Saturday, October 8, 2011

Finance Blizzards

It's hard to avoid thinking about the financial crisis and it's perpetuation. I mean the economy still sucks. Frustration is visible. I feel it. You feel it. Certainly if the powers that be wanted to fix it, it would be fixed by now. We feel hopeless The new american dream has become a lazy one. It aims for financial reaping, money making more money. Sit back and collect. Money has become a commodity which outweighs the merit of practical goods and services. Energy production, transportation, auto, technology, food, health, and many other industries takes a back seat to the work of the financial institutions. If the financial workings of the world; stocks, currencies, hedge funds, futures, etc all become sluggish so does industry. Yet needs remain, and resources can still be tapped. I've said before that the function of money perhaps needs to be revised. But we're a world addicted to money. I'm not naive, this won't change for another thousand years perhaps.

The word innovation is tossed around yet our nation and major businesses are run by people who are not innovators. There is general malaise and dip in creative energy that is all encompassing. How do we boost this without the promised reward of money? How do we boost this motivated only by providing utilitarian benefit, joy, entertainment? Not only is our economic system bogged in bullshit, we as people are in a rut, the jacked up feeling of accomplishment diffused by money worries. If we continue to pin advancement's potential on the work of the financial sector then we will continue to decline. Money itself has no creative nor innovative potential. It is merely a tool for transactions and the trading of real commodities that have useful value in our lives. Money has become a shield, a blinder. Certainly I'm not knocking profit. I'm okay with profit. It's why we do business, to fund our lives. But with the immense focus that world economics has placed on money itself as a good, real thought is pulled away from real production. Money powers stress and stress becomes God.

It's exciting to see Occupy Wall Street gain momentum. Frustration should be voiced visibly when there are widespread issues, financial crises at hand. Occupy Wall Street has been dished its share of criticism for not laying out any clear demands. But I agree with those who remind us it's not just about clear demands. This isn't a hostage situation. It's a wake up call, shaking us from an apathetic trance, a cry for help. A cry for help because we're all entrenched in a global financial hole that is not being addressed by our leaders with any true resolve. Certainly if the powers that be wanted to fix it, it would be fixed by now. Policy makers are too addicted by party favors and a weird, dick-ish form of high school spirit towards their "side."

Just for fun, or for the good of mankind, I did some thinking about what my demands would be if I was asked to solve this shit. Here are my ideas to get things moving again:

1) Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Liley Act which repealed provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act separating investment banks and commercial banks. This came along in 1999 and shit hit the fan not even a decade later. Banks are tools for business. When business becomes just a tool for the banks, business becomes a bummer and so do the banks.

2) Make credit default swaps illegal. Gambling on failure wins the prize of failure.

3) Set in motion a plan to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, all drone warfare. All troops from overseas. Cut defense spending. Focus defense on defense, not offense.

4) Reinvest the funds cut in step 3 to put into energy infrastructure and energy independence. Develop renewable energies (solar, tidal, thermal, wind) and begin oil drilling on U.S. soil with smart adherence to safety regulations to avoids spills and deadly thrills. Rebuild a failing and inefficient power grid. This step alone will create a shit ton of jobs.

5) Re-structure the tax code with a surcharge on millionaires. Close loopholes. Taxes are necessary to fund government. Think of them like dues. You wouldn't expect you country club to keep the grounds trimmed without your contribution. Maybe create a special privilege for millionaires so they can feel an extra perk for paying higher dues.

6) Legalize marijuana for people aged 21 and older and tax it. No matter what your moral stance on this topic is, perhaps the war on this drug is a drain on government resources. And the laws in place don't actually stop it or stop its presence in movies and entertainment. It exists, its a buzz like cigarettes and alcohol. If you're morally against it than its up to you as a parent to talk to your kids about it. It may not stop your teen from trying it, but the laws in place don't either. In all reality if you let your kids eat Burger King or White Castle than you are probably not fighting the right health battle with them. There lies an opportunity to regulate this drug and tax it, creating revenue to fill in government budget deficits.

7) Reinvest the extra funds from steps 5 and 6 for energy efficient transportation systems. High speed rail. Airplanes burn a shit load of fuel and airports are a pain in the ass delaying people from work hours.

8) Create tax incentives for companies with 90% or more of their workforce and property in the U.S. Bring jobs home. We have an idle workforce.

9) Create an annual "innovator prize" which awards for merited innovation in industry in the form of a 3 year hiatus from capital gains and payroll tax. Innovation needs a spark. Let's do something really neat with the space program and get America excited again about progress and exploration.

10) Life time pensions for all members of congress are bullshit. If I worked two years at a company I wouldn't expect a life long pension. Reward those for longer term service. One should serve 12 plus years in congress to get these pensions, either 2 Senate terms or 6 House terms. Republicans keep asking for cuts in spending. This is an easy one. My taxes should not pay someone for life for serving one term and doing a bad job at it.

11) Create debt forgiveness in exchange for community service. Perhaps 40 documented hours can shave off $1K in debt? I'm sure some formula can be created that would get a shit load of people out of their houses, both employed and un, to do some good.

12) Financial education as part of high school curriculum. Not everyone is privileged to have parents teach them about savings, credit cards, loans, debt, 401Ks, budgeting, etc. Everyone should pass at least a semester of financial education in order to graduate high school. Who can blame the children of low income families with little educational background for taking on predatory loans? Part of democracy's responsibility should be in equiping future generations with the educational tools to make educated financial decisions, to compete with the privileged. Financial awareness is an important thing.

These are some ideas that are certainly not perfected, yet I feel highly confident that if some resolution were to be put in motion in each of these items, the economy would blossom and people would be paying their bills all around and having a great time. A playful attitude would spread, popping new innovative ideas to take back into industry and keep the wheel spinning ever so vigorously. Optimism would be in the air again.

Please, bounce some ideas here. Call me out on shit. I would enjoy a dialogue on this.

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