Corruption, Poverty and Capitalism

There is a clear correlation between the amount of corruption and the level of economic welfare that exists in a country. In countries that are rich, corruption is not as frequent as in countries that are poor. This shows us some fascinating points about human nature – and it also reveals solutions for how to deal with the tendency humans have to become corrupted, dishonest, and fraudulent when placed in positions of public power.

bribery-corruptionThere are a few things about human nature that are obvious: We all have an inner drive geared towards self-preservation. If we had to choose between us dying, and someone we do not know dying, most of us would have the other person die. And really, there is nothing strange about this. Self-preservation is an innate trait most forms of life on earth – each organism wants to survive and reproduce. Hence, when we are placed in a position of shortage, we will find ways to get out of it – and if it is required – do that at the expense of another.

Then, we have this human characteristic called greed. If we look deeper at the nature of greed, we can see that greed in-fact consists of a deep-seated fear. Greed is the tendency we have to take more than we need, because we fear that we might need that more in the future, and we ‘just’ want to be on the safe side if something unexpected were to happen. Hence, greed is a form of self-preservation, though a more aggressive, and irrational variety – because where greed is involved – there is not an actual need to preserve self.

Moreover, we have a thing called competition. Most people drive themselves through life in a state of competition. They want to compete against neighbors, friends, acquaintances – they want a better car, house, family, etc. Competition thrives in areas/environments where there exists a lack of resources. For example, in an environment where there is little money, the competition for the money will be greater. And when there is a aggressive competition, there will be incentives to cheat, and incentives to preserve self at the cost of another.

We thus have these three ingredients: Self-preservation, greed, and competition – all of which can be said to be ‘natural’ parts of the human experience. And with natural I mean that most people have or develop such traits from an early age – though this does not imply that such traits are impossible to change and direct. No, all of these traits can be directed – and it is possible to change self to not anymore exist within and as self-interest. Though for this blog let us continue with corruption.

We have established that there are certain characteristics in the human nature that is typically part of the human experience. Now, what is clear is that these characteristics represent the foundation, the underlying reasons that will shape and form the decision of an individual to corrupt themselves. And what is fascinating is that these characteristics will become highlighted in a state where there is poverty, and lack of resources to go around. In such a scenario the average human being will start to think only about themselves, and how to make decisions that will benefit their life, and how they can get out of the precarious situation they find themselves in.

We can read the following in an article from Forbes magazine:

“The links between corruption and poverty affect both individuals and businesses, and they run in both directions: poverty invites corruption, while corruption deepens poverty. Corruption both causes and thrives upon weaknesses in key economic, political and social institutions. It is a form of self-serving influence akin to a heavily regressive tax, benefiting the haves at the expense of the have-nots. Trust–essential to financial markets and effective governments everywhere–is difficult to build in poor and corrupt societies.

Poor people and economically strapped businesses have few economic alternatives, and where serious corruption is the norm, they are even more vulnerable to exploitation. In that sense, there is no such thing as “petty” corruption: police shakedowns in a public market, or roadblocks in the countryside where farmers must pay up in order to transport produce to the city, may yield seemingly trivial sums of money, but they help keep poor people poor.

Low-level officials themselves may have trouble earning an honest living. In poor societies, they are often underpaid, when they are paid at all, and must provide a stream of payments to patrons at higher levels. In such settings, bribery, extortion and theft become matters of survival.” (Johnston 2009)

When survival becomes difficult, corruption flourish, hence corruption is a symptom not the actual illness. The real illness is poverty, and poverty is a structural effect of our current debt based money system – also called – capitalism.

”To reduce corruption from its current high levels requires something more than, and different from, additional laws, commissions, invocations of morality, regulations and so on. It requires basic, structural economic change. Earlier reforms achieved so little success because they ignored the very idea or possibility of such change. They left untouched capitalism’s basic incentive structure and capitalists’ power to use enterprise profits for corrupt purposes. Capitalists have continued to face all the benefits and gains that corrupted officials can yield (plus the risks and costs of failing to corrupt them). Capitalists have likewise continued to amass ever-larger profits and thus the funds with which to corrupt.” (Wolff 2014)

It is easy to blame human nature for being the cause of greed, yet at the same time, when we are able to map out and understand how the human functions, would it not then be easy to create a system where these characteristics are not allowed to fester? Is it not possible, that in a system where money is abundant, where opportunities are ripe, and there are no valid reasons to fear for your own survival, that self-preservation, greed and competition would cease to exist?

