To Save Our Children We Need To Know Why We Do What We Do
By Lionel Anet
12 July, 2013
The state of the planet
Atmospheric scientists are in agreement that we are responsible for changing the climate, which already shows its severity in many ways and places. There are a host of problems we are inflicting on nature and therefore, on ourselves. That with an expected extra 2 billion people with less resource on a hotter planet will jeopardize our children’s life before the middle of this century. However, generally but particularly for all mammals, the wellbeing of offspring is paramount for each species. But today, for the first time human have a new situation where people are placing their life style above their children’s future. People have managed that because we are pounded with information aimed to mislead or hide the gravity of the situation, which is now more obvious in its severity and may be unstoppable next decade. The capitalist Media has used the educated, particularly psychologists, in public relation companies to diverte people’s attention on to trivia, and thereby critical science information cannot make their mark on the public.
There are numbers of diverse dedicated people including scientist who have tried to change society to a sustainable economy by challenging the oligarchs and their agents in government elections and public forums. This means that liberal minded concerned people are participating in competitive activities against overwhelming powerful foes, the corporates and oligarchs’ agents, masquerading as peoples’ representatives. Those agents have an overwhelming competitive advantage over the masses and we call that democracy. It is extremely unfair and unlikely, that such contest can ever become fair.
Capitalist Democracies’ thoughtless self-destruction
Capitalist democracies have given the top 1% of the population what they want, which is the opportunity to be the wealthiest and most powerful of the richest people ever seen. For those few, in societies of so many educated people, an appearance of improving living standards must be maintained, if those educated ones are to accept such extravagance by the few. But unless the unsustainable fossil fuels are magically sustained, societies will collapse; oil is the only source of energy that can be both on tap anywhere and at any time. Unconventional oil poses extreme danger to the environment it also take much more energy to extract and process all of which will change the chemistry of the biosphere to an even worst detrimental state. If we wait for the oil to run out to force a change, it will be too late and too hot for our survival. Furthermore, our dependence on those fuels is gradually locking us in on their use the longer we exploit them, because the infrastructures to use them are only suitable with cheap oil. If we stay on course, the depletion of the oil will curtail most activities as we have come to know them; mining, food production and distribution, much of the water from aquifers, and our reliance on trade and travel. This will be catastrophic in a climate of extremes and a more populated world.
The present competitive exploitative system is also driven by a financial system of debt created money that can only be repaid with increasing consumption of energy and resources. The financial flaws are easy to rectify, but it is not possible to maintain a conventional oil supply let alone a growing one, regardless of financial strength.
Civilised societies have concerns for life, if it does not reduce their competitive advantage over opponents. That attitude is an outcome of the illusion that wealth is paramount and that ideology is an integral part of the Media’s propaganda. Unfortunately, social reformist and environmentalist are competing against those attitudes without directly confronting the long term dire effects that includes the wealthy. Instead the reformists are focused entirely on the poor people especially from the third world that will die because of the billionaires’ greed, which has no effect on the greedy, who are the only one that can change their own attitude, with help. Those well-meaning people see the billionaires as enemies and ignore the fate of billionaires who for the most part are oblivious of the danger they face. However, everyone’s first concerns is survival and in the best possible condition. Once those ultra-rich people understand the tragic situation they would face with business as usual we can save them and ourselves. After all the capitalist system demands certain attributes and greed is the quintessence of competition; so those greedy billionaires are fulfilling capitalism’s needs like everyone in their own way.
Although scientists, in a wide range of disciplines, have published many papers on the unsustainability of the global economy since the late 1960s; that information is ignored by plutocrats and their media, as it contradicts the needed growth that a competitive system requires. Nonetheless we need to change the system to survive, but how?
Our central problem
Whether someone is a plutocrat or a domestic servant we are all participating in a competitive society living the best way we can, according to what we are allowed to get away with.
Competition works in opposite ways for the two opposite levels of society. For the top level the contest is to maximise wealth and power and for the bottom level the contest is to produce the most goods and services for the least cost. When wealth is that pursuit, it is accumulative; this produced the gross disparity in capitalism. Therefore the power-that-be have a strong interest in maintaining a system that increases competition. Nevertheless, competition can only be maintained by using life destroying amount of fossil fuels.
Capitalist democratic economies are motivated and controlled with competition, which has replaced social needs as the motivator. The paramount concern for individuals is how to fare in a competitive world. Therefore the decisions we make are primarily determent by the competitive opportunities we face. This means people are not in charge of the economy or of the political system. Furthermore, as the competition intensifies cooperation, honesty, and caring decreases. What is even worse than the above is although there is a general feeling we are unable to maintain business as usual; people are more afraid of unemployment and higher living cost than of the dire future their children will face.
One reason why we find it hard to change is many of us still see people as the problem that is, a legacy of our education and the use of guilt to control people. It shifts the blame of a dysfunctional and unfair social system to people. The other problem is we were given the feeling that the planet and all on it is there just for our use. But the most paralysing one is the information our powerful Medias, which include advertisers, engulfs us with entertainment, trivia, sport, and invades our schooling.
