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.

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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)

Economics Awareness Vital For Democracy.

by Jerry Alatalo

“Settle the economic question and you settle all other questions. It is the Aaron’s rod which swallows up the rest.”

– WILLIAM MORRIS (1834-1896) English writer, artist

 ECONOMICS (Photo: video.mit.edu)
ECONOMICS
(Photo: video.mit.edu)

Alphabet Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge in London Ha-Joon Chang is the kind of teacher everyone who’s taken an economics course wish they had. The one economics course this writer took in university was an introduction and focused only on the ideas of so-called free-market guru Milton Friedman. This reflected the economics theory preferred by the professor, but Ha-Joon Chang’s book “Economics: The User’s Guide” (2014) would have been much more informative and valuable.

So, it wasn’t until years later, after getting a computer and exploring the internet, that the idea there were many schools of economic thought and theory came into awareness. Had that introductory course been based on a text/study of a range of theories like “Economics: The User’s Guide”, instead of the narrow view of one man Mr. Friedman, the intervening years would have been fuller with respect to understanding world events and how economic decisions factored into them. So, in that one sense Professor Ha-Joon Chang in writing the book deserves a lot of credit. His intention is to increase men and women’s awareness of economics and understanding of how it matters in the real world.

If one were to sum up his book effort in a single statement, it could go something like: “Economics can be easily understood by everyone, is not the domain of “gurus” or “high priests”, and when more people become knowledgeable about the subject, the stronger democracy becomes”. Before Professor Chang took part in a six-part series on the Real News Network recently, his name and economic perceptions were limited to seeing him speak on a documentary about alternative economics. In that small amount of association with Mr. Chang over the internet, he comes across as a straight-speaking, likable man who has obviously travelled down many economic theory highways.

Spending time on an economics focused blog “Real World Economics Review” a number of comments on articles there have pointed out what some see as a problem in university economics departments: the range of theories covered/taught are very limited. Professor Chang is keenly aware of this problem in teaching college economics, and, once again, deserves a lot of credit for exerting himself intellectually and addressing it. It seems he has reached the point where he’s disturbed by the unnecessary situation where the world’s citizens are allowing a so-called economic “guru priesthood” to take advantage of their naïve, unfounded belief that economics is best left to the “experts”. His efforts continue while citizens could – with an easily obtained understanding of economic theory – become informed and involved in discussions/debates, and make a real difference in determining their particular government’s eventual policies.

Not having purchased and read “Economics: The User’s Guide” as yet, there was one sentiment expressed by a reviewer of the book at amazon.com that stood out: “What impressed me the most was his genuine concern for the well-being of humanity. He covered the problems faced by people from the richest and poorest countries”. That reviewer’s comment just about says it all for people wondering if Professor Chang’s book is worth reading. Ha-Joon Chang is saying that university economics curricula suffer from lack of intellectual diversity, and that if department heads took action to make them more pluralistic, a “cross-fertilization” of ideas would result in greater understanding by students.

He sees increasing average citizens’ knowledge of economics as an important project for raising democracy around the world to a higher, stronger and more relevant, effective level. His vision is one where economists are no longer “impervious to outside scrutiny” – where there is little to no public debate on their proposals and decisions. Ha-Joon Chang’s vision is one where citizens are very well-informed about economics, regularly take part in discussions on important economic issues, then positively influence the futures of their nations. The futures of their fellow citizens.

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Professor Ha-Joon Chang’s book “Economics: The User’s Guide” on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Users-Guide-Ha-Joon-Chang

(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

An International, Love-Based Economy: Why Not?

by Jerry Alatalo

“But the world does move, and its motive power under God is the fearless thought and speech of those who dare to be in advance of their time – who are sneered at and shunned through their days of struggle as lunatics, dreamers, impracticables, and visionaries; men of crochets, vagaries and isms.”

