Poverty

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

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A Permanent Solution for the Neglected Produce Laborers of Mexico

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by Fidelis Spies 

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Problem:

A Times reporter and photographer find that thousands of laborers at Mexico’s mega-farms endure harsh conditions and exploitation while supplying produce for American consumers.

The Times found:

  • Many farm laborers are essentially trapped for months at a time in rat-infested camps, often without beds and sometimes without functioning toilets or a reliable water supply.
  • Some camp bosses illegally withhold wages to prevent workers from leaving during peak harvest periods.
  • Laborers often go deep in debt paying inflated prices for necessities at company stores. Some are reduced to scavenging for food when their credit is cut off. It’s common for laborers to head home penniless at the end of a harvest.
  • Those who seek to escape their debts and miserable living conditions have to contend with guards, barbed-wire fences and sometimes threats of violence from camp supervisors.
  • Major U.S. companies have done little to enforce social responsibility guidelines that call for basic worker protections such as clean housing and fair pay practices.

Hardship on Mexico’s farms, a bounty for U.S. tables

By RICHARD MAROSI http://graphics.latimes.com/product-of-mexico-camps/

Where does our food come from? It is the fruits and veggies of other people’s labor. Farm exports to the U.S. from Mexico have tripled to $7.6 billion in the last decade, enriching agribusinesses, distributors and retailers. As you can see in the article it’s the actual labors that come out last.

The company utilizes advance growing techniques and very carefully employs sanitary measures to make sure their produce is safe and good quality, but at the same time they absolutely neglect the workforce. The produce has a higher value than the actual humans working there. One of these Companies actually recently took out full-page newspaper ads promoting its commitment to social responsibility.

The company these laborers work for use devious ways to keep profits high. It is law to pay workers their wages on a weekly base. To ensure that the people do not leave before their 3 month work contract the company often withholds their wages and only pays them at the end of their contract. In that time the workers get their food from the company store with its inflated prices. They often go deep in debt and at the end of their contract some go home without any money.

The conditions are so bad, yet people still go there to work knowing that they might not make money – some go just to stay fed. They go because they simply have no alternative and that is what the companies are exploiting. Is there any way to stop this Madness? Yes

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Solution:

The main reason why people will work for a company like this and live with the miserable living conditions is because they need the money – no matter how little it is. So let’s see how the Living Income Guaranteed will drastically improve the situation:

With the Living Income Guaranteed the workforce will no longer be able to be exploited, because that desperation to find a job no matter where it is or how terrible the work conditions are will no longer exist. When the people who cannot find work receive a Living Income they will no longer accept bad working conditions. The company will have to improve the working conditions otherwise they are going to have a hard time hiring the workforce needed to get the job done.

This Involves granting them good quality foods that they are used to eating, to create proper housing with full services for them – water, toilets – and proper working gear. Also what would need to be done is abolish all abuse – this means no threats and not deliberately creating debt for the workforce.  These companies will need to apply and live by their corporate social responsibility measures; currently it’s only a front to make the companies look good.

With the basic Income Double the Living Income the laborers will be able to make a guaranteed decent living that will be paid on a weekly basis, no excuses allowed.

A Living Income Guaranteed will provide effective and practical solutions to all the current problems these laborers are facing and it is something this world needs – a Solution.

 

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Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal

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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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

 

Check Out the Links for More Information on the Living Income Guaranteed

Living On Stolen Money – Decision or Consequence?

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By Viktor Person

Crimes Criminality LIG Living IncomeA life of crime is two-part documentary (I’ve posted embeds of the videos in the bottom of the post), where a filmmaker follows some criminals during two periods in their lifetime. The first time he meets them they are in their late twenties and still quite strong and vigorous, and they are sustaining themselves through shoplifting. In part two he meets them when they are in their middle thirties and life has begun to take a toll on them.

What is so interesting about this documentary is that it reveals the mindset of the criminals, the WHY of their decision to become criminals. Several times throughout the documentary they exclaim that they are able to make much more money through stealing than through having a regular job. Working one day as a shoplifter makes them around 3000 dollars, while working one day at McDonald’s makes them about 80 dollars. Thus, what is clear is that these people are not driven by some form of bad moral, or psychopathic desire to cause harm to others. No – in-fact these shoplifters are economist’s showing to us what kind of consequences our current economic system create.

It’s obvious that thieves, shoplifters and burglars are not an incident or mishap, they are consequence, they are not an anomaly, they are a predictable outcome – the result of an equation. For those of us that have led a life of money, it’s hard to relate to and understand what goes through a person’s mind when he or she decides to become professional shoplifter, because most of us born in economically stable environments would perceive it as immoral, wrong and barbarian. However, for someone born at the very low end of the hierarchy theft and a criminal life is a way of escaping a permanent sentence to a life poverty, and hard work.

