Accountability

Austerity Measures: Can They Be Justified?

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By Viktor Persson

 

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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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Life Isn’t Supposed to be this Hard

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By Cerise Poolman

Labor force South Africa Living Income Minimum WageI have had many conversations with people, mostly people who are in low-paying jobs without much prospects for advancement, conversations about life. The thing that everyone agrees on is that life shouldn’t be this hard. Sometimes someone might say something like “I don’t know what we can do, maybe just pray harder.” To this I will respond with something like I think that what will be more effective than prayer to make a difference is action. If we all take action together, united in the goal of making life better, then we will see great changes – and everyone agrees to this logic. I have not met one person who says “NO, action won’t change anything!” The worst thing within all of this is that this life is difficult because we make it so. The worst part is that we could change the world if we took action, but we don’t.

One of the most popular excuses I hear is that it’s “other peoples’ faults”. The world is horrible and I have a crap life because of all the a-holes in the world. There are too many people who won’t change. The world will never change when there are so many bad people. This excuse is used to justify our own inaction – because apparently any effort we make would have no results and so it’s not even worth the effort. It’s as if we’re waiting for guaranteed paths of action, unwilling to move until we are absolutely sure that what we do will actually work. In a way this is the easy way out, because standing for change means going out into the unknown, no certainty as to what lies ahead.

Here in South Africa a very large part of the workforce survives on minimum wage, well below the poverty line. A large number of people live in illegal or government housing (which doesn’t appear to be very different when you put the two next to each other). These are the people who are hurt the most by this world, who are the most vulnerable. At this stage the only ways that they can try to bring about change is through protests, sometimes violent and sometimes not. At this stage there is a diminished level of understanding as to how change can be brought about – not only by impoverished people, but by most people.

There is a serious hole in the understanding of the average citizen Joe of how the system works, and more importantly, the power that each person has. Back to South Africa, what can the impoverished and vulnerable do to change their lives? They have minimal support from public (government) and community structures – dealing with the government is like pulling teeth, but pulling the wrong one each time. These people do not know how to ask the right questions, most of the time they do not even know what their rights are and what support structures are available to them. What then can they do? They often have only limited skills in reading and writing and, if any, very limited access to public sources of knowledge such as the internet. To add to this, the leaders they are most likely to choose are the ones who stir passion in their hearts, whether the message they are giving makes sense or not. Then there is the question of those who are more privileged – how far does their responsibility extend to the underprivileged?

I would say that where one has the ability and understanding to support another then they also have the responsibility to do so. What defines ‘ability’? Resources, skills, knowledge – but to what degree? Well, let me put it this way: If you know that you can help, then it becomes your responsibility to do so. Waiting for someone else to come along and help so that you don’t have to is an abdication of your responsibility to your community – and I don’t mean ‘community’ in the smallest sense of the word, I mean it in the largest sense, the global sense.

Life isn’t supposed to be this hard. We can change it. We can help each other. We can give opportunities to each other. We can support each other to be the best we can be. It’s doesn’t start with some other guys over there – it starts with YOU and ME. WE are the change, TOGETHER we are better, stronger. We have the responsibility to support solutions that will bring heaven to Earth. We may not see the full fruits of our labours in our lifetime, but maybe our children will.

 

Promotion of and Education on a Living Income Guaranteed for South Africa.

 

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How the Living Income Guaranteed Will promote Environmental Sustainability

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by Fidelis Spies

Environmental Healing with LIGAs we all know, our continued human existence is having consequences on the Earth and one of them is the Earth warming up. And so scientists are trying to come up with solutions to stop this particular consequence and one of the options to stop Global warming is through GEOengineering – interfering with nature on a planetary scale.

Here are some of the GEOengineering options that scientist are currently investigating:

1. Afforestation: This technique would irrigate deserts, such as those in Australia and North Africa, to plant millions of trees that could absorb carbon dioxide; this vegetation would also draw in sunlight that the deserts currently reflect back into space, and so contribute to global warming.

2. Artificial ocean upwelling: Engineers would use long pipes to pump cold, nutrient-rich water upward to cool ocean-surface waters. If this process ever stopped it could cause oceans to rebalance their heat levels and rapidly change the climate.

3. Ocean alkalinisation: This involves heaping lime into the ocean to chemically increase the absorption of carbon dioxide.