Maybe we can even stretch this even further, is it maybe so, that self-preservation, greed and competition are products of this current system, characteristics that are not supposed to be part of the human nature? In any case it is obvious, that if we were to restructure our money system and distribute resources equally, this would have massive positive effects on the human population. It has been shown that equality improves, among other things, physical health, mental health and education, and lessens drug abuse and obesity (Wilkinsson, Pickett & Reich 2011).

Corruption is an illness created by inequality and a unfair distribution of resources. We can change this be implementing a new system of distribution – capitalism is not and have never been the only way to structure and organize human labor, productivity and resource distribution. I suggest that we implement a Living Income Guaranteed – a Guaranteed monthly income that is sufficient to sustain a human being so that they can tend to their basic needs.

According to article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all humans have the right to life, though it is obvious that this right cannot be realized unless we implement a system that gives all the money they require creating their lives. Hence, money is a human right and not something that should be subject to conditions and demands.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed.

____________________

Michael Johnston (2009). Poverty and Corruption. Forbes Magazine. http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/corruption-poverty-development-biz-corruption09-cx_mj_0122johnston.html [2015-10-14]

Richard D. Wolff (2014). Political Corruption and Capitalism. Truthout. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21559-political-corruption-and-capitalis [2015-10-15]

Richard Wilkinsson, Kate Pickett, Robert B. Reich (2011). The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Bloomsbury publishing

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The Age of Migration: UK and Calais is just the Beginning

calaisThe age of migration is upon us, thousands upon thousands of African, and Arabic citizens are flooding into Europe on a daily basis – and these people are willing to sacrifice their lives for a new chance in the western civilization. Recently we have the situation in Calais becoming more pronounced, yet that is only a small part of a much bigger problem.

What we are facing with mass migration, which is happening on a multitude of levels, with various of races and ethnicities trying to move beyond the borders of their country of origin, is the bitter truth that our economic system does not support all people equally. Mass migration makes it clear, that in some parts of the world, life is not worth living. Because consider the immense risk that these refugees goes through to be able to reach the soils of Europe. They walk through deserts, cross seas in unseaworthy boats, climb fences with barbed wire, and continue to move forward even though they are constantly harassed and violated by police, and other governmental agencies.

The question we in the western countries should ask ourselves is: How is it possible for this to happen? What is really going on in this world? Though, instead of answering these questions, and looking at what is in-fact creating the refugee stream, and then implementing a solution that will work on a global level – what we’ve done thus far is instead to build walls, obstacles, create specialized police forces, and more – all to deter and prevent refugees from entering into Europe.

If we take a look at the reasons as to why people decide to leave their homes and travel across the world, it has to do with finding opportunities for making money, and escaping war – it’s these two reasons that dominate. Thus the solution to ending the refugee problem is found in providing, and creating the necessary structures to give all, regardless of birth, opportunities to make money and a peaceful environment. This would be a long-term solution, which would not only stop the current refugee stream, but also make a lot of people able to live happy, dignified, and awesome lives.

Unfortunately, the entire human rights movement, and the various charities involved with trying to ease the suffering, and hinder the human rights abuses that the various border agencies commits, is useless. This movement doesn’t target the actual problems, but more tries to remedy the symptoms – what needs to be remedied is not the consequences but the origin, the creation point – and for that we need political change – and movement on a global level to stop the human suffering occurring outside of Europe.

