Monday, December 11, 2006

The Economy is not Life Affirmative

There are times when I sit down with a book to thumb through it and pick out small excerpts to read. I did this other day with Derrick Jensen's book Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance and the Culture of Control. I ran across this in the footnotes section:

"Corporate crime, however defined and measured, is a small fraction of the subsidies that prop up what is called "free-market" capitalismTM. The whole economic system is actually based on subsidies, that is, the externalizations of cost. Indeed it's not to much to say that the primary purpose of government is to oversee and administer this process, and to neutralize or kill anyone who to strongly opposes it. The entire economy would collapse immediately without constant massive subsidies of money taken from the public as taxes and then handed over to various sectors of the economy as "incentives." These tax subsidies range from bailing out industries ( banks, airlines, auto manufacturers), to tax breaks (most of the largest corporations pay little or no corporate income tax), to the whole military-industrial complex. Tax subsidies cost American tax payers billions of dollars each year, but these are only tip of the externalization iceberg. Indirect subsidies are far more onerous. Work place injuries cost Americans more than $100 billion a year, and work place cancer costs us more like $300 billion. Price-fixing and false advertising costs American consumers more than $1 trillion a year. Air pollution causes more than $200 billion a year in health care. But these are only current monetary damages. See Ralph Estes, Tyranny of the Bottom Line: Why Corporations Make Good People do Bad Things. ( San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler,1996), 177-78. The global trading system results in the transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy. When industrial civilization destroys the productive capacities of soils and forests, the reduction in productivity and the quality of life are passed on to future generations. The true costs of over-consumption by humans are also paid by other species, with their lives."

I read something like this and think how could it be any other way. Of course, I know there are other ways to be, but is somethinglike the complex global economy to hard for the masses to rationally undo? Is it because the whole thing is not founded on rational premises? I don't know. Another thought that comes to mind is that we work at jobs most of us would rather not be doing, wouldn't we rather be contributing to a system that is more life affirmative?

Sometimes it all seems to crazy to try and comprehend.

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