– HORACE GREELEY (1811-1872) American publisher, educator

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlphabet Left the following comment at Real-World Economics Review Blog (rwer.wordpress.com), an excellent place for people to read about economics science/theory which has 11,866 followers:

“Martin Luther King Jr. proposed jobs-for-all and basic income for all. Admitting to having acquired much less knowledge/training in economics than regular readers at this site, MLK’s proposal seems eminently positive, reasonable and attainable, yet no concrete actions/steps to realize such a proposal have become taken.

MLK studied spirituality, religion and philosophy, separate terms for the same area of human thought, and what he learned during that study he applied to his economic proposals.

Management courses stress the main focus being maximization of profit, in contrast to MLK whose paramount focus was maximization of peace, health and well-being for the greatest number in the human population, where decisions are driven by love, not profit.

It seems MLK, who perished in a murder/assassination whose details are far too little known (search William Pepper/1999 Martin Luther King civil trial) at age 39 for his spiritual economics ideas, gave those who study economic science a profound example of the possible, most positively impactful for humanity, application of economic theory toward eliminating worldwide, historically negative societal problems.

Perhaps saying that economics should have as its greatest goal not profit but building a more peaceful world while at the same time eliminating war, poverty, disease, illiteracy, pollution, etc. will be viewed as utopian or completely unrealistic, but is it really? The human mind created today’s existent international conditions, and there seems to be no reason for believing that the human mind is incapable of improving those conditions, until at some future point, depending on the intensity of Earth-wide efforts, humanity realizes living a true version of the dream MLK and history’s spiritual visionaries spoke of.

In other words, an economics which has as its driving motivation and fuel not profit but creating heaven on Earth.”

Heaven on Earth, huh? As a past co-worker used to sometimes respond, conveying her perception that another’s assertion was coming from an intellectual place of dead-ends or impossibility – “yeah, right!” Such a concept as heaven on Earth certainly aligns with Horace Greeley’s statement, especially “lunatics, dreamers, impracticables and visionaries.”

“Humanity’s most valuable assets have been the non-conformists. Were it not for the non-conformists, he who refuses to go along with the continuance of things as they are, and insists on attempting to find new ways of bettering things, the world would have known little progress indeed.”

– JOSIAH WILLIAM GITT (1884-1973) American editor

Those men and women who have voluntarily and to varying extent, like one who voluntarily clicks on certain internet websites of interest, entered inner worlds for exploration in search of potential concepts which upon study offer humanity new modes of living on this Earth, understand what one can describe as the “Catch-22” aspect of such endeavors. This writing has as its main intention a wish to convey encouragement to those who have felt what Mr. Greeley articulated as “sneers… shuns… struggle”.

After reading a sizable number of articles written by highly educated, well-meaning, sincere men and women around the Earth whose various noble and moral motivations become clearly evident, along with listening to interviews and presentations on a variety of important topics, one comes to points along the way where it becomes a fervent, burning wish that the best ideas finally break through and change, for the better, human beings’ living conditions everywhere on the planet.

The word “ideal” means “conception or standard of perfection”. By simply taking a sober, rational, and informed-to-some-extent look at life on Earth today, with fellow human beings experiencing the effects of military conflict, greed, homelessness, lack of adequate food and clean water, etc., along with the hard to accurately measure, but certainly depression-inducing physical and psychological harm that results from such unfortunate situations, one quickly acknowledges this has yet to become an ideal or “perfect world”.

Risking becoming labeled in the view of others as a “utopian” madman whose ideas about creating a true heaven on Earth, aligning with the feelings behind “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others see things that never were and ask why not?”, perhaps men and women around the world would find it very beneficial to ask much more often, and with an increasing, morality-fueled intensity – “Why not?”

In a world full of people, only some want to fly. Isn’t that crazy?

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(Thank you to Nobel Prize Peace Concert at YouTube)

John Perkins Update.

Posted on December 21, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

mountain1(Cross-posted from johnperkins.org – An article written by John Perkins)

Year in Review: Latin America in 2014

By John Perkins

I just returned from a magical trip with a special group of people to amazing Peru. Our group experienced sacred sites and ceremonies with the Q’ero and other Quechua elders and shamans. Now I look forward to facilitating another group as we visit the sacred sites and great Mayan teachers of Guatemala beginning very soon, January 16 (to join visit: http://www.johnperkins.org/a-journey-to-the-lands-of-the-maya-guatemala/).

