The slow and painful death of consumerism and globalised manufacturing is leading to the new era of collateral ballast.
The failure of capitalism has left an entire class of consumers out in the cold. Consumers who can no longer consumer as there is no more credit, no more jobs and no more money.
Money has been drained out of the system, never to flow back down to the working classes aka consumers. Blood of the system, money, has been hoovered up and frozen into large powerful banks, controlled by the rich. And when blood stops following the result is the death of the host.
When money is controlled not by the state but by the rich and powerful, where does the desire come to support the poor and less well-off? From nowhere, there is no desire for the rich to support the poor. The rich don’t need the poor. Although one could argue that if there are no poor, who is rich? Rich are rich comparing themselves to the poor - it’s the comparison that makes the rich, rich.
Money stagnates, capitalism freezes.
This unfortunate happenstance was never planned nor desired, the true believers in capitalism believed in an indefinitely continuation. Who would have thought that in a few generations (one or two, is it even a plural?) capitalism would collapse and the world would be facing a crisis of ballast?
It is unpleasant to think of people as ballast but economically that is what is it is. Economically speaking humans are cattle. To be herded together and made to plough the fields. And the system now has too many cattle for too few fields. Human labour has been optimised and replaced by machines however human nature is one of inefficiencies. We don’t have too few resources, we have too much waste. Humans, as a species, are incredibly inefficient. We eat to shit half of that out again. We drink to urinate half of that out again.
Its all wasted down drains. Why is this? Because humans weren’t designed to live as we do. In cities, as sedentary individuals in cold rooms in multi-story high-rise buildings. Humans were designed to live in small communities as hunter-gatherers. In that setting, our human inefficiencies were perfectly integrated into the larger environment. By diverting our waste away from the natural environment, we have created a net-negative system: we take from the environment but don’t give back the waste (where it is needed).
In addition, what has happened is that we have designed our inefficiencies into the products we make and into the manufacturing methods we use to make these products. Why do cars stand around rusting for 80 to 90 percent of their lifetime? Why does everyone need a washing machine that is used once or twice a week for a few hours? How much food does a typical restaurant throw out? Expiration dates of foods that remain eatable but because a date has come, the food needs to be thrown out. Mobile phones that get replaced not because the hardware is broken or not capable of doing the job but because inefficiencies of software causes the mobile phone to become redundant - artificially.
The list is endless. In combination with the expectation of everyone of us to have everything we ever desired, we multiple human inbuilt inefficiencies to the point of system collapse - both environmentally and financially.
And why do we have these desires to be better? Do we need to be better than our neighbours - better shoes, better cloths, better lifestyle, better cars, better “betters”? Our neighbours who are our fellow astronauts on Spaceship Earth? Why do we have this continual need for better “betters”? Why does advertising tells us that we need brand X to have feature Y that your neighbour doesn’t have? Or product A will make you a happier person? Why do we care?
Advertising, the cattle probe of capitalism. We believe advertising provides advice on new products, instead advertising has become an instrument for industrial manipulation of the consumer class, creating fake desires and needs. Advertising uses negative human emotions - jealousy, envy, self-doubt, lust, greed, … - to drain financial freedoms from the consumer class who end up trapped in a rat-race to the bottom. Consumers who are confined in a financial cage of debt (call it a credit line if you like), worry, stress and work. Endlessly looping inside the hamster wheel, the hamster wheel which from the inside, appears as the career ladder that everyone seeks to climb.
We are the cattle being lead to our own slaughter by advertising. We are no longer consumers, we are becoming the cattle class. We have lost out financial freewill for the sack of having the latest and greatest mobile phone. Does it get anymore Orwellian than having an advertising industry track you in order to create an artificial desire in your mind to purchase something that you will not need or already have?
Why collateral? The ruling class that are blind to the collapse of capitalism but smart enough to drain it of the resources that we all need, take the creation of ballast into account and then apply Darwinian principles of survival of the fittest. Fittest here being economically and market fittest, the ballast becomes anonymous numbers in a spreadsheet somewhere. This is not inventive nor modern, there were and will always be slaves in a system based on profits, as the highest profits come from free labour.
Even the words “collateral” and “ballast” are related to waste: collateral damage the unfortunate death of humans - wasting of human lives. And ballast is pointless crap that a boat needs so that it is not empty on a return trip.
We could not imagine a collapse happening but now that it has happened, we can’t do anything because we don’t have the financial resources to turn it around.
This simple governmental narrative is repeated year after year, across all facades of human existence. Climate change, education, health care, social support, housing, leisure. Everywhere aspect of human existence that has to do with helping people and not making a profit, the narrative is: we have no money. If you happen to be a bank or the industrial military complex: “we have no money for education but suddenly out of nowhere there is a spare billion or two for purchasing military hardware or saving a bank or two”.
