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Wealth Is No Protection Against Future Dangers - Part II

By Lionel Anet

18 January, 2011


For the sake of all living things including ourselves, it’s important for billionaires to see the danger they are facing, for they are the only one that can allow the required accurate information that everyone needs to make realistic decisions to ensure our future at this late stage. Above all, we can’t survive in a competitive milieu as it waste resources, trashes the planet, necessitates secrecy, entices deceit, lies and character assassination. They are all the attributes for a miserable future and even extinction. As we are a part of one world, the more united and cooperative we are, the better we can deal with difficult situation.

For nearly the last forty years, the struggle for fairness both within human society and between nature and us has gone backwards and is showing no sign of changing course. Since The Club of Rome book “Limits to growth” came out in1969, economist ignored those finding and encouraged governments to finance corporation to explore and innovate ways to get the last drop of oil out and with that cheap oil we were able to dig more minerals that would have been too difficult to get out and process. However, oil price will escalate, increasing mineral price amongst everything else especially food, in addition, we have the extra hardship of global warming and an expected 9 billion people all-leading to a devastated world.

From the experience of the last forty years, it’s useless to focus on fairness to change society. However, today we have dangers that everyone is facing, which can give the cause to unite us all. To achieve that unity its essential that most of us become aware of the dangers that was stated in “part 1” www.countercurrents.org/anet151210.htm and the only way that is possible before its too late is for the dominant billionaires to be more concerns with their and family lives than wealth and power. That job of informing and convincing the super wealthy people must be our priority. When the United Kingdome faced the severe dangers of invasion from the Nazi forces, the upper class made many concessions to the lower class that lasted until Thatcher came to power. It was at that time of extreme food shortages that for the first time in capitalist U K that all the people had enough to eat. The situation we are facing today is immeasurably more dangerous than at any time that life as ever faced, therefore, many of the dominant ones may want to save themselves. They then may allow information to deal with and avoid the worst scenario. Once we all get that information, I’m sure then we will rally to the task of living within nature’s constraints.

We must start the necessary changes within the present state of affairs. To fix those problems we’re facing we only need to shift gradually the tax from the earnings of wages and salaries to resources and particularly fossil fuels. The most important aspect is to ensure that business understand that the future will have to be highly energy efficient and extremely low in carbon emission. It’s also important to have everyone involved, that’s why lowering taxes on the use of labour is vital as it could eventually half the cost of labour without affecting the real “take home pay.” This would create full employment without economic growth, even with shrinking economy and population.
Although unemployment is economically inefficient, wasteful and impedes social abilities, but with the use of cheap fossil fuels the economy can still grow. The 5% unemployment is necessary to maintain an acceptable inflation in Australia at present, thereby; the socioeconomic system relies on sacrificing 5% of the workforce and associate people. The mental stresses of unemployed are a tolerable sacrifice of modern capitalist societies; we accept them as those sacrifices of previous ancient civilisation were.

A carbon tax may not increase the price of oil in the situation we have today where demand is outstripping supply. It will mean the unconventional oil, which requires the most energy to extract and process will be uneconomical and abandon. The unconventional oil as from tar sand and deep oceans are best left where they are because of the damage to the environment and the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy delivered. Oil prices will keep on going up regardless of a carbon tax, the difference is with a carbon tax the community can get a large part of the benefit from the extra price instead of corporations. Even more important, is we will leave the very dirty hydrocarbon in the ground instead of polluting and endangering future generations for very little if any benefit to society. Therefore, a carbon tax in line with production and demand of oil so that the profit for the oil corporations stay proportional to the rest of business companies wouldn’t effect the price of oil as it would go up anyway. That should be the starting price of a carbon tax but it must be made clear that it will be increased to eventually be prohibitively expensive to use as a fuel.

A carbon tax will increase the price of electricity particularly in Australia where we generated electricity mainly from coal-fired power station. To avoid the worst affect of that tax during the transition from the polluting high carbon emission to a clean no carbon electricity supply is to change the method of payment. The price structure at present favours the big users, by reducing the price per unit, according to more stuff or service we buy. It’s a marvellous way of increasing sale but we already have taken and dumped too much. We must reverse that method of charging or we won’t survive. Essential services should be free such as electricity, gas, and water up to a socially or survival quantity per person then price must increase per unit used. This would greatly reduce hardship where hardship would occur. This would also encourage careful use of resources.

