Saturday, February 14, 2009

A New Economy-Back to the Future and Karl Marx

Having just returned from two weeks in Sayulita, Mexico where the news whenever I saw it was a couple of copies of items in the NY Times on a sheet of paper printed and left at the coffee houses. Iam refreshed and seeing a little differently than before. I've decided to take myself away from the addiction of having the TV on blasting away all day with the same headlines generating and regurgitating the same headlines all day long. And the moderators who give the impression they are in a position to make a judgement we the public should respond to, agree with or the like. Kind of like going to the grocer and having the grocer tell you what you should have for dinner authoritatively. How would the grocer know what you require or what you should consume. Even Rachel Maddow is a bit taxing and she is fresher than most with questions that provoke your thinking, not rehasing and selling specific viewpoints that engrandize her importance. I am being selective with The Nation Magazine, Newsweek and the New York Times, Daily Kos and the Huffington Post. But the best info this week in reference to "Economic Crisis and the Bailout" I found on Public radio; a series on how Cuba formed community during their economic crisis when the US had an embargo that had oil, gas and food become non existent for their people's use. Also on KPFA, there was an Economist, Rick Wolf,in New York who basically gave a view of our situation that Karl Marx spoke of long ago. Karl Marx is coming up in references as the discussions of the economy; in that the infusion of $787 trillion may not do more than emergency repair to our economic problem we're being asked to take a deeper look. Looking deeper into the means by which we got where wee are and a shift in our relationships and our lifestyles may be the necessary true element of change that is required. Comparing our sitation with Cuba may be like Apples and organges given our ethos and identity are embedded in individualism and competition; this does not exclude a shift to seeing our lives through shared goals and common good or community, but it does require a step in that we have not considered but may now need to take on.

Marxism speaks of the fact that when you separate people from their ability to produce their own food, specifically out of the farm land and into the urban area, you have lessened people's power in their own lives. They now need to go to the city, get a job and with the money from the job purchase the food, pay the rent. A breakdown in the job and the money loss leaves the person unable to provide for themselves or their families. Well, Rick Wolf of the New School of New York, gives a full discussion of how our lives have changed specifically since 1970. That is the monies we have available have decreased since then. Money had more value relative to the costs at that time, and the families had women at home to take care of them, and the women had the means to be taken care of throughout their lives. At that time only 7% of the women worked outside the home; in the households and these women were in the position of taking emotional and physical care of their families and had the expectation of being taken care of themselves. Divorce was rare. At that time the cost of living began to increase and even with the increase in salaries, the actual value of the monies was reduced ongoingly. These monies were important to the workers in relation to their ability to consume, Wolf says. Consumption is vital because when people are separate from the power of producing their work, consumption becomes increasingly important. The lack of satisfaction in work that is not creative nor does it include the power of the individual to determine its outcome or use, Wolf points out, is the basis for the need for the shopping malls and the entertainment required by the worker. Since the paychecks by the men don't cover the lifestyle and haven't for sometime, the women have gone to work now at a rate of 74% of women work and those monies only allow the family to keep up. 4% of the women worked in 1970. The caretaking of the family is still on the woman's shoulders primarily as the sociologist have maintained, and the women come home tired and cope with the stress of their situations in many cases by the use of antidepressents-some 43% of the population use one form of antidepressent, Wolf claims.

OK, so what is the opportunity given these facts by Wolf and other economists? Back to the land, back to the future is what it looks like to me. Sharing households-only 22% of the population are in the man/woman/children scenario, the remainder are a mixture of friends and family members or living alone. A shift in our reality to see our lives through a different lense that offers more clumping of resourses, clusters of arrangements in dealing with the costs of our lives, financially and psychologically it would seem. Every word about the US economy says we are not going back, can't go back to the economy we have exploited and maybe it's not all bad is what I'm saying. What are your thoughts on this subject? Let's engage in nothing less than creating the future that lies ahead with intelligent optimism-what do you say?