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I Owe My Soul….to the Company Store

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 am, July 23rd, 2010 - 65 comments
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The words of this old song date back to the 1800′s when dominant and rapacious employers in small company towns would require their employees to purchase essentials from a ‘company store’. And because the employee was so badly paid, inevitably they would run up steep tab simply to keep their family fed and clothed. In the long run of course the debt was un-repayable, so the employees became essentially indentured slaves to the company, unable to leave town because of the debt they owed. It took a major law reform to stop this odious practice.

Worker/Business/Banks Share of GDP from Keen

The graph is taken from the concluding passages of a very recent Steven Keen paper. (I do recommend giving it a close read; don’t be put off by the math, the explanations are clear and instructive in their own right). In it Keen further extends his economic modeling of the business cycle with results that point to a startling political conclusion . that the banks are well on the way to making the whole world their own ‘company town’.

The remarkable aspect of this model is how well the general pattern of it corresponds to what we have seen over the last 60 odd years since WW2. In the early period the tension between workers and employers interests dominated the dynamics, expressed conventionally in the political battle between left and right. It’s a paradigm people are still very much wedded to, but one with a vital ommission.

Because from a ‘flow of money’ POV, the real economy has three actors, not two. The other party is of course the banks who play a special role in the economy as trusted bookkeepers, enabling ordinary real world transactions to proceed smoothly and efficiently based on the issue of credit. In the early part of the cycle the banks share of GDP, arising from this special function, is normally somewhat less than 10%. As a result the political significance of their role is underplayed and neglected. Flying under the radar as the business cycle matures, their appetite for risk grows and they successfully lobby for looser regulation in order to profit from higher levels of speculation with ever more complex products. As a result the banks begin to assume an undue portion of the economy; growing like a cancer beyond their essential function, until for example in 2005 a full 45% of all US corporate profit was made in the finance sector.

As this process develops something interesting happens the dramatic swings of the early part of the cycle in the labour/employment market begin to smooth out. As the Debt to GDP ratio exceeds 100%, then 200% (or even 300% as it did in the US) it becomes the dominant factor in the economic dynamics, overwhelming and dampening out the worker/employer cycles leading to the illusion, as trumped by many leading neo-liberals in the last decade, of a ‘Great Moderation’. Conventional neo-liberals kept telling us of a brave new world, in which they had mastered the business cycle, assuring us that stable growth could be sustained indefinitely without the damaging cycles of the past.

Which of course was wholly wrong. The ‘Moderation’ of the last 20 years was not a sign of success, but of failure, with the end game yet to be played out. The model points to the pattern of what is now happening, even in this country. Wages share of GDP has steadily declined over that period (from around 65% in the 1970′s to a miserable and falling 44% last year). Business profitability has held up until much later into the cycle, but even that too is predicted to plummet as finally the bankers eat the game, swallowing both workers and business owners share of GDP in one last orgy of compound interest, greed and hubris. Leaving us all in terminal debt to new masters of the universe, and no road out of town.

Ultimately of course the model has its limits:

This is only a model of the process by which a crisis develops; it does not contemplate what might happen in its aftermath to end it–such as bankruptcy and debt moratoria reducing the outstanding debt and allowing economic activity to commence again. The terminal collapse that follows from the runaway growth of debt in this model emphasises the point that Michael Hudson has made so often: “Debts that can’t be repaid, won’t be repaid”.

We have already seen some of this response, the US has just passed a raft of legislation intended to fence in the banking excesses of recent decades, but as MartyG outlines in a very complementary post this morning, unusual uncertainty pervades the global economy. Of course nothing in Keen’s argument above excludes Marty’s equally powerful contention that we also now bumping up against the limits of growth.

Wave after wave of demented avengers marched cheerfully out of obscurity and into the dream.

Updated: Johnny Cash with Sixteen Tons

65 comments on “I Owe My Soul….to the Company Store”

  1. Lew 1

    RL, you can’t give a post a title like this without including a link to the actual song.

    L

  2. Bored 2

    The French got it right with the parasite class in 1793, to the guillotine! ( In our case exile to the Auckland Islands might suffice).

    Or perhaps we adopt the wisdom of Solon (who cancelled all debts when the wealthy became too wealthy in Athens). No dead bankers, just a lot of angry useless ex bankers trying to grow tomatos.