This year much of my time and energy has been spent in Latin America. I have talked about events in various countries and ways in which people are waking up. With the closing of the year, let’s look at some of these stories and see how they have developed.

Chevron and Big Oil

Big Oil (Chevron, Shell, BP, etc) have long been seen as an enemy of the Amazon, as purveyors of contamination, poverty, and disease. (Blog Post: “Big Oil, Romania, and the Amazon”.) Oil is a tool for bringing a country into economic submission, as I learned during my time as Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm (“economic hit man.”) Ecuador is not the only country to have issues with Big Oil; dependence on fossil fuels has led countries all over the world to economic disaster and civil unrest.

There has often been violence between the multinational companies and the indigenous people who have had their lives brutally impacted by the oil industry. Just in the last few weeks, a brave Ecuadorian Shuar leader, José Isidro Tendetza Antún, was found dead, tortured, and buried in suspicious circumstances mere days before he was scheduled to travel to Lima, Peru for climate talks. He had been a leader in the struggle to rein in mining and oil companies that threaten so much of his native Ecuador.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has sometimes been praised and sometimes castigated for his stance on the Amazon rainforest, most recently exploiting the natural resources of the region by signing permits for oil drilling in one of the most bio diverse regions on the planet. On the other hand, he has also made statements opposing Chevron in the nearly twenty year saga of Ecuadorian villagers against the oil giant over the clean-up of contaminated areas.

Though the Ecuadorian villagers have won against Chevron with the help of a legal team lead by Steven Donziger and Pablo Fajardo, the Big Oil company is refusing to keep its promise to abide by the judgment of Ecuador’s courts. In typical Corporatocracy fashion, Chevron is not under the regulation of a single government and therefore refuses to respect any. Its executives are threatening not only the lives of the indigenous people of the Amazon, but people all over the world, from Canada to Romania to Myanmar to India. Other governments in those regions continue to do business with Chevron, despite clear evidence that the environment and the people suffer greatly.

Monsanto and “Free-Trade”

Another multinational corporation that is threatening the health of the land and the people of Latin America and most of the rest of the world is Monsanto. (Blog Post: “A Latin American Awakening and Monsanto”.) In Latin American countries, free-trade agreements have paved the way for the Corporatocracy to gain control and have sent thousands of children across the border into the US in desperation.

Throughout history since the Industrial Revolution, the move to take agriculture away from small farmers and give the power and profits to big companies has resulted in poverty and destruction. Not only do these agreements render it impossible for small farmers to make a living from their seeds and produce, but they have also introduced incredibly dangerous chemicals and pesticides into once-pristine environments.

Earlier this year we saw some Latin American governments seek to stand firm for the interests of their people against major privatization of agriculture. The fight is far from over. Groups of citizens have organized to demand that their rights, interests, and cultural values be protected by their leaders and that the corporations abide by new standards and laws.

Awakening

However, as powerful as these big corporations are, the people who are waking up are more powerful. There is much that we can learn from our southern neighbors in how to harness our power to make our leaders work for change. (Blog Post: “Lessons on Capitalism from an Unlikely Source”.)

One striking example of leaders listening to their people is the 20 x 20 Initiative: 8 Latin American nations joining forces to fight global warming. Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru are coming together for this agreement to protect forests and fertile land.

We can do our part to help and support this awakening by calling and emailing our leaders and elected officials and demanding that they work against free-trade agreements such as CAFTA-DR and the proposed TPP. We can vote with our dollars by buying local and small-farm-grown produce and products instead of shopping at big box stores and retailers. Our market power can be made even stronger by sending emails to the Big Business executives telling them we will boycott their companies until they too support local businesses and farmers and provide their employees with higher wages, health care, and retirement pensions. We can join or organize consumer movements to strengthen our messages.

Let’s make 2015 the year we focus our intentions and our dreams on changing the world for a better future through taking positive actions and by educating those around us.

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(Thank you to breakingtheset at YouTube)