Sustainability Now

23 10 2008

Peace, everybody seems to think it’s a good idea. Community, another good idea. Sustainability,  a new/old word that means, honoring, each other and the earth – another good idea. Yet, how do we work it out in our associations and daily life? There are as many ways as there are people. As the economy worsens, more people are beginning to ask the question – Is this all? Do all those strange people on street corners with signs reading – “The end of the World is at hand?” have an inside track on what is going on in the world today? This article is about YOU and ME and every person in our world.

In my travels through cyberspace over the years, I have seen and joined many groups that fit my worldview. To take a page from one of my own articles, Community, fellowship, or Tyranny, written in February of 2008 I stated that community is defined as : A group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society who come together to share  that common interest, activity, feeling, or experience. I also state there that we will not be squashed or forced to follow the path of the tyrant.

In the current economic world we have the results of credit inflation that was always coming. As the world governments continue to shore up a failing economic system it is the people who don’t have large businesses and seemingly unlimited funds that are being hurt the most.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, By 2010, the current tax cuts will average more than $60,000 a year for households in the top 1 percent — and more than $150,000 a year for households with incomes above $1 million.

The cost of the tax cuts (when fully in effect) for people with incomes over $1 million will exceed the total amount the federal government devotes to K-12 and vocational education, and it will exceed what the federal government spends on hospital and other medical care for veterans.

One has only to look at the current bail-out in the United States to see that the above is compounded by the $700+ billion that will come from most of us over the next several years. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, several CEO’s who’s companies are probably going to receive funds from the bail out have said they will use it for acquiring some of their weaker competitors. How is this a bail out? While more and more homeowners are in default of their mortgages, these fat cats are going to buy up the competition!

According to Naomi Wolf in her work Give Me Liberty, she states that the Constitutional rights as outlined in the Declaration of Independence of the USA states that we as individuals are entitled by the creator/ix with the following rights: – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. What exactly IS the pursuit of happiness? She contends that it is NOT the right to mySpace, facebook, a new car, a big house, money in the bank, but a “state of enfranchisement in the content of an open and just society.” What is an open and just society? Is it a society that imposes it’s ideals on every other individual? Is it the force of military might to make everyone agree and follow what you decide is the correct path? No, one has only to look to the Declaration of Independence to see that this is NOT the Pursuit of Happiness. In pre-revolutionary days the sovereign crown of England sought to impose it’s will on a group of individuals who chose NOT to follow their model. What other country has the diversity of paths and individuals that the America’s did and does? In 1750 there were Quakers, several Christian denominations, as well as many ethnic groups living somewhat together. True, our African brothers and sisters were enslaved.  While slavery is the great blot of injustice that was in the new nation, and still remains an issue today, we are ALL becoming enslaved to the almighty dollar and an addiction to the NEW definition of happiness and freedom.  We willingly give up our ability to respond in an intelligent and responsible manner and expect the crown, (read government) to take care of us.

The Federal Reserve system was set up in 1913 by a group of individuals with NO oversight.  According to the Madisonian model of government the President is part of the separation of powers and checks and balances system. Congress is the most powerful branch of the government for, Congress makes the laws and the President executes them.  Where is the oversight of the federal reserve? According to the Federal Reserve Board they are an organization who were created on December 23, 1913 to serve as the nation’s central bank, was created by an act of Congress. The System consists of a seven member Board of Governors with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and twelve Reserve Banks located in major cities throughout the United States. How does one get an appointment to the board of governors? According to the Federal Reserve Board website:

Appointments to the Board

The seven members of the Board of Governors are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve 14-year terms of office. Members may serve only one full term, but a member who has been appointed to complete an unexpired term may be reappointed to a full term. The President designates, and the Senate confirms, two members of the Board to be Chairman and Vice Chairman, for four-year terms.

