Austerity Measures: Can They Be Justified?

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By Viktor Persson

 

human-rights-greece1

 

In the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis that incurred a massive economic destabilization on a global level, the neoliberal concept of ‘austerity measures’ have now reached the western hemisphere, with Greece and Spain as its more notable victims. In particular, the Greece bailout, which is allegedly a saving package, has imposed a myriad of conditions and restrictive measures on the Greece economy. The purpose of these structural restrictions is apparently to empower and stabilize the Greece economy, however, the opposite has happened, as has been documented in several high profile investigations.

The concept of austerity measures ranges back to the 17th century, and have more recently been adopted by the neoliberal economic doctrine as a way of dumping market failures on the state and indirectly, on the public. That austerity measures has the capacity of causing detrimental effects for the general public has been proven in Greece, and there is a history of failures with the so-called Structural Adjustment Programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund as part of their lending to developing countries, due to the conditions of austerity that these loans impose on the debtor.

Several independent sources indicate that austerity measures, such as cuts in public spending in the health, education, and other mechanisms of social security, creates human suffering on a widespread scale. With Greece, we have been given the opportunity to closely observe the social catastrophe that is created by austerity. The Truth Committee has noted that, unemployment has gone from 7.3% in 2008 to 27.9% in 2013. Youth unemployment reached a staggering 64.9% in may 2013. Due to cuts in public health expenditure more than 2.5 million persons, or one fourth of the total population of Greece, are without health insurance. Furthermore diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV have increased, and mental health problems have ballooned. Pensions have been reduced by 40 %, which have caused 45 % of Greece pensioners to fall below the poverty line. 500,000 people lives in conditions of homelessness, insecure or inadequate housing. To put it mildly, there is a humanitarian crisis in Greece.

What have been left out from the discussion on austerity measures are human rights, primarily the economic and social rights established by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This convention is binding on the contracting states – and Greece together with the Eurozone countries has all ratified the convention. You would hence think, that in detailing the Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the Troika, that contains the austerity conditions imposed on Greece, there must have been a discussion on the potential impacts on Human Rights that the austerity measures could create. However, there has not been such a discussion. Instead the EU member states, the EU commission, EU central bank and the International Monetary Fund have displayed a disregard for how the austerity policies would affect the Human Rights of the people of Greece. Court rulings by the highest Greece court that have ruled the pension cuts as unconstitutional and as a breach of Human Rights, have in the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding been referred to as ‘fiscal risks’. Such a use of vocabulary when referring to the Human Rights is nothing short of remarkable.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted the Guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights in July 2012. According to paragraph 56 ‘Debt relief efforts must not compromise the provision of basic services. In particular, debt relief conditions that may adversely impact the realization of human rights or undermine development in the beneficiary State must be avoided’. The UN General assembly has in September 2015 adopted a resolution (A/69/L.84), which defines nine principles on how a debt restructuring process should be directed. Among these principles is the principle of sustainability, which implies that sovereign debt restructuring should lead to a stable debt situation in the debtor state, preserving creditors’ rights while promoting economic growth and sustainable development, reducing economic and social costs, ensuring the stability of the international financial system and respecting human rights.

Not surprisingly, these principles were adopted by vote and not by consensus, with the developed countries claiming that Human Rights should not be a consideration when it comes to debt and debt relief. However this position cannot be accepted as legitimate. Obviously Human Rights is and must be an important part of economical decisions, because the very foundation of economics is Human Beings. The consequence of separating economics from Human Rights is such perversities as slavery. Possibly, this is what the new era of austerity and debt has become, a more refined form of slavery, which is free from the moral constraints of its predecessors, because it is now justified with the slick vocabulary of neoliberalism and market economy. Though, when scrutinized, austerity measures are a soulless machine working for an anonymous creditor, fueled with the accepted belief that this is the way things must be. The debt must allegedly be paid back at all costs… because… well because, the market wants it that way.

To create a heaven on earth, it is clear that all forms of commercial agreements, debt contracts accounted for, must be able to be declared null and void if they happen to breach Human Rights. This is how it should have always been, and we must ask ourselves, why this has not yet happened. The United Nations has been around for 60 years, yet still, flagrant violations of Human Rights are allowed with reference to commercial agreements. What is missing; motivation, drive, integrity or compassion? And how come we accept and allow the life of countless human beings to be reduced to numbers on a balance sheet?