4. Ocean iron fertilisation: The method involves dumping iron into the oceans to improve the growth of photosynthetic organisms that can absorb carbon dioxide.

5. Solar radiation management: This would reduce the amount of sunlight Earth receives, by shooting reflective sulphate-based aerosols into the atmosphere.

As I read through this list I get kind of worried, because they are trying to stop the Earth from heating up through wanting to do things like dumping iron into the oceans or spraying the air with sulphate. Won’t that simply cause more problems in the future? You don’t solve a problem with another problem.

Here is an analogy: You see a spider trapped in your bathtub. So you take a few sheets of tissue paper and very carefully burn your house down…

In a similar way that is how we deal with issues we face on this Earth. With the above mentioned solutions we are simply going to create more problems.

Earth Tool ChangeThe way you deal with problems is stopping them at the source, which is the way we humans interact with the Earth – or more specifically: how we have come to value profit over things that actually matter – like the Earth itself. Our world leaders have for some time had those meetings on finding solutions to cut carbon emissions, but not many are actually doing that. The reason comes back to money, a factory pollutes the Earth, but it also makes money. Currently cutting emissions equals less money made.

Eco friendly solutions cost a lot of money, so that is why it is not ever really implemented on global scale – it’s not cost effective. Also, there is the factor that there is a massive profit being made by current use of available technologies – like oil and coal – and thus coming up with other solutions is discouraged.

So then what is the reason for all this pollution currently created? Money. And what would be the solution to clean up and stop pollution? Money. The planet has over 7 billion people on it. And I have read and seen solutions to control and get rid of pollution many times, but it never gets implemented, because the people coming up with these ideas do not have the necessary funds to implement these ideas or do more research. And in many of these cases the people who come up with these ideas are those directly affected by the pollution.

With the implementation of Living Income Guaranteed we could ensure that all options are considered and see what will be the best solution. Not to say that LIG would be bad news to businesses around the world and force them to cut carbon emissions – no – rather more about focusing on ways to prevent this with the use of new technologies that are available and that are currently not being used because profit is placed over sustainability, which is how through Corporate Social Responsibility measures, corporations will also have to consider their own sustainability and assurance of production by stopping degrading measures that will cause more consequences for them and the community.

Also what is happening is that consumers are becoming aware of the consequences that factories have on the environment and are favoring eco-friendly production methods. So the company will have to start introducing environmentally friendly solutions and stick to the new trend to meet the customer demand in order to still make money.

Another point is that when an individual doesn’t have to worry about surviving and can start focusing on actual living – it opens doors and with it great potential. For example there are so many people who find passion in doing humanitarian work, or finding solutions to make factories more efficient and less polluting – but cannot focus on doing any of that, because they need money to survive. Who knows what potential we can unlock and ideas we can come up with and implement to reduce or even reverse the negative consequences we have created on this Earth. The Living Income Guaranteed would bring us closer to finding the solutions we require.

Here are Videos that further explain how with the Implementation of the Living Income Guaranteed will promote Environmental Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility:

 

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The Math is Simple: We Need a Living Income Guaranteed

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By Kelly Posey

 

Did the math - we need LIGSo I am going through my college classes, math in particular, so going over things like fractions and rations and linear equations. Being that I am now over 30 and have been living life for a while and not just fresh out of high school, and not still living at home with parents, I have actually practically applied a lot of this math within my day to day living, within things like budgeting mainly. And as I go through the course, this is actually the practical application that is shown for this math – is that it is useful for doing your own personal budgeting and such.


So we have here in this math a really cool and useful tool to be utilized in the distribution of resources and goods to everyone, the things that we need and use on a daily basis in our lives. It has helped me to figure out whether or not I can afford certain things, and just how much I can afford to pay in rent for a place to live for example. The problem comes in however when your numbers just don’t add up to being enough to provide you what you need.


It seems strange that we would allow such problems to exist where individuals can be faced with not having enough to cover all our basic needs, where no matter how you do the math, there is just no solution. You would think that we humans don’t even grasp the simplest of math to see that for so many it doesn’t add up. It’s even stranger still that there are those who would seem to even deny that such a situation exists and would imply that it is simply due to individuals not managing their money properly or living ‘within their means. But there is a bottom line that if your income is below that, you just don’t have enough and no amount of money management is going to solve that.

