- an analysis of the global society by Johan Lem
"Humanity, where do you go?" is a new book based
on a comprehensive analysis of the global society in its environment.
The objective has been to increase insight into the complex
relations between humanity - economy - ecology and technology,
because lack of integrated understanding obviously is one of the
reasons why poverty, unemployment, psychological problems, pollution
and ecological problems etc. are not solved in an appropriate
way by the politicians. On the basis of this insight a strategy
for a better future has been outlined.
The analysis of the actual situation leads to some over-all conclusions: The crisis of the world is divided into two parts: First of all: Lack of insight, because we do not see clearly what to do to solve the many problems. It is therefore urgent to understand the complex world system better. Without such understanding it will not be possible to take appropriate action. Secondly, we face a moral crisis because we, the politicians and most of us, do not act in accordance with the knowledge we already have.
Public opinion and media have a central role to play if development shall take a better direction. As young people will have to inherit the state of the world after us grown up people, they have a special interest for politics to be changed. As a consequence, the school system has an important job to do, to give young people insight and the right feeling of responsibility. It is essential to give children and young people good conditions that they may grow up as harmonius and rational thinking human beings.
The world system is not a system apart from humanity. We are
the world. Man creates the systems and operates them. And man
suffers under its deficiencies. To understand the world, we
must understand ourselves. This is a central insight. The
psychological aspects of the world system penetrate the book and
make it different from other books in this field.
The economic part of the crisis seems also to be structural, not only due to normal business cycles. An other central insight from the project gives hope for the future. What we all need and wish, often without being fully aware of it, is a good, or an improved quality of life. If we go deeper into it, we find that the quality of life depends on a number of factors, not only of the economic standard of living. In some cases a reduced economic standard can even increase quality of life. As a consequence, it seems possible, in the long term, to increase or improve quality of life in the industrialized world without more (conventional) economic growth, and without more of the corresponding ecological problems. We have also seen that these global ecological problems cannot be solved without different changes in the economic system and in the relationship between the industrialized and the developing countries.
The second part of the project has drawn up the main lines of a strategy for a better direction of development, a strategy based on the better understanding given by the analysis from the former part. The strategy comprises a number of main elements supporting each other, and in addition, a large number of more specific proposals have been made within different fields, such as the economic, financial, political, educational, technological, environmental and the field of international trade. If we shall succeed, we must secure that insight and moral be unified with the political power on this planet. We have a long way to go.
The Norwegian book VERDEN HVORHEN? is published by Aquarius Forlag as, Oslo.
The author wishes to get in contact with a suitable UK or USA publisher. After the Table of Contents you will find a synopsis.
|1||HUMANITY, WHERE DO YOU GO?|
|2||ANALYSIS, UNDERSTANDING AND ACTION|
|3||A VISION OF OUR COMMON FUTURE|
|4||THE PRACTICAL LEVEL BEHIND THE VISION|
|5||THE PROBLEMS WE ARE FACING (An analysis of the actual state of the world)|
|5.3||Interactions between humans, the economic world system, environment and technology|
Motive power behind development - The roles as producers and consumers - The organisation of the commom functions
|5.5||The economic system
Some central qualities - Free trade, competition and unemployment - Industrialized and developing countries - Superproductivity - How intelligent are the market forces? - Formation and concentration of capital - Interest - Currency policy, interest and capital - Stability problems
|5.6||Economy - environment - resources - technology|
|5.7||The conditions of man in the economic system|
|5.8||Conditions besides the economic system
Competition and quality of life - Media as a factor in man's life - Violence and community - Culture - Leisure, environment and labour
|5.9||Evaluation of the official attitude to the problems
Economic policy - Non-economic aspects - Why doesn't the medicine work?
|6||STRATEGY FOR A BETTER COURSE
How to meet the moral crisis - How to meet the lack of insight
|7||HOW TO ADJUST THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM|
|7.1||Action against unemployment in industrial countries - Action against instability of the economic system and its unreasonable consequences|
|7.2||Action against concentration of people|
|7.3||Action against concentration of capital|
|7.4||How to improve conditions of developing countries
Action to promote sustainable economic growth - Action against unemployment and poverty - Model for developing economic life in developing countries
|7.5||Population and the economic system|
|8||HOW TO TAKE CARE OF NATURE
Action concerning resources and environment - Spare time and environment
How to improve public opinion and the quality of media - Quality of life - Violence and society - Family, children and young people - Culture and leisure time - Organisation and community control - Common functions - What the individual can do
|APPENDIX 1-6: A new account system - Standard of living and quality of life - Violence and society - Can the individual change himself? - Basic psychological factors and how they may influence society - Workshops and seminars.|
Synopsis of HUMANITY, WHERE DO YOU GO?
