How to be a Good Lemming

November 30, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Posted in communism, culture, developing economy, economy, fairness, filthy lucre, free market, global evils, God's kingdom, goods and services, human-performed, industrial evolution, justice, kingdom ethics, kingdom of God, mammon, market, MNC, multinational corporartion, per capita, poverty, real value, redundancy, socialism, trickle down, value addition, wealth distribution, world GDP | Leave a comment
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‘Tis the season to be jolly… would be quite frivolous if it were not at the same time also so profoundly real.
The Christmas season in the West is a time especially set aside for spending, purchasing, buying, gifting, and generally being very, very, jolly.

25k.jpgIn the U.S. the spending season kicks off with a bang at Thanksgiving, but all over the world, common sense will lead us to suspect that the jolliest of traditional seasons will begin soon after the annual harvest. Give a couple weeks or a month for all that excess to start getting distributed, and then them holidays, and that spending will ensue – it makes good sense.

In India we have that grand ‘festival of lights’, Diwali, that is strategically placed after the first harvest in October or November and then, in the South of India, there is a second celebration (Pongal) that comes right after the second monsoon season in mid-January and that forms the very exciting and satisfying climax to our times of splurging.

Economies and spending cycles that keep them vibrant have to be based on the presence of excess, and most times that excess is only available for a short while right after the harvest. Holidays are also timed to help to distribute all that ‘excess’ and just as efficiently as possible! Any great delay between when the excess arrives and the application of peak marketing pressure to get people to spend may result in that excess getting channeled into savings accounts – economists don’t like that at all. When we have plenty, and so much that we can even think in terms of excess, the purse strings will be at their loosest. Marketing has to strike while the iron is hottest but that is not the end of the story. We too help out by apparently just temporarily choosing to collectively forget that the upcoming year may hard and long.

Marketing the world over, is geared to maximise its hype just at these times. Spend – buy – purchase – CHARGE IT – or the ubiquitous EMI with 0% interest!

This year, the absolutely essential gadget is…

Everybody simply HAS to have this!

The teaser SAAALE! drags you out, ‘pushes’ you over that last little hump of caution, and then…inflation US

Insidiously, we also might not notice that we will really have to shell-out just a bit more this year than we did last year to get that ‘absolutely essential’ something. Economic cycles rely on the feeding frenzy to slip into the inflation mode too, for this is the one time of year that folks will be blithely unaware that the essentials just got a bit dearer. The small incremental adjustments will slip quietly into place in the corners of our subconscious even before we have time to register them, for there is so much else of an exciting nature to capture and hold our collective consciousness in thrall.

banknote-euro-usdollar.jpgValue addition is one culprit, but the yen for bigger profits is certainly another. For the corporates, turnover should increase, and so too should the return on investment, the profit margin. Balance sheets will be anxiously prepared as the financial year draws to a close. At stake is the size of the share price pie for that depends on ‘the figures’.

To the economist, inflation is a godsend. Deflation, when prices actually drop, (do you see red in the diagram above?) is an absolute disaster and must come straight out of hell. Modern economies rely on inflation to create the space in which value addition creates levels of work both in manufacturing/marketing and in services/marketing. More jobs, more earning, more spending, more money – MORE

Those little entries on corporate balance sheets called profit (net after taxes) quietly also rely on inflation. The trend is paradoxically opposed by innovation and new technologies! The whole complex process works together to keep standards of living on a slow rise that is slightly worse than what the actual inflation level would lead us to expect.

At some point people do question whether this all adds up. Of course it doesn’t, not nearly, but it sure looks good while it’s flowing along. Pension plans will be the most obvious harbingers of the bad news that eventually inflation catches up with you.banknote-rupee.jpg Other painful reminders include the cost of health-care, health insurance, and medicines. Long term savings plans and incremental investments will yield something but much less than they should when compared to the damage that inflation has quietly been inflicting.

