The Overview Effect.

Originally posted on June 26, 2013 by Jerry Alatalo

galaxy22Alphabet Contemplation and observation of Earth from the profound perspective of space literally changes a human being. From that viewpoint, any ideas having to do with separation leading to disharmony – whether separate nations, regions, spiritual traditions, races, political philosophies, wealth/classes or power levels – become absolutely meaningless. Seeing the Earth in this way helps give an idea of the fundamental vision and genesis of this blog – The Oneness of Humanity. If – when – the human race fully understands the concept of oneness between all people, all life, and all things,  it will mark the closest civilization has approached to achieving its greatest evolutionary movement. Some react to the idea of establishing heaven on Earth by saying it is simply and clearly impossible, unrealistic, waste-of-time, utopian thinking.

While viewing The Overview Effect men and women may find themselves experiencing moments of deep spiritual understanding that Earth is heaven, that humanity has always owned the real opportunity to choose that way of perceiving, and awareness of universal oneness can truly make all the good difference in the world.

Oneness – Earth Overview

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For more information from the film’s producers:

The Overview Institute

Fragile Oasis

Planetary Collective

Professor Richard D. Wolff: “Let’s Talk About Socialism.”

by Jerry Alatalo

“The worship of Mammon instead of God is a characteristic of socialism as well as capitalism… Socialism in no longer a Utopia or a dream: it is an objective threat, and a warning to Christians to show them unmistakably that they have not fulfilled the word of Christ

– NICHOLAS BERDYAEV (1874-1948) Russian religious philosopher

Book4Alphabet Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst where he taught economics from 1978 through 2008. He was born in 1942, is 73 years old, and married to Harriet Fraad, a practicing psychotherapist. They have two children.

Mr. Wolff could be described as a heterodox economist, or coming from a school of thought outside of “mainstream economics”, or going beyond neoclassical, orthodox and traditional economic theory. On a personal note, Mr. Wolff comes across as very enthusiastic and full of energy during his talks, something which deserves appreciation for its rarity among economists along with the fact that he’s 73 years old. For this one can describe Mr. Wolff as the epitome of a true teacher, one who is genuinely excited to share his/her knowledge of the subject to students.

Some notable heterodox economists include (Wikipedia, heterodox economics):

  • Karl Marx
  • Richard D. Wolff
  • Thorstein Veblen
  • Alfred S. Eichner
  • Piero Sraffa
  • Joan Violet Robinson
  • Michael Kalecki
  • Frederic S. Lee
  • Ha-Joon Chang

Some heterodox economics schools:

  • American Institutional School
  • Austrian economics
  • Binary economics
  • Bioeconomics
  • Complexity economics
  • Ecological economics
  • Evolutionary economics
  • Georgism
  • Green economics
  • Gesellian (Silvio Gesell)
  • Innovation economics
  • Insitutional economics
  • Islamic economics
  • Marxian economics
  • Mutualism
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Participatory economics
  • Post-Keynesian economics
  • Post scarcity
  • Socialist economics
  • Sraffian economics
  • Technocracy
  • Thermoeconomics

Given recent years of global economic downturn, many people are coming to the point where they are thinking about alternatives to capitalism. Professor Wolff reminds his audience that those who think there is only one kind of socialism are experiencing a fantasy, as there are many socialist-related economic theories. However, despite the lack of courses in university economics departments, socialism is one of the alternatives receiving more attention. Evidence of this is found in Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ announcement he is running for President of the United States in 2016, and that he is widely known as holding a political philosophy aligned with socialist economics.

Richard Wolff studied history and economics at Harvard, Yale and Stanford, but, because of what he calls “childishness”, in none of his economics courses was he required to read anything written by Karl Marx. During his “Monthly Economic Update”, he tells his audience that saying “let’s talk about socialism” most likely results in a chilling feeling and effect to run through the room, because any American who mentions that (until now) taboo word most likely will become perceived in an extremely negative light or accused of “treason, disloyalty, apostasy” or many other terms that are simply equating with “bad”.

After becoming an economics professor, he was somewhat surprised to find his students viewed the terms communist, socialist, anarchist, and terrorist as synonyms – different words meaning the same thing. As mentioned, recent years of international economic downturn have many people looking at alternative economic schools to find if there’s not one which if implemented will result in better outcomes. As Richard Wolff says at the end of his talk, it’s “better late than never”.