 

stress-worry-mental-instability-poverty-parental-stress-living-income-guaranteed_thumbInteresting that we are taught this math in school to help us with finances but not really taught that ‘hey- you might end up not actually having enough to pay all your bills though.’ I mean, maybe I would have geared up and gone to college right after high school instead of taking my chances with the ‘real world’ and trying to go straight into getting a job, if I’d had any idea that pretty much the only jobs I would have access to would be those that don’t pay enough. At the time, I was afraid to incur a huge college tuition loan, when I didn’t really even yet know what I wanted to do with my life. But if I had known that in the end I would be no better off than I was 10+ years ago, maybe I would have had a different perspective.
However, even then, it is still a numbers game. Even if you have a degree, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you won’t still end up in one of those jobs that doesn’t pay enough. Because over time, those types of jobs have been increasing, and the better paying jobs decreasing. The ones that provide better pay, decent benefits, paid leave, or any leave at all, and maybe some kind of retirement, or even pay raises. When we have heard politicians say they are making more jobs, we should have asked what kind of jobs? Ones that actually will support us? Or treat us as cheap labor?


Our economy is screaming for a Basic Income program like the
Living Income Guaranteed. Just look at the numbers. I see more and more homeless on the streets literally every day. I am approached more and more frequently by individuals asking for some money. I see more and more shops closing and vacant buildings. The signs are all around and I don’t want to wait to see how bad it gets. If we are not going to make sure that we have enough jobs that pay enough, then we need a proper support system to make sure everyone has enough for a decent life.

It only costs us more to try and help individuals once they aren’t being effectively supported by the system. We have so many costly programs that only exist to try and help the problem after it’s already been created, that often still aren’t enough to keep people on their feet. It is much more cost effective to prevent causing problems that need to be cleaned up. The numbers don’t lie so it’s about time we listen to them and make sure that everyone really is in a position to effectively work out a proper budget.

 

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LIG Hangouts with Kelly Posey

 

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Hidden Fees and the Presumption of Benefit

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by Joe Kou

It is time to have a look at some hard questions and begin to address some of the more important factors in relation to our current situation as humanity

This has been and I imagine will continue to be one of the hardest subjects I have taken upon to investigate, and it has taken quite a while to get to a place where things began to click. This blog is the “kickoff” to what will likely be a long series of blogs addressing not only the various hard questions that we often avoid asking, but will be directly taking on ONE very specific question that I believe is vital for all of us to begin asking and considering.

The question is this:

Ask harder questions LIGWHY and HOW is it that today as of this writing, we the human species possess the technological and logistical means to remove all poverty, end starvation, drastically reduce or in some cases eliminate crime and violent behavior, immediately begin to restore our full potential as human beings as well as restore to full expression and vitality our environment and ecosystem – but are NOT doing it? What is it that we are waiting for? Why are we holding back? What is the force that is keeping us from realizing self-sufficiency and real freedom and a better world for all if that is really what we say we want?

Let me provide some context before exploring the other dimensions of this question.

Right now, we already have existing technologies that can provide absolutely clean energy with zero reliance on wasteful consumption or dangerous consequences to the natural environment. This technology ALONE could set us on a course to being free of all dependency on non-renewable rare resources that have been the backbone and foundation for so many wars and conflicts throughout all of human history. It would enable us to sustain ourselves and not only keep our existing infrastructure, but begin to repurpose what is already established in ways that exponentially can improve the lives of all human beings. And when I mention “this technology”, I am not talking of only one device or one method. I am talking about MANY technologies that achieve the same effect – but will NOT be allowed to develop.

Right now, we already have the technologies to turn human and animal waste product into renewable sources of energy, or convert them into materials that can be completely reused instead of left as “waste product”. This technology ALONE could revolutionize the way we think of “waste” and set us on a path of creating easily maintained waste processing and recycling systems that can locally sustain entire communities. Again, not just one single device or technology but SEVERAL – which will not be allowed to develop.

Right now we can absolutely begin to correct what have been commonly believed to be hereditary conditions or genetic defects as well as prevent, cure, or in some cases eliminate certain diseases or illnesses and create real preventive health care systems that not only keep people healthy and vibrant, but can begin to ENHANCE and further support the expression and potential of living beings. Also, not speaking here of just one method or science or school of thought, but MANY – none of which will be allowed to develop.