We are campaigning to bring sustainability to capitalism by using and participating in a competitive system that by its nature builds up unfairness, uncertainties, and necessitates an exploitative attitudes and actions on nature and people. That wealth and power could have great influence on changing society to a sustainable and fair lifestyle, if those who own most of that wealth, see it as their interest and the way for their survival.
What we should do
Plutocrats’ interest is their self-interest, which is why they are plutocrats; it is to be successful in capitalism. This means they are what they are, not because of their strong belief in capitalism but it is in their self-interest. However if they see their demise, “in business as usual”; they may change to one that their children will survive. That requires us to put forward policies that would change the course of the economy to one of survival, and to be acceptable even grudgingly by the wealthy few.
We have little time left to be able to change to a sustainable life, because life will not be able to maintain the necessary chemical balance in the biosphere for a liveable planet. No one can survive that consequence, which may be entrained soon, unless we can convince those plutocrats that they are driving us towards extinction. The only way to survive this century is to live within nature’s limits, the sooner the more likely our children will survive. It will be easier to avoid that annihilation by informing the billionaires of their fate than try to outdo their destructive propaganda.
What we need to know
We are still concerned and strive for systems, leaders, policies, and goals; we think that we need a plan and a system for the future, but this has been one of our diversions. What we need to know is what sort of creatures we are, what sort of life makes us happy, and what sort of life the rest of nature can accept and sustain so that we can have the best life supports. Whatever we do has to conform to those criteria, if our children are to survive. How we do it will vary according to local circumstances and in conjunction with other people's needs, as they must act according to our needs. However, those simple principles can only be attain if we aim to save everyone, for everyone, stupid or clever, careful or careless, weak or strong, wealthy or poor are in some way important to us, as is nearly all of nature. Meeting those basic needs will enable a common interest and change our attitudes that were formed as a consequence of increasing competition over centuries, which caused the social harshness and deceitfulness we are experiencing. Those social attributes will change to kindness, sharing, and an affinity for all people and living things. We would then only want to produce what will give us happiness and fulfilment within nature’s ability to thrive.
It is our adaptability that has enabled people to withstand the loneliness of living in cities of millions of strangers in a synthetic environment. Nevertheless, the toll has been significant over those thousands of years of civilisation in wars, physical and mental health. Although oil has given us new horizons of progress, it use is also life greatest danger and our attachment to it is our greatest challenge to overcome for our survival.
What we need to change for our survival.
We will have to live with and as a part of nature not using and running down nature by using millions of years of sun sunlight energy within a few centuries so that the few can acquire their extravagance. The science has shown that 80% of the fossil fuels must stay in the ground and according to Dr James Hansen- if we burn all the coal our planet will go the way of Venus.
Cheap fossil fuels have undercut labour, due to taxes and charges associated with labour conversely there are subsidies linked to fossil fuels. Under those cost structures we must have perpetual growth, which, if attempted, will be fatal and without it we have intolerable unemployment that will also lead to global warming due to the conflicts.
Even a reluctant consent by the wealthy few to this following short list of minor changes to the capitalist system for the wealthier nations will set us on the road to survival and a better life for all.
· A gradual shift of taxes and charges from labour to earnings from non-worked income, also tax non-renewable resources such as the use of land, seas, fossil fuel energy, and renewables beyond their capacity, like fishing. Also charges on pollution, particularly carbon emissions in the way they affect the climate.
· People’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the community not of employers. Their responsibility is to provide safe, and as interesting work condition that can be maintained and produce the requirements of society efficiently with the least pollution.
· Governments and maybe community should create their money according to needs and available resources. Private Banks’ role would be to on-lend to borrowers. That demarcation would eliminate the use of interest rates to control the economy and be replaced by people deciding on need and availability.
· The cost of goods and services must increasingly reflect their total cost for the world communities of today as well as that of future people. The price for goods and services could possibly start at zero for quantities that are essential for adequate life and gradually increase per unit consumed. This is the opposite of the present method, which aims to maximise consumption.
· Those changes to taxes and charges must be gradual and sensitively introduced. The end result of that is there would be no charges or taxes on employing people nor would there be any from labour, which would reduce the cost of labour by about half or less. It would do that with improved wellbeing and especially individual security.
This would mean a much lower costs for government supplying services like education, health, local transport, upkeep of infrastructures. Furthermore small businesses would benefit as their main cost is usually labour, that would revitalise the corner shop, small manufacturers, household maintenance, and family farms. More exchange with people instead of electronic machines. A cost structure aimed to reduce consumption can reduce the importance of money and personal property. But most important, it will increase the value of personal relations.
This is a challenging journey we must take, which cannot be sudden, however fast it may be necessary to do. Those few points can be flexibly applied and can reverse our direction towards a day when we do what we do to improve life instead of exploiting people and nature.
Lionel Anet is an Australian writer based in Sydney
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