Economists would probably agree with me, because it’s simple mathematics, when there is no support for those at the bottom, no hope for a better life, no ability to rise and build a life for oneself, then crime is a way out = supply and demand = cause and effect = problem and consequence.

Thus, realize, when crime rise, it’s not something bad, it’s actually an indication that something is very, very wrong with society, and that there are some drastic changes required. Realize that when prisons are filled to the brim with people, then we have a sick society, and that sickness can be traced back to the unequal distribution of money and resources.

This is where we require embracing a paradigm shift, because in order to make our lives better, our society more safe, our life experiences more rewarding, we must learn to give – we must learn to give, as we’d like to receive. Most of us have extremely difficult to grasp this concept, and when confronted with it, we shiver and turn inside, immediately out of our mouths comes the statements that “it’s unfair!” – “they should work for their money!” – “we can’t change that!” – “there will always be crime!” – but see, this is not common sense, this is assumptions, ideas, projections, and in actuality useless opinions that have no significance in terms of how reality actually works.

The fact is that, when we make the decision to give all an equal opportunity to make something worthwhile of themselves in this world, we are doing ourselves a significant favor. We will in doing that release so much pressure, fear, and society will become a completely different place, where crime will be significantly less.

One of the solutions we’re able to implement is a minimum wage, and not just any minimum wage, but a big minimum wage with which one can buy luxurious items, start a family and make one’s life comfortable and enjoyable. Manual labor such as working for McDonald’s, or similar, shouldn’t be awarded with a salary that merely puts one on the breadline. Instead dedicating oneself to contributing to society should be awarded amply; it should be more profitable to live honestly than to make living as a criminal.

So, the key to designing a successful society is to ask us the question WHY? Because everything that happens in this world does so for a reason – our physical reality is filled with equations and these in turn produce various results, and through changing the variables, we’ll change the result.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed and allow yourself to step up and become a social engineer, question the movement of your daily life, what happens, why it happens, and how it could be changed in such a way that all are included. Because it’s clear that – there are SOLUTIONS – we must simply be brave enough to see and apply them.

 

 

For Further Information, Follow these Links:

The Theory of Economy

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by Viktor Person

supply-and-demand-01-resized-600This summer I had the mixed pleasure of reading a course in Microeconomics and International trade. In microeconomics the primary focus of the researchers is to establish ‘What is the market really doing and why?’ – and this is attempted to be done utilizing mathematical formulas; primarily utilizing the famous graph where two lines cross each-other, the one line sloping downwards (demand) and the other sloping upwards (supply) – and where they meet each other = that’s apparently the optimal price for the product and the optimal quantity of that product in that given market.

What first struck me as being fascinating about these theories was that they seldom predicted how the market would behave in reality, and neither could they be verified with empirical evidence – and most of the time the authors of the my books where busy trying to find reasons and various viewpoints as to why these theories wasn’t working “as they should” – and how they probably did work but it was just that the inventors missed to take into consideration some important factors and variables.

Though, what was the most fascinating about this entire area of research, was how there was this complete worship to the idea that lower prices = higher consumer satisfaction; and that apparently for a market to be functional, what is required is that we produce as many products as possible, to the lowest prices possible, because then the consumers are able to buy as much as possible, and then we’re apparently okay, happy, and have a fruitful existence here on earth.

Obviously, when I looked at these ideas, I silently chuckled – because the logical flaw of this assumption is glaringly simple = the producers are the consumers! YES – that’s the secret of economy and the reason why we’ve got so many unemployed in this day and age is because we’ve failed to understand that when a product is cheaper, someone at the other end gets less money, which in turns means that a (employee) consumer gets less money, which in turns means that the producer gets less customers = and it all ends up in such a way that most lose but a few that manage to reap the monopoly profits of those very low-priced products – because they’ve priced out everyone else.

It’s clear that we have to develop a new way of looking at economics, and that mathematics and statistics isn’t the way to go – no – we actually require to look at the actuality of what is going on. For example, poverty, what is the actuality of poverty? Why does poverty exist to begin with? It’s not a matter of mathematics, rather it’s a matter of seeing what is behind everything in this world – and that is MONEY – money that in itself is a completely innocent creation meant to be but a way of distributing goods and services to where they are required and wanted the most; but in our current system – money has become a point of control – where those that are already rich and on top of things with all possible means make sure the keep those stricken by poverty in place – else we wouldn’t anymore have a functional slave labor force that can produce all of our various gadgets and other mechanics of entertainment.

Thus, what we must ask ourselves, and economists more importantly, is why have we never used our knowledge to produce a sustainable system where all of us are able to create a life that is dignified, cool and enjoyable? What is required for us to do that? MONEY – and what do we need to bring through such money into this world? Resources – so what is then the solution – the real economic master plan as to how to create a world that would be sustainable and practical for all its inhabitants? To agree that we share the resources – at least the basic and most essential resources – those that we MUST HAVE in order to live.