Right now we have the necessary understanding of the human’s natural learning ability and the conditions that lead to an effectively developed human that that is not only highly intelligent and effective with processing information, but vastly more creative and expressive as well. Imagine a world in which a person’s natural learning ability were to be supported and enhanced instead of stifled and repressed to a point of total diminishment by the time a person reaches adult age. And yet, this will of course never be allowed.

These statements are NOT meant to provoke any thoughts of there being some “grand conspiracy” of shadowy figures constantly and continuously suppressing these kinds of revolutionary innovation. This is not about “They” doing something to “Us”. Because the real heart of the hard question is not why we haven’t been allowed to develop such things, but rather why we still accept a world system in which we apparently need “permission” and what our collective responsibility is and how this translates into our PERSONAL responsibility.

It is time to begin considering why so many revolutionary innovations have become shuttered or blocked or in some way kept from ever realizing the light of day, and here we have got to start looking BEYOND pointing fingers at shadowy elites or simply blaming our debt based monetary system and get to the nitty gritty details where we begin to see that each one of us have a deep responsibility to answer to in relation to how we ourselves are propagating and CREATING the very mess we blame our institutions for.

Not a comfortable pill to swallow – when we have to take things back to self-responsibility. But swallow we must if we ever intend realize our demands for a better world.

I will be addressing the deeper levels of the “Hidden Charge” that we as humanity have been paying into, and has been so deeply embedded into our living that this dimension is often completely missed – to the detriment of all.

Hidden Charges

I mentioned a very vital question that must be asked and considered – which is WHY and HOW is it that despite having all of the means, the technology, and the knowledge to STOP war, end poverty and starvation, immediately improve the health and vitality of all beings, and make this earth into a paradise for all were the focus can be on expression, exploration, compassion, and unconditional support – do we NOT implement these things? What is it that is really holding us back and what is the “unseen force” that is seemingly against us having this kind of paradise?

I will break this down into a more tangible dimension so that we can all be on the same page as we explore the root of this question and its deeper implications.

First let us realize that we are currently paralyzed. I mean this from the perspective that if you were to REALLY investigate this issue for yourself you would be able to see that unless something STIMULATES us, we do not move. Hence, we exist in a kind of paralysis unless and until we get a little jolt of energy or stimulation that says “Do this” or “Do that”. Rarely if ever, do we actually move or do something for no reason other than us having first made the decision to move or do something. So rarely does this happen that the majority of people would presume that if they never got a sensation or feeling or “inclination” to do something, then they would just basically be “dead” and wouldn’t do anything at all.

I bring this point up because it is relevant to understand how deeply ingrained our dependency on STIMULATION and how much of a blind spot this actually is when we are looking at ways to solve some of the critical issues humanity is now facing. If this is the first time you’ve been presented with this concept, take a moment and REALLY have a look for yourself and honestly investigate how many times you did something, said something, without there being any thoughts or emotions or imaginations or desires prompting you. Here’s a hint – if there was a “thought” or a picture in your mind of you doing something but YOU were not the one who decided to create that thought or deliberately create that specific picture in your own mind, then it was not YOU who made the decision, but rather a stimulation you accepted and went along with.

Now we have the understanding that human beings are almost entirely at this point functioning on some sort of stimulation whether it is positive OR negative – the point is that without the stimulation we presume that we have no “reason” to do something, and do not consider doing something as being reason enough.

Okay – so now that we have that point on the table – we need to ask what is the PRIMARY point of stimulation that exists in our current world system, that affects each and every single living being either positively or negatively? It is MONEY. So let’s really have a look at this because this is an absolutely vital point to understand before we go further.

In the current system of things, nothing “happens” without an energetic input. Think of a battery operated machine or device – if the energy isn’t there to power it, it will not function. It is not necessarily “dead” or “broken” – it just won’t do the things that it requires energy to do unless that energy is there.

Our world system – which includes the governments of the world, the various international agencies and institutions, the large trans-national corporations, everything that is part of what makes modern human societies “function”, and of course the economic and monetary systems – can all be seen as individual parts to a large battery powered machine. This machine requires massive amounts of energy – its batteries need extensive amounts of charge which quickly become depleted because, well, it is a HUGE machine with immensely intricate and interdependent moving parts – all of which need to keep functioning at least to a minimal degree or else the entire system can break down.