    • Olwyn 2.1

      Solon also banned them from lending money against a poor man’s property, then seizing the property and selling the poor man into slavery. But he had an advantage that modern pollies lack – they were scared of the wrath of the gods. So he made them swear that they would keep his laws, and then went “sight-seeing” for 10 years so they couldn’t lobby him.

    • prism 2.2

      Hey there are innocent animals on the Auckland Islands trying to manage their simple lifestyles in difficult circumstances. Rather like us, only we aren’t completely innocent and we have a have a basic problem. That is our lack of focus on important issues like containing our desire for more of everything even if that comes at a cost to others.

      We can’t get rid of our problem people to the Auckland Islands – they’ll kill all the fur seals or something.

  3. Wow talk about an anthem for the Key years …

    • burt 3.1

      Given the govt suprluses and the increasing personal debt during the Clark years I think it is an anthem for the Labour-led Clark years socialist great leap backward.

      • Whiskey Tango Mike Foxtrot 3.1.1

        Do have any forward thinking shit to say Burt?
        You always repeat the same line, over and over.
        Is that to help you remember it, or believe it?

  4. joe90 4

    The composer, Merle Travis – “Sixteen Tons”

    • felix 4.1

      Thanks for that joe90.

      The other two versions posted here are so much pants, Lynn and Lew no soup for you.

      Actually Ernie Ford’s version is pretty cool but as someone on the youtube page said: “it seems a little incongruous, a song about back-breaking labour being sung by a guy who looks like he would be more at home sipping martinis while smooth talking Miss Sweden 1955.”

      And best we don’t even discuss Johnny Cash’s moustache era.

  5. Gosman 5

    Perhaps you could turn New Zealand into the South Pacific version of Zimbabwe where Zanu-PF’s 2000 election campaign was “The land is the economy and the economy is the land” and promptly found out that despite having all the land the economy promptly collapsed through lack of capital.

    • vto 5.1

      That is ridiculously simplistic Gosman. It collapsed due to many factors.

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        The Zimbabwe economy collapsed due to a lack of capital and a desire by the Zanu-PF regime to use the levers of state to perpetuate themselves in power by printing money when they weren’t generating enough wealth because they destoyed their most productive sector. Typical left wing economics in action.

        • Lew 5.1.1.1

          You’re an idiot. Zimbabwe collapsed because it was run by an extremist ultranationalist revolutionary dictator who presided over the expropriation of the entire wealth base of the country at gunpoint over a very short period of time. There’s nothing at all that’s “typical” about that, and evey time it’s been tried the outcome has been the same. This is why everyone sane, including the NZ left, has abandoned revolutionary socialism as political doctrine: because it doesn’t work.

          Get some perspective. You might wish you were actually in a great ideological battle against the evil empire, but modern democratic politics is about quibbling over the middle ground.

          L

          • Gosman 5.1.1.1.1

            Given the general view that seems to be expressed here that Capitalism has failed and needs to be replaced by something more radical (although what exactly is not really expanded on much) I wouldn’t say my views equating what went on in Zimabwe with leftist thinks is too far off the mark.

            • Lew 5.1.1.1.1.1

              And the absence of that ability to distinguish between manifestly dissimilar things is just part of what makes you a raving moonbat.

              Wake me when it’s the lefties, rather than the liberthoritarians, lobbying for “don’t tread on me” gun-ownership rights so they can overthrow governments as necessary.

              L

              • Gosman

                You haven’t explained in any coherent manner why they are dissimilar.

                I have highlighted why thinking along the lines of vto, that a general cancellation of debts and printing of money, is similar to how Zanu-PF destroyed the productive capital baseof the Zimbabwean economy.

                If you disagree with that then put forward your case rather than relying on ad hominim attacks to try and discredit my views.

                • Lew

                  The thing that’s dissimilar is that one crowd isn’t preventing the reform of their economic system with guns. If you want to reform monetary policy in NZ or the US, you go into politics. If you want to do so in Zimbabwe (as in the former USSR, Cambodia or China), you go into a hole in the ground.

                  If that’s not a clear enough distinction for you then I really truly despair.

                  L

                  • Gosman

                    The former MDC opposition is currently part of the government in Zimbabwe and controls the finance ministry and sets the policy in this area. The fact that you were seemingly unaware of this fact suggest you don’t understand the Zimbabwe situation very well.

