water lost, homes lost … if you have a strong stomach then follow this link to watch the controversial commercial (banned from cinemas in the UK) from 2011 about Conflict Minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The commercial, which is aptly called “Unwatchable”, is rated 18+, it is violent, unpleasant, and disturbing, but that’s why they made it – to confront us with our culpability in the conflict and forced labour in the DRC. There is still a petition available to sign with it –  Unwatchable

When I think of inefficient, I connect very strongly with what writer Brenda Ueland says in the quote above. It says to me, very clearly, that efficiency/productivity is not advantageous, it stifles our thought, our creativity, our imagination. I’ve had a few superiors in my working life who have been wise, and have urged that it is better if I have times where I am less productive, but am more mindful, more imaginative. I know that if my life is too full, I am creatively stifled. Equally, if there is no balance in my life, I become unhealthy, body, mind and soul. I am less mindful, and just driven. Those around me can testify to the ugly nature of that. Then I become inefficient in health, in relationships, in work, in creativity.

For me life is not about perfection, efficiency, productivity. They are often based on external forces, expectations, learned behaviour, dependency, drivenness, greed … For me, life is about taking time, awareness, noticing, attending, loving, imagining, and sharing compassion – if I am to be efficient, I want to be efficient and productive in those positives for the good of all. Imagine if we were all efficient in that way, it could just change the world. In short, I want to be the efficient inefficient!

Paul,

pvcann.com

16 Comments

Filed under community, creativity, Economics, environment, history, life, mindfulness, nature, politics, self-development