Rethinking Capitalism

About a year ago, as I was flipping through my cable channels, I stumbled upon author Jeremy Rifkin lecturing to his studio audience the context of his interesting but rather disputatious book – The European Dream. Disputatious in a sense because he predicts that the recently formed European Union will replace America as the superpower of the future. To make the story short, according to Rifkin, “the European Dream, which champions communalism, sustainability, and human rights over property rights and radical individualism, is better-suited to 21st century challenges than the “American dream” of personal fortune, which may be obsolete”. Rifkin went on to say that Canada is caught between the American and the European dream but rightfully managed to preserve its identity and carve its own vision of the future.

The recent financial meltdown saw the US government manufacture money so it can bail out its ailing financial institutions. It likewise sought the help of its G7 allies to save the world from a paralyzing economic catastrophe. In the midst of the bedlam, French president Nicholas Sakorzky threw a curve ball by exhorting the leaders of advanced nations to “rethink capitalism”.  Perhaps the capitalism that America championed and revolutionized had grown into a runaway train that is bound to collapse into a barrier and disintegrate and derailment is the only cure. The CNN investigative report “ The Fall of the Fat Cats” seem to accentuate Sakorsky’s foreboding. The report said that prior to the financial crisis, Wall Street players were spending about $250 billion a year on personal acquisitions, a staggering amount that eclipsed the annual spending of the entire population of Italy.

The Greenspan economic poker strategy of betting heavily on debt as a prime mover and shaker of prosperity had finally unraveled and paid back all its gains. As early as 2005 , economist Ravi Batra wrote the book “ Greenspan’s Fraud” to warn the world of the impending disaster of an economic policy that put too much premium on productivity  yet freezing wages but encouraging people to get in debt to satisfy their acquisitiveness. Here’s a 10 minute interview of Batra on the Canadian Business News Network (BNN) on the subject.

RETHINK CAPITALISM

 

Noam Chomksy underscores a strong point that resonates very well with the European dream and that is capitalism that works to seek for the interest of the greater whole, the community rather than personal gain. With this statement I am reminded of those capitalist nations that took a bit more taxes from the pockets of its citizens to institute a universal health care system for everyone. I also think that it is incumbent upon countries to prune capitalism to its needs, rather than emulating the system to the letter. Emulating the American style capitalism in Pinas may not work at all because the playing field is completely different and there are dynamics such as culture that can be incompatible hence ruinuous . Persisting in such an incompatibility is akin to stuffing the latest Microsoft Office Suite on a Windows 98 PC. It is recipe for disaster.

 ON BLOGGING

I just realized that I have been blogging for more than 3 years now, but haven’t done a single movie review. I have been planning to do a movie review for a while now but just couldn’t get going and I don’t know why. In fact I wanted to do a little twist by doing a review of a crappy or rotten tomato movie, and I have a couple of them in my cabinet as we speak 🙂 , but darn I can’t seem to get the flow or my thoughts organized. Perhaps I just don’t have the knack to do it.  Oh well, I might just have to give up on the idea.

 

 

 

FALL PICTURES

Taken at the Tobermory marina 5 hours up north. Boats preparing to be lifted for winter storage soon.

A native all day breakfast joint featuring the local whitefish and fries delicacy. This place is close to the harbor and had been around since 1932 offering the same menu. Strictly cash – no credit cards here. It closes as soon as the harbor goes into winter mode. Click on the pic for more details.

These two photos are also found on my Flickr sidebar.

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30 Responses

  1. Rotten tomato movie? what movie? I’d like to see the review 🙂

    Nice pictures 🙂

  2. Not sure if Europe found the right way either… problems are piling up for us too…

    Excellent pictures…they make me want to go there. Have a stroll around the marina and then have a good breakfast of whitefish and fries.

  3. The recent financial debacle shows just how far some people will go for the almighty dollar. What the Wall Street big shots did was akin to playing with people’s lives. And we’re all paying for that greed…

    Can’t wait for that review, hehe…

  4. With millions in Africa dying of starvation, a group of people spending $250 billion for their personal needs is unthinkable. If this is true, this excess is a shame to the human race.

    Nice pictures 🙂

  5. I can’t wait for your movie review, there’s always a first time right.

    Now, this breakfast shack along the dock is right up my alley. I love eating at local mom and pops. Plus the locals who eat there add so much color and character to the place. Did you sample anything on the menu?

  6. Irrealis – I have a couple of DVD’s confirmed by the rotten tomato website as such , so I’m pretty darn sure they’re junk 🙂

  7. Sidney – sure there’s problems in Europe too but across the board, wealth is probably more evenly distributed in Europe than in AMerica.

    Thanks. Unfortunately it rained when we were there and we werent able to take the glass bottom boat to view the shipwrecks. There’s always a next time 🙂

  8. Sngl – the Fat Cats money making binge scenario was described as driving a car so fast that you just feel that one day, something’s going to get hit 😦

    As for the review, I’m trying, I’m trying 🙂

  9. Natez1 – $250 billion is a huge amount of money indeed. The show also said that there was a backlog of Ferrari sports car orders in New York City and a hot housing market with people buying up million dollar condos in the city. It was crazy .