                    • Lew

                      The fact that you think there’s any legitimacy to the MDC-Zanu arrangement (given that the MDC won the election fair and square despite it being rigged against them, and took a symbolic “unity” position with no actual authority as an alternative to having their heads staved in with iron bars) indicates that you might perhaps benefit from a little more research yourself.

                      But, my goodness, isn’t it perverse that you find tyourself in the position of defending a sham democracy as legitimate just so you can demonise their monetary policy, which results from the fact that their democracy is a sham.

                      L

                    • Gosman

                      Ummmmm…. the agreement was negotiated with the active encouragement of the SADC nations (under the guidance of South Africa) and all parties voluntarily agreed to it at the time and are still actively involved with it at this point in time. The MDC finance minister is setting the agenda in the finance area as evidence by the fact that the country no longer suffers from hyper-inflation. Do you disagree with the SADC position then?

                    • Lew

                      The SADC solution was marginally preferable to all Mugabe’s opponents having their heads staved in with iron bars (again) but no more. It does nothing to confer democratic legitimacy on the arrangement (as distinct from diplomatic, legal or pragmatic legitimacy). Given that my argument relies on the peoples’ will to end the Mugabe regime being respected, and the power-sharing arrangement didn’t bring that about in any way, there’s no plausible argument to be made on this basis. Notwithstanding the complete idiocy of trying to view monetary policy in isolation from the rest of the political economy, especially in a (post)-conflict state.

                      L

                    • Gosman

                      You are just attempting to muddy the argument by over complicating what is a very simple situation.

                      The fact of the matter is that the economic policy in Zimbabwe has been altered due to the results of a (flawed) election. The new finance minister is following standard right wing proscriptions (including balancing the books and looking at privatisations of state assets) for sorting out an economy destroyed by typically left wing policies run amock.

                    • Lew

                      The whole point is that it wasn’t caused by left-wing politics: it was caused by fucking authoritarianism which meant the system couldn’t be changed when it was found to be broken.

                      L

                    • Gosman

                      It has changed, I just told you it has.

                      The policies introduced by Zanu-PF are left wing in nature and are being sorted out by a finance minister introducing typically right wing economic policies in response.

                      Tendai Biti has recently proposed that they enable the 99 Year leases that were issued to all the new farmers to be able to be transferrable and therefore making them easier to be used as collateral for loans. Secure and transferable private title over property is a fundamental basis of the capitalist economy.

                    • Lew

                      … a fundamental basis of a capitalist economy, but not a “typically right-wing economic policy”, is it? Last I checked practically every economy in the western world, including those you’re deriding as being overrun by “Zimbabwe-like” leftism, has this feature, and nobody — not even the hardest-line leftists in any government — wants to do away with it.

                      Strewth. What’s the point?

                      L

                    • Gosman

                      If you support the Capitalist economy then you support private property rights. You can do this following either left wing or right wing policies. However I thought the problem here was that Capitalism has failed and needs to be replaced.

                      If all you want to do is tinker around the edges with Capitalism then all of the problems identified in the above article by Redlogix will continue to occur on an ongoing basis. Now I’m reasonably comfortable with that, are you?

                    • Lew

                      Ah, so that’s the problem: you don’t actually understand what it is that’s being discussed.

                      L

                • felix

                  Filling in for Tim today Gos?

                • Puddleglum

                  How about we all agree from now on not to draw simplistic conclusions from simplistic framing of issues that have been decades if not centuries in the making, eh?

                  Zimbabwe’s economic problems go back a long way.

                  In brief: White settlement; a series of deliberate legislated appropriations of the best agricultural land from blacks; ensuring through numerous measures the entrenchment of race and class domination by the white business elite; UDI which came with massive protectionist economic policies and collusion with South Africa to dominate the region economically; trade sanctions imposed on the Smith regime; increasing internal violence resulting in massive and prolonged civil war; independence in 1980; attempts by Zanu-PF at massive increases in education, public transport, health provision, limited redistribution of land, etc. without the economy to support it but in response to a perfectly understandable, incredibly impatient black population; a structural adjustment programme designed by the IMF which did the exact opposite of what it promised – increased unemployment massively, destroyed government services, increased the poverty rate from 40% to 63%; the continued utterly dishonourable behaviour of the British government not to honour its pledge to finance compensation for redistribution of the land leading, after an astounding demonstration of patience by Zanu-PF, to compulsory acquisition of white farmer land.