Clearly, there is a rift between the reality of our world, and the principles conceptualized in our Human Rights instruments. The process of making these principles a living reality will without a doubt be a challenging venture, yet it will be through the respect for Humans on a global level, that we will be able to create a world that truly worth living in. And let us not forget that there are solutions to these problems. Even though the massive bureaucracy that is involved can make us as individuals feel as if we are small ants facing the enormous Goliath, the system is comprised of individual human beings, like you and me. By standing up, one by one, and supporting a new direction in politics and economics, we will have an impact. In democracy we each have one vote, and that is how we will be able to shift direction, through coming together and unanimously voting for a new world that is best for all.

 

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The Refugee Crisis: A Wake Up Call to the Devaluation of Life

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by Joana Jesus

Je-suis-un-réfugié_No-one-is-free-until-we-are-all-free

A few years ago, I took the decision to voluntarily leave my family and study for a year in France. Later on, I chose again to move and work in the United Kingdom. Within the European Union, such mobility is promoted and there is no need to justify your decision or to have a visa to do so – as an European citizen and within the EU it is my right to establish wherever assists me to develop to my utmost potential, to keep growing, to know a different culture, to speak new languages, and to be financially stable. This makes absolute sense to my generation, however 30 years ago (before the Schengen Agreement) this process would have been much harder to achieve and probably older generations couldn’t imagine such openness. When looking at the refugee situation, the resistance to embrace the newcomers is the resistance to a new reality that needs to be as flexible as the one granted to Europeans. The difference is that this is not a voluntary migration but rather imposed unto people for not having a choice: they either flee or they risk their lives by staying in a war-zone (or becoming the fighters themselves). What would you choose?

Since reaching its media attention this year, I see that the refugee crisis comes down to a crisis of priorities that began long time ago in our world and is affecting our sense of humanity. The shocking images that flooded the big screen in the past months, along with xenophobic comments from the far-right are symptoms of a bigger problem, that is: The Devaluation of Life.

The belief that one’s life has more value based on where one was born reminds me some medieval-like-wars in a Game-of-Thrones-land, almost unthinkable in World Wide Web times. However, this year’s events showed a darker side of Europe where countries started closing doors to those in desperate need, in a clear reflection of barbaric attitude against the “others”. The main difference is that before speed-of-light communications we would not understand how wars happening in the other side could be interlinked with the people on this side of the world.

refugees-are-human-beings-1In today’s reality, in developing nations we have the support of real-time analysis, people’s reports, factual testimonials, whistle-blowers, bloggers and documentaries raising awareness to the needs of the few being paid at the expense of the many. Further down I briefly clarify how the war in Syria and in other countries in the Middle East are directly related to the lifestyle European/Western citizens enjoy. For the moment, let’s look at the mental barriers that hinder us to know the “other side”. Any attempt to blame the “other” for not being able to take care of its own people is a sign that we haven’t yet grasped the interdependency that all countries coexist in, or how world politics and economics really work. The idea that borders separate us from other humans is another illusion but is simply showing the success of economic and political interests in diminishing our inherent value as equal beings sharing this planet.

Similarly to the manifestation of solidarity with the French events, first with the Charlie Hebdo attacks and then with the 13/11 terrorist acts in Paris, it is time to stand equal and one with refugees, reminding ourselves that many of our ancestors have also escaped from war-zones and that we must not accept further wars to break the lives of future generations. Only by standing in solidarity with refugees will be able to demand political action to prevent such atrocities again. That is why I state: I am a refugee / Je suis un réfugié – whatever is happening in this moment in time I am part of it and, as Martin Luther King said “No one is free until we are all free”.

The destructive wars that people in the Middle East are fleeing from are not only killing them from the inside, but also limiting any chances of survival. I have been asking myself: what would I do if I was caught in such a hostile environment? I would most likely do what they are doing to find a peaceful place to live and begin the healing process.

I am originally from Portugal, a country within the European Union that has been under a tough financial crisis and where there has been a devaluation of Life too. I have been seeing the slow-death of joy in many people’s hearts struggling to survive. Economically speaking, the education, people’s work and the resources in the country aren’t enough to cope the hardships that the economic war imposes unto them, so many decided to emigrate to find a better environment to grow-up, to learn from and to create a better life for themselves.