It might seem like a big, and undoable project, though is it really? We’ve been able to recreate the infrastructure of entire countries in only some few years before in history – take a look at Germany after the Second World War. And secondly, do we actually have a choice? Can we choose to ignore this situation? It should be clear by now, that these refugees are not giving up, and that they are growing in numbers, and that if they aren’t given what they want – they will take it. You would do the same if it was you on the other side of the fence – it’s simply not acceptable to have some people live lives of luxury while the rest of the world must live in squalor and with no access to the most basic of necessities.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed by the Equal Life Foundation to see a proposal for a solution to this situation – through which we are able to grant everyone the living environment they need to lead comfortable and dignified lives.

Day 451: The Best Healthcare? Only possible with a Living Income Guaranteed

Money Matters

I would like to talk about the 3rd leading cause of Death in the United states, Iatrogenic Disease, also known as ‘medical malpractice’ and the state of our Healthcare system, taking the USA as a -bad- example.

Here some extracts from articles about it:

Medical Mistakes Often UnreportedDetroit News

Based on a recent report by the Institute of Medicine, which estimates 36 error-related hospital deaths per 100,000 people, 3,534 Michiganians died last year due to medical mistakes.

Patients reported 2,027 complaints about health care organizations to the state, but Tom Lindsay, director of the Michigan Bureau of Health Services, said those likely represent just a fraction of the mistakes.

Medical MistakesNew York Times

The NEW YORK TIMES reported that 5% of people admitted to hospitals, or about 1.8 million people per year, in the U.S. pick up an infection while there. Such infections are called “iatrogenic” —…

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Why are higher wages a Win-Win Solution?

Living Income's Notes

income-inequality-living income

What happens when wages are not good enough?

End the Torment with Living Income Guaranteed

Solutions

Living Income Guaranteed - Eradicating Poverty

We know the extent of poverty in the world yet we keep pretending that our picture perfect life is all that exists – would we ignore the neglect of life if it was at our doorstep?
We can change this picture with a
Living Income Guaranteed by Equal Life Foundation
www.livingincome.me

artwork by Matti Freeman

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The Secret of Creation

secret-painting

Image credit: original oil painting by Angela Treat Lyon at AngelaTreatLyonART.com

 

Yesterday as I was driving my cab (yes, I am a part-time cabdriver) I met a man originally from Lebanon. He’d migrated to Sweden around thirty years ago, and as I asked whether he looked forward to the coming winter or not, he didn’t hesitate to share his discontent with the Swedish weather and its environment. He shared his love for Lebanon and how he felt that Sweden was a much more isolated and generally boring country – not as much happened here. In Lebanon he could go up into the mountains in the morning, bathe in the sea at midday, and go out to dance with his friends during the night. One day in Lebanon would feel as an entire year in Sweden. Although these observations from my perspective are more conjectures than actual facts, it was interesting to hear him out.

 

After a while our subject changed. I asked him about Lebanon’s state of affairs, and in particular why he’d moved. He then walked me through how Lebanon had initially been a flowering state, with much of the world’s petrol money located in its banks, allowing for a fruitful and abundant lifestyle, but that this had come to a halt. The region had now sunk into an abyss of insecurity, with unstable country-to-country relationships, especially due to the apparent “interventions” by the America world police. He explained that war was now upon Syria and Iraq, and that the chaos was definitely spreading.

Now, to get into the core point of this blog, which is that of “loosing hope” – what is really interesting is what this man next began sharing: He expressed clear insights as to who creates and why conflicts are fueled in the middle east, and in the Arab states, it’s due to oil and because of greedy corporations located in America, that use the American people to further their own interests, and use taxpayers money to buy weapons, wage wars, and secure resources for their own benefit. He shared that something had changed from when he was a child, and that at this point in time, everything was about money, everything was about ME, and getting on top of things, regardless of the consequences this might create for others – and he expressed and shared this insight in a tone acquiescence and resignation – clearly he’d given up on humanity.

This is where we’re going to get to the wisdom, the gift that this man is sharing, because actually, through his words we’re able to see one of the primary reasons as to why this world has yet to paradigmatically change – the two simple words are: GIVING UP – that is from my perspective one of man’s greatest weaknesses.