                  And that only takes us up to the end of the 1990s. Beneath the simplistic ‘big, bad, megalomaniac’ analysis of world politics what you’ll find if you look objectively is yet another implosion bomb planted by colonialism, hastened by duplicity, interference and – indeed – the astonishing economic naivety of ZANU-PF when they initially tried to redress the sickening wrongs of colonial and white rule overnight without providing the strong economic base required for such much-needed reforms to be supported – leading to debt, inflation and the reliance, in the 90s, on IMF economic rule.

                  Compare their early measures, post-independence with similar efforts by Chavez – but without oil revenues. In fact, done largely on the ‘wing and a prayer’ of commodity agriculture (who does that remind you of?).

                  Before anyone jumps up and down – no, I don’t support any government that rules through domestic terror. But I also can’t stand accounts of economic and political crises that read like ‘The Famous Five Deals to Another Nasty Lower Class Robber’.

                  • Gosman

                    LOL!!!!

                    And people wonder why people on the right think multi-lateral organisations like the UN are a joke.

                    You analysis is simplistic and plain incorrect on a numerous points, (not least the stuff about the IMF), but the main one being your view that the UK reneged on a deal to fund the land reform programme. In fact just prior to the problems kicking off in 1999 the UK funded a donor conference where all sides agreed a suitable strategy for dealing with land reform whereby the UK would provide a large amounts of funding. However this was conditional on the money not being expropriated by the corrupt Zanu-PF elite. Would you prefer to see aid money being stolen?

                  • Gosman

                    My sources? How about 20 years interest in Sub-saharan Africa, includimg being a member of the executive comittee of the Africa Information Centre, and over 10 years interest in Zimbabwean affairs.

                    You on the other hand seem to rely on a flawed report that seems to place a large amount of blame for the the problems of Zimbabwe, (pre2000 it has to be stated), on the failed ESAP plan that Zanu-PF failed to follow which was a condition of BOP support for the IMF in the early 1990′s.

                    If you actually knew anything about Zimbabwe beyond a cursory search via google you will know that the economy that Zanu-PF inherited in 1980 was the most advanced in Sub-saharan Africa outside South Africa. Even though it was subjected to sanctions from the international community when it was Rhodesia it had very little debt and a modern diversified economy.

                    While it faced a multitude of challenges the Zanu-PF regime squandered the opportunity by spending beyond their means on a variety of social programmes. Some of this was necessary and may have been beneficial in the long run but only if the productive side of the economy was not ignored. By the early 1990′s the Zimbabwe economy had made huge advancements in health and education for the majority but there was simply not enough jobs being created for them because the State run part of the economy was crowding out the private sector. Essentially they were the best educated underemploed people in Sub-saharan Africa.

                    The fact that parastatals were costing the fiscus a large percentage of the budget every year, (due to corruption and inefficiencies), meant that the Government had to request support from the IMF. As much as leftist would like it to be the IMF is not a charity organisation. It is a leander of last resort for countries who can’t get funding from commerical sources because they are deemed too risky. As such the IMF recommeded a number of austerity meassures such as removal of price controls and subsidies as well as privatisations of loss making parastatals..

                    The trouble is that Zanu-PF couldn’t let go of the patronage networks they had built up and so most of the policies recommended by the IMF were never implemented. This eventually lead to the situation in 1997 where the Independence War Veterens demanded money from the Governement which the Government couldn’t afford but still paid out. The Zimbabwean dollar prompltly collapsed and as a result a serious opposition party (MDC) was born.

                    Meanwhile the funding that the Zanu=PF regime received from donor nations to fund land reform were either left largely unspent or squandered on buying farms for the Zanu-PF Chefs. Even though the government had first right of refusal on all commercial farmland that came up for sale many properties weren’t bought even though the Government had the money .When a donor conference came to an agreement on an approach to take in the late 1990′s, (agreed by Zanu-PF), the Zaqnu-PF government continued on as before and therefore nothing changed until the 2000.

                    After a shock rejection of an attempt to change the constitution in 1999 Zanu-PF realised that it’s hold on power was seriously under threat. They therefore used the land issue and violence to win the 2000 parliamentary elections and continued to do so until 2008. However in the meantime their economic policies became increasinglt socialists in nature and as spending spiraled out of control they reverted to printing money to fund spending and therefore caused hyper-inflation.

