New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
Subscribe

R.O.I. from Another P.O.V.

August 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Measuring Wealth and Well-Being from the Perspective of Mother Earth

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Peter Buffett, one of billionaire Warren Buffett’s sons, published a brave, thoughtful op-ed piece in the New York Times the other day.  In it, Buffett takes to task what he calls “the Charitable-Industrial Complex,” the philanthropic crowd who piously seek to save the world, as long as the R.O.I. is sufficiently rosy and the status quo is not upset.

Buffett knows he sounds like a class traitor here as he proffers this description of “Philanthropic Colonialism” (his term):

“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to ‘give back’. It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity. But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.” (more…)

A Gospel of Wealth

December 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Making Eye Contact with the Poverty in Our Midst

by Robert C. Koehler

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

Well, OK. She wanted $4. I could have done the “pretend not to see you” thing. Taking that option is part of life these days, especially in Chicago. She’d been standing in the middle of the intersection, trying to get money so that — if she was to be believed — she and her daughter could get dinner at the McDonald’s on the corner. When the light changed, she came over to me. I was out for a walk. It was a beautiful, cold December night.

This is what I’d been thinking: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” It was a quote from one of my favorite writers, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and at times it feels true — such as when I’m walking through my vibrant, unpredictable neighborhood. Suddenly nothing is ordinary or banal, nothing is to be blown off. Oh, the humanity. (more…)

Incompatible Aristocracy

December 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Economy, Politics

The Rich Don’t Always Win…

by David Swanson

Many of us have heard the current period referred to as a second gilded age.  Or we’ve seen the current inequality in wealth in the United States compared to that of 1929.  But we have not all given sufficient thought to what ended the first gilded age, what created greater equality, what created the reality behind that category our politicians now endlessly pretend we are all in: the middle class.  We have a sense of what went wrong at the turn of each century, but what went right in between?

This is the theme of Sam Pizzigati’s new book, The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph Over Plutocracy That Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.  I take away three primary answers short enough to include in a brief summary. First, we taxed the riches right out from under the rich people.  Second, we empowered labor unions.  And third — and this one came first chronologically as well as logically — we developed a culture that saw it as absolutely necessary for the greater good that the rich be made poorer. (more…)

Beyond Argumentative Activism

October 05, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Jan Lundberg, Politics

Are Progressives Barking Up the Wrong Tree for Social Justice?

by Jan Lundberg

The Occupy movement refreshingly broke through the corporate media’s suppression of the gaping gap between the wealth of the super rich and the rest of us. But many of the movement’s adherents seem wedded to misguided expectations, or their route is questionable. For when we mainly demand “a piece of the pie,” and it’s the same old toxic pie, does this really advance the fundamental changes needed for a just, sustainable society?

Probably not, even if we stand for totally turning around today’s warped federal spending priorities.

Moreover, meeting social justice aims would not necessarily result in an ecologically conscious culture, as argued by many social justice activists who rarely address resource limits, climate change, or the system of wage slavery. (more…)

A Land Without Farmers

September 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Grappling with the Emerging Empire of Agribusiness

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

The plutocratic remaking of America has a parallel in the countryside. In rural America less than 3 percent of farmers make more than 63 percent of the money, including government subsidies.

The results of this emerging feudal economy are everywhere. Large areas of the United States are becoming impoverished farm towns with abandoned farmhouses and deserted land. More and more of the countryside has been devoted to massive factory farms and plantations. The consequences, though worse now than ever, have been there for all to see and feel, for decades.

Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was already documenting the deleterious effects of agribusiness on small communities in California’s Central Valley as long ago as the 1940s (1). (more…)

For Love or Money

July 03, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Saying ‘No’ to the World of the Debtors’ Hell

by 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 Europe:

“On March 28, Giuseppe Campaniello set himself on fire in front of the Equitalia office” — Italy’s tax-collection agency — “in Bologna after he received a final notice about the doubling of a fine he could not pay,” Newsweek reported last week. “He died in a burn ward nine days later.”

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 Richard M. Salsman in Forbes. “‘Soak the rich,’ they cry, for the rich allegedly have no right to the wealth they’ve actually earned, but the freeloaders supposedly have a ‘right’ to the wealth they didn’t earn.” (more…)

A Titanic Effort

May 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Jan Hart, Politics

Getting Through Cognitive Dissonance and into Action

by Jan Hart

Our lives are no longer as simple or safe as we once believed.

The institutions we trusted to protect us, serve us, and tell us the truth have proven to be unworthy of our trust. Feeling powerless and afraid, we are easy prey for distractions and false prophets. What happened and where do we go from here?

I remember over 10 years ago reacting with my fellow humans in horrified grief when the planes hit the world trade center. In that moment we Americans came together. We wanted to hear from our leaders, watch the news and respond with action. Initially I agreed with the decision to go into Afghanistan to pursue the terrorists and I stayed glued to the evening news. But with the puzzling shift in focus toward Iraq, my intuitive gut began to question. When ‘weapons of mass destruction’ became a familiar phrase and the march to war gathered momentum, it just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t alone. People around the world were against this invasion and in one day of coordinated action 15 million took to the streets in protest. (more…)