What a mess! Corruption, Greed, and Shortsightedness at Every Level of Our Society...
Do you realize we will probably have another financial crisis if some entity with authority decides that Greek credit default swaps will have to be paid out? Panic by financial institutions and interests (e.g., hedge funds) will lead to more backdoor government bailouts.[i]
There is little doubt that the financial system is in such a disastrous state because of rampant corruption.
This corruption has been allowed to flourish because our government regulatory system is broken; government has allowed corporations and moneyed interests to corrupt the entire regulatory process, thereby further fueling corporate ruthlessness.[ii]
Our food system is also in a disastrous state because of rampant corruption. Start reading up on the animal studies on Round-UP that have been censored and marginalized outside of a few mainstream references, primarily in the New York Times.[iii] Then read up about genetically modified, Round-Up ready seeds that now have to be doused in Round-Up because of growing weed resistance. Our food system is corrupt because too many studies on pesticides, herbicides, and genetic modification have been bought by a sociopathic chemical industry.
Mainstream media have also been corrupted. I’ve demonstrated that in my Lessons of Fukushima Presentation.[iv] However, occasionally the mainstream media warn us of the environmental and human consequences of our societal over-consumption. I would find it interesting to see the calculi of interests employed to decide what makes it to print.
Our society (US at least) is incredibly ignorant about the nature and scope of the problems that confront humanity’s continued existence as a species. The complexity of the problems is not addressed honestly or effectively in many levels of education, including university level education. I nearly choked when I heard a mother explain approvingly to her daughter at my child’s class portfolio day that our economic system is “free enterprise.”
I highly recommend reading Barry Lynn's Cornered http://www.barryclynn.com/?page_id=25 for a discussion of how free US enterprise really is.
I strive to educate my students about the pressing challenges we must acknowledge and confront, but they are very easily distracted by the frantic pace of their lives and the seductiveness of mindless popular culture. (Not all popular culture is mindless, but the sheer volume and framing of the mindless stuff assure its hegemonic popularity).
However, acknowledging and confronting our challenges is complex and requires considerable openness and reflexivity because the problem is not simply that our financial/corporate and governmental elites are corrupt and greedy.
The elite’s corruption may explain why we don’t recognize the bigger problem.
But, the essence of the bigger problem is that our entire economic model is predicated upon growth and consumption and our societal values privilege competition over cooperation.[v]
Growth without reflexivity has turned into pillaging. Competition without altruism produces an ugly Darwinism.
And the counter-survival effects of pillaging and greed are now showing their demonic faces.
Starvation and Over-Consumption Are Endemic Problems Across the Planet.[vi]
Health is failing in countries such as the US that have imposed the extreme free-market model of food regulation and health insurance upon their societies.[vii]
The US and other industrialized countries have massive environmental hazards produced by unchecked industrial and military contamination until the 1960s.
Fresh water supplies are depleted in many parts of the world and fossil aquifers in the US have been contaminated by industrial dumping and fracking.[viii]
Background radiation levels are unbelievably high in many industrialized nations because of nuclear power plants, medical imaging, atmospheric testing, and every day “cool” devices ranging from cell phones to microwaves.
Add to these environmental carcinogens the RISK-LADEN, NUTRIENT-DEFICIENT FOOD we eat in countries such as the US, both willingly (processed foods) and unwittingly (Round-Up and the numerous pesticides and fungicides).
The deteriorating state of health and necessary resources such as food and fresh water renders entire populations vulnerable to sudden shocks such as Fukushima radiation.
And yet the response to these pressing risks to human health and welfare is apathy and deception.[ix]
It is becoming increasingly clear that we are in a positive feedback loop that will take us places we can barely begin to imagine.
We need to challenge basic operating premises and value orientations and we need to do it now.
[ii] For example see William Black’s interview with Bill Moyers http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04232010/profile.html
[iii] My comments on the subject with links
[iv] The presentation can be viewed at the first link. The extended version of the PowerPoint itself can be found at the second and third link
[v] Background on the limits to growth and the problems with a growth-dependent economic system http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth and http://limits-to-growth.org/
[vi] See Raj Patel Stuffed and Starved http://rajpatel.org/2009/10/27/stuffed-and-starved/
[vii] Life Expectancy Is Declining in Some Pockets of the Country http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/health/research/22life.html
Life Expectancy Declining in Large Parts of US http://www.voanews.com/english/news/health/Life-Expectancy-Declining-In-Large-Parts-of-US-124128694.html
Young adults' health is static or even declining http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-18-young-adult-health_N.htm