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Economics & politics rev
 

Economics & politics rev

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    Economics & politics rev Economics & politics rev Document Transcript

    • Got this one from George Will: A Greek, an Italian and a Spaniard go into a bar and drinkuntil dawn. So who picks up the tab? A German.Thing about it is, though, that the Germans are not exculpable. They were recklessly lendingmoney. So, the correct answer is: The German barmaid.The problem with austerity measures is that, if too severe, they can accelerate the verycrisis that they are intended to head-off. Devaluation of currency through inflation is painfulbut it has the merit of spreading the pain out over a longer period of time. However, it alsoredistributes the pain from debtors to those who own cash or who receive cash from fixedincomes & will then struggle to make ends meet as prices rise on commodities.If anyone avoided the 2008 carnage by taking refuge in cash, that wont be a successfulstrategy should inflation take off from currency devaluations. The world will be faced withcompetitive devaluations as different countries (especially net exporters) will not be able tomanipulate their currencies in isolation. Combine the forces of currency devaluation andquantitative easing with the reality of the ongoing industrialization of emerging economiesin (HUGE) developing countries and it seems likely that prices of energy, metals &agricultural commodities will inevitably rise. (Note: Printing money/devaluing currency andquantitative easing amount to an involuntary transfer of wealth - like the libertarians say, atax - from lenders to debtors, from those with cash to those with hard assets/commodities,often the very same hard assets/commodities that are collateralizing the existing debts.)Also, as those developing markets grow, producers of consumer staples, pharmaceuticalsand technology will benefit. There will also be increased demand for the stocks of thoseparticular companies due to their history of paying and growing dividends because interestrates on alternative investments are not as attractive. The bonds of those companies shouldalso do well.These seem to be the likely secular (long term) trends as the Northern and Westernhemispheres see their standards of living go down and the Southern and Easternhemispheres grow their relative wealth.So, investment strategy-wise, what to do?1I like M&Ms:1) Money - some US cash b/c it will remain the best currency house in the worlds otherwisebad currency neighborhood2) Midstream Energy MLPs - master limited partnerships in oil and gas terminals, pipelines &transportation3) Metals - steel, copper, silver & gold (and others incl iron ore) and I have deemphasizedgold b/c it has begun to act more like a risk-on asset than a safe haven and it has no realindustrial value just as a currency by a (not so fickle, I admit) global consensus fiat.4) Municipal Bonds - b/c their yields are attractive even absent their nontaxable attributes(but pick your issuer with care)5) Mutual Funds - I like the Franklin-Templeton group for gaining a diversified exposureprecisely to those companies discussed above: dividend-growers, high-yield corp bond,emerging marketsMy allocation is money, munis & metals each @ 10%, mlps@30 and mutuals@40 w/60/40split between bonds & equities in the funds.Germany is allergic to inflation b/c of their Weimar experience in the post-war 20s just as 1
    • we find deflation anathema due to our experience during the Great Depression.What we are witnessing is brinkmanship (prudent or reckless?) that seeks to hold eachnations feet to the fiscal responsibility fire as well as to maintain the ECBs credibility by notdevaluing the Euro thru too much rate reduction, quantitative easing or money printing.There ARE worse evils than currency devaluation and inflation (many already above-listed inthis thread). Printing money IS, in the end, inevitably going to be a transfer of wealth (or, asthe Libertarians say, a tax) from lenders to debtors and from those with cash (or fixedincome streams, e.g. pensioners & entitlement recipients) to those with hardassets/commodities, often the very same hard assets/commodities that are being used tocollateralize the existing debts.It hurts, then, the poor, the retired and the elderly ... hmmm ... the very same people onwhose behalf the sovereign debt was inordinately run up in the first place. It also hurts thelenders who will, in the future, demand more protection (higher rates) for both the creditand interest rate risk theyre being asked to take on, assuming theyre willing to lend anymore to certain debtors. (China may not like our devaluation strategies but are they goingto trade interest rate risk with the US for default risk with Southern Europe?)But I suppose that printing money spreads the pain on the elderly and indigent out over alonger period of time? Also, it gets some of the wealth transfer accomplished under theradar (from investors who are napping, ie not actively managing their accounts)!!!******************************************************************************Our world suffered somewhere around $60 trillion dollars in global wealth destruction in2008 when the housing and credit bubbles burst. This resulted, in part, from laissez fairecapitalism run amok via a lack of transparency (regulations – Wash DC & its lobbyists or KStreet) in the credit default swap and derivatives markets (Wall Street). In our usualscapegoating, we blame K Street and Wall Street but absolve those on Main Street, whobought the size homes they didn’t need with money they didn’t have and could not affordto repay. And we’re talking Ft Lauderdale, Las Vegas and California, not inner cityCommunity Reinvestment Act initiatives, as some have so cynically speculated.The loss in governmental tax receipts resulting from this financial collapse and the ensuingeconomic malaise, combined with unpaid-for wars, a prescription drug program and2simultaneous tax cuts, dwarf in significance the money spent on the bipartisan troubledasset relief program [TARP] and economic stimuli of 2009-2010. The TARP was not so mucha Wall Street Bailout as it was a necessary intervention to prevent our indispensable 2