                    If you have any issues or questions about this I am more than willing to expand on them and provide you with references.

                    • BLiP

                      My sources? How about 20 years interest in Sub-saharan Africa, includimg being a member of the executive comittee of the Africa Information Centre, and over 10 years interest in Zimbabwean affairs.

                      Assuming the executive committee of the AIS were like minded people, no wonder the place is fucked.

                    • Puddleglum

                      Gosman, if you had read the link thoroughly you would have seen that it actually echoes much of your analysis (as did my summary). E.g., that there were health, education and welfare improvements, that it was the understandable impatience of the black population and the war veterans that meant that reform went faster than the economic reality, that under the protectionist Smith regime policies of the UDI period the economy was strong, etc., etc.. So, I’m not sure why you criticise the source as you do.

                      Where we differ is that I put much more emphasis on the social and economic effects that white domination and colonial rule had on the pressures for reform, land redistribution, immediate alleviation of poverty, ill-health, poor education, etc.. The pre-independence economy may have been robust but the life for most blacks was oppressive. It may be inconvenient for the neo-liberal economist to acknowledge, but these sorts of enduring human conditions make the ‘orthodox’ economic prescription completetly unrealistic.

                      Also, you seem to think that the IMF programme would have been successful if only it was ‘fully implemented’. Well, SAPs have a pretty consistent pattern of effects throughout the world and, for the majority of the domestic populations, they have resulted – by design – in immediate and medium term decrements in social and economic wellbeing. I suppose the purist, echoing Douglas’ wailing in New Zealand, would blame ‘unfinished business’ for any adverse impacts of SAPs.

                    • Puddleglum

                      Hi Gosman, I should have added thanks for your offer over further elaboration and supply of references. I’m always happy to learn more. If there are particular sources you think worth reading please let me know.

                      I (confess that I) tried to find info about the African Information Centre on the internet (not having heard of it). There wasn’t much there that explained the function or history of what I assume is an NGO but it did have some basic statistical information about African states (sometimes a bit dated, as was the case for Zimbabwe). Is this the organisation you’re involved with or is there another with the same name? (I AM being genuine here – I want to ‘know’ far more than I want to ‘win’ – though I do also like to ‘win’ : )).

                    • Gosman

                      The Africa Information Center was a NZ based NGO set up in the late 1970′s, (I believe), as a counter weight to the pro-South African bias in the media. It’s main focus was involved with the Anti-Apartheid movement but it branched out into areas of ganeral African development, Once Apartheid ended the NZ governemtn withdrew funding and it closed up shop in the late 1990′s.

        • RedLogix 5.1.1.2

          In simple terms, printing money is exactly what banks do…for private profit. Haven’t seen you complain about how this has directly led to the massive ‘destructuion of the productive sector’ we have seen in the last two years. You know, how the global economy has had literally trillions of dollars of wealth ripped out of it with little sign of recovery in sight.

          What you are really objecting to is the socialising of the money creation process back into public sector control. Clearly this too has risks if politicised but this can be managed, as we do with the statutory independence of the RB. Printing money is in fact entirely necessary and essential as long as the quantity does not exceed the economy’s ability to absorb it.

          There is no reason at all why it is ok for private sector banks to create credit, and wrong for the public sector to do exactly the same. Except that one is politically accountable…. the other is not.

          • Gosman 5.1.1.2.1

            Banks don’t control the money supply, Governments do. All banks can create is credit, however this is restricted and controlled via the central bank regulations and has to be backed, and is linked to a banks capital base.

            Your thinking is the same as that which thinks that the Trillions of dollars of derivatives contracts traded around the world are actually ‘real’ money when it is just all theoretical. The ‘real’ money is what is used to buy and seel this theoretical value.

            • RedLogix 5.1.1.2.1.1

              Banks don’t control the money supply, Governments do. All banks can create is credit, however this is restricted and controlled via the central bank regulations and has to be backed, and is linked to a banks capital base.

              In Aus/NZ thats been more or less true, and one reason why our banking system has remained relatively stable…but globally… not so. What you are expressing is the conventional understanding of how money supply and credit is managed, the so-called ‘money multiplier’ effect. In reality that’s not how it has worked for some considerable time, in fact banks have more or less been at liberty to create the credit first, then later the RB’s have been nominally propping up cash reserves after the fact.