One might think that the main energy source for this world system machine is money – and that is a very very good answer because money is in fact the main “energy” that all beings are currently affected by in our world – but money is not energy itself – it is a transmitter of energy. Money is the method upon which energy is siphoned from resources and human labor, but it is not “money” that is powering the world system. For a long time I was convinced it was just money, but bear with me as I explain the deeper dimensions.

There is a kind of “energy” that we are all expending into the world system that is not just “money”. It is all of the hours we spend doing things that are NOT supportive to ourselves or others in order to get money to pay for our survival in this world.

Now here is where the magic happens so to speak. Take your average job in a first world country. A person will do this job for money and use that money to in turn buy their basic necessities and if there is any extra after they take care of their basic survival, they will either save it, invest it, or spend it on some form of luxury or entertainment. BUT – what does the “job” entail?

It does not matter what a person’s job is – because the “Hidden Fee” that is being extracted from them is the same no matter what a person does – as long as it is for money in the current system. This hidden fee is particularly nefarious in nature because it is not just about extracting money and resources from people already struggling with survival – but because of the excessive amount of waste and negative consequence on health and the environment that is created which only makes the “Hidden Fee” even higher each day.

So far I have been rather vague with describing and defining what exactly the hidden fee is but in the following blog I will go into detail of one example of how the Hidden Fee embeds itself so deeply that it goes unnoticed in our everyday lives.


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What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? Part 2

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By Josh Richert

 

Continuing from the last blog , CSR is more of a global initiative that is being implemented, encouraged, and directed by various organizations as well as the UN to encourage corporate responsibility towards a common ‘good’.  One of those organizations is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  From their website:

“The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a leading organization in the sustainability field. GRI promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.”

So, we have CSR which is a global initiative of corporate self-governance to encourage corporation to both regulate themselves and report on themselves in regards to changing and implementing business practices for the common good, such as making products that are environmentally friendly, avoiding slave and child labor, giving back to communities, etc.  In order to implement the CSR and encourage it worldwide, organizations like GRI have been created.  But there are other bodies in addition to GRI, such as the Integrated International Reporting Council.
The IIRC produced a
Discussion Paper in 2011 from which the feedback demonstrated overwhelming support for Integrated Reporting and endorsed the development of a global Framework. It also concluded that the primary audience of integrated reports is investors in order to aid their allocation of financial capital.

And then we also have the United Nations Global Impact, from there website:

“The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning with ten universally accepted principles for human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.
​The UN Global Compact and GRI signed an agreement in May 2010 to align their work in advancing corporate responsibility and transparency. As part of this agreement, GRI will develop guidance regarding the
Global Compact’s ten principles and integrate UNGC issue areas into the next iteration of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The UNGC will adopt the GRI Guidelines as the recommended reporting framework for the more than 5800 businesses that have joined the world’s largest corporate responsibility platform.”

So, what I am getting at here is establishing the framework of what exactly CSR is, and from what I can see, CSR not a set of global laws, but a set of global initiatives for specifically international corporations to voluntarily adhere to (and arguably for their own good such as increasing market share and profitability due to increased consumer awareness of their ‘ethical and altruistic’ business practices) with the intent to improve living conditions for those living on this planet (a.k.a. the ‘common good’) through encouraging corporate responsibility to those living on this planet, of whom are commonly referred to as the ‘stakeholders.’ 

The guidelines, encouragement, and implementation for these standards are managed by various organizations, including GRI, UNGC, and IIRC, to name a few.  These organizations have created what is commonly referred to as ‘sustainability reports’ with specific guidelines and standards in specific categories such as human resources, environmental concerns, supply chain concerns (i.e. labor), philanthropy, volunteering, etc. wherein corporations are encouraged to report on each category based upon specific standards created by these organization.

But is this ‘global initiative’ of corporate ‘self-regulation’ for the common ‘good’ really effective?
Well, one interesting article from Nov 2012 found on the CSR-reporting website sheds some interesting light on that topic.  As a direct quote from the article:

banarra consistency

“Let me just repeat that so it’s clear:

Labor Indicators: 86% of companies claim they report and only 11% actually do.

Human Rights Indicators: 62% of companies claim they report and only 20% actually do.”

This research reveals a significant difference between claims made in GRI Sustainability Reporting and what actually gets reported (which was unpublished research as of November 17 2012 that was conducted by the Vienna Team in collaboration with Middlesex University London lead by Dr. Sepideh Parsa and Dr. Ian Roper); wherein we can see that the vast majority of corporations are reporting falsehoods, are reporting inaccurately, or claim to be reporting but are not even reporting at all.