In a recent interview I run independently in the centre of Lisbon, I asked the Portuguese people how the country could help the current migrants and refugees. There is a common tendency to think that we first need to help “our people” before we can help others. Another perspective was that migrants and refugees wouldn’t be happy in Portugal either because of the poor life standards that the majority of the people have now. Nevertheless, many agree that we must be able to stand as an example and offer as much help as possible, since our problems are far less than the ones that the people from war-zones are experiencing.

By looking at the statement that we can only help “others” after we help the nationals of a given country, we see that the migration crisis is a mirror of what is happening already within one’s borders, where poverty and homeless people have been difficult social problems to tackle. This is an opportunity to finally address the social and economic issues that are preventing EVERYONE from creating their own destinies, and the refugee crisis is simply enhancing the existing non-sustainable social structures where poverty and inequality are still a reality for many Europeans.

If the European countries were all stable and all their citizens lived well, would people embrace refugees, or would there be cultural clashes, fears and other mental limitations used to justify the lack of funding, infrastructure or social support? Systematic changes take time to be understood and accepted by people, especially when people have been educated (brainwashed) to define themselves as the national symbols, and feel threatened by multiculturalism and diversity. But as with the principle of mobility within the EU, global mobility from the East to the West, from the South to the North are a reality that must be welcomed and taken into consideration, not suppressed or punished.

In relation to the interdependence we all live in, we can easily look at our western lifestyles and wonder where prime resources come from to keep us warm, to enable transportation, industries and to essentially make society run. As with any other war, the root of the problem is related to the control and dominion of land and natural resources in specific areas of the world. According to Oil & Gas Journal, Syria was estimated to possess proved reserves of oil at 2.5 billion barrels as of January 1, 2015 and shale oil resources, with estimates of reserves in 2010 ranging as high as 50 billion tons  (see http://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis.cfm?iso=SYR).This is what is the ultimate justification for the destruction that is causing people to flee from war zones. Therefore, in the name of our own comfort but also in the name of the comfort of all the other human beings, it is our responsibility to find solutions that consider what is best for all. We don’t need to wait for further revenge or terrorist demands that will perpetuate the perceptions of separation. We all know that the only solution is to mature international relations toward a new level of cooperation, responding to everyone’s needs and fostering peaceful living.

In my perspective, the biggest lesson to learn from the migration crisis is the consequences of our Devaluation of Life. Despite all technological advancements, we haven’t yet been able to come with plans and actions to manage world resources fairly and equally, and to apply political will to consider all peoples of the world. It is also a red flag about the false perceptions we have of “other people” based on specific religious or cultural differences that are deliberately shown by the media as the problem, instead of educating that differences are sources of diversity and expansion.

Additionally, I suggest that this becomes an opportunity to challenge that narrow-minded belief that we can either help “our people” or “the others”, and instead we adopt the possibility of “having both” – this can be possible by creating the funds to address the social-economic priorities of nationals through solutions such as the Living Income Guaranteed, while at the same time fund the immediate needs of refugees through the profits we are making in exploiting local resources, and finally to establish a common ground for the West and the Middle Eastern societies to benefit from shared resources in a sustainable way through fair diplomatic negotiations based on the principle of valuing Life.

Why do we continue to play musical chairs with people’s lives, knowing that this world and our species has plenty of solutions to offer?

I also recommend watching the open discussion on the Refugee crisis organised by the Living Income Guaranteed, where you will hear first-hand experiences about the integration process of refugees in Sweden, Denmark and in Germany. As Anna Brix Thomsen demystifies, we fear that which we don’t know and that is also why many people have resistance to accept refugees in Europe – but once the mental barrier is transcended, a whole new world of opportunities, of personal growth and understanding is available toward a better future for our humanity.

 

 

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Debt as Wages and Steve Jobs

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By Rebecca Dalmas

debts wagesI read this article here, about capitalism. The part where debt was used to allow for declining wages, as, according to the article, began in the 70’s here in America, shows how we perceptually revalue things, as an ability within each of us. In this case, in this article, the measure of earnings and money lending, used resources and labor and reconfigured it is such a way to allow greater amounts of money to accumulate into the hands of a few. No doubt, the law industry also benefitted from this, as schemes were ordered, constructed to support that change via that measure of using debt to pay wages.