    • financial infrastructure from collapse. This is to recognize that, analogous to oil pipelines,these credit pipelines are the circulatory system for our economy and had to be preserved.The Dodd-Frank legislation addressed some of the lack of transparency; ideologues whoadvocate rolling these new laws back are being penny-wise and pound-foolish with theirshort memories because that $60 trillion in wealth destruction could have funded our entire2010 budget 17 times!None of this is to argue that our entitlement programs are now on a sustainable path. Theyare clearly not and we presently have Southern Europe acting as the canary-in-the-coalminefor any who would whistle past the fiscal responsibility graveyard, imagining that budgetdeficits do not matter.The taxpayers of the US have always supported a progressive tax structure where those ofincreasing means pay higher rates and we have not cynically called this Class Warfare. Wehave also recognized that small businesses are the primary engine that drive our economytoward fuller employment and that they should be regulated only as much as absolutelyneeded and taxed in a way that will not destroy their competitiveness and we have notcynically called this Class Warfare either. Government can nurture an environment thatsupports the engines of wealth and even provide catalysts for the fuel (capital) that keepsthem running, but it is also needed to provide road signs (regulations) and speed bumps(money supply) to keep these vehicles out of those ditches that can swallow up 17 yearsworth of wealth creation in one bad accident.Most of the strategies we employ and solutions we devise are crafted, legislatively, betweenthe 40 yard lines, this despite the hyperbole that demagogues engage in on the extremesides of our partisan isles, throwing around terms like socialism, class warfare,appeasement, greedy capitalists and so on. Thoughtful people will get the job done,eventually, even if the process is suboptimal and some of the characters unsavory. Oursystem is flawed but remains the best the world has ever known. Conversations like this canmake it even better.******************************************************************************Yada, yada, yada and the Blue State majorities would then want to know why thesereportedly generous Red State majorities are so much more ready to wage multi-trilliondollar wars but so much less willing to contribute toward their costs. So, beyond the3methodological flaws***, which notoriously abound in such surveys, is the larger issue ofjust what it is that drives such interminable debates in the first place — dueling false-selves.***There is a serious problem with such surveys as revealed by sociologist Kirk Hadaway;see http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=237******************************************************************************Fr. Richard has often observed that our political dysfunctions (they are manifold & varied)are rooted in the same dualistic dynamics as our religious shortcomings. I agree with thisobservation and would like to explicate it from my own perspective.The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires to1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/personscelebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary beingwhereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functionswithin a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/persons growth in humanauthenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby createdand Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct.The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the 3
    • truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships.The dualistic (empirical, logical, aesthetical, practical & moral) approaches to realityrepresent our imbibing of eternity from a temporal eyedropper that our finite existencemight not be drowned in Gods ocean of truth, beauty and goodness, a heavenly tsunamithat no earthly finite reality could withstand or contain! Our dualistic approach does notrepresent a theoretical capitulation or departure from our nondual aspirations, only acompassionate and practical accommodation of our radical finitude, while we take thetransformative journey.Dysfunctional religion presents in many ways, primarily from an overemphasis of thedualistic and underemphasis of the nondual. For example, on the journey to intrasubjectiveintegrity, we recognize it as our clinging to the false-self. In moral theology, some haveoveremphasized the procreative and under-emphasized the unitive dimension of conjugallove. In spiritual theology, some have overemphasized the moral and ascetical at theexpense of the mystical and contemplative.4How does all of this apply to the political life?Most political dysfunction is rooted in the either-or/all or nothing thinking of our dualisticapproach. Further, this insidious dualism gets way overemphasized at the expense of ournondual vision of temporal reality. If we look through a Lukan prism, we might see a fivefoldChristology, which recognizes that Christ came to orient, sanctify, empower, heal and saveus. As Lukes narrative continues in Acts, we see the Spirit continuing this divine work. Anondual approach inspired, indeed inspirited, by a pneumatological (Spirit-related)imagination sees the Holy Spirit infusing each realm of our temporal reality, always andeverywhere, historically orienting humankind, culturally sanctifying us, socially empoweringus, economically healing