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What should Guide our Personal Finance Decisions?

There is a lot of talk in the alternative economy movement including those seeking a more sustainable lifestyle such as Transitions about the idea that spending locally and supporting local businesses is a better alternative than what most people do now thoughtlessly in their shopping / finance practices commonly.  Although this makes some sense on a strictly ecologic regard (i.e., fewer carbon emissions) I would argue that the argument denies the bigger economic reality and trend.  First of all the poor and unemployed who are in perpetual state of stress and even terror related to their survival prospects, do not get to choose.  They have to stretch their "dollars" as far as it goes even if that means eating / shopping at the biggest offenders (e.g., McDonalds, Walmart) with their many local branches who then in turn undermine "local businesses" - the big corporations can do this because of the economics of scale (and their related political clout) thus outcompeting the little "local" ones.  Furthermore, "local businesses" ("green" or not) work under the same economic imperatives of profit that got us here.  Please note that almost all big and giant corporations started as "local" businesses sometime in history and through competition ("eat or be eaten") got to their current state.  We have to understand that capitalism is based on growth.  It is in the nature of capital to want to be accumulated as much as possible due to the competitive process.  It is focused on its survival in the short term.  If the people under its command thought of tomorrow they would be competed out, i.e., destroyed.  So the leanest and the meanest and the most crooked and "smart" gets to rule, i.e., the ones that generate the most capital.  This does not just happen out there but also locally - because locals also are part of the same system.  In this sense "local businesses" cannot be truly local because they also rely on capital which in turn relies on "free market" (i.e., not local) to flourish.  Furthermore, since capital is a product of theft (i.e., the productivity of labor that is not distributed among the workers but rather pocketed by the capitalist) it is consequently and directly linked to poverty.  This is especially true when you consider that the technology labor produces is more and more (in an exponential measure) used to render him superfluous thus leading to increasingly massive unemployment (and other forms of it e.g., underemployment, employment without living wages).  

 

Thus, labor is in perpetual battles of defeat as the history of the union movement has shown.  With unemployment and poverty on perpetual rise globally while production is much easier and efficient than previous generations we have to realize the screaming reality that it is the private ownership of the means of production that is the ultimate root of this global catastrophe - one that touches all aspects of our lives including our health / environment / climate change.  We cannot ignore the massive numbers of the unemployed and poor that are increasing greatly by the minute due to the above internal contradictions of capitalism.  We cannot also dictate to them how to live as their desperate lives will turn more and more of them to turn against the environment, each other, and us (and indeed eventually even the very rich) in our relative comforts.  Furthermore, we must take heed and realize that no matter how comfortable a life you may have today, and no matter how off-the-grid or disconnected you are living from the larger global society, you will not be immune to its consequent disasters (crime, epidemics, wars, witch hunts, weather events, pollution, pests, etc. etc.).  It behooves us to realize that we are tomorrow's poor / unemployed / otherwise ravaged.  The historical experience of "The Great Depression" speaks volumes to this not to mention the more recent grotesque examples in more impoverished lands of the "underdeveloped" world not to mention pockets of such economically devastated areas like Detroit and New Orleans.  Indeed understanding the internal contradictions of the capitalist economic system helps to predict the epic scale of the destruction yet to come.  That is unless a new economic system with more harmonious i.e., communal / cooperative means of production, exchange, distribution, and above all ownership (i.e.,common / social ownership) replaces the current private / competitive / predatory / selfish /  short-sighted / speculative and virtual / destructive ways on a global scale.  "The Great Recession" will turn into "the Greater Depression" and "The Greatest and Endless Depression" (the "developing world" e.g., China /Russia / India / Brazil to quickly join in).  We should not be surprised to see more and more Hoovervilles, and tent/trash towns prop up with utter pollution and destruction of the environment and wildlife as the desperate poor resort to desperate measures especially against the more vulnerable, e.g., wildlife / environment, children / elderly / immigrants.  In a desperate move to keep up the profit margins banksters and their corporations increasingly sideline pollution / climate-change concerns as they claim hurting jobs while they use further privatization and technology sidelining more and more workers again for the almighty profit - the heartbeat of the system.  On a desperate attempt new escape goats used as pretext for grotesquely macabre "creative destruction" measures (e.g., perpetual world war, real or created epidemics, etc.) will be invented with increasing use of fear for control.  The fastest growing fields will be in the technology and crowd-control (military and judicial industrial complexes with comprehensive surveillance and control measures).  The scale of climate-change events and habitat change will reach the range of "colony collapse" level for the human species in many parts of the world.
There is no escape.  It is only a matter of time before this affects the rest of us.  Because we are all interconnected.  Just like the ecological concepts many of the TW members espouse.
 
Sustainable economics is necessarily the foundation of a genuine sustainability movement and a sustainable environment.  We must get our priorities straight.  We must consider tending to our species in a comprehensive manner in the forefront of our efforts to help the environment and other creatures we depend on.  Only a sustainable economic system that does not pin us against each other in a competitive battle of survival, one that rather forces us to act cooperatively, can be expected to also help the environment. Sustainable environmental movement would only be sustainable if it becomes a sustainable economic movement.  This requires finding viable solutions for inclusion of the poor / unemployed / otherwise ravaged with collective / cooperative production, exchange, distribution, and above all ownership.  Only a true community ('unity through commonness i.e., sharing') can be expected to commune with nature.  Our personal finance choices must not overlook these essential fundamentals.

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