And the media, as this was running full steam by the time we hit the 70’s , filled in the dreams of what one could do within taking out loans and building that home. All the while, as one is so occupied with the dream, the hope, the desire, that looking at how debt was being used to pay wages was not noticed. Were it , and perhaps there was the lone whistle blower that had no space to voice their concerns, as the media was already owned by those who had accumulated enough wealth to construct lending structures that were a means of hiding lowering wages.

What is astounding is the obvious in all of this. This means that humans are the means to investigate form and ‘ pull on the stings of formation’ in time and space, and that no one human being can be more than another in this system, as all parts are needed to do what is a form that is devious by definition and presented as a false positive. Hence, no few can own anything that is the structural foundation of being a living person on this earth.

This reminds me of what Steve Jobs was quoted to have said towards the very end of his life. He said that what he owned and the power he had were meaningless. These were things he could not take with him. It was the connection to others, that was the value. Hence he realized the value was being, was living, was being present here. He realized that this game that we have all accepted and allowed of winning power and things, is the illusion. And as we see, within the debt use of wage support and the slight of hand going on behind the racing to win a home ONLY,  is game we as a collective accept and allow that is not what is best for us. The consequence of this game, is that the debt is now the elephant in the room, and the laborers, the ones that are the parts that built this, are too expensive and can be replaced by automation, leaving fewer jobs. This leaves fewer possibilities for humans to realize their value, which is to interact with others and do what men can do, which is to come up with new ways of doing things, as a group, because this is how this is done, on this planet where resources cannot be owned unless it is believed to be a truth, when it is not. Steve Jobs makes this clear.

A basic income, a Living Income Guarantee , would be to realize that value Steve Jobs was talking about. Perhaps, he would still have discovered with the many others he discovered with, his discoveries would have happened, yet they would have happened in tandem with really living the value being life; meaning he would have had the time to discover and investigate and come up with new ways of doing things, and spend time enjoying his family and his community and the many values on this earth, as the plants and the animals, and the soils. Obviously, Steve jobs does not exist alone, he is a part of the whole. And, perhaps he is the consequence of what came before, birthed into existence as the sum of development that existed before him. This would mean that he is you , he is life in another form. If he is this, as this is how this works, this is a movement, in a way, that is a celebration of life. It is such a huge and great thing; it means that the value of creation is being and playing with what is formed and realizing in word and deed and thought,  that we create what is here, and it is all of us working together that is the value.

It is time to remove this pyramid scheme of inequality to life. It is time to realize that poverty is a crime against life. It is time to realize, in deed and systemic form that war is a crime, it is destructive as it is not transformative – it is not using what men can do  in constructive ways to create a world where life on this earth is dignified in and as the practice of realizing the value is being here, interacting with others, realizing their perspective to build awareness and to come up with new ways of doing things that improve and respect this physical manifestation of life. We can do this, we can stand together, as we have done, and stand as what is best for all. It is said that one cannot know what is outside of one’s awareness, yet the steps forward are visible, one needs only take that step to see the next. I mean, this is how this is done! Support a Living Income Guarantee. Time to create a systemic form that is the voice and structure of realizing the value is being life.

 

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal

Micro Credits – A Solution For Poverty?

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By Viktor Persson

After the Norwegian Nobel prize committee decided to give the United States president Barack Obama the peace price, a president that later came to continue to war in Iraq, and also fund insurgents in Syria, I seriously started to doubt the reasoning skills of the members of this Nobel Prize committee. And after having watched the documentary ‘The Micro Debt’ by Tom Heinemann, I have concluded that the Nobel Prize committee (at least those handing out the peace prize) do not know anything about what it means to create actual peace in this world. Because when they decided to give Muhammad Yunus the peace price, for having founded the Grameen Bank, and invented the concept of micro loans, and for thereby apparently having found a solution to poverty, they were obviously not using basic mathematics to assess the outflows of such loan methods.

YunusThough, before we dive into the basic mathematics of Micro Debt and whether this can be a solution for poverty or not, let me share the story of Muhammad Yunus, his bank, and the stories that has begun to surface about his money lending practices. It begins in 1976 when Yunus (supposedly) found out that small loans could make a disproportionate difference in a poor person’s life. According to Wikipedia, the first loans Yunus gave, made it possible for the borrowers to profit. Yunus business expanded, and by July 2007, his bank had issued around US$6.38 billion to 7.4 million borrowers.