us and politically saving us. This is not to deny that, from time totime, place to place, people to people and person to person, the Spirits work has beenvariously amplified or frustrated in matters of degree; it is to affirm, however, that all goodgifts have One Source, Who has coaxed all of humankind along on the journey!An overly dualistic approach, again, in an all or nothing/either-or way, contrastingly, alwayssees the Spirit - then but not now, there but not here, in this position but not that or viceversa. Worse, yet, it will see the Spirit in him but not her, us but not them, and not as amatter of degree but to the extent one gets thoroughly demonized and another absolutelydeified! This is at the very root of the extremely polarizing rhetorical back and forthbetween our political parties.The wisdom of the catholic subsidiarity principle is rooted in the gift of Third Eye seeing,which affirms our eternal nondual aspirations and their proleptic realizations even whilecompassionately accommodating our temporal dualistic situations within their historical,cultural, social, economic and political contexts. It celebrates the fruits of our prayer thatthe Kingdom will come, indeed, on earth as it is in heaven.There is nothing intrinsically wrong with an approach that takes from each according toones ability and gives to each according to ones need; at least, its worked in convents,monasteries and families for millennia! Because of our radical finitude, however, withouttheoretically abandoning our ideals, we compassionately accommodate our radical finitudeand, precisely because we are not angels, we institute government in the place of anarchyand regulated free markets in the place of any rigid capitalism or socialistic communism.To the extent the ideals of our nondual, relational approach are being realized,governmental, regulatory and socialization processes must recede to optimize that freedom5which best fosters authentic love. However, to the extent they are frustrated, then coercivegovernment, regulatory and socialized means must be instituted to maintain order and 4
    • advance the common good. The classical liberal or libertarian impulse (modernconservatism), then, is but a pragmatic critique of anarchism; it errs (and becomesindistinguishable from anarchism) when it treats the ideals of limited government asabsolute values and ignores the practical realities that result from our radical finitude. Themodern liberal or progressive impulse, then, is but a pragmatic critique of libertarianism; iterrs when it treats governmental, regulatory and socialization processes as the default bias,when, in fact, limited government, whenever and wherever practicable, is the proper bias.What both libertarian and progressive approaches have in common, then, is that they aregrounded in pragmatic critiques and practical accommodations and not so-called eternalprinciples; so, all of the pious talk about so-called consistent principles is actually misplaced!Finally, when it comes to strategic approaches, the subsidiarity principle sometimes sees thevirtue in flipping, at other times in flopping. It is only in moral approaches that consistency isfully warranted. But political systems are already grounded, for the most part, in a broadmoral consensus (e.g Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights), and political differences are mostly rooted in practical and strategicdifferences toward goals that are otherwise already shared, like establishing world peaceand eliminating poverty. To always recast our practical and strategic differences in terms ofmoral reality is just a sinister way to emotionally charge (they say energize) a political base.A nondual approach, via subsidiarity principles and relational ideals, however, transcends allof these differences and nurtures their creative tensions with a peace that surpasses allearthly understanding.******************************************************************************Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail?Some of the following material was presented in the context of discussion of our politicaldysfunctions and religious shortcomings inthis Shalomplace Discussion Board Thread.I now present them here because they have implications in our living out of the GreatestCommandment, both with regard to our contemplative practice (considered in thisContemplative Practice Support forum) as well as in our experience of the various modes of6Christs presence (personal, ecclesial, sacramental, cosmic, etc) in ourGrowing in Christ.The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires to1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/personscelebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary beingwhereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functionswithin a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in humanauthenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby createdand Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct.The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes thetruth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships.The dualistic (empirical, logical, aesthetical, practical & moral) approaches to realityrepresent our imbibing of eternity from a temporal eyedropper that our finite existencemight not be drowned in God’s ocean of truth, beauty and goodness, a heavenly tsunamithat no earthly finite reality could withstand or contain! Our dualistic approach does notrepresent a theoretical capitulation or departure from our nondual aspirations, only acompassionate and practical accommodation of our radical finitude, while we take thetransformative journey.Dysfunctional religion presents in many ways, primarily from an overemphasis of the 5
