The Financial Fall Out--and Where Do We Go From Here?

Yes, the financial markets are unraveling. Many of us knew this would happen for decades. These markets are largely based on the most crass speculation. That's what the stock market is mostly made of--putting money into stocks that one hopes will profit in the near future, and the many variations of this. Home mortgages are made up of the same dark materials. You're speculating the market will grow. When it's down you buy. When it's up you sell. Some did good research, but mostly good guesswork, and profited. Others missed the ebbs and tides. Companies profited by having ready capital. Workers had jobs. But in times of crisis, too much speculation will eventually pull the whole machine down. Greed has no bounds. This is not money made by hard work, creative invention, or adding something new and vital to the world. It's money on paper that can easily be eliminated in one fell swoop (or significant drops in the Dow). The markets, once the gauge of industrial growth and potential, became a thing in itself--like the lottery, some people benefit, even in crisis. But always there are many more losers.

The rest of us just want a decent life: to own a home, have a secure job, raise our families. Our labor is the real source of all value in industry and in finances. But it gets obscured as people trade in paper, numbers, brands, or a perception that capitalism is a God-given system and we're stuck with.

Who says so? Not even the Bible says that (although right-wing churches act as if it did). People make churches and therefore mistakes. Real spiritually has nothing to do with "prosperity" based on speculation, greed, fast money. I know there are preachers who have asked for prayers to "save" our system and our money. Well God has answered--you pay the piper, you're going to dance.

Real prosperity must be measured by something of real value--our ongoing health and development, our passions being met, meaningful jobs (not just to pay bills), a decent place to call home (not just a roof over one's head), and children who will do better than we did. It's measured by the peace we can obtain in the world, in our country, our homes, and the personal spiritual peace we can get from being properly engaged in a respectful and meaningful relationship with the Creator, creation (Earth and our environment), and each other.

And most importantly, it's measured by how everyone obtains these. The more people whose needs are met, the better this world will be. We can do this for all human beings--for the natural world is abundant, but capitalism is entirely based on scarcity.

It's a false notion that has hurt us for centuries that only a few can prosper, only a few are saved, only a few get to heaven. Whenever I'm on a plane I say a prayer, not just for myself, but for everyone on the plane. Because I know if we are all safe when we land, I'll be safe as well.

We need an assumption of abundance, to push our resources (including any so-called bailout) for this purpose: Meeting the needs of those at the bottom, instead of the top. The "trickle-down" theory has never worked. Let's try the "trickle up" theory: Take care of the most needy, the dispossessed, and hungry first. The rest will be fine.

Capitalism has nothing to do with any of this. Its main goal is maximum profits. If some people get fed, clothed and housed, that's just a byproduct of the process. But this system has never eliminated poverty and never will. The only things that keep changing are the number of poor (they're growing) and the number who become wealthy (they are fewer and far richer than ever before).

Millions of people wrote their congresspersons to vote against the bailout. Now the media says we're in trouble (although we were already in trouble) because the resultant "no" vote in Congress has caused a historic dive in the Dow and even our 401 (K) and house equities will be affected. These are nothing but gilded handcuffs on our lives. We're damned if we do, damned if we don't. That's scarcity thinking, that's capitalist thinking. The fact of the matter is I don't really own my house (the mortgages got sold on foreign markets, indicative of the global nature of our greed, and our fall).

So while I'm a taxpaying homeowner with 401 (K) accounts and a good credit score, this is not the true gauge of my worth. So if the markets fall, that's not the end of the world (since this has nothing to do with anything I may have done--it's been taken out of my hands a long time ago). I still have my creativity, my life, my family. Yes, I'll fight for this structure called my home--I've been paying the note. But I won't defend this illusion that my personal economy and worth is tied to the big banks and corporations.

This only keeps me rooting for the greedy rich speculators to keep getting richer (or for bailouts), and the rest of us poorer, because I'm tied to them in so many intricate ways. It's a spider's web we need to escape from.

To do so we need to re-center our values, our visions, and our victories. Again, change the indicators so that when there are no more poor, hungry, sick, or traumatized, our numbers go up. So that when we all benefit from a cleaner world, a more creative and impassioned world, when all of us can truly live out our lives, that's when numbers should show our true standing.

Right now the system's apologists say we're screwed either way we go. Unfortunately, McCain hasn't a clue as to how to fix this (despite his dramatic ploy to stop the campaign and not return until the financial crisis got resolved, something he had to back off from real quick). And Obama is on the right track, but is still behind the eight ball on this one (mostly because he's now surrounded by old time Democratic Party hacks who are scared of the new spirit of change engulfing this country).

I say vote for Obama--even if he's not the answer to the whole fractured mess. Don't stand on the sidelines. Vote for change even if it's a little change. But also prepare yourself to keep struggling, to demand a real change in paradigms, thinking, and solutions. Obama as president is history, and this is better than the same old thing. But the real history to be made is in our hands. Real change. Real options. Real peace, justice, and a healthy world.

Don't settle for less. Don't settle for capitalism, don't settle for our fortunes tied to the obscene fortunes of a few. Don't settle for a system that has most of the world wrapped tight, forcing this crisis to become global. It's time we used our advanced technology, our science and our spirituality, for the ideas, organizations, plans, strategies, and actual outcomes that benefit us all.

Again, don't just pray for you, your family, and a few others--or even just your country. Pray for all of us, pray for the world, and you'll be included.

And if prayer doesn't work for you, try meaningful, visionary and hopeful action. That's a form of prayer. Prayer in action. The point is for the first time in history, we can see where we have to go. Who made capitalism a sacred cow? It's not part of any God's plan. Only misguided people who claim to be speaking for God say this (watch out for those--they're dangerous). God speaks to us in other ways: the way the world is heating up and how the markets are falling down and how we have to look for other "resources," internal resources, to discover our true purposes and God's love. Such a love is always manifested as love for each other.


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