  10. Ewok – believe it or not I may have forgotten the story that I have to watch to again so I can write an accurate review. Watching again definitely sucks 🙂

    The place is rich with aboriginal, native culture. The joint sells whitefish and fries all day and yes, they’re very tasty 🙂

  11. I thought you wrote once that you didn’t like movies because you couldn’t sit for two or three hours just to watch a movie. So maybe that’s why you haven’t done a movie review. 😉

    Watched the video clip. Noam Chomsky is too smart for me. hehe. there’s probably some truth to what he says.

  12. According to Dean Beaker’s article (The Bailout Round II: Adult Version?:

    “The United States is in a recession and facing the worst financial crisis in almost 80 years because the folks currently in charge were out to lunch…

    They allowed an $8 trillion housing bubble ($110,000 for every homeowner) to grow unchecked. …

    The main cause of the economy’s weakness is not insolvent banks and lack of credit; it’s the loss of $4 trillion to $5 trillion in housing equity as a result of the bubble’s partial deflation.

    Families used their equity to support their consumption in the years from 2002 to 2007, as the savings rate fell to almost zero… families can no longer sustain their levels of consumption… banks won’t lend to these families is that they no longer have home equity to serve as collateral….”

  13. i agree with most of the economists you cited especially Ravi Batra who had exposed Al Greenspan flawed reforms inthe past, spoiling Wall Street with so much freedom on the money they use to trade like tokens in the casino, and most of them if not all are actually other people’s money.

    I bet capitalism should be returned back to its primal form, allowing freedom of business for the private individual but the government remaining very active in overseeing the flow of activities concerning investments and use of money, disallowing abuse and excessiveness all the time. Right now, just like in its war policy in Iraq, the Bush Administration had given so much leeway and authority to government finance officials, who had been so inclined to spoil Wall Street to no end, like they were gods by their own terms.

  14. Wil – yes, I can’t stand 2 hours watching a movie. I prefer watching movies on my large screen HDTV, where I can pause or watch the movie in stages 🙂 The reviews I’m talking about are DVD releases, lots of them bootleg but with good quality. They also come out well ahead of the market release 😎

    Methinks Noam Chomsky is spot on, philosophically speaking.

  15. MyePinoy – a housing market glut with house prices dropping isn’t enough to stall a country’s economy. We have seen it before. After all, it is the characteristic of the real estate market which is cyclical in nature.

    What was bad was the manner in which the folks got the mortgage, whereupon almost anyone got the low interest mortage without sufficient down payment and proper financial qualification. This kind of risk which was espoused by Greenspan is premised upon an eternally booming real estate market which is for the most part very short-sighted. When the market dropped and homeowners’ equity were wiped out, everyone was in trouble. It became too expensive to renew the mortgage term ( normally 2-5yrs at a set interest) when they expired. People’s outstanding mortgages were more than the value of the house and refinancing became impossible hence the foreclosure. We wish the story ended here but it didn’t.

    Here’s the worst part that exacerbated the global meltdown. These mortgages were sold by main street banks to Wall Street and were repackaged and sold as mortgaged backed securities and other fancy named derivative products many times all over the world. It was a vicious chain reaction that resulted in bankruptcy of big banks and almost paralyzed the global economy.

  16. Major Tom – the flaw is extreme deregulation, when rules are left to the free market to manage. Now it is apparent that government oversight and intervention is required to ensure that everyone is protected – the taxpayers and market alike.

    One must also understand the powerful lobby these market forces have on politicians – insurance companies, financial institutions, manufacturing companies all contribute to their favorite congressman and senator.

    As for the Iraq war, the number is staggering but a big part of it flows back to American defense manufacturers and contractors. These companies are the recipients of the huge expense Washington spends on the war.

  17. “Emulating the American style capitalism in Pinas may not work at all because the playing field is completely different “>>> i strongly agree on this.

    i like the first fall photo here. sky was at its best.

    i think you really need to do some movie review.

  18. Dong – Pinoys are quick to adopt new management concepts from the west, slam it down people’s throats without even thinking twice 😯

    Thanks bro. Will try to do a review. Still trying to figure out which of the two rotten tomatoes I’d have to do hehe 🙂

  19. look at what capitalism did to many products from China now. quality and safety sacrificed for more profit. consumers really can’t afford not being sigurista these days. 🙂

    that movie review of bad movies you are planning to do, do it. i can’t wait for your first entry, whih i’m sure will be either funny or acerbic.

  20. Barry – very good point. Even here, you have a choice of going to the Asian malls to buy cheaper made in China products but the noise about adulterated milk, toys with high lead content which is dangerous to children is quite scary.

    We can also point a finger at the gobalized economy, when corporations from the West relocate their manufacturing plants to developing countries to avail of cheaper labor. Sadly, quality sometimes slips through the cracks of their supposedly tight quality control procedures.