    • dualistic and underemphasis of the nondual. For example, on the journey to intrasubjectiveintegrity, we recognize it as our clinging to the false-self. In moral theology, some haveoveremphasized the procreative and under-emphasized the unitive dimension of conjugallove. In spiritual theology, some have overemphasized the moral and ascetical at theexpense of the mystical and contemplative.If we look through a Lukan prism, we might see a fivefold Christology, which recognizes thatChrist came to orient, sanctify, empower, heal and save us. As Luke’s narrative continues inActs, we see the Spirit continuing this divine work. A nondual approach inspired, indeedinspirited, by a pneumatological (Spirit-related) imagination sees the Holy Spirit infusingeach realm of our temporal reality, always and everywhere, historically orientinghumankind, culturally sanctifying us, socially empowering us, economically healing us andpolitically saving us. This is not to deny that, from time to time, place to place, people topeople and person to person, the Spirit’s work has been variously amplified or frustrated inmatters of degree; it is to affirm, however, that all good gifts have One Source, Who has7coaxed all of humankind along on the journey!Less transparently, perhaps, but more clearly manifest through the eyes of faith one candiscern the Spirit orienting us not only, generally speaking, historically - but alsoeschatologically , sanctifying us not merely culturally but also theologically , empowering usnot only socially but also ecclesiologically , healing us not only economically but alsosacramentally , and saving us not only politically but also soteriologically - as weproleptically realize various eternal values. It is the gift of Third Eye seeing, which affirmsthese eternal nondual aspirations and their proleptic realizations even whilecompassionately accommodating our temporal dualistic situations within their historical,cultural, social, economic and political contexts. It celebrates the fruits of our prayer thatthe Kingdom will come, indeed, on earth as it is in heaven.Implicit in the above-considered categories are answers to such questions as 1) What andwho is wo/man? 2) What is reality’s basic stuff? 3) What do we value? 4) How do we getwhat we value? and 5) What and who is God?One could think of these questions in a manufacturing metaphor which would include,respectively, 1) the end user 2) raw materials 3) end products, by-products & wasteproducts 4) processes and 5) the producer.Alternatively, one could employ these categories: 1) people or anthropology 2) relationshipsor phenomenology/ontology 3) values or axiology 4) methods or epistemology and 5)hermeneutics or theology .In discussions here as well as material one will encounter elsewhere in publications andinternet discussion forums, I would challenge the reader to further disambiguate each andevery use of the term, nondual, because, in jumping from one of these above-listedcategories to the next, it can take on very distinct meanings.— When talking about people, it can refer to theories of consciousness: Is consciousnessanother primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy or somehow emergenttherefrom? It could also refer to our conceptions of the soul: Is the soul physical or8nonphysical, temporal or immortal?— When talking about ontology or metaphysics, it can refer to the nature of reality: Is all ofreality natural, physical, material? Does reality also include the supernatural andimmaterial? Does reality include one, two or even more kinds of thing, substance or stuff?— In axiology, what are the categories of value? What about disvalue and evil?— In terms of epistemology, is there more than one way of knowing reality? How doesscience differ from culture, philosophy and religion? 6
    • — And, theologically, what might be dual or nondual about God?Furthermore, one reason we don’t simply use Oneness in the place of nondual is that, inaddition to the above-listed categories where it can take on distinct meanings, there is alsomore than one way, by strict definition, to be nondual: Threeness, for example, works, aswell as an infinity of other numerical approaches. A nondual way of playing jacks, then,would be to only skip twosies and nothing else! One needn’t play only onesies.At the same time, who would want to abandon the dualisms of axiology as if true & false,beautiful & ugly, good & evil, free & bound were simple illusions? However much anythingbelongs, as they say, does not necessarily negate the need for either its transcendence ortransformation?In my view, to realize reality’s values, one needn’t get to the bottom of all of these non/dualriddles anthropologically, ontologically or even theologically.* note below. We already knowenough from evolutionary epistemology and our, more or less, universal human values tolive in relative abundance! So, in that regard, I believe we can seriously overstate the perils,dangers and pitfalls that might result from our metaphysical errors and ignorance. As I seeit, our problems more so result, rather, from epistemological mistakes or what it is that weerroneously imagine that we just positively know, thus frustrating our journeys from is toought, the given to the normative, the descriptive to the prescriptive. What is more so atstake, rather, is our possible realization of superabundance , which is to suggest that theonus is on various religious practitioners to demonstrate that they can journey toward9transformation (human authenticity) much more swiftly and with much less hindranceprecisely because of their formative spiritualities.How, then, do different nondual approaches interface with your spirituality in your livingout of the Greatest Commandment? What difference do they make?* note – Not to be coy, my survey of the inter-religious landscape does lead me to atripartite anthropology, triadic phenomenology, trialectical axiology, trialogicalepistemology and trinitarian theology (panSEMIOentheism), which is beyond our presentscope.10 7