Why so?  Well, I would venture that this would be expected for the following: Regardless of the motive, whether it be ultraistic or self-serving, for a corporation to self-regulate and comply with CSR reporting, the bottom line is that those with a controlling interest in these corporations, the shareholders, are looking for maximum returns on their investments which means that the corporations profit comes first, and that the consequences of the corporate actions come second.  Thus, if it is more profitable to ‘cheat’ on the CSR reporting then that is what will happen. Furthermore, if complying with CSR initiatives threatens the survival of corporations then that would be reason and justification for corporations to not allow any reporting (tell on itself in essence) that would undermine its ability to survive.  Another reason is that the shareholders are not stakeholders usually and thus are not really feeling the consequences of the corporate practices and thus it is easy to turn a blind eye and ignore the inconsistencies in the CSR reporting by the corporations they own.

 

So, what we are left here with is an interesting dynamic and that is: the corporations are left with finding the right balance between making their CSR reports – which of course is considered to be a competitive advantage – and also keeping profits up as much as possible in order to appease their shareholders and so ensure their survival and continued existence.  I mean, this is a real test of self-honesty even on an individual level in that, would you tell on yourself / disclose your secrets to another if that meant that it may imply that you would lose money, profits and make you less competitive?  So, that balancing point is where the company can be transparent and honest, yet still keep profits up within a satisfactory zone all at the same time.  Thus, this means for most companies that they are going to have fudge the numbers to make this work. This is just plain common sense.

 

csr

 

How can we change the system to ensure that corporations will report accurately and make significant changes to their practices that will benefit all / the stakeholders? 

Obviously there needs to be a change in the frame-work of the system because with the way the system is set-up now, there will be no true corporate responsibility taken by corporations as it really is not in their best interest, ultimately, as evidenced by the poor participation in reporting and making real changes thus far.  Thus, the framework of the economic system needs to be adjusted in a way that the corporations still work within self-interest / making profits but yet that self-interest will lead them to make real changes.  The economic system itself must change because the alternative to changing the system and attempting to police or enforce such a code of ethics would literally be impossible on a global scale within the realization that there just is not enough man-power, time, and ways and means to really be able to get inside the corporations and ensure their compliance.  Thus, the compliance must be considered essential to corporations, by corporations, for their survival – just as non-compliance is in essence essential to their survival now – and that will only be achieved by making some adjustments to the economic system.

Another point to consider, is that within the current economic structure, how can we even trust that CSR / eco-friendly / socially responsible measures taken by environmental groups and NGO’s are always working in our / the general populace / the stakeholders and the Earth’s best interest? 

There is strong evidence, if one spends any  time researching this point, that the CSR and Green concepts have been used to corner markets, drive commodity prices up, control resources and markets, and pass oppressive laws or push for potentially oppressive laws such as the ‘carbon tax’ scheme / meme.  It can be argued that this CSR movement has been used as a platform to create memes that the populace accepts as accurate and for their good to then lobby for ‘eco-friendly’ government policies that are really more like ‘Trojan Horses’ that when enforced actually play into the hand of those behind the scenes seeking profit and further oppressing the people.  There is strong evidence that the very corporations themselves use the environmental movement to control prices, markets, and resources.  The oil companies often times fund the very environmental movements that they appear to be in opposition to, as an example.

In sum, CSR and the related green movements are all well and needed, but within the current economic system structure, these initiative and movements are either ineffective or used to manipulate and control markets for the benefits of the shareholders and not the stakeholders.

Back to the question: how can we change our system to ensure that corporations will report accurately and actually make real changes upon themselves within a point of self-regulation?  The answer to this question is not simply in the details, yet it is simple within the point of considering how our economic system is currently structured.  So, there are a couple of points to consider here:

1.  LIG.  A Living Income Guaranteed needs to be initiated.  So, I ask the question: Who ultimately is in control of the corporations?  Answer: Those who buy their products and services, within the point that if corporations lose their customer base, they may cease to exist / go out of business.  So, ultimately, who is the corporation appeasing within all of its activities?  The customer. 