To ensure that every one is able to contribute to the social wellbeing , the cost, and complexity involved in employing people must be reduce without affecting employee’s take-home pay. Societies can make those changes quickly but gradually ending up with no taxes levied on wages and salaries of employees. Likewise, employers would end up with no other expenses than the net wages for employees. Employers wouldn’t pay any superannuation, long service pay, sick pay, and compensation expenses. All those expenses are rightly the responsibility of the community not of employers whose responsibility is to maintain safe work condition and produce goods or services for society’s needs with the least damage to the environment.

From experiences, relying on corporation is unpredictable for any continual responsibility to the community or to its workers. It would be more reliable if companies payed out those extra charges as taxes on earning. This wouldn’t disadvantage businesses that need many employees and favour the ones that use the least amount of resources and energy. It will be of great help to the small businesses and family farms as they use less material and energy, but employ more people than the capital and energy intensiveness of large corporations. This will mean an easier life for the small business as it reduces the clerical unproductive work, which is larger for small business that has fewer employees. The flow on benefit will be a greater employment demand and wider range of work. Where large-scale enterprise is more efficient or necessary, the use of cooperatives would better serve the interest of communities and individuals than large corporation would, as communities can’t effectively control enterprises that are more powerful than it is.

The most unfair tax is the Goods and Services Tax “GST,” It has fundamental problems, as it taxes every one from billionaires to babies of unemployed parents at the same rate and because it’s at the wrong end of the production to consumer line, it taxes goods and services without differentiating between labour, resources and pollution.
The lower labour cost would benefit all requirements that governments and communities have to fulfil such as education, health, age care, public transport and social emergency services. All those basic community needs are labour orientated for their proper operation. As well in the current financial system, the tendency is to neglect maintenance on infrastructures by leaving them alone until it they breakdown. This failure to act is largely due to the high cost of labour, and likewise many older good houses and commercial building are cheaper to pull down and replaced with a new one instead of refurbishing them. This is partly due to the low cost of materials and energy compared to the high cost of labour.

To avoid that waste, we need to introduce a higher tax on consumption of irreplaceable assets and polluting activities, as well as removing all charges and taxes on wages and salaries to make society more self-supporting and sustainable. Because the cost of goods and services express as money would be more realistic. Then, money as a measure will give us a far more precise idea of how we’re doing. Unfortunately, competition and money is the idol that we adhere to for our most important decisions. Changing the tax allocation will not in itself remove that adherence but we will base our decisions on information that is more accurate.

Once we have a consensus on linking our economic policies to the planet’s abilities to provide and process, the changes described previously will be possible. The release of relevant and accurate information will have no bound. The financial reality of the economy can then be widely discussed and it will be possible to have a fairer way to created money for benefiting society instead of the banks doing it for their purpose.

Although we pride ourselves on the massive amount of knowledge our specialist have amassed, we are doing extremely shamefully in its application. The negative part of specialisation is that individuals tend to know a relatively narrow section of life or take notice of only one aspect at a time in an attempt to understand how complex nature is and how we fit in. Because of competition in all fields, this requires a need to maximise one’s ability in just one area that is examine at the time. Therefore, we now have experts on any question who ignore the interrelationships of nature and even society. The future of private cars, freeways, energy to run cars, air pollution, accidents, road congestion, the availability of materials for cars and roads for everyone, and carbon emissions, for instant, experts look at them separately, but never as a whole. Although the complexity of car transport requires experts in each field, we still need people who understand the whole of that transport system and are obliged to interact with the community. Unfortunately, transport is not an isolated disconnected way we do things it’s the rule.

The reason we keep on managing society that way is it suits the corporation, but not for much longer and if they will not see it soon there won’t be a future for those people dominating society. We need generalist to evaluate the health of the planet and the socioeconomic system somewhat like general practitioners do for individual’s health, but, they must be of top importance, authority and powerless. Power is used to force people to do what they think is against their interest. The task of generalist, people who have made their responsibility to have the widest understanding of all aspect of science, is to workout policies that would not be unacceptable to any one and convince everyone that their interest is to cooperate with it. That should be their aim but the first consideration needs to be compatibility with nature, we must live within the planet’s limits regardless of our perceived social needs.

The “Club of Rome” avoided the limitations of specialisation in part by having a wide range of specialist discussing together a relatively narrow future problem. However, for the looming wide-ranging threats we need to deal with now would be better to have people with a wide range of understanding in all the sciences, engineering, and life’s economic needs. This would give some consistency to their evaluation of our situation.


Also Read

Wealth Is No Protection Against Future Dangers - Part 1
By Lionel Anet



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