October 6, 2008

The elephant in the room…

Filed under: Economy, Politics/News — 4fooey @ 10:36 am

…is YOU! That’s right, the real problem in the financial crisis is YOU. But rest assured it’s not just you (you alone are not strictly to blame, of course…), but it’s you, me, and the next man or woman, and probably his/her dog, since we in the western world (and even our dogs) are all “consumers” — and the word consumer is a very apt one for what we are. On one level we buy food, clothing and a roof over our heads in order to live, but as western “consumers” it’s much more than that. We buy or consume vast quantities of food, clothing and other consumer goods (along with the energy and resources required to make or supply these things), well beyond our immediate subsistence needs. It’s blithely called our “standard of living” and we in the west have come to expect a very, so-called, high standard of living — and this is what’s crippling us and the planet, and this insatiable need to consume has fuelled the current crisis in the banking system, bringing it to its knees (aside from the obvious greed of some bankers). The whole banking system, with mortgages, loans, credit, etc, has evolved to support our current way of life. Now the banking crisis looks set to impact on the real economy, which is where the real damage will be done, and people’s lives will suffer.

Everyone is discussing how we respond to this situation, and it seems that in the short time solutions need to be urgently found — the assumption also appears to be that when the storm has passed we can all return to normal, resume our standard of living as before. But everyone is ignoring the fact that we cannot, if we are to avoid disaster — the longer term solutions will mean dramatic changes to our lifestyles and the whole way we run the world economy.

So that’s why you, me and everyone else are a big part of the problem in the current crisis, and that’s why we are going to have to be a big part of the solution. I don’t hear people saying: “We spent too much. We bought too much stuff. We borrowed too much. We should have been more careful.” People I talk to are worried mostly about losing their savings (of course you would, especially if you’ve been prudent and saved), but no-one seems to connect themselves with the problem — of living (and borrowing) beyond your means, to a lesser or greater extent — blame is always somewhere else. 

It is clear however that we do not have a sustainable money system/economy and way of life now (it’s clearly busted), but how we get to one that is, is the real problem?


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