Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Some Impediments to any Solutions for Humanity

A friend sent me a copy of a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke from ultra-conservative Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, deriding Bernanke for all his failings. Much of what Senator Jim Bunning writes is accurate to a point, but what is more important than what Senator Jim Bunning says is what he omits.

The underlying problem that leads to collusion between Wall Street, politicians of all stripes, and big companies is that corporations have become monsters with a life and a motive of their own (like the computer in the Matrix) and that this has happened because we have opened Pandora's box and are way over our heads.

The real problem is that laws governing corporations have given corporations the rights of an individual without limiting how the powers associated with those privileges can be expressed. We all know that corporations have only one goal and that is to maximize their profits. That mission is reinforced by share holders who either take direct actions on board members who do not fulfill that mandate or indirectly by taking their money elsewhere. The corporate offices survive only if they meet the profit expectations of the owners of the corporations. Because of the disproportionate amount of money, resources, and jobs that big corporations have, they exert undue influence (not total control) on the political system. This is done by donating large sums of money to political campaigns (often to both sides), through slick lobbyists who present compelling but stilted analyses, sometimes give direct bribes to politicians, and the revolving door between industry and government which corrupt both politicians and regulators.

Senator Jim Bunning knows very well that this is going on and that it is at least one of the major cause of the kind of behavior he criticizes. The reason he does not point to the real cause of the problem is that he himself has benefited from the system. He has not done any better job than the people he complains about because it was his job to exert oversight on their process. He failed in that oversight, preferring to digress into partisanship, which further reduces the likelihood of solving the problem. For a politician, he also displays a lack of diplomacy. This means he has no interest in finding a solution to the problems or working with the rest of the government.

When you study the Fed and the actions of the various administrations, it is quite apparent that changes in the chairman of the Fed or changes in the political party in office have little effect on the trends in monetary policy. Taking Bernanke out is not a solution. Facing the reality of the weaknesses in our system is the only solution but is not likely to occur until there is a deeper crisis.

Personally, I think the problem runs deeper than the corporations run amuck. The problem lies in us as thinking human beings. At times, we think we understand something; but most of the time, if we are honest, we realize that there are very few things we truly understand. What comes to our senses is filtered and only a small part of that comes through. What comes through our senses are further filtered and interpreted by our knowledge and world view (culture, knowledge, training, and experience). Even the limited amount of information we do perceive get further filtered through a system of triage which eliminates everything it can so that we can focus our limited bandwidth on the things we need most for survival. Our memories go through a similar process, pruning those thoughts which are not often used. We are well suited to be hunter-gathers but not for the complexities of modern life.

Because of this tendency to focus on the immediate and the most common elements of our world and our ability to ignore or oversimplify the apparently less important, we tend to act like blind ants, mostly oblivious of the larger implications of our actions. Thus, the working poor focus on getting by. The corporate officer uses their bandwidth to do and keep their job. The investor focuses on optimizing their profit. At each level, we may try to understand the bigger picture, but that is not likely to happen when a clear view would challenge the world as we know it. To do so would mean stepping into a scary world in which we are not sure we can survive. Only in times of crisis do we open up to new ways of thinking on any substantial level.

All the financial gurus start by explaining the current situation and where it might go. Then they come up with behaviors which will protect one's assets. That is fine and I will take some of their advice, but I would like to understand more deeply the flaw in our humanity which brings us to this point. I believe that we will have to wake up to our true nature if we hope to survive as a species. In any case, no solution for humanity can be implemented when the driving force of our economy is profit over people.

by Didier G.
on 12/05/2009

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