Even within the degree of fraud and manipulation in reporting and green movements today, the customer is ultimately in mind.  It’s like an abusive relationship.  If one party in relationship can ‘get away’ with it, they will, and they will continue to do, so long as the desired relationship stays intact.  However, once that relationship is threatened, the abuser will change his/her behavior in order to save the relationship, if possible.  And even if that change of behavior is within self-interest, the change will still be made in a way that will benefit all parties if the abused decides to no longer take the stance as the abused and force the abuser to change within that stance.

Thus, how do we get the people to take that stand? 

Right now, we as the people / the ‘stakeholders’, are not taking that stand that says ‘no you don’t.  You will not abuse the resources and the people for the sake of your own profit.’  And the primary reason is that most people only have enough money to meet basic survival needs as most people are existing in the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.   However, if people have enough money, they will move beyond survival and then start really looking at how to make themselves and this world a better place.

You see, right now, most people are only able to shop for things based upon price.  It may matter in the back of someone’s mind about all the abuses that were required to bring that product to market at that price, but if that is all one is able to afford and that is what one needs – that product will be bought regardless.  You see, corporations have us at our knees right now within the principle of ‘beggars cannot be choosers.’  The general populace simply does not have the money to truly vote with their money and thus corporations do not have to really answer to the consumer or the environment because either way, we are still buying from them.

Thus, a LIG will enable the populace to start voting with their money so long as we are able to structure it in a way that the LIG will lift people enough out of poverty to do so.  The LIG will create a new pool of money found in the common man zone, instead of only in the upper echelons where the shareholders of corporations primarily are.  The shareholders have so much money that they are disconnected with the realities on the ground and the abuses therein. Shareholders are concerned with increasing their wealth.  That is why they are shareholders in the first place.  Thus, an LIG will equalize that playing field in giving the common man voting rights with their money and thus lifting them up into a form of ‘shareholder’ as well as their existing status of stakeholder.

2.  Dare I say Nationalization?  Let’s call it: Converting Stakeholders (the common man) to Shareholders.  And let’s start with nationalization of essential resources and perhaps the energy sector.  Through nationalization, stakeholders will suddenly become shareholders of the resources that corporations use to bring energy, raw materials such as lumber, food, and water to market for consumption.  That means that wealthy hidden elite will not be in control behind the scenes in a way to increase their profits at the expense of us all.  That also means that people living within the borders of each country will suddenly have the wealth of these resources and thus will be able to sell or trade these natural resources to other countries or corporations. 
Once established, we can hold a democratic Internet voting system, in the form of a liquid democracy, accessible to the people / the citizens of certain geographic areas – to vote for how they would like the natural resources to be handled.

If this were to occur, then corporations would have to change their ways to conform to the laws of the land regarding these resources, because the owners of the resources, the people, will demand it; or these corporations would have to go somewhere else where these nationalizations have not occurred, YET.  Can anyone give me a good reason why ‘nationalization’ of the resources would be so demonized and how actually benefits from the demonization of the concept of nationalization?

 

3.  Increase Awareness: This is already happening in the CSR / Green movements.  This needs to continue and then be streamlined into a unified movement that is brought to everyone’s attention.  Thus, when people have the money through LIG and have ownership of the resources through Nationalization: they will make better decisions / votes as to how to manage them.

Within this public awareness that needs to be increased, as well as we need to de-polarize the movement and bring it into a practical point of consideration where we all as one see, realize, and understand the consequences and implications of our actions within the current state of affairs, within a fact-based platform.   As compared to where we are now, which has this CSR / ECO / Social awareness movement polarized between left and right / liberal vs. conservative, where the left embraces this movement and anything that comes with this movement, even the manipulated aspects of this movement that are contrived by certain groups to corner markets and drive up prices etc., and the right which rejects this movement in its entirety.

Thus within this polarization, all are consumed with the energy of right verses wrong and not are looking at the practical points that are right here in front of us.  I mean, we do have a garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean that is the size of the United States, don’t we?  Can’t we start discussions on these points without getting all polarized into groups based on right vs. wrong?  So, the depolarization of this movement needs to occur so that people can start looking at this practically, and within that we can start really creating solutions that can be implemented through laws or mandates or simply the influence carried out with the populace who now has money through LIG or part ownership of at least the natural resources.

Once this is in place, corporations will have no other choice but to make decisions that are best for all in their practices or else face the prospect of going extinct / out of business.  Let’s do this.

 

corporate-social-responsibility - LIG

 

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