People like Elon Musk believe that we can escape our future by, for example, colonising Mars. But wait? Who caused all the problems we are facing here? Could it be the same human species that is planning to colonies Mars? Hm, what could possible go wrong? The alternative is to build bunkers under deserts.
The working class became the consumer class and the consumer class will become collateral ballast on the economically system.
Humans will become economical ballast needing retirement plans, medical care and infrastructure for fornication, ingestion and excrement. All these things require investment and upkeep for humans who no longer possess the financial ability to consumer.
These are trends in “Western” society - a working class remains however with automation and out-sourcing, it is shrinking. And the working class is not disappearing globally, western workers are being automated away or out sourced to locations where wages are the cheapest.
It is this trend, in part, that made China rich - cheap labour, no environmental regulation and no labour protection laws. On the other hand, it was this trend triggered by China having cheap labour? No, it’s always been this way and will always stay that way: in world where profit is the only measure of success, production will go there where labour is the financially cheapest. The natural consequence of this are slaves.
Capitalism brought us slaves and the politic class (grudgingly) banned them. Capitalism is a winner-take-all game which needs regulation from the outside, it is not self regulating. But what happens if the regulatory institutions - i.e. politic, media, legal system - are in the hands of the capitalist? Politics will never be in the hands of the capitalist, but lobbied to take a certain positions. Large capitalist media groups own the opinion generating media outlets, democracy does not work since the voters opinions are manipulated? And the legal system has long given up apply the laws evenly.
The rich have taken more out of the system and have not given back an equivalent amount. The difference between taking-from and giving-back is profit and wealth. It is obvious that the rich should give wealth back to the other players. It is comparable to playing monopoly but at the end of the game, the person with the most money would get to keep it. A new game would thus begin with less money to go around and the wealthy with a head start.
But we’re not playing multiple games of monopoly, there is one, there is no reset. War plans its role as a societal reset however it does not reset everything.
Is there a system better than capitalism? There isn’t a better system since we are blind to change. We believe the system is the way it is and it is too complex to change because politicians are smart people, they are the only ones that understand it.
A better system won’t replace capitalism, however capitalism needs better regulation, improved (mandatory?) incentives for the rich to make non-profitable investments and a first rate educational system that is open, free and required to teach students free-thinking and judgement building based on non-biased and multi-polar argumentation and discussion.
Our system does not need replacement, it needs a refactoring - a clean up, a recalibration to support the majority, a humanisation of the system.
Refactoring is always done with small steps, example changes that might make a difference:
1. proven empathy for the future
May be we should have politicians with proven empathy. People who have worked in jobs where they were directly caring-for and helping other people should be the ones who become politicians? Based on the notion that people who have in the past helped others will provide better help for others in the future. Instead of the current batch of politicians that never helped anyone in the past but now claim they will help others in the future.
And directly since manager-types from retirement homes should not be allowed to become politicians, instead someone who listened to peoples pains, helped to relief those pains and who gave up their time for others - directly helping others.
In additionally, politicians must be parents. Since besides sleepless nights and wet nappies, what has the future generation ever done for me? To give politicians direct feedback from that future, they must have children. This would mean forcing them to lie to their own children when they say “I’m doing my best for your future and the environment”.
2. incentives for non-profitable investments
Normally the state pays for roads and infrastructure that we all use. The state maintains parks and forests for us all to enjoy. The state pays for free education - to varying levels - for all to enjoy an education. The state pays for everything that is the common good, that which is unprofitable as an investment.
Low corporate tax rates have shrunk the money available for the state to pay for this common good. The money is locked away in the vaults of the ultra, mega rich. The common good has become the common mess as the state sells the last bits of profitable common-good to corporations.
This is the hardest problem to deal without become a card-carrying lefty. Should the state become a bank robber? Introducing negative interest so that banks make more profit and the rest of us watch our saving dwindle away, while the rich purchase more paintings to hideaway in free-ports? Should the state tax the rich who regularly invite these same politicians to sex parties (looking at you Bill Clinton and your association with Epstein)? Should the state print money and pretend that inflation does not exist and will never happen?
Nah, fc*k that si*t. How about a new approach.
How about we create a new currency that is not pegged to any other currency. This currency becomes legal tender in an entire region that is self-sufficient, a region for example the size of Europe. As there is no official exchange rate between this new currency and any other, there aren’t any external influences from other regions that might want to meddle. And as long as everyone agrees that a piece of colourful paper with the number “50” written on it has the equivalent value of a loaf of bread, then the system would work fine.
The last time this happened was Bitcoin - that’s how easy it is. A new currency can be created between two people who agree on a nominal payment system, global currency markets have extended this agreement to more people.