    The 2 movies – one is an independent western with no name stars and the other a spy thriller with a famous but has been young actor . The motivation of my review is to caution you not to waste your money on these crappy movies 🙂

  21. Too much of everything is bad. Unbridled capitalism could lead to abuses as what happened here in the US. A certain level of regulation will always be needed to make sure that businesses don’t abuse the public trust. Too much socialism could also be bad because it tends to generate a sense of entitlement among its citizens and could diminish an individual’s initiative to start and grow his own business. We need a balance somewhere to get the best out of both systems, if that’s possible.

    Nice pictures. I wonder if that White Rose is affiliated with the White Rose System chain of restaurants here.

  22. Panaderos – you got the right word ” unbridled capitalism” which assumes leaving everything to the free market to exploit. I say a mix of socialism isn’t bad if it’s purpose is eliminate abject poverty. One of the tenets of socialism is the acceptance that not all people are smart, healthy both physically and mentally and such people need to be given support by the government.

    Thanks. Nope, it’s not allied to the White Rose chain. This place is out in the hinterlands, in the aboriginal lands 🙂

  23. God bless Europe and US then..may the best capitalist win!hehe! It’s been my long time dream to visit Europe, siguro hanggang dream nalang yun.:-)

    i searched for your movie review..anyway, i like the pics. esp. the boats under a blue sky.

  24. Cliffnotes – when I was still living in Pinas, I visited Europe first before America. The advantage is, in one trip you can visit many countries of diverse cultures. The funny thing is I visited Canada way later 🙂

    In this day and age where travel is much easier and cheaper, I’m sure your dream will come true 🙂

  25. sorry i didn’t watch the video. your company’s not really affected with the crisis, right?

    rotten tomato movie review? go! para di ko panoorin yon. hehe.

    galing mag-picture.

    question.. re your quote and joke. are you the one who picks it or is it random? coz i notice that it’s always connected with your latest entry

  26. “Emulating the American style capitalism in Pinas may not work at all because the playing field is completely different and there are dynamics such as culture that can be incompatible hence ruinuous . Persisting in such an incompatibility is akin to stuffing the latest Microsoft Office Suite on a Windows 98 PC. It is recipe for disaster.”

    Well said. But Pinoys are usually “gaya gaya.”

    BTW, if asked to choose, I’d choose the “American Dream” over the “European Dream” anytime! But pursuing the “Pinoy Dream” is still the best option for an idealist like me.

    *****

    Maybe it’s time for you to create a new blog dedicated to DVD reviews. 🙂 Title can be “It’s All Crap, Man!” — hehe. Of course you can write movie reviews.

    *****

    Nice “marina” pic. Pang CNN iReport. 🙂

  27. Tin – you should really watch the video as well as Ravi Batra’s interview !

    My company is a major Wall Street player so the answer is yes, it is very much at the front and center of the crisis but it had played its cards well and I have no doubts it will survive. The biggest question is, would I still be it’s employee when the crisis is over ? 😯

    Having said the above, I’m quite ready to receive the golden parachute ( package) and so are my colleagues. Everything depends on the state of the economy. The unfairness is while Canada hasn’t been affected by the subprime mortgage meltdown because of the country’s conservative banking regulations, net net I’m still working for is a US financial institution. In short, we are OK here but the mother lode isn’t so – should we be downsized too?

    hehe.. now I really have to do the rotten tomato review.. 🙂

    The jokes and quote are mine. I just thought maybe I should make them relevant to the topics 🙂

  28. Jayred – the gaya gaya or copy cat mentality is the by product of our colonial mentality. I don’t think we can control it anymore but perhaps we need to modify to suit our own uniqueness 😯

    Hehehe… you like the American Dream eh? I guess you’re pretty daring 🙂 As for the Pinoy Dream, I think you have already achieved it. Looks like the definition of Pinoy Dream nowadays is to get the heck out of the country LOL 🙂 Hey, maybe you should try the Canadian Dream, although I’m not quite sure if it really exists 😆

    I can’t even start a moview review, how much more a dedicated review blog, ugh hehe.. But I will try. Darn, I don’t know why I can’t do a CD nor movie review. Seriously, maybe I’m not an artistic person ! 😳

  29. Pinoy Dream to me means being happy and fulfilled in the Philippines. 🙂 I never wanted to leave our country in the first place. It just so happened I fell in love and married a Swiss man — oh my, oh my. Now, I’m stuck here (LOL).

    My family had the chance to migrate to the US in the ’80s, but he and my older siblings decided not to pursue it. No regrets whatsoever.

    Canadian Dream? I used to have that dream in the ’90s, but it was just a fleeting moment.

    ****

    Do that movie review! Hehe. (Well, I shut down my reviews blog a few weeks ago due to time constraints. But I sure do love to do reviews! I used to write book and film reviews for the newspaper.)

  30. Jayred – hehe.. I think my wife also feels she’s stuck here in Canada with me LOL.. 😆

    Well, the Statue of Liberty sort of suggests the notion of the American dream – no limits to fulfilling your dreams to achieve prosperity and greatness; no barriers to race, religion, social status, gender – everyone is equal under the eyes of the law and that’s the reason why people flock to the US of A !

    As they say, when one suggests a novel idea, a European would reply – WHY? An American’s reply would be – WHY NOT?

    The Canadian dream is having a 6 pack in the fridge and playing ice hockey all winter long hahaha 🙂

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