Thus, I stand behind the Living Income Guaranteed – which is a functional, effective and sustainable way of creating a new world for all people where money will be shared – and for those economists that want to make a difference – I suggest that you investigate this concept and bring your knowledge to the table and help to create something from which we can all benefit!

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A Westerner’s Experience Living in Thailand

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By Adrian Blackburn

Isaan-couple-on-bike

 

Seeing the economic status/conditions of this country, and being able to fit it into the bigger picture that includes all of the world nations, has helped me to better understand the global hierarchy of nations and how individual countries play specific roles within this.

Within this, currency manipulation and separation through cultural identities is key – also the competition point, which is expressed through nationalism.

One of the best tools to keep any nation bonded to maintaining its role in the global hierarchy is nationalism – one of the best forms of control is to have one identify with and begin to love and revere their chains – this obviously applies at the individual level in interpersonal relationships as well. Religion also plays a major role in this as the antidote when the conditions of a nation are adverse, giving all kinds of justifications as to why things are the way they are or false hope that it is all somehow ‘for the better.’

Identifying oneself with impoverishment, destitution and extremely adverse conditions carries with it great psychological implications – usually a degree of shame and a complete lack of self belief and self will – we all know how hard it is to be poor in the west at a social level and the implications this has – now imagine the massive degree of poverty that is standard, normalized and accepted in countries such as this, and how broad and far reaching these conditions are with regard to their effect on the psyche of the individual – conditions that we in the west would be appalled by, as we now see people rioting in the streets due to their living conditions worsening – whereas in countries such as this, it is already standard, accepted. It is fascinating because in this country, the protests and riots you see in the streets are actually the political minority upper-class who are angry about any attempts by ‘corrupt’ politicians to improve the lives of the poor majority lower class – this majority poor lower class simply don’t have the time or resources to gather and form a force to protest or riot, they are too busy surviving (or not even).

So our own lack of awareness to the lives of the impoverished in our own countries in the west are really just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ when you broaden that to a world-scale, and our lack of education and proper media reporting/exposure plays a major role in this – also the fact that as nations who naturally compete according to the laws of economics, this ignorance can also be justified because as long as we are on the winning team, things are fine apparently. If anything, our main priority and inclination is to take advantage of and exploit such conditions, which really something that is done quite extensively.

Language barriers and cultural norms are exacerbated through the competition principle – most racism in the world is not overt but rather implicit, the principle of ‘it is different from me therefore I value it less’. The competition principle – expressed through cultural identity – places the lens through which we tend to judge things that are different and not normal in our own cultures, which is really an unfortunate thing because when you get down to it, you realize that it is all essentially the same stuff – predictable humans behavior based on circumstances/conditions – but just appearing differently because we are coming from different perspectives that are shaped by our conditions – again here economic conditions play the largest defining role.

For instance, in my experience I have noticed the tendency for many foreigners who come here to judge this country – which is quite an easy thing to do, given the conditions here and the issues they create – without ever considering that they themselves have in fact played a role in why things are the way they are in places like this. National borders are really illusory when it is plain fact that the entire world is very directly connected by a global economic system, and of course more indirectly connected through relationships.

When you break down borders and view this as a global issue, you also realize that in fact, what we would call ‘normal middle class’ people in western/developed nations, who we consider as not being rich, are in fact within the top %10 of the worlds richest people – so when people in the west feel disempowered to act and make any change for the better in their world within the mentality of ‘poor little old me, what could I possibly do?’ – understand that there are people in this world – China serves as a great example of this – who live in complete slavery. They get up, work for 18 hours, with short breaks for meals and hygiene upkeep to make sure they are still alive and can work – sleep for 6 hours and then repeat. People who would look at the lives of middle class people like ourselves and think ‘omg, they have 2 or 3 hours of free time to themselves every day and bit of extra money in the bank?’ what a life! I only wish I could ever be so privileged, the things I could do with all that freedom…’

We are also – in the case of Thailand – talking about a nation where certain basic freedoms are not even allowed by the rule of law – for instance while we have free speech in the west – although that is questionable and constantly under duress – this pales in comparison to a nation like this where for instance you literally cannot say any thing negative about the monarchy – you would be thrown in jail.

In the west, our lack of understanding and our inaction comes largely from information control and manipulation, but when we are talking about a country with money and resources through which the individual tends to be more enabled and have more opportunity, ignorance is more of a choice – whereas in Thailand there is a large amount of information control on the internet and in media in general, and again very limiting economic conditions – many people genuinely don’t know what they don’t know and have no way of ever finding out, and thus have very little chance or opportunity of being able to help themselves.

So this really all puts into perspective our self-responsibility and our responsibility to our world as middle-class westerners.

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