Consider the following: How is it that we learn to walk? We stand up, we fall, we stand up, we fall, we stand up, and we fall – but never do we give up – and this is why we’re able to acquire the skill of walking. Babies as such haven’t yet been instilled with the concept of giving up – and yes: Giving up is a skill – it’s a mental concept learnt by example and it would’ve not existed in humanity unless we’d accepted and allowed it – unless we’d diligently been practicing it and making it a trait and habit that we pass down to our children, and that they in turn pass down to theirs.

Giving up is a trait that must be removed in order for one to have impact in this world – because to walk a process of change requires that one walk beyond one’s comfort zone, beyond what one have known to work, beyond what one believed and thought, because only then can the NEW emerge – and the new can only emerge through a process of trial and error – through a process of failure, practice and perfection – nothing in this world that exist as a fully functional and manifested creation has appeared without having gone through this process – and this is the secret of creation = THE WILLINGNESS TO FAIL.

There was a great quote by Zig Ziglar, a salesman, and he said some along the following:

“Failure is only failure when you don’t learn from it” and “Remember, failure is an event, not a person”

So, what are we able to learn from this?

If you’re truly passionate about creating a new world, then buckle up your seatbelts Dorothy, and be prepared and willing to fail countless times, because that is what it will take – nothing less. I for one have decide that I am willing to fail, make mistakes, and do the wrong thing, as many times as is required until I get it – until I do have an impact – until this world do show signs of change. And this is not because I need success as a motivation, it’s because I’ve decided that this is what I am going to do with my life – nothing more and nothing less – I will live to make a difference.

Thus for anyone out there that has given up, realize that the only way to break through, and make a difference in this world, is through failure – there is no other way – so pull your sleeves up and let’s walk the process of creation until this is done.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed and let’s get it done.

Living On Stolen Money – Decision or Consequence?

VehicleCrime350A life of crime is two-part documentary (I’ve posted embeds of the videos in the bottom of the post), where a filmmaker follows some criminals during two periods in their lifetime. The first time he meets them they are in their late twenties and still quite strong and vigorous, and they are sustaining themselves through shoplifting. In part two he meets them when they are in their middle thirties and life has begun to take a toll on them.

What is so interesting about this documentary is that it reveals the mindset of the criminals, the WHY of their decision to become criminals. Several times throughout the documentary they exclaim that they are able to make much more money through stealing than through having a regular job. Working one day as a shoplifter makes them around 3000 dollars, while working one day at McDonald’s makes them about 80 dollars. Thus, what is clear is that these people are not driven by some form of bad moral, or psychopathic desire to cause harm to others. No – in-fact these shoplifters are economist’s showing to us what kind of consequences our current economic system create.

It’s obvious that thieves, shoplifters and burglars are not an incident or mishap, they are consequence, they are not an anomaly, they are a predictable outcome – the result of an equation. For those of us that have led a life of money, it’s hard to relate to and understand what goes through a person’s mind when he or she decides to become professional shoplifter, because most of us born in economically stable environments would perceive it as immoral, wrong and barbarian. However, for someone born at the very low end of the hierarchy theft and a criminal life is a way of escaping a permanent sentence to a life poverty, and hard work.

Economists would probably agree with me, because it’s simple mathematics, when there is no support for those at the bottom, no hope for a better life, no ability to rise and build a life for oneself, then crime is a way out = supply and demand = cause and effect = problem and consequence.

Thus, realize, when crime rise, it’s not something bad, it’s actually an indication that something is very, very wrong with society, and that there are some drastic changes required. Realize that when prisons are filled to the brim with people, then we have a sick society, and that sickness can be traced back to the unequal distribution of money and resources.

This is where we require embracing a paradigm shift, because in order to make our lives better, our society more safe, our life experiences more rewarding, we must learn to give – we must learn to give, as we’d like to receive. Most of us have extremely difficult to grasp this concept, and when confronted with it, we shiver and turn inside, immediately out of our mouths comes the statements that “it’s unfair!” – “they should work for their money!” – “we can’t change that!” – “there will always be crime!” – but see, this is not common sense, this is assumptions, ideas, projections, and in actuality useless opinions that have no significance in terms of how reality actually works.

