We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Click here to access article by Joseph E. Stiglitz from Vanity Fair. 

THE FAT AND THE FURIOUS The top 1 percent may have the best houses, educations, and lifestyles, says the author, but “their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.”

This is the first of two articles in a magazine and website directed to the One Percent in which the author is trying to pound into the heads of the rich and powerful that inequality is threatening their cherished system. Thus, in the second article he makes explicit a theme that only sociopaths, which constitute a large section of the One Percent, can understand:
Harden your hearts. When invited to consider proposals to reduce inequality—by raising taxes and investing in education, public works, health care, and science—put any latent notions of altruism aside and reduce the idea to one of unadulterated self-interest. Don’t embrace it because it helps other people. Just do it for yourself.
As I and many others see it, the basic problem is that their voracious system of capitalism is running up against limits of our finite planet: declining fossil fuels and other natural resources, and industrial activity that threatens an increasingly fragile ecosystem. Hence, they have turned to extracting more wealth from working people and the poor through all the obscure methods of financial capitalism. The end result is what we see today: so many people are descending into debt servitude and suffering the cutbacks in public services--education, health, recreation, and welfare.