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Up until the 41:45 mark of his 1-hour 30-minute talk Mr. Wolff comments on recent events, then the talk focuses on the topic “As Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens, Thoughts of Socialism Return Again”. Some of the current events he comments on include:

  • Billionaire hedge fund owner gives $150 million to the world’s 2nd richest university in the world – Harvard. The billionaire’s deduction of $150 million from his income will cost the U.S. government $60-70 million in lost revenue.
  • The New York Times published an article about the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main trade group, and its opposition to a law requiring older rail cars become retrofitted to prevent oil spills in case of derailment. The Institute feels the law is “too costly, yield few safety benefits”, days before a U.S. train went off the tracks and several people lost their lives.
  • U.S. is spending the lowest amount on maintaining roads, rails, bridges and other infrastructure in 25 years.
  • Two of eighteen banks decided to go through a trial instead of negotiate a settlement/enter a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice for financial crimes – one from Japan and Royal Bank of Scotland. The woman judge in those two cases issued a 361-page decision against the banks which said, “The magnitude of falsity, conservatively measured, is enormous”.
  • On the 1,000’s from North Africa and the Middle East who’ve perished trying to cross the Mediterranean, Mr. Wolff said: “If you had an economic system, in our case capitalism, that systematically organizes extreme disparities between wealth in one part of the world than another, here comes a real shocker: people are going to want to leave the part of the world that the system drowns in poverty and move to the part that isn’t affected like that. This has been going on roughly 10,000 years; it shouldn’t come as a big shock. If you don’t want migration, if you don’t want unsafe migration, murderous migration, deadly loss of life, then don’t organize and don’t accept an economic system that produces the disparities which are the beginning of all of this anyway. An honest approach would begin to say let’s ask why this happens. Why would people rip up their lives, leave their homes, their families, their communities, their languages, and go to a whole other part of the world at enormous cost, at enormous risk to life and limb to themselves, their children, their spouses? Why would people do that if they weren’t desperate? Nine times out of ten it’s about economic disparity”.
  • On recent elections, the conservative victory in Britain is the “bad news” and the New Democratic Party’s victory in Alberta, Canada is the “good news”. Mr. Wolff describes “us against them” tactics used by David Cameron in Britain and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin as the “scapegoat economy” – in Britain “them” meaning immigrants and the poor, in Wisconsin “them” meaning teachers, firefighters, police, etc. in the public sector.
  • Recent Gallup polls show that 63% of Americans for 30 years (1984-2015) have believed that distribution of wealth has been unfair, while during the same thirty years members of Congress have taken steps to make inequality worse.

Then, at around the 41:45 mark of the talk, Richard Wolff gives an amazing historical account on major world transformational events of political economy. “We are a strange country in more ways than one, but one of the strangest things about us is the weird taboo we have lived under for the last half century. What’s the taboo?We can’t talk about socialism. We can’t talk about socialism; we can’t talk about socialism and compare it to capitalism – we can’t do it. It’s too scary. No, that’s out”.

In America during the 1930’s, socialists and communists were “OK”, similar to societies across Europe today. In America during that time it was hard to demonize socialists at the family picnic when your “Aunt Mary was one”. That changed in the 1940’s when demonization of communists routed them out, converting them from militant leftists to “agents of a foreign power”, then socialists: “Socialists are just like communists, they just spell it differently. It’s all the same. They all carry bombs in their left back pockets, they’re hiding underneath your bed, and they mean you – and your puppy – lots of harm. So you should really watch out for them, and keep away”.

Mr. Wolff then goes on to share the history of change in political economy beginning with feudalism. Perhaps this writer is too easily impressed, but, the outstanding part of this talk by Richard Wolff (starting at 41:45) – about great socioeconomic changes through history, and the little known details – is brilliant.

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(Thank you to RichardDWolff at YouTube)

Economist Dr. Ravi Batra.

by Jerry Alatalo

ripple11Alphabet From 1945 until 1980 and the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States, there was balance between the nation’s productivity increase and wage increases. This was attributable to the strength of unions in America, until Ronald Reagan, who, according to Dr. Ravi Batra was “tired of paying high taxes”, convinced the American people “supply side” economics and large tax breaks for the wealthy were good for everyone. Since then supply side economics has become called “trickle-down” economics.