As mentioned above, Yunus was awarded the peace price in 2006 for his efforts to create economic and social development. However after the release of the documentary ‘The Micro Debt’ the Bangladeshi government decided to review Yunus bank, and Yunus himself was removed as Managing Director of his bank. This is not particularly strange considering the claims that are made in the documentary, and the compelling evidence that it presents, that the micro debt is not at all a solution for poverty, but rather a trap, making the large amount of borrowers worse off than before.

Though in this blog I am not going to focus on Yunus and whether the claims made against him are true or not. My focus will instead be the concept of micro credits and whether these loans makes any sense; is it really possible to remove poverty through debt? The Micro Credit concept is not unique to Bangladesh; it has also become popular in South Africa, where it has created the opposite of poverty reduction. The following quote gives a stark description of the situation that unfolded.

”The microcredit-induced problems that emerged in South Africa are two-fold. First, microcredit per se is actually an “anti-developmental” intervention. For one thing, it exists on paper to support the smallest income-generating activities, but in practice is increasingly all about supporting consumption spending. In South Africa, the microcredit movement has created an incredibly risky and expensive way to support the immediate consumption needs of the very poorest.

With few poor individuals possessing a secure income stream that might ensure full repayment of a microloan – unemployment is now higher than it was under apartheid – many of the poorest individuals have been forced to repay their microloan by selling off their household assets, borrowing from friends and family, as well as simply taking out new microloans to repay old ones. For far too many now “financially included” individuals in South Africa, using microcredit to support current spending has been a disastrous and irreversible pathway into chronic poverty.”

Milford Bateman, Microcredit has been a disaster for the poorest in South Africa, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/nov/19/microcredit-south-africa-loans-disaster (2015-09-25)

 

Euros - MicrocreditAcademics and other proponents of the Micro Credit as a way out of poverty makes the assumption that the money lent will be used by the borrower to further his business. This however, is just that, an assumption. Most poor people are just as middle class people, not entrepreneurs, and do not have a very entrepreneurial relationship with money. The loan will be used to buy goods for immediate consumption, and will only serve to put more pressure on the debtor. In worst-case scenario, this will lead the already poor person, to loose the little safety they do have, when they are forced to sell their house to meet interest and installment payments.

Further, those borrowers that are indeed entrepreneurs, and that do invest their money in a business, there is nothing that says that these businesses will be able to profit. Nine out of ten startups fail – and that number will probably be even higher when not only you, but also all of your neighbors, decide to go out on the streets and sell the same thing – which did happen in South Africa.

Then we have the big problem when it comes to Micro Credits, the interest rates. On some of the Micro Loans that interest rate will be at 100 % or more. There is no startup that yields a sufficient profit to cover such a high interest rate. Conveniently for the creditors, most of the debtors are not proficiently literate, and will thus not really understand what they are signing.

Yunus was applauded when he was able to offer loans to poor people that cannot offer any securities in case they would forfeit on their installments. However, to ensure repayment of the loans, Yunus bank have developed a system of “solidarity groups”. It is these small informal groups that together apply for loans and its members act as co-guarantors of repayment and support one another’s efforts at economic self-advancement. Hence Yunus use the psychology of group pressure to ensure that the poor people are sufficiently motivated to pay back their loans. And even though this might seem innocent, in reality it has lead to the most horrific of consequences. One woman that was unable to pay her loan was pressed by her co-guarantors to take up prostitution as a way to meet her installment payment. That woman later poured kerosene on herself, and lit herself on fire. That is the effectiveness of group pressure when survival is in the picture.

What are we then able to conclude from all of this? One thing is clear: We cannot trust academics to know what is right! Even though they have a degree in economics, and even though they have received the Nobel peace price, that does not mean they actually understand how reality operates. Academics have their nose buried in deep books and because of that they will many times miss what is right before their eyes. Hence, we have to educate ourselves, and take responsibility. We cannot rely on a small intellectual elite to know how to solve such things as poverty – this is a problem that involves, and touches all of us, and accordingly it is everyone’s responsibility.

Then, the second thing we can learn: Change cannot come through DEBT. The very reason why we are living in a world where money is increasingly more difficult to obtain is because of DEBT. We live in a debt based system, and this forces us to work more – and even still there will/must be a loser. With debt, someone always loses; someone must be that poor guy that has to pay back the interest.