The fact is that, when we make the decision to give all an equal opportunity to make something worthwhile of themselves in this world, we are doing ourselves a significant favor. We will in doing that release so much pressure, fear, and society will become a completely different place, where crime will be significantly less.

One of the solutions we’re able to implement is a minimum wage, and not just any minimum wage, but a big minimum wage with which one can buy luxurious items, start a family and make one’s life comfortable and enjoyable. Manual labor such as working for McDonald’s, or similar, shouldn’t be awarded with a salary that merely puts one on the breadline. Instead dedicating oneself to contributing to society should be awarded amply; it should be more profitable to live honestly than to make living as a criminal.

So, the key to designing a successful society is to ask us the question WHY? Because everything that happens in this world does so for a reason – our physical reality is filled with equations and these in turn produce various results, and through changing the variables, we’ll change the result.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed and allow yourself to step up and become a social engineer, question the movement of your daily life, what happens, why it happens, and how it could be changed in such a way that all are included. Because it’s clear that – there are SOLUTIONS – we must simply be brave enough to see and apply them.

The Theory of Economy

supply-and-demand-01-resized-600This summer I had the mixed pleasure of reading a course in Microeconomics and International trade. In microeconomics the primary focus of the researchers is to establish ‘What is the market really doing and why?’ – and this is attempted to be done utilizing mathematical formulas; primarily utilizing the famous graph where two lines cross each-other, the one line sloping downwards (demand) and the other sloping upwards (supply) – and where they meet each other = that’s apparently the optimal price for the product and the optimal quantity of that product in that given market.

What first struck me as being fascinating about these theories was that they seldom predicted how the market would behave in reality, and neither could they be verified with empirical evidence – and most of the time the authors of the my books where busy trying to find reasons and various viewpoints as to why these theories wasn’t working “as they should” – and how they probably did work but it was just that the inventors missed to take into consideration some important factors and variables.

Though, what was the most fascinating about this entire area of research, was how there was this complete worship to the idea that lower prices = higher consumer satisfaction; and that apparently for a market to be functional, what is required is that we produce as many products as possible, to the lowest prices possible, because then the consumers are able to buy as much as possible, and then we’re apparently okay, happy, and have a fruitful existence here on earth.

Obviously, when I looked at these ideas, I silently chuckled – because the logical flaw of this assumption is glaringly simple = the producers are the consumers! YES – that’s the secret of economy and the reason why we’ve got so many unemployed in this day and age is because we’ve failed to understand that when a product is cheaper, someone at the other end gets less money, which in turns means that a (employee) consumer gets less money, which in turns means that the producer gets less customers = and it all ends up in such a way that most lose but a few that manage to reap the monopoly profits of those very low-priced products – because they’ve priced out everyone else.

It’s clear that we have to develop a new way of looking at economics, and that mathematics and statistics isn’t the way to go – no – we actually require to look at the actuality of what is going on. For example, poverty, what is the actuality of poverty? Why does poverty exist to begin with? It’s not a matter of mathematics, rather it’s a matter of seeing what is behind everything in this world – and that is MONEY – money that in itself is a completely innocent creation meant to be but a way of distributing goods and services to where they are required and wanted the most; but in our current system – money has become a point of control – where those that are already rich and on top of things with all possible means make sure the keep those stricken by poverty in place – else we wouldn’t anymore have a functional slave labor force that can produce all of our various gadgets and other mechanics of entertainment.

Thus, what we must ask ourselves, and economists more importantly, is why have we never used our knowledge to produce a sustainable system where all of us are able to create a life that is dignified, cool and enjoyable? What is required for us to do that? MONEY – and what do we need to bring through such money into this world? Resources – so what is then the solution – the real economic master plan as to how to create a world that would be sustainable and practical for all its inhabitants? To agree that we share the resources – at least the basic and most essential resources – those that we MUST HAVE in order to live.

Thus, I stand behind the Living Income Guaranteed – which is a functional, effective and sustainable way of creating a new world for all people where money will be shared – and for those economists that want to make a difference – I suggest that you investigate this concept and bring your knowledge to the table and help to create something from which we can all benefit!