Dr. Batra points out that the Reagan tax cuts weren’t really tax cuts because while lowering them for the wealthy, poor and middle class people saw a rise in payroll, social security, excise, and gas taxes, decreasing their purchasing power in the process. During the time of Reagan, unions began losing power in America, so wages began falling behind growth in productivity, with the result being lack of demand, layoffs, and a trend toward pushing down labor – the poor and middle class – in the country.

At the same time, instead of the wealthy who received large tax cuts investing and creating jobs, because of lack of demand those corporations and wealthy people invested in government debt run up to increase demand and stimulate the economy. Combined with deregulation, ignoring enforcement of anti-trust laws, larger and larger mergers leading to more layoffs, the export of jobs and capital overseas for higher profits, and Americans going into debt to purchase goods they could no longer afford, the wealthy made more money on those debts.

In his discussion with Henry George Scholl of Social Science President Andrew Mazzone, Ravi Batra went on to talk about the 16th Amendment establishing the American tax system, when taxes replaced tariffs on foreign imports as the revenues to finance government operations. His view is that economic theorists who advocate for so-called supply side (trickle-down) are offering an economy that is self-serving.

His recommendations include:

  • Reversing the tax cuts which started in 1981
  • Active enforcement of already existing anti-trust legislation
  • Breaking up existing monopolies to increase competition
  • Put and end to outsourcing of jobs across U.S. industries
  • Balancing the national trade deficits instead of creating more of them
  • Re-institute strong regulations like Glass-Steagall
  • Tax poor and middle class people less and push the nation’s tax burden up and more on the rich

In Dr. Ravi Batra’s view, for the economic health of America “we have to get rid of monopoly capitalism”.  For example, he believes that if Barack Obama accomplished just one of his recommendations – an FDIC-managed bank charging 5% on credit cards instead of 15-30% – he would effectively guarantee the Democratic party’s winning back the House of Representatives and Senate in 2016.

An interesting and “outside-the-box” discussion of economics.

http://www.amazon.com/End-Unemployment-Now

For more information: www.henrygeorgeschool.org

(Thank you to Henry George School of Social Science at YouTube)

TPP And TTIP: Insurance Policies For World’s Billionaires.

by Jerry Alatalo

Alphabet Senator Barbara Boxer of California describes how she went to read the TransPacific Partnership, was instructed she must turn over her electronics to the guard there, that she couldn’t take notes – or if she did take notes, she’d have to give them to the guard before leaving, while aware telling her constituents about the deal was a crime. Just to make certain people understand the full meaning and importance of the previous sentence: Barbara Boxer is a long-serving United States Senator from California. Who, exactly, is responsible for making it illegal for United States Senators and members of the United States House of Representatives to tell their constituents – the American people – details of the largest trade deal in the history of the United States?

Seriously, whose idea was behind making it illegal for the people’s elected representatives to tell the American people (can anyone remember “We the People?”) about two multi-nation, binding trade deals that will directly affect their and their family’s lives? While we’re getting to the bottom of things, who originated the concept called “fast track”, which pushes completely over the cliff members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives’ obligation/duty to thoroughly debate trade deals with other nations, especially when talking about the massive TransPacific Partnership and TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?

Seriously, who thought up the idea of fast track, and why? Why has the Barack Obama administration not answered to millions of citizens’ concerns about TPP and TTIP, namely by giving an explanation for the deals’ creation in secret, unable to become viewed and studied (with notes) by every American, and illegal for elected officials to discuss in public? The Obama administration has failed as well in giving an adequate explanation for Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in TPP and TTIP, where corporate-agenda, non-governmental panels – not already established legal institutions and courts – decide who wins and who loses: investors or states.

In the years and decades since wealth inequality started growing to today where wealth inequality on Earth has set a historical record, those at the top of wealth accumulation, billionaires, have invested large amounts of excess, accumulated wealth for more profit-making. In a vicious investment cycle resulting in ever more concentration of wealth in fewer hands, the negative consequences for more and more of the great majority of average people has led to an increasingly powerful pushback and intensified demands for an end to increasing wealth concentration/inequality. This pushback has led to average citizens rising up for economic justice, elected representatives (sometimes) hearing their citizens’ demands and acting by creating laws to slow or halt further concentration of wealth, and what some describe as haircuts or constraints for billionaire investors.

What TPP and TTIP have been engineered to accomplish is putting an end to stronger pushback by average citizens against corporate actions which result in declining standards of living in the areas of employment, finance, food safety, economics, health, education etc., and fighting for an equal voice in how their governments carry out their majority ideas on the range of issues affecting their lives – commonly called democracy.

