Missing Essential Truths
A few evenings ago I happened to watch a segment of the TV show, 60 Minutes©. Leslie Stahl interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, and the topic was water shortage due to the combination of drought and heavy water consumption. Basically, Arnold said the state is in crisis and that they are doing all that they can to increase available water, including planned projects that in total will cost about forty billion dollars. Arnold noted that water consumption is restricted and that the demands for water now, with a population of 38 million people, are much higher than in the 1960ís when the population of California was about 18 million. At that time there was no water problem, due to earlier water supply projects, but the major increase in population and vastly increased water requirements for agricultural irrigation have combined, in drought conditions, to create yet again a very serious problem.
If you consider only the logistics of solving the stated problem via water engineering projects two issues surface. First, there was no preplanning to accommodate a known growth in the population and a known history of droughts. This means no substantial budget monies were set aside for a coming major need and thus, no action was taken to prepare for future droughts. Instead, the tax revenues (and California has punishingly high property, income and sales taxes) were directed towards consumption programs that would not enhance the stateís ability to grow economically in a reliable way, nor were required monies used to improve water supply infrastructure. Second, there was too little consideration of the importance of agricultural income from state exports. You canít simply enjoy the additional income without provision to protect the source of that income. Water deficiencies in southern California due to population growth were addressed in a major way earlier in history with diversion of significant amounts of water from the Colorado River. The state government already knew the potential for future problems related to population growth, agricultural requirements and water availability. Even a cursory look at California in terms of water availability and periodic drought yields the inescapable conclusion that it is and has been an environmentally stressed state throughout history.
By directing our attention to the symptoms and proposed solutions rather than the root causes of this problem we fail to ask and to challenge government about more important and more fundamental questions. For example, what is the long-term goal of more than doubling the population in the past fifty years in an environmentally stressed area? What is the composition of that population increase in terms of needs vs. contribution, ergo where are we going financially as well as environmentally Ö What is the plan? How have the tax revenues been spent opposite growth in population and necessary infrastructure? What is happening to the quality of life in California with crowding? Simply observe the freeway traffic and consider the high density housing. Is this progress? Is available water the fundamental problem?
Though I have written about this subject in my book, Destiny, and in my various follow-up articles, it appears humans throughout history do not often plan wisely for much of anything. I referred to the sad demise of the Mayan culture, due to water problems, high population growth and limited and declining agricultural capacity. And the Mayans were only one of numerous historical examples of that combination of problems. I wrote about the propensity to ignore the reality of chronic floods in areas like Bangladesh, and even in rebuilding real estate lost to flooding along the Russian River in northern California. In the former case we see frequent need for relief efforts that solve nothing long term, and in the latter case we experience higher insurance premiums for all flood insured people just to accommodate the wants of the folks who want to live in flood prone areas. This is similar to our national experience with other forms of insurance, especially automobile insurance, though that issue requires much deeper analysis and discussion re. Tort reform.
Thus, what we are presented via the media does not address or in any way question fundamental problems like overpopulation. We do not hear about planning commissions and the stated goals from their efforts looking out ten to twenty years. The "what" questions can be answered readily, in terms of infrastructure symptoms, but not the "why" questions. We do not hear about budget planning that looks to future needs until there is a near or real disaster. The use of the bulk of the tax revenues in the present time frame seldom demonstrates a consistent or coherent plan beyond simply doing more of what we have been doing, wisely or unwisely. Changes in budget allotments, while typically gradual, do not demonstrate clear evidence of wise evolutionary planning. They are reactionary, not inspired. They pander to greed and ignorance, with political overtones, rather than protect and develop with a view towards the more distant future. Do we build cultures in an environmentally sensible way or do we behave like a cancer on the face of the earth? Take some time to reflect on that question.
So much for the California example. What other areas of human experience demonstrate the point that we do not hear about essential issues? I happened to buy a book by a federal circuit court judge, one Richard A. Posner, and the title was "A Failure of Capitalism." Given the sad state of the economy and authorship by a judge I expected to learn a lot from a learned person. I expected to read about assignation of responsibilities and legal and forward thinking remedies. What I encountered was a small amount of obvious truth regarding the reality of the depression and a mass of detailed explanations of cause and effect that led nowhere in terms of hard conclusions with associated problem solving. To me this is a dodge, where even highly educated and experienced people do not communicate openly, candidly and completely. Hmmm Ö is it possible that a judge would fail to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Pardon my cynicism, but I was increasingly annoyed as Posner basically justified, legally and in terms of capitalistic common sense, the very behaviors of Wall St., financial institutions and corporations and especially the federal government and the Federal Reserve that brought on this disaster. He even justified the decisions of the unwary people who obtained sub-prime mortgages. About the only thing he found wrong was the absence of a government plan for dealing with a depression. So what essential issue was missing? Could it be that there is a moral component in leadership that has to do with responsibility to the larger population of the USA for quality of life? Could it be that defense of uncontrolled capitalism intentionally ignores the responsibility of government, corporations and financial institutions to the general population, to protect and to preserve?
