Prognosticating out of this mess

The SwamiIf the $5.15 hourly minimum wage had risen at the same rate as CEO compensation since 1990, it would now stand at $23.03. A minimum wage employee who works 40 hours a week for 51 weeks a year goes home with $10,506 before taxes. (A look at the numbers)

Have you ever thought about what the future might hold? In all your thoughts and dreams about the future, did you ever imagine it like it is today? How do you think the future will look?

Back in the 1960’s when I was growing up in upstate NY, I spent many an hour in the back seat of my father’s car, looking out at the sights. I saw miles and miles of rolling corn fields, cows grazing, all cut out of the forest in neat squares, yet the forests dominated the landscape. My face would wrinkle in disgust at the smell of a dairy farm and stay in my nose long minutes after we passed.

A few short years later, farms were “subsidized,” paid to not produce and shut down, and those picturesque miles of cornfields and cows became still, overgrown, unused and useless. For a few years in the 1970’s, a few acres here and there sprouted up huge factories that met the same fate as the farmland to fall still, overgrown, unused and useless when the factories shut down to export production in the 1980’s and ‘90’s.

I was born at the height of the Industrial Age, witnessed its demise and the rocky transition into the supposed Information Age and now wonder Рand worry Рhow it will all turn out. My generation is called Baby Boomers, but back in the day, we were Radical Hippies that fought against The Establishment. We won a few Civil Rights fights, but lost the war against the infamous Military/Industrial complex. Through it all, one thing has remained a constant: The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. A clich̩, but no less the reality.

So, where do we go from here? I am just one little ol’ girl watching it all unfold – in horror. On one hand, history is repeating itself and it’s all heading to collapse, following in the footsteps of the ancient Mayans and Romans and however many other cultures rose to precipitous heights and fell flat. You see, in an enclosed habitat, resources are finite, and once only a few control those resources, death is inevitable for all. It implodes. Kaput. The End.

In horror, I have to say that The End is closer than you think. I’m not talking about Armageddon or any of the fanatic, end-of-days, lunatic rants, but I could be. Just look at all the long-term millions still unemployed. No matter how many extensions to unemployment benefits have come down the pike, people still aren’t back to work, and they are running out. Where do they go from there? I don’t want to hear “they can go out and get a job now” because there aren’t any jobs to be had. Employers have realized that they can squeeze the impossible from the existing workforce whittled down to a skeleton crew or export labor entirely and enjoy increased profits, laughing all the way to the bank. More will lose their jobs and run out of the supposed safety net of unemployment benefits and end up….where?

I wish I had a crystal ball. I really do. Without a crystal ball, I can only guess, which brings me to “on the other hand.” I don’t care much for the doom-and-gloom direction we’re heading, and I prefer to keep believing in the inherent good in people, thank you very much. And, if we can come up with something as amazing as an iPhone4, then we can solve this crisis for everyone, not just those listed on the Forbes 400.
Last week, someone put up a short video on YouTube asking for rich people to send him a lot of money, for nothing. Not as popular as the Golden Voice video, it did enjoy a good jaunt through social networks. Will we end up with two rags-to-riches stories? Maybe, and that’s a start. It is true, though, that if everyone on the Forbes 400 list gave up just 20 percent of their billions, they wouldn’t notice the difference, but a lot of others would.

Aside from wild dreams and a lot of wishful thinking, it may be a bit more practical if we started to look at ways in which we could become self-sufficient. It might be a good idea to learn to garden and can, and invest in solar panels. How can we transition from selling our time to selling our services or goods? If communities became self-sufficient and developed their own economies, each could trade with other communities for the things they can’t grow or raise themselves.

As it is now, for one to have, many have to go without. That is the nature of the beast that is wallowing in its death throes right now. To me, if one goes without, then we have failed. Gene Roddenberry didn’t accept our inevitable demise as our future, and neither should we. We have the brains, and by our sheer numbers, we have the might to set this system on a better path.

Make it so.
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