Real change will come through changing the structural design of the economic system – because only through changing the rules of the game are we removing this incessant fear of survival that is currently holding the entire human race in its grip. That structural change must involve giving all human beings a dignified life, real security, real safety, and easy access to money. This cannot come from debt, as debt is the very instigator of fear, anxiety and stress.

Hence, if you are interested in solving poverty, I suggest that you investigate the Living Income Guaranteed. This is an economical system that will revolutionize the way we think about money – and that is precisely what we need. We need something new, a brand new way of looking at things – a fresh start – free from debt and the old pessimistic ideas that apparently, poverty is unable to be removed from the face of this earth.

 

For more reading:

http://www.marlenvargasdelrazo.com/the-micro-debt-the-nefarious-business-on-poverty/#

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/nov/19/microcredit-south-africa-loans-disaster

 

Watch the documentary ‘The Micro Debt’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=791&v=yoAGKFaqwjM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6KHa4omGG8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdmXLpjykNk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncBXy_AvNUY

 

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal

Stopping Exploitation with a Living Income Guaranteed

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by Fidelis Spies 

imagesgr_thumb[1] When you hear about drivers that got their licenses suspended you probably think it was because of reckless driving, but it is not the case.

In Florida 88% of suspensions were due to failure to comply with summons or fines.

Now here is things get extremely problematic and nonsensical – Most people drive to work so losing your car affects everything in your life. In New Jersey a Survey was done that found that 63% of low income drives that lost their car also lost their jobs.

How are they supposed to pay their fine if you take away their means of paying it?

It gets worse:

There are private probation companies that supervise people that have minor offenses and collect their outstanding fines at no costs to the courts, instead they get their money from the probationers in exchange for their services.

Here is an example of how that works based on an actual event:

One Woman was fined $25 for not wearing a seat belt as well as $16 for the court costs – a total fine of $41. She was unable to pay the fine at that stage and thus was handed over to one of these private probation Companies. Now here is where things get really messed up:

 

images

She was then put on a monthly payment plan in order to pay the fine, but the costs of this payment plan was $35 per month. All moneys that the woman sent in was applied to the service fees first before going to the actual fine, meaning she first has to pay the $35 before she is able to pay the actual $41 fine. Now, she I not able to afford that $35 monthly fee, so this is starting to accumulate – eventually she sat with a $299 bill PLUS the $41 fine. Eventually if you  cannot afford the bill you can be sent to jail because you cannot afford the bill.

Here is another terrifying example of this Ruined Hariet Cleveland’s Life:

“Cleveland’s $140 monthly payment – $40 of which went to fees – was a terrifying burden. She lost her day care job during the recession and was barely scraping by. She paid what she could, even when it meant her money was only going toward the company’s fees.

Finally, Cleveland didn’t have any more money to give. She received a notice in the mail: Pay $2,714 or go to jail. Not long after, a police officer arrived and arrested her while she was babysitting her grandson. A judge sentenced her to 31 days in jail because she was too poor to pay.” – https://www.splcenter.org/news/2014/08/26/splc-lawsuit-closes-debtors%E2%80%99-prison-alabama-capital

These Companies are making money out of people who have none. Why are we punishing people for being poor? This is an Impossible situation for low income people where they really have no way out. This kind of exploitation is something that must be stopped.

This is something that we can change with a better system, one that considers the individual needs of people in different situations. Not only would these people above live far better lives with the Living Income Guaranteed, but we can implement solutions to stops the obvious exploitation of people in these situations so that no person’s life get ruined just because they are poor.

 

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal

Blame Welfare Recipients.. or Implement a Solution?

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By Kelly Posey 

food stamps complain welfare

 

Think People On Food Stamps Are Eating More Lobster Than You? Think Again

Stories of SNAP recipients using benefits to buy shellfish and junk food abound.
“I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards,” Rick Bratten, a Missouri Republican who this year proposed prohibiting SNAP recipients from buying seafood or steak, told the Washington Post. “When I can’t afford it on my pay, I don’t want people on the taxpayer’s dime to afford those kinds of foods either.”

In Maine and Wisconsin, lawmakers are pushing legislation to restrict SNAP benefits to foods deemed healthy. The Wisconsin State Assembly approved legislation this week to ban junk food and also “crab, lobster, shrimp, or any other shellfish.” The bill’s sponsor cited “anecdotal and perceived abuses.”