If I am off base in my challenge regarding the moral responsibility of leadership then it is incumbent on all of us to reconsider our social contract. What does that mean? Put succinctly, it means your willingness to follow laws and to be governed must have a strong component of self-preservation, else you are an idiot. But that is a different subject Ö very important but not part of this article. Here I want to expose the reality of missing essential truths that have the effect of hiding incompetence, unbridled greed and indeed criminal behaviors on the part of some of our most powerful people. This is a necessary process of deduction and induction, for what we have to ask is what set of conditions will lead to particular results, and conversely, what results demand a given set of conditions to be in place to occur. Thus, in the absence of conclusive and essential hard facts, missing from the media, we abstract in our thinking to discover unspoken truths from whatever information we do have from all sources. From those facts we have to decide where our loyalties lie and what actions are appropriate in terms of enlightened self-interest. That this process is even remotely necessary, as is now obvious, is in itself a disaster. That you must be kept uninformed or misinformed or buried in confusing conflicting "economic information" to keep you docile and feeling too ignorant to participate, is a damning evidentiary and uncontestable fact.
Here are a few of the essential truths related to the depression that are mostly absent from the media and from political speeches. The number of unemployed people continues to increase, not decrease, and the true number of unemployed is around 20 percent, not 10 percent. The "recovered" economy as seen in the stock market has nothing what so ever to say about the sad economic condition of tens of millions of our citizens that has resulted directly from the greedy behaviors of banks and corporations. Their "harvesting" of wealth from the general public fell apart. There was no government protection to keep the disaster from happening in the first place, for the Congress was bought out by the banks and corporations, hence nothing essential was done to protect the general public. Simply consider the disgusting usury practices of the credit card companies and you will immediately understand my point. There is no useful representation or action for the common good regarding usury within the United States federal government, nor is there any credit interest rate protection of consequence for consumers within state governments. The federal bill to restrict credit card company behaviors had implicit in it a delay time before passage where the companies could, and did, screw their customers with doubling interest rates, most of whom are powerless to fight the usury practices. The essential missing truth is that the common citizens do not have a representative form of government within the USA.
Now letís move on to another example of missing essential truths. I am thinking about societal changes that have occurred since about 1970 with the entry of most women in the USA into the job market for virtually all types of jobs. Let me say up front that I am completely in agreement that a qualified woman should have completely equal opportunity for any education and any job and equal pay based on equal performance. Having dispensed with that vinegar-laden issue I will now move on to the heart of the matter.
In earlier writings I noted the destruction of the nuclear family and nuclear family lifestyle that have resulted from all, and I repeat all ramifications of this major social change. As I warned feminist coworkers in the late 1970ís, it would be only a few years until employers absorbed women into the workforce, by gradually reducing incomes for all workers in a given job, said task to be accomplished simply by giving small or no raises while inflation proceeded as usual. The net effect by the year 2000 was that two people now work for the income that one person used to get in terms of buying power. What was lost was the value of whatever time and cost are associated with a married woman, likely with children, engaging in employment outside the home.
The quality of life, which originally improved greatly with additional income, has declined terribly due to inadequate time for a couple to perform home duties outside of work and still try to have quality time for each other and their children. Thus, we all lost at a personal level, for now we have no leisure time and no incremental income. We also have too many people competing for a limited and declining number of high-paying jobs. Employers, meanwhile, have profited handsomely, and demanded much unpaid overtime, and even then they have moved many jobs offshore to take advantage of even lower labor rates. They have also imported educated labor (think green cards) willing to work for much lower income than that normally paid to USA citizens. Thus, the loss of time and lack of incremental income are now accompanied by loss of jobs and continued downward pressure on incomes. The entire scenario is of a nightmare proportion that only a sick person could have imagined or planned before the fact. Yet, it happened, and nothing effective has been done by governments, state or federal, to correct the disaster.
Consider if we had never moved to the two-income family. Wage rates in the USA would have remained much higher than most other places in the world. Pressure from manufacturers to offshore jobs would have been even higher, but obvious job losses in a one-income per family environment would have made this practice politically unpopular quickly. Our exports would not have changed, nor would we have developed a balance of payments problem. We were global creditors not global debtors as we are today. Is this progress?
Why is it that we do not hear anything about these realities, with a view towards correcting the problems that have severely reduced our quality of life? Think back to the earlier subjects in the "Safety Patrol" article regarding our children and consider what having one person of a couple home to keep an eye on the neighborhood and all of the neighborhood children playing outside would accomplish? We have been played as suckers and we are powerless to do anything unless there is a massive grassroots effort to force business changes, create or increase tariffs, etc. Most of all, think of the damage done to our children, and how no one in power ever seems to associate the two income family scenario to the negative changes seen in our children. Is this the price of promoting a global economy? Exactly what do your children and/or grandchildren have to look forward to in the next 20 to 30 years?
In all fairness I expect most of you to shout that the return to the one income family would take us back to the second class citizen problems for women that were hard fought to be overcome. I say bullshit. Gender must not be an issue within a relationship or in regard to the job market. The best candidates for the jobs should have them, even if that meant all the men had to stay home and clean house, cook and nanny the children. The idea is that best performance on the job and at home should be accomplished without gender considerations at all. We could even alternate career periods for both adults in a family, such that both have opportunity to work, sequentially, and thus time to be at home full time while the other adult is working. Now there is a missing essential truth or two about what we could do to fix our quality of life problems related to the two-income family.
Originally I intended to hammer the healthcare industry in this article, but the article is long already. I will save my discussion about healthcare and the missing essential truths about our pathetic evolution in medical care for a later article. For now, try to imagine how good life could be if we mounted a large enough effort to unseat those who enslave us and who want to remove our remaining freedoms to make us totally powerless. Think about how all coalescing of power has hurt us, for those who achieve power through institutions of any sort stop thinking about our individual wants and needs. Imagine a communist country truly ruled by party heads whom essentially own/control all major businesses and financial institutions, and thus own/control the government and especially the little people like you and me.
Have I missed telling you any essential truth about the above subjects? If so, please inform me.