              The relatively unconstrained expansion of credit is the prime reason why Debt to GDP ratios peaked at almost 300% in the US and the flow on effect pumped them up to exceed 200% in Australia.

              • BLiP

                He’s probably never heard of the Federal Reserve or, if he has, doesn’t understand how it works.

  6. vto 6

    I don’t disagree redlogix. The banking system has a nasty stench to it at the moment and most all the public are holding their noses.

    States should simply cancel their debt. Or set up a giant printing press and simply print more notes and hand them back to their creditors. I mean, thats what the americans have been doing so why can’t everyone else?

    The financial system is a farce. Don’t trust it.

    • Gosman 6.1

      “States should simply cancel their debt. Or set up a giant printing press and simply print more notes and hand them back to their creditors.”

      and as if on cue vto highlights my point about how left wing economic thinking destroys the productive base of an economy.

      • vto 6.1.1

        It’s not left thinking, its clear and rational thinking.

        Interesting that you left my question unanswered… if the americans have been cranking up the money-printing presses then why can’t everyone else? Are the americans destroying their productive base?

        • Gosman 6.1.1.1

          Eventually, if they continue with the way they are going.

          How is what you are suggesting any different to what Zanu-PF did to the Zimbabwe economy (excepting the political violence that is)?

          • Lew 6.1.1.1.1

            The moment you have to say “excepting the political violence” you lose. Because the political violence is the whole of the problem.

            L

            • Gosman 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Ummmmmm…..no. The economic problems are not caused by the political violence. The political violence is just Zanu’s modus operandum from when they were first created. If your analysis was correct then the economic problems would have been around since 1980 when Robert Mugabe and Zanu first came to power in Zimbabwe.

              The economic problems have been caused by the left wing economic policy of debasing the currency caused by excessive expenditure AND the policy of land reform to the masses which destroyed the productive base.

              • Lew

                Gosman, you damned fool, the political violence means the broken system can’t be thrown out. That’s the problem. No such problem here, or in the US: when enough peopel are convinced it’s broken, let them elect a government who’ll do things differently. The problem with historical revolutionary socialism as implemented practically everywhere is not economic, it’s political. It’s not that there are no price signals, etc. per Mises. It’s that there’s no mechanism to fix the system, because monopoly power to put down a counterrevolution is invested in the ruling party. Fix the political dimension and the electorate will fix the economic dimension.

                Gah.

                L

          • vto 6.1.1.1.2

            I’m not saying it is any different. The results of the printing will be different though, depending on the state doing the printing. The USA prints money. Zimbabwe prints money. The results are poles apart.

            • Gosman 6.1.1.1.2.1

              Not really. If the US continues along the same path then the results will be pretty much identical.

              • Pascal's bookie

                That’s why their 10 year bonds will earn you less than 3 % at the moment. Everyone is obviously worried.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.2

      The financial system is a farce. Don’t trust it.

      Heh.

      We enacted these tax cuts, there was no job creation, debt exploded, and only the wealthiest of the wealthy profited. So tell me, Mr. Fiscal Conservative Kent Conrad, why should we not let the tax cuts for the rich expire?

      And if it is not evident to you by now, the best way to get our finances back in order is to systematically ignore anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative. If I could find a bank run by dirty hippies I would put my money there, because I just don’t trust these people in pinstripes anymore.

      John Cole responding to some douche trotting out the typical right wing economics theme of the day/week/century.

      http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/07/22/riddle-me-this-kent/

  7. prism 7

    Great post RL I get shocked by the Goldman Sachs top bloke getting $53 million then going up to $78 million a year because he’s soooo good. Meanwhile back in the boondocks the masses…

    These people at the top are insane. They have lost their mental reason and understanding of what life is about. They’re full of pride, only the best for them ‘because you’re worth it’. They can buy anything they want, including integrity!

    Emotion drives them. The figures and processes and academic theories can be quoted and listed and graphed and discussed but that measures the visible results of the lust drive. The theoretical recipes work – for them – they are sitting on a money machine and it keeps spewing out the readies if they keep manipulating the levers right. With higher payouts than any pokie machine or casino – why resist the addiction? How do we break through this virus of excessive desire, this addictive, exciting and rewarding (but only momentarily satisfying) dance of ambition and ultimately, destruction?