Frankly, I don’t know how someone could really afford to regularly eat lobster on food stamps. You don’t really get enough money to eat comfortably. I mean, sure, you could buy some lobster this week, and maybe go a bit hungry the next. But really, who cares? You can do that with your hard earned wages too if you want. But it really doesn’t matter.
For those who would be concerned that individuals on food stamps are eating more luxuriously than you can on work wages, look – the problem of you not being able to afford expensive food on your wages is not caused by someone on food stamps buying lobster. Therefore, the solution is not contained in trying to prevent those on food stamps from buying lobster or what have you. That would actually likely have more of a negative effect. It would take much more bureaucratic oversight to impose stricter limitations on what can be bought with food stamps, requiring more government work, paid by your taxes.

Wages are low because the economy is low because nobody has any money to spend into the economy. It’s a vicious cycle that just feeds itself and more and more we feel the squeeze. What boosts the economy is people having money to spend into the economy. At this point jobs can’t be counted on to provide enough income to individuals and that’s why we have a support system like food stamps. We have a lot of welfare programs in the U.S., taking up a lot of government resources because it is already divided into so many different programs to ensure that it’s spent on certain things. So much added bureaucracy and tax money going into a lot of double-work, essentially, filling out and processing applications for each different program.

This is why I support the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal, because it proposes to simplify and streamline the welfare process by providing a basic income to those who need it, to be used to cover all one’s primary needs. There doesn’t need to be multiple programs with multiple application processes and reporting processes and so on, when it can be done from one platform. And there doesn’t need to be restrictions on how/where it is spent. That can be up to the individual, as it is the best way for individuals to learn financial responsibility, by going through the consequences themselves, and studies have shown that when individuals are given the chance they do not generally make poor choices, as some would seem to imply or expect. Certainly deciding for individuals promotes dependency as it does not encourage or provide an opportunity for an individual to learn and develop self responsibility.

So let’s make sure that we focus on the real problem and therefore the real solution, and not get caught up in a form of blame game and ‘it’s not fair’ point, like ‘if I can’t have it then neither can they’ I mean, how does that help anything at all? Rather, look at how do we go about creating that which we would like, for everyone, and realize that things don’t have to be the way they are. We live in a world where there is plenty, we need to stop getting lost in blaming each other, and focus on bringing about the changes that will actually solve the problems we’re experiencing.

 

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal

The Capital is Mine

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By Sylvia Gerssen

Capitalism - Living Income Guaranteed

 

We’re all trying to find ways to let the “Capital be Mine”, or better said, to let Capitalism work for us. Over the years we’ve been able to witness how that played out in all parts of our daily life. Proponents of Capitalism, as we know it today, say that greed has been used to place Capitalism within a pejorative context. When we look at the definition of Capitalism in the Merriam-Webster dictionary it’s written that Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. Wikipedia adds the factor of profit as a characteristic of Capitalism when they say that this system in which trades, industries and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit. That makes Capitalism into a deadly and doomed cocktail of competition and profit where the fittest will survive and the majority is submitted to wage labor and slaves of the components that are in power within society.

The 21th century is marked by Capitalism, which could work in theory and on paper, though we’re still slaves of masters as if we were still in times of Feudalism. Back in the Middle Ages between the 9th and 15th century we had Feudalism as our economic system, which was a way of structuring society around relationships, derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor. We we’re not free citizens that were able to do exactly that what we wanted. When Capitalism emerged from Feudalism it looked like we had more freedom. We were all able to invest money in order to make a profit and become rich, which then resulted into wanting to make money through profit as an end in itself.

Capitalism which is an economic system has now almost turned into a religion, we believe strongly that one day the Capital will be ours on the back of another, if we follow the rules or rites of Capitalism. Free market processes will emerge where anything can be sold from a pair of panties to the air that we breathe and the water that we drink to stay alive. When we add the survival of the fittest to it we know we’ll be heading on the road to greed. Greed, that according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary means an intense desire for wealth or possessions. They add to not let greed for riches control you and that’s exactly what we’re controlled by, through denial or acceptance. Greed exists in all of us to a greater or lesser extent. Some of us can control it, others are out of control without any form of regret. We’re a product of our own Capitalistic product and we see it as normal, the norm to live by. We see money as our God to turn to and to comfort us. When we’re deprived of money we feel as if God is punishing us, we’re not worthy. So we need to become greedy, monsters without regret to become the fittest to survive.

