As part of Projecting Change the image of Ma Kali in all her glory was projected onto the Empire State Building on August 1st 2015. The symbolism of this image was not lost.
“In preparation for the birth of the Divine, the entire human race is now going through a global dark night, which will result in a new humanity that has been humbled and chastened by tragedy, so that it may open completely to the mystery of divine grace. This dark night cannot be bargained with, explained away, leapt over or mitigated. It is the destined crucifixion of a communal human ego now clearly revealed to be suicidal, matricidal, dangerous to itself and to the whole of creation. No one and nothing will stop Kali dancing Her terrible dance of destruction and re-creation. There will be no resurrection of an embodied divine humanity without a systematic, perfectly organized, brutally complete crucifixion of everything in us that keeps us addicted to the systems of illusion that are now rapidly destroying everything.” ~ Andrew Harvey
I find it fascinating that the arguments from all the different perspective end up with the same conclusion-the dire need for change. Whichever camp you belong to, be it the environmentalists, new agers, conspiracy theorists, technocrats, religious, political, teachers or parents we all have a desire for change in society at every level socially, politically and economically. This is an ever present conundrum that every generation feels and even more so today.
Our economic world is in turmoil. We see it every day in the news. It is not just your average, everyday volatility, but rather there are systemic issues that need to be corrected. The proverbial can, is constantly being kicked further down the road without any real meaningful remedies in place and it will be the future generations who will have to bear the brunt of today’s recklessness.
David Ike, the conspiracy theorist and many like him believe that there is conspiracy for world domination by the Illuminati and it is done through the monetary system. In his words “Money is a nonexistent theoretical force that only exists on computer screens”. While his theories do involve hybrid aliens and the like, at the end of the day it boils down to control of the world economic resources in the hands of a very few. Ike suggests that people need to wake up and stop being manipulated by the media propaganda.
Thomas Piketty in his bestselling book Capital in the Twenty-Frist Century wrote, “For millions of people, “wealth” amounts to little more than a few weeks’ wages in a checking account or low-interest savings account, a car, and a few pieces of furniture. The inescapable reality is this: wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities.” Perhaps this is why Ike and other liked minded conspiracy theorists have come to the conclusion that it must in fact be some sort of covert operation that produces such vast inequality.
Both Ike and Piketty run in different circles and have very different theories about why this inequality exists. The thing they have in common, that is that they are both bringing to the fore an issue that has for too long been neglected. Regardless of their very different take on what are the causes of the problem they both present very compelling evidence to the public of the massive inequality that existed and continues to exist today.
How can we effect change? How can we start to close the income inequality gap? Professor Richard Wolff proposes the democratization of capitalism. This essentially means that the workers get to share in the profits of the company. Those who contributed the most in producing those profits should have some say in how it is distributed. The current model is that the workers do the work of making and selling the product and the managers and owners decide on how to distribute the profits. What usually happens is that the managers and owners end up paying themselves enormous bonuses and dividends. Now one would argue it requires both the owner’s money and the manager’s knowledge to be able to make those profits, so they have every right to do with it what they wish. True. However, you can also argue, that without the hard work of the employees it would not be possible. So perhaps these workers should have at least some say on how the profits are to be distributed. This will have tremendous benefit everyone in the long run.
How? Well, when the workers get to share in the company’s profits they are more motivated and committed to the company and this improves productivity. Also and more importantly, when workers’ paycheques increase, they spend more. When they spend more, businesses do better. The more they spend, the more businesses grow. When businesses grow, they hire more people, these people, then earn money and they start spending and businesses continue to grow. A virtuous cycle is created. In economics this is called the multiplier effect. As such the most direct way to reduce inequality in the economy is to raise wages for all workers. The process seems simple enough, then why don’t business paid their workers better? Perhaps it’s simply short sightedness and intense self-interest. Left on their own, companies would not voluntarily raise workers’ wages. The only recourse would be legislation that forces companies to do so. When employers don’t pay their employees enough, the government (the taxpayer) has to take up the slack in the form of subsidies and other social programs for low income families.
Nick Hanauer is a billionaire with a mission to uplift the middle class. On the one hand, he seems to be a humanitarian, on the other, he may be simply seeking his own interest and really, who can blame him? I think he would rather give up a little of his massive fortune to insure that it is not all taken away. We have to give him some credit. After all, he had the foresight to be one of the first investors in Amazon. Perhaps he has greater foresight than most. Even though his rich friends may shun him now, in the end they will be thanking him if he is able to avert the inevitable pitch forks which he sees coming for him and his fellow billionaires. Whether he is making a defensive move to save his own skin or whether he is genuinely interested in helping his fellow man, it doesn’t matter. Either way, when workers’ wages increase, everyone benefits.
There is no arguing that we live a very tumultuous world and we can all agree that we need change. As an economist, I will start with the bread and butter issues, that is, workers and their pay. If we start taking care of people in a more humane way we are sure to see a spill over into other facets in society. When people don’t have to spend all of their time struggling to survive, they have more time to focus on what really matters in life.