The manner in which the TransPacific Partnership and TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have been written by corporate lawyers in secret, with virtual zero transparency, and, most disturbingly, making it illegal for United States Senators to give the people they represent the details – can only be described as actions of a type absolutely the furthest distance possible from the idea of “We the People”: democratic. The entire process has been scandalously deceptive and dishonorable – a repugnant disgrace.

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(Thank you to TheBigPictureRT at YouTube)

Norman Finkelstein: “Good For Selma, Good For Palestine.”

by Jerry Alatalo

“I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

– MOHANDES (Mahatma) GANDHI (1869-1948) Hindu national leader

373Alphabet After listening to, first, Thom Hartmann talking to former 2nd in command at the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Morell on The Big Picture RT and, second, Paul Jay talking to Norman Finkelstein on The Real News Network’s (TRNN) Reality Asserts Itself, one thing stood out. Whereas Mr. Morell had a habit of looking down or to the side every 5-10 seconds when talking to Mr. Hartmann, Mr. Finkelstein for most his interview looked Paul Jay directly in the eye. Who knows if there’s even anything to gain from such an observation, but noticing the contrast in eye contact by the men in separate interviews was unavoidable.

Norman Finkelstein’s latest book “Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza” delves into the Israel-Palestine issue, a subject Mr. Finkelstein has researched for many years. At the end of the book he suggests that, for the Palestinian people, the best option is nonviolent civil disobedience based on the example in America where Martin Luther King led the march on Selma, Alabama for civil rights. Mr. Finkelstein notes in the interview, Part 2 of 3 on TRNN, that a Selma-like action is only his political judgment. But those who’ve studied Israel-Palestine realize he has enough knowledge for Palestinians and their supporters to seriously consider such a strategy.

Thank the Creator/God that international awareness of the urgent need to end apartheid conditions for Palestinians is growing a great deal faster than the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. Much of the difference comes thanks to the internet and masses of people around the world ending their association with any corporate, mainstream media organizations for getting their news about international events. That, combined with apartheid in Israel being much more destructive than the South Africa version, has resulted in a rapidly growing Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement around the world and more rapid condemnation by national governments of Israeli occupation, continuing confiscation of Palestinian lands for settlements construction, and Palestinians’ denial of basic human rights.

Some of the details of last summer’s Israeli 50-day assault on the people of Gaza – Operation Protective Edge – discussed in this segment with Mr. Finkelstein:

  • Hamas’ 4,000 “rockets” launched at Israel were no more than enhanced fireworks, resulted in (5) civilian casualties and $15 million in property damage, and Israel’s Iron Dome stopped at the most 400 of the 4,000 according to MIT physicist Theodore Postol’s analysis of Iron Dome
  •  Israel’s assertion that their missiles/bombs are 99% accurate and those missiles hitting civilian targets such as homes, apartment buildings, manufacturing facilities and United Nations shelters points to Israel’s need of accepting responsibility for the human deaths and injury, plus damage to property
  • Palestinian resistance in the form of violence was morally justified – an example of people (Norman Finkelstein) “summoning up the wherewithal to die in dignity”
  • With the international community closely observing events in Israel-Palestine, armed resistance should be replaced with mass nonviolent civil disobedience for change, in the view of Norman Finkelstein: “…good in Selma, good in Birmingham, good in Palestine”.
  • Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014 began on the night of the day Malaysian airliner MH17 crashed in Ukraine killing all 290 on board
  • After United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the United States administration of Barack Obama denounced Israeli air strikes on United Nations facilities/shelters during Operation Protective Edge – killing Palestinian civilians, ISIS’ brutal murder of reporters turned the international media spotlight away from Gaza, at which point then Israel increased the destructiveness of their attacks
  • Operation Protective Edge ended on August 26, 2014; Palestinians have since joined the International Criminal Court, very little reconstruction has occurred, Palestinians suffer horrendous living conditions, and the Israel government continues its illegal confiscation of occupied territory/land for settlements construction

First and foremost for the sake of the long-suffering Palestinian people – but also for Israelis, people in the Middle East, and humanity, for the millions of men and women around the Earth working for a fair, just resolution to the seemingly endless Israel-Palestine issue… Let the worldwide BDS movement/political anti-apartheid actions grow even more rapidly and powerfully, then relegate the entire decades-old, deeply saddening chain of events to the dustbin of history.

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(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)