This Capitalistic religion was carried out through the world by means of Globalization though Imperialism in the 19th century. Capitalism was spreading like an oil stain in the ocean and still a product that third world countries would like to have or invite to their country, without looking at the Trojan horse effect that Capitalism in fact has. When inviting Capitalism, the countries religion will be changed and it’s money will be worshipped from now on. It’s almost like a STD, first you indulge and enjoy before you can even grasp the consequences.

When we look at how we’ve given away our directive principle when it comes to money, and how most of us have become the 99% , we can see that institutes like banks are the pubic louses in our crotch that we allow to feast while thinking that we were the ones that had a great party. Capitalism by the means of Globalization has brought us a banking system that infected the entire Capitalistic system where we think that eternal growth is the norm and greed is a virtue. Our banking system consist of people, people who know that they can make fortunes once they are in and at the same time know they can be out on the streets any time the system wants to eject them for not being the best money maker for the bank. This way of thinking as a reward system stimulates and enlarges the mechanism of the survival of the fittest where it is a breeding place for greed without regret. The bankers that took the world to the 2008 crisis are still not having regret and are looking back at a great time and many opportunities. And why do they not have any regret? Because we allow them to be greedy and take, we rewarded them with bail outs and sent them the message that they can get away with their behavior while we stay put, which isn’t a surprise when we know the same greed is within all of us. So in a way we look with jealousy in our eyes how the bankers can get away with it while not directly getting why we allow it and have not yet come with solid solutions to turn the tide.

We can even see that the political arena has become a springboard for politicians to end up in the banking sector earning triple the salary they had and handing over their influential service record to the banks. Corporations use the same trick to get influential people inside their organizations to guarantee immunity and build a facade of trust with these public figures that are trusted by the greater public. We can conclude that our global banking system is the tumor within Capitalism. In order to get a form of Capitalism that is great on paper and great in real life we do not only have to get rid of the tumor, but also see that the cause of the cancer is our greediness and thus clear that point.

Clearing this point of greediness includes that we as humanity have to become responsible citizens again. We have to take responsibility for ourselves as well as for ourselves as a group. We can’t depend on the few that are profiting from our Capitalistic system; we need to build a system where all can have a foundation even if we’re not the fittest. At the same time it would be irrational to say that Capitalism isn’t working when certain parts of Capitalism are sucking the blood out of the system. We can come up with economical systems that would work so much better, but absolutely not ready to implement within our current society. In times like this we do not need fantasies of what could be, there is no time to reminisce about things. We’re living within a time that is screaming for direction and cooperation. We need to be willing to not only go for our own greed, but also go for the greater good.

What if we, for the time being, keep Capitalism and “inject life into capitalism” as Marlen Vargas Del Razo said in a life Google hangout. We could rebuild our society with the use of cooperatives where its members, we the people, own the ‘company’, make revenue which strengthens the cooperatives and goes straight to its members. So after expenses each member gets a part of the money the ‘company’ makes, which would be called profit within Capitalism and surplus within a cooperative. Capitalism is close related to the cooperative’s way of making money and that makes it easy to start thinking about Cooperative Capitalism. Where we can bring communal sense back into society, learn from each other, support each other, volunteer and make money. Making a cooperative web of support avoiding the need for greediness. Cooperation on all levels of society to make ourselves ready for the next step and smoothly shift into another economic system like for instance a Living Income Guaranteed.

Capital is mine can then evolve in Capital is mine and yours, because no one should be without any form of support. It’s very simple, what if you become me one day or I become you and end up less fortunate? Do we want to be forgotten, do we want to be looked at with disgust and eyes full of hatred, because we might have inflicted our misfortune upon ourselves. Every being needs a hand that reaches out to them no matter how or why they got themselves in the situation they’re in. We can take our authority in our own hands again, we can cooperate because we are inherently social beings living in groups, why not use such a trait and make a ‘profit’ out of it for the betterment of all? The world only needs a yes from you and things could change in ways you can’t believe right now. Blinded by survival we’ve lost touch with ourselves and our surroundings while the Capital, real life, has always been waiting for us. We can take the Capital; we may take it and in return give it equally to others. The Capital is ours!

 

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