    • abc 7.1

      A few years ago I watched a TV programme that was periodically following a group of children over their childhood. One test that was done on these kids was designed to work out what values these kids had at the age of 7 years old. The results were fascinating. All the boys but one put being rich as their number one value. All the girls selected being healthy or kind. Even at that young age the boys number one value was making money.

      The problem underlying all of society’s problems is the acquistitiveness, and aggression, of the human male. The worst of the males are generally also the most successful ones- they are the ones who make it to the top of finance and politics. Unhindered by morals or feelings- all that matters is to win and they will do anything to win. They have also been successful breeders (women choose them to increase the survival prospects of their offspring) hence why we are overall so aggressive as a species

      I don’t think there is any solution to this problem of the human alpha male. You can organise the rules to suppress them for a while, but in the end they always end up in charge and then change the rules to suit themselves. It also seems to be hardwired into most of the rest of the population that strong leaders must be followed, so people stupidly follow them to the slaughter.

      Short of identifying, and then castrating , these overly aggressive males in childhood we are ultimately doomed. If women ruled the world it would be a much better place. But the only women who can make it to the top of this alpha male world are those who are more masculine than most males. Not much of an improvement on the status quo.

    • pollywog 7.2

      …dunno eh, but theres no use asking Paris. Bless her little cottonsocks :)

      “Our yacht is incredible! Has its own pool, hot tub, movie theatre, recording studio, spa/massage room, gym, arcade room, helicopter pad and the most beautiful bedrooms and decor. I’m in Heaven on the water. Definitely the biggest and best yacht everywhere we go. Loves it! Huge… Another beautiful day in paradise! What more could a girl ask for? (sic)

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/3950557/Paris-Hilton-lashes-out-over-topless-snaps

      • Bored 7.2.1

        Polly, little cotton socks Paris asked….What more could a girl ask for?

        Maybe somebody who doesnt love her for her money or sell tapes of her having sex…..poor darling, my heart bleeds.

        Maybe Paris is the zeit geist in person.

        • pollywog 7.2.1.1

          She so is B!!!

          when Paris finally takes the stage and adds her weight to the critical mass of socially concious revolution, you’ll know the fat lady is singing…

          …thats if no one kidnaps, tortures and youtubes her final moments first :evil:

  8. joe90 9

    Win some lose some.

    The winner
    What Hari is suggesting therefore is akin to saying the outcome of the Grand National is influenced by the number of bets taken on any particular horse. The fact the winner might very well be the horse with the most bets is more down to being an educated guess by the punters, or even the result of the wisdom of crowds, than the clear rigging of the race.

    The loser
    But Ward has since watched his hoard melt away to the tune of £27m, after the price of the commodity fell by more than 4% in a day, from £2,433 per ton to £2,344.

  9. Ed 10

    References to the Banks may be better referred to as applying to the Financial sector – in many cases regulations that applied to banks were ‘walked around’ by ‘financial’ companies not subject to the same levels of regulation. In NZ we saw a number of “Finance Companies” go bust (but leaving owners nicely protected from losses in some cases caused by the greed of the owners). In addition many of the ‘trader’ or ‘intermediary’ type firms did very well by clipping the ticket out of transactions that often did little but shift money around within a larger system without adding real value to that system. Many individuals from that era were either lucky or cunning enough to get out before in many cases the pyramid collapsed.

    A good article though – and an excellent chart.

  10. burt 11

    This sounds like a post Chris Trotter would make just after Labour loose an election. The sad thing about this is that for some reason socialists seem to like living in this struggle because their one size fits all policies always seem to create these scenarios.

  11. Gail 12

    We are all collectively to blame for falling for this game and allowing the global elite to control the economies of every country through the banking system. Until people stop focusing on buying cheap regardless of the TRUE cost of that behavior these cycles will continue to be repeated.

    There IS a solution that every individual can implement:
    1) STOP buying from multi-national Corporations and big box stores
    2) STOP using credit (Neither a borrower nor a lender be is excellent advice)
    3) Support Small Local and Online Businesses whose cashflow supports local economies
    4) Be willing to pay a reasonable price for what you do buy so that all can benefit

    Big business has removed the profit from their suppliers making THEM indentured servants too and driving them to use child labor and treat their employees as prisoners. There is no end to their evil business practices and every person who buys from them shares the GUILT of what they are doing.

    Most people understand that if you buy stolen property that YOU are the demand that increases theft and eventually you will be the victim of thieves. The same concept applies here.

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