Robert C. Koehler
Poverty has always been the shadow of prosperity, but now we have an advancing global depression creating more of it -- pulling in more and more of the middle class, the folks who aren't used to it. This is where the headlines are.
Oh, the drama. A suicide epidemic manifests in struggling
Economics is a cruel game. The stakes are life and death. The driving theory is simplistic, mechanical, with a cauldron of emotion and judgment bubbling just below the surface.
"Today many people want much bigger government and still more handouts; these freeloaders want others to pay for their sloth," writes
The world I live in vibrates with desperation. Here in the U.S., our suicides may be quieter, but we also get another kind of story, what you might call the slasher story, as human service budgets get pared to the bone.
For instance, the mother of
Turns out that ambulance runs at the state's prisons are carefully monitored in order to cut costs. A
Money rules, OK? Get used to it. Yet once again, I find myself caught in a downward spiral of incredulity . . . that this is our world, that we serve such a preposterous god. When money is no longer casually omnipresent, the question hovers: What is it? How does it work? How is it that money has decreed an abundance of plastic trash in the world, an abundance of handguns and drone technology and junk food, but a shortage of ambulances for dying prisoners, a shortage of mercy?
Is money the necessary precondition of all human organization, the final arbiter of possibility? We certainly live our lives as though it is. We play politics as though it is. And we govern ourselves as though it is.
But what is it?
Money is the agent of separation and scarcity. At the dawn of the historical era, we took a leap out of the circle of life: "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' "
And so we have done, and now a huge number of us -- perhaps a majority -- believe, in ways both fiercely rational and utterly crazy, that this era is over.
And as I write this, as I scream, "Change the story," I realize I am bending economic theory to the breaking point, but I don't think there's any alternative. If nothing else, money is the root of all cynicism, and any proposed change in our way of doing business with one another and Planet Earth that smacks of idealism will be hounded to death by the debt collectors unless money itself loses its power to mesmerize and galvanize.
And when that happens, we can begin to remember an earlier humanity, which functioned with a gift economy: Every exchange created connection. We valued and encouraged generosity because more for me meant more for you. How do we begin saying no to a world of debtors' hell? Can we begin with a suicide note?
"Dear love," read the farewell letter from the Bologna man who set fire to himself in front of the tax-collection agency, "I am here crying. This morning I left a bit early, I wanted to wake you, say goodbye, but you were sleeping so well I was afraid to wake you. Today is an ugly day. I ask forgiveness from everyone. A kiss to you all. I love you, Giuseppe."
- Protest Movements as Political Strategy
- Every Nation For Itself
- For Love or Money
- The Rise of the Spy-Next-Door
- How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Change Canada
- Finance Can Lead The Way to a Sustainable Economy
- Why Stage Summits in a Leaderless World?
- The Elephant in Rio
- United Nations Rio+20 Summit Misses the Point
- Cleaning Up Coal: From Climate Culprit to Solution
- Environmental Alarmism, Then and Now
- God, Money and Planet Earth
- Global Economy: The Have-Littles and the Have-Nots
- Democracy NGOs Under Attack Around the World
- Rio+20 Must Address the Scramble for Resources
- Labor Trafficking: Modern-Day Slave Trade
- Austerity Strategy is Fatally Flawed
- 50% of the 99%
- No Country for Rich Men
- Stateless and Fancy-Free
- Waiting for Copernicus
- NATO's Ordinary Future
- Bin Laden Put Out to Pasture
- Mafia States: Organized Crime Takes Office
- The True Lessons of the Great Recession
- Baby Gap: How to Boost Birthrates and Avoid Demographic Decline
- The War on Terror is Over?
- Letters Show Osama bin Laden's Frustration With Groups
- The Climate Threat We Can Beat
- Tough Love for Renewable Energy
- Developing Symptoms: Noncommunicable Diseases Go Global
- We Are All West Now
- The Second Oil Revolution
- In Rigged Elections 65% is the New 99%
- Volatile Times, Uncertain Futures
- Environment: Throw Nothing Away. It's Time to Upcycle
- Is There an Internet Off Switch?
- Power of the iMob
- Responsibility to Protect or Reform?
- History Never Quite Ends
Copyright © 2012 Tribune Media Services