Representation
Only one member of the Board may be selected from any one of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts. In making appointments, the President is directed by law to select a “fair representation of the financial, agricultural, industrial, and commercial interests and geographical divisions of the country.”  These aspects of selection are intended to ensure representation of regional interests and the interests of various sectors of the public.

Responsibilities
The primary responsibility of the Board members is the formulation of monetary policy. The seven Board members constitute a majority of the 12-member Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the group that makes the key decisions affecting the cost and availability of money and credit in the economy. The other five members of the FOMC are Reserve Bank presidents, one of whom is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The other Bank presidents serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. By statute the FOMC determines its own organization, and by tradition it elects the Chairman of the Board of Governors as its Chairman and the President of the New York Bank as its Vice Chairman.

The Board sets reserve requirements and shares the responsibility with the Reserve Banks for discount rate policy. These two functions plus open market operations constitute the monetary policy tools of the Federal Reserve System.

In addition to monetary policy responsibilities, the Federal Reserve Board has regulatory and supervisory responsibilities over banks that are members of the System, bank holding companies, international banking facilities in the United States, Edge Act and agreement corporations, foreign activities of member banks, and the U.S. activities of foreign-owned banks. The Board also sets margin requirements, which limit the use of credit for purchasing or carrying securities.

In addition, the Board plays a key role in assuring the smooth functioning and continued development of the nation’s vast payments system [see Fedwire and Payment System Risk Policy].

Another area of Board responsibility is the development and administration of regulations that implement major federal laws governing consumer credit such as the Truth in Lending Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the Truth in Savings Act”

It can be said that in theory, the US Congress is the oversight of the Federal Reserve Board, but in NO WAY can congress change the decision of the Board of Governors. Who are these individuals?

All of the current board of governors are either individuals who have been IN the monetary system, and have an interest in it’s continuation, for over twenty years or  , in the case of Mr. Warsh, come from the banking industry, (Morgan Stanley) itself. While this in itself is not an indictment of the system, it shows a narrow view of the possibilities for change and growth.

The failure of the current monetary system world wide and the supposed bail out seems to indicate to this writer that something is seriously wrong. In any other business, these individuals would be “asked to leave” for the depth of the crisis they have precipitated. Yet, according to the terms of the fed itself, these individuals can not be removed from office even by the President of the United States.

The time for a different worldview is at hand. Go ahead, google peace initiatives, you will find many organizations, petitions, and web rings that are showing a new awakening to the question we asked earlier – Is this all there is? Obviously, the answer is NO.  Now try Sustainablility.

The definition of Sustainability is: the quality of life in a community — whether the economic, social and environmental systems that make up the community are providing a healthy, productive, meaningful life for all community residents, present and future.

If we examine the current system in these terms, then it is NOT sustainable. The founders of the USA saw the system they were living under as NOT sustainable. They responded  with words and deeds, remember the Boston Tea Party? What are our deeds and words to be? Do we wait for the inevitable collapse and then re-build or do we get together now and create a new reality for ourselves.

Lest you, dear reader, think that all is doom and gloom, take heart. There are many groups right in your back yard that are working toward a new reality. All one needs to do is look. Do not be put off by labels, anarchist, revolutionist, or libertarian. These are just labels put on individuals who desire real change and are working toward a true community of all peoples.

My research into many groups have found that there is also a spiritual component to this change. It really doesn’t matter, what path you follow, as long as it leads to a true fellowship of all peoples. Race, religion, creed, these are the uniqueness that breeds true diversity, which is our strength. Through diversity, we find the power to bend without breaking, if only we set aside our “rightness” for wholeness.

In my little city, in the Midwestern United States, we have 2 “peoples markets”, a multiplicity of small groups that work together WITHOUT dollars, and are quite happy, even without ipods, cell phones, and fancy cars. We really don’t need those. Learn to live in harmony with the world around you, stop and see the beauty in each other and the world. I implore you, get involved for real change, and stand with the founding fathers of this nation to create a “More perfect Union”. One based on the true definition of Life, Liberty , and the Pursuit of Happiness.