Money and easy credit are the end of a very long road that has separated our spending from the realities of our actual contributions to life. Think about it, as it is you’re just the last stop between the ATM and the corporation that owns the store that you’re heading to with the plastique in hand!

What would happen if inflation were to stop? What would happen if our governments printed just enough notes to maintain a fixed amount of money in circulation? What would happen if value addition were to be replaced by true value? What would happen if the purchasing power of a dollar or of a rupee were to become rock steady?

Have you thought about it this year-before you start (or at least finish) spending that bonus?

What will this Christmas/Pongal bring I wonder? Is it perhaps even possible to have fun and fellowship with friends and without money? Will anyone believe that you love them anyway even though you didn’t push your plastic a few thousand more over its already strained limit?

GOLD > Coins > Bills of exchange > CREDIT Þ Transactions

License To Kill – But Why?

August 11, 2006 at 10:55 am | Posted in blair, bush, civilian massacre, collateral damage, filthy lucre, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraq, Lebanon, mammon, Palestine, race, religion, Seymour Hersh, war | Leave a comment

Bloodshed is bad but it’s even worse when it is purportedly done for religion and race.The war against the Lebanese is obviously both racial and religious. Lebanon has nothing like a real army. The Hezbollah ‘villain’ is a shia religious organisation made up of haters of Israel but they happen to be Lebanese and live, vote, and even hold a minority of parliamentary seats in Lebanon. The “Party of God” came into being for self defense sometime after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Hamas, on the other hand is a suni religious organisation. It is claimed that Hamas learned how to use suicide bombers from Hezbollah. The Israelis are of course simultaneously continuing their incursions into Palestine (though this is far less reported on than the war in Lebanon).

The world and the media have been surprised by the Israeli inability to quickly destroy Hezbollah. The continuing horrors of civilians being massacred in Lebanon has supposedly put both Blair and Bush in a bit of a tight spot. But, I have my doubts on that reading of the situation. It almost seems that they want such horrors to occur that the world will heave a sigh of relief and not worry too much about the fine print of the resulting ceasefire!

For, it seems that a tacit goal of the present campaign is to win for Israel a neutral zone covering large parts of Palestine and Lebanon. That is to say that Israel wants complete control over swathes of these two countries. The current negotiation really involves who will provide security in these “buffer areas” of Lebanon/Palestine. And that’s why I think the ‘security council resolution’ (itself not even really demanding a ceasefire) never made it out of the security council.

Public outcry from around the world has had no effect on those in a position to stop this war. The stakes are perhaps too high. In any case neither Bush nor Blair are going to be around for very much longer as heads of state. So, they have nothing to lose. The real question is, what do they have to gain?

I see two strong contenders. 1. A diversion from the horrible quagmire that they have been wallowing in in Iraq. 2. An opportunity to get Iran involved in the imbroglio – the first salvo on that front was the lopsided attempt to shut down Iran’s nuclear activities. Now, the ‘war on terror’ gets to carry the baton.

In the meantime Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese pay the ultimate price.

There was never a hope of ‘success’ in Iraq for it was always a no-win situation. A strong, democratically elected government there would have to have been shiite and therefore trouble (from a neocon perspective). Under the eye of the world, the chances of setting up another puppet government in Iraq is slender. Don’t forget that both the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein were puppets set up, trained and funded by U.K.-U.S. as a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the cold war. the main possibility of doing the puppet act and getting away with it only arises if an Iraqi civil war takes place…hmmm

I also wonder to what extent ‘filthy lucre’ (or “mammon” as the bible also calls it) is involved, for with the predictable rise in oil prices, whether or not the long term goals are achieved, in the short run Bush and his coterie will make a killing

The Perpetrators have nothing to lose; the horrors of war? That’s all just a bit of necessary, and therefore unavoidable, collateral damage.

(check out the interview with Seymour Hersh (click on the title) that came out 2 days after I posted this blog)

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