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The Real Reason For The Recession – 1


Economic pundits are amazing.  They have the answer to everything.  The day after the stock market rises over 100 points they will recount in precise detail the logic behind the day’s upswing and tell you the exact reason why the market was so optimistic.  And the day after that, when the market goes down that same 100 points plus… they will turn the coin over and give equally compelling reasons why what happened that day makes all the sense in the world. 

What they are unable to do, of course, is explain why what made sense yesterday makes no sense today, or, of course, to predict what is going to happen tomorrow.  And yet we continue to listen to their analyses on the nightly news as if they had something to teach us that could actually help.

Similarly, their explanations for the causes of the current global economic recession are equally vague and nebulous.  They speak of a dip in consumer confidence, a credit crunch, a housing bubble, a sag in spending, falling dollar, stagflation, monetary meltdown, toxic derivatives, massive debt, and my personal favorite… an inverted yield curve.  (FYI, that’s when long-term interest rates have lower yields than short-term interest rates.)  Well, that explains it!  If we could have only kept our bond yields right side up we wouldn’t be in this mess.  Yeah, right.   

In truth, all those reasons, excuses, and explanations are results not causes.  The real reason the economy has gone off the deep end is something no pundit wants to talk about and most likely doesn’t even think about because it is so ingrained into our very ethos, our very being, especially beings involved as they are in the world of economics and finance.   Yet the reason is simple.  So simple, in fact, that it’s almost embarrassing to admit.  Homo economicus is GREEDY!   We don’t have enough to go around because those who can take more than they need.

It is not purely coincidence that The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith’s classic book that for the very first time described the workings of the capitalist system and its cornerstone of self-interest, was published in 1776.  It is not coincidence that the rugged individualism so prized in the building of the American west, so envied in the successful capitalist who took chances and made it big, and the entrepreneurial spirit that has created our society, culture, way of life and the highest standard of living ever seen in the world to this point, is strictly based on our own self interest.  “Look out for #1” has become our national motto.  And while self-preservation and the survival instinct are an important part of human consciousness, in true American style and spirit, we’ve taken it to extremes.

How else can you explain Ponzi schemes run by billionaires who think nothing of outright stealing money from others as long as their own coffers increase in size.  How else can you explain corporate executives whose businesses are failing getting government bailout money from hard working taxpayers and then paying themselves bonuses that are greater than those taxpayers will ever earn in a lifetime.  How else can you explain bankers who loan money to people they know can never pay it back, then sell those loans to other banks at a profit, stock traders who leak false news to falsely inflate their holdings, credit card companies that lure people into debt they can’t afford, and our nation’s richest companies and individuals putting their money into offshore holdings so as to avoid their rightful share of the tax burden.  How can you explain that, if not downright, pure, unadulterated greed.  Is it any wonder that such a system of competing and conflicting interests must ultimately be brought to its knees?

But the times, they are a changin’, as are the rules under which economics, finance, and business are being played.  In this ever shrinking, ever smaller, ever more intertwined global economy, we are going to have to start thinking of ourselves not as separate individuals who can only succeed when someone else fails, but as part of a whole which can only succeed if each part is successful.  This is the Oneness that truly ties us all together and the direction in which planetary evolution is ultimately headed.  How long it takes us to get there will determine how much suffering humanity will have to endure along the way.

To be continued…


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