As an extra special bonus, external large multi-national corporation must invest their profits into non-profitable state projects. As profits represents the difference between taking out of a system and putting into that system, it appears to be fair to have corporation invest into unprofitable socially positive projects. Since this region is self-sufficient, there is no interest - from the perspective of the region - to have a multi-national corporations come in. Please note: as soon as a state or region is depended on corporations and their products, the corporation can act as a bully on a playground.
3. free education
Corporations are taxed and made to pay directly to educational institutions on the number of degrees their employees possess. And the longer a degree took to obtain, for example lawyer degrees, the more a corporation would pay. This would not be a one-off payment: for the length of the employees employment, the corporation pays.
The monies thus generated would be divided up amongst institutions weighted not on where the degrees were obtained - that would be endowments - instead by the number of poor students each university/school has taken on.
It would be a positive discrimination towards students who are financially not well off and the institution that took them onboard. Over time, these institutions would improve the quality of their education, improving the educational level of those financially not-well-off students. Thus lifting those students out of their status as not-well-off financially since they would obtain better paying jobs.
As those original institutions benefit, their piece of the cake would naturally reduce and other institutions as these have more poor students and thus would be positively discriminated towards.
4. dismiss undismissability
Civil servants, public officials and bureaucrats have, in certain places, jobs for life or are dismissible with great difficulty. The original intention behind this was to allow civil servants to uncover corruption and whistleblow corruption and misbehaviour within the civil servantry or/and in society as whole.
Unfortunately, as with all good intentions, it has failed miserably. Instead whistleblowers have been crucified by public officials and law enforcement. Public officials are corrupt knowing they can’t be dismissed, they are lazy because they can’t be dismissed. Here are people who play role-models for society acting as if there is no tomorrow and all the money in the world isn’t enough for them. These same public officials that then complain about society is corrupt, ordinary citizens ripping off the state. If their role-models do it, why not society as a whole?
How about removing this idea of undismissibility and making public official responsible for their actions? It would be something simple to apply, one piece of legislation. A second piece of legislation could increase the punishment for any public official who is caught with their pants down and purses open. Because of their role-model function within society, their punishment should be double or quadruple of that of an ordinary citizen, for the same crime.
Now one might wonder, why not? Two easy pieces of legislation for something that should never need to be used since all public official are incorruptible and always above-board. Amazing, Crazy, Mind-blowing! Why don’t we have this legislation? Well who makes the rules here? And who is responsible for implementing those rules? Those people this legislation would affect! A case of conflict of interest.
But our public officials are incorrupt therefore we do not need legislation punishing corruption. With this argument we can then implement the legislation since no public official would be affected, it is an argument for implementation!
5. drug tests for drug regulators
Athletes that participant in competitive sport have to undergo regular drug tests to ensure a fair competition. In certain countries, bus drivers or train drivers need to undergo drug tests to ensure their ability to drive safely and ensure the safety of passengers.
Yet politicians are not tested for drugs even though their role is to lead us safely and harmoniously into a better future.
The aim is not to legalise drugs en masse, instead it is to hold those who regulate us to the standards they require from us. And since they force certain sections of society to be tested (athletes, bus drivers), why should they not be tested? Above all since they fulfil a role-model function within society - as do athletes and hence they need regular drug tests.
6. do not vote
Voting continues to be seen as legitimising element within a democratic system. But what all candidates are either bad, worse or corrupt? What is the best thing to do? Just do not go voting at election time.
Humans cannot accept simple solutions to things that appear complex. The assumption is that if humans can’t understand it, then it must be complex, overlooking the simplest solutions that surprisingly work.
There are now three suggestions how one could change capitalism to make it more balanced out.
Strange how we have never speak of upgrading capitalism but daily my phone wants me to install a new version of those apps that I do not use but I once installed. Why not the same with our political and financially systems?
One more suggestion: can someone please bring out an app called “Capitalism” so that my phone would display the message “Capitalism needs upgrading, please install the latest version of Capitalism” or “Capitalism no longer supports your operating system version, please upgrade”.
Strangely Capitalism should be compatible with all operating systems, past, present and future and no we should not need to adapt ourselves, it should adapt to us.
For all those who dismiss these ideas with the statement “that cannot work”, could you please give me the lottery numbers for next week? You are making a statement concerning an unbeknownst future. All change is doubted until it succeeds and became the norm.
However, no change is possible as long as there are bribable leaders (or decision makers or kings or politicians), there is no point in changing anything. Step one would be to replace the ego-driven ruling class, with an empathic-base ruling class.
Humans have the ability to be empathic and altruist but fear, uncertain and doubt (not to mention greed, jealously, hate, …) are more powerful and manipulative emotions in times of uncertainty.
In times of plenty, love and harmony can take a hold and we have the summer of love and the hippy movement of the 1960s. Or the Renaissance. Or the French Revolution.
[Part of the Taboo Tiles series.]