The belly of the beast

Our modern world is taking us in directions we do not want to go at an alarming rate. And we are too overloaded and stressed to do anything about it. I heard a story on NPR yesterday about how productivity has grown at the fastest pace in years. Turns out, businesses are starting to recover, which should be be good news for us all.  But it never is, is it?

Another day, another dollar.

Another day, another dollar.

Many companies have reduced their work forces by good amounts (25% – 50%) and then had their remaining employees work twice as hard to pick up the slack. Uh, okay. And then the kicker? The story ended with an explanation that the only way we can really get the economy back on track is to get our consumer spending going again:

Mr. John Sylvia, Chief Economist at Wells Fargo Securities, says the rise in productivity is a good sign for corporate profits, but it’s probably not enough to spark a hiring spree at most businesses. He explains, “Okay, the company is in good shape, but we still need demand. We still need final sales for that company to grow. And that, I think, is one of the biggest challenges we see out there when you’re looking at the demand from the consumer. It just doesn’t seem to be all that much.” Consumer spending makes up about 70 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Mr. Silvia says, “It’s hard to see how the economy really improves, and hiring picks up, without people really starting to spend again.”

Come again? We are working harder than before, and for the record, we were working too damn much before this recession struck. But that’s not enough, we need to get back to running up insane amounts of debt, because that’s what fuels this wicked machine. I got four words for you, Hell to the no.

W? Is that you?

That quote reminds me of when George Bush spoke to the country after 9/11.  Annie Leonard sums this insanity up in the Story of Stuff:

That is why, after 9/11, when our country was in shock, President Bush could have suggested any number of appropriate things: to grieve, to pray, to hope. NO. He said to shop. TO SHOP?!

Don’t believe the hype people. Shopping is not our salvation, it’s our destruction. This system is destroying us for a select few at the top, yet the beneficiaries are made invisible, hidden behind the non-entity that is a corporation.

There’s a quote in the NPR story that just about makes my head explode: Sylvia says the rise in productivity is a good sign for corporate profits, but it’s probably not enough to spark a hiring spree at most businesses. Go0d sign for corporate profits?! What about all those who have been laid off and are looking for jobs? What about those that are working harder and longer? No good news for them, just the corporate profits, a passive reference to someone benefitting from all this somewhere, but we never know who. We just work our asses off for them.

One of the 42.6 million Americans who cannot afford health insurance.

One of the 42.6 million Americans who cannot afford health insurance.

You hear about these beneficiaries at the top a lot lately with the debate over healthcare. The big insurance companies assume no moral responsibility for the fact that they have increased profits to staggering proportions by dumping sick people off of their plans. How do they justify that? They shrug their shoulders and say they did it for the shareholders, it’s how the system works. Oh, well if it’s for the shareholders, okay. Clearly you have no choice but to turn your back on the 60 people who are dying each day from lack of healthcare if you are protecting the interests of a few anonymous people. How do we right a wrong when there are millions of victims and no perpetrators?

You dump the system

We have to get off this merry-go-round. This system is on our backs. Why would we want to get the system back up and running as it was before? The solution is to figure how in the hell we can get out of the belly of the beast. And as I have mentioned in many posts such as  If you’re waiting for a sign, here it is! and The revolution is upon us. Wake up! the time for change is not now, but right now.

Find ways to buck the system-I live to stick it to man! Buy things off craigslist and from used stores, stop shopping for emotional reasons, stop needing constant entertainment, reduce the number of ads you see in a day by turning some of the media off. Slow your life down and find other ways. Instead of going to the Children’s museum, we go to the library. And we check out vids from there, rather than buying them. Once you start down this path, you will never look back. And the quality of your life will improve drastically.

It’s all good in the hood

Neighborhood g-sale.

Neighborhood g-sale.

Yesterday, I spoke of how our neighborhood slowly became the lovefest that it is today. One of my neighbors posted a comment and her list of all the things that we do is too wonderful to be missed:

I feel so good about getting to know our neighbors! We have had a baby shower; cards of sympathy for lost loved ones, graduation and birthday wishes; the annual block BBQ (this year with a cook-off and kids parade!); plant exchanges; garden tours; chicken coop tours; sing-a-longs; live music; sangria parties; babysitting connections; carpentry and yard work exchanges; truck borrowing and so much more. It is so nice to walk around the block and have smiling faces, garden discussions, bird watching and kids who run up to you to tell you about their most recent adventure! Our neighborhood is connecting and thriving and the kids will grow up knowing their neighbors, young and old. What a gift we give when we give of ourselves… and it all starts with a wave.

Not only does that not cost us a thing, it’s encouraging us to slow down and be more mindful of how we spend our resources. It has allowed us to find ways to barter and share our unique talents and abundance. The solution to our problems is not to work harder and spend more. The solution is to take our time back, decrease our spending and find our way back to the things that matter most: family, friends, community and ourselves.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brian
    Aug 12, 2009 @ 14:02:46

    echoes of Thoreau…

    Reply

  2. Leslie
    Aug 12, 2009 @ 19:33:56

    Thanks for quoting me, Erin! I am so there, Girl!!! Keep up the good work…

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s a revival, ya’ll « Bonita Appleblog

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