At the risk of being flagged by the Echelon Spy Satellite System because of my chosen subject material for this blog, capitalism sucks. That’s it. I’ve now replace North Korea on the Axis of Evil…
The people that should be reading this subject material probably aren’t, mainly due to the fact that they are currently raping this planet in order to turn a quick buck. A quick and dirty buck. Maybe the odd capitalist is reading this and thinking, ‘oh, here we go… Another whiny middle class liberal complaining about people making a bit of money’. That is rubbish. I’m a teacher, how can I be middle class?
Capitalism runs on the idea of property being the cornerstone and profit being the result. Companies or organisations are run on the basis of owning a resource or idea and exploiting it for profit – the profit being returned to the shareholders. Shareholders are the owners of the company. They can be a government, a private family or group of individuals, or just a bunch of mum and dad investors – this being the standard publicly listed company. Wikipedia mentions the well known economists John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith as being those first espousing the ideals of a free and fair exchange of goods and the production model. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if Wikipedia says it is true, then it must be.
What’s the Problem Then, Boon?
My problem is this… what is the focus of those organisations within the capitalist-led economy? To maximise profit. Who is that profit returned to? Shareholders. When do the organisations return these profits? Yearly, sometimes more frequently. And still you continue to ask, what is the problem with this. Why shouldn’t I, as the shareholder of a company, enjoy the fruits of their labour. Why shouldn’t they give a little back every year.
That’s just it. The focus is yearly. Company executives exist to return profits to shareholders. This is the conceptual framework within which they live. They are paid bonuses (sometimes in the gazillions) based on their ability to maximise profits, and thusly returns to shareholders. Maybe the board of a company is looking to the future a bit. They have to have 5- and 10-year plans otherwise the shareholders might get a bit jumpy and divest their holding (that never looks good if loads do it at the same time). Chairpersons of companies and their board representatives would not get their massive bonus payouts if the company fails to reach their pre-determined level of profit. Bearing in mind, of course, that this is sometimes not the case. Sometimes companies can lose billions of dollars over the course of the year yet executives can still receive massive bonus payments. So what’s the point of having rewards-based payment options if you are going to get them even if your performance is substandard. Where is the incentive then? That just makes bad economic sense. I’m one of those dirty liberals and even I know that.
Still Yet to See Your Point, Boon
So, here it is. If you are focused, and not just partly, but fully focused on returning to shareholders some kind of maximum yearly dividend, the last thing you will be focused on as a company executive is what will be happening as a result of your efforts in 50 years time. Your best practise is to maximise your profit, to squeeze all available profit out of resources, people, and places so that dividend announced at the annual general meeting is as high as it can be. That’s what the shareholders want and that’s what they will get. It’s all focused in the NOW and not the then.
Capitalism is Unsustainable
There are only a limited amount of resources. Oil is running out – to the point where it is around $US150 a barrel and vast tracts of the Canadian wilderness are being polluted as they try and rescue the black stuff from oil-rick sands. This will only get worse as we move further away from Hubbert’s Peak and the capitalist machine that runs itself on the consumption of fossil fuels hunts for more juice in more remote places. Until it is unprofitable to run things with oil, they won’t stop looking.
It’s easy for me to wax lyrical about this type of thing, but what are my solutions? This is something I’ve been thinking about as the Chinese and Indian economic juggernauts head towards consumptive overload. How can we keep our lives more or less as they currently are, without going back to the days of living in mud huts and worshipping gods who may, or may not, offer benevolency? People want to drive cars. People want to go overseas. People want to put exotic tropical fruits with spiky bits on them into their fruit bowls to impress their friends. How can you do this sustainably?
- Focus locally: buy everything from a local vendor. There are farmers markets everywhere now. If you buy your food from the farmer you are cutting out this mysterious middle-man that they keep talking about. He has deep pockets, you know, and finds it hard to lift his sticky fingers out of them.
- Grow your own: build a greenhouse in your backyard from reclaimed junk and grow your own veggies. Bearing in mind that if you grow the wrong type of ‘vegetable’ in your greenhouse the police may arrest you.
- Generate: you could invest in some kind of generation device (solar or wind) to be used to help reduce your reliance on power companies – some of whom like to create power by burning things.
- Get Tanked: dig a massive hole in your back yard and put in a water storage tank to collect rainwater that would otherwise go into the storm water system to help wash used condoms out to sea.
One day the world will run on electricity that is generated by and for each household. We will run our heating, hot water and cooking from this electricity and also be able to plug in our electric cars to charge them up every night. Our food will come from our back yards and international air travel will be a rare event due to the massive price of aviation fuel. We will travel overseas on boats courtesy of Mr Wind and his mighty lungs. It will be like the old days combined with the new days. People will tell stories of being able to fly across the world in a day. And ExxonMobil (who got US Supreme Court backing for their massive Alaskan oil spill thanks to a drunken captain) will purify perspiration harvested from the sweat glands of former capitalist leaders to run a new and exciting water fueled vehicle…