Page 33 - From "Summary of the analysis"
What purpose can it have to rationalize thousands of employees to unemployment? Earlier it was possible to create new jobs which paid higher wages instead of the jobs which disappeared through rationalizing procedures. This is much more difficult now mainly due to the following reasons: The more international trade is becoming "free", the stronger the international competition. In a market with surplus capacity rationalizing is pushed forward and jobs are getting lost. As a consequence people are too productive, so that some of them cannot get a job, even if the economic growth is large. In the past too, it happened that those who had a job produced more than their own consumption. But the "surplus" partly became capital at disposal, partly was given to others and to common consumption by the state. These transactions were not so large that they were not accepted. With a large degree of unemployment, the income reduction and the increase of expenditures of the state become so large that the situation may not be tolerated in the long term.
As a result, less people can produce the same quantity of products. Jobs are getting lost. As unemployed people have less money, the market demand is reduced, so that less jobs are needed to meet the reduced demand. Competition and the search for increased productivity get a new turning around.
"In fact, by helping their own export,
the countries try to
push unemplyment over the border to each other in a
process creating less jobs and more unsatisfied needs."
In order to act against this development authorities give the capital good conditions that it be used to create new profitable jobs. However, this seems not to happen in the industrialized countries. Why? The main reason seems to be that the preconditions for the creation of many new jobs are not there. In addition, capital has got better possibilities, such as public loans that may be more interesting than risky private placements.
Which preconditions are lacking? The demand for known products is not large enough to fill up the capacity of the existing production potential. It has therefore little meaning to increase capacity with new investments. In addition it has proved to be difficult to find enough new products that are interesting enough for free capital to produce them and create new jobs.
Why are "surplus capital" not used to meet the demands of those whose requirements are not met? Perhaps, if the owners of the money had been full of love, they would have done it. But it hadn't been a good solution. Most of us do not wish to live from values created by others. They still wish to work in order to create the value for one's livelihood and for that of the family, and for the self respect connected with it. That cannot be achieved through gifts, only through one's own effort. It is therefore necessary to create jobs to all who wish a job.
"Humans do not only need products to
meet material needs,
they also need to create the necessary values themselves."
When the "superfluous" money, the capital, is not being used to give purchasing power to those without jobs, how then is this capital used? Investment to increase production capacity for known products has little meaning, as there is free capacity already. On the other hand some capital may be used in a profitable way to support further rationalizing, and some of it may be used for production of new, promising products.
Page 45 - From "Summary of the analysis"
The economic and political system form to a large degree the living conditions of man's lives. How do they live under these conditions? Obviously, there is no simple answer to this question. We may find enormous riches and power among those who do well in this system. But they do not need to be happy. And we find millions without job, owing near to nothing. They will not be happy either. In spite of this, there are people who are happy although they own little and have a low status in society. A low standard of living does not exclude a high quality of life.
Can we say something about the consequences of the existing system for people in industrialized- and developing countries? In the industrialized countries people often work hard to keep their job in the tough climate of international competition. This competiton demands workers mobility, that they move where competition forces the companies to be located. Thus, the distance to familjy and friends, and to one´s social security support network increases. In addition one, and especially young people with family, are faced with high interest created by superficial politicians and speculants. To pay their bills many workers work overtime at the cost of the family, creating a stressful, unharmonious and insecure home or environment for their children.
Roughly spoken we can devide mankind in "stress-families" with jobs, possibly have father and mother jobs, and families without jobs. Both types of families offer bad conditions for children to grow up in. The stressed families often lack an atmosphere of peace and harmony. On the other hand unemployment leads to poor economy, it may give a low self-image and create irritation and psychic problems. In both cases education fails to offer a harmonious atmosphere and inward security, and will often fail to create the necessary inward limits in the children's minds as to what is allowed and not. Many parents fail to give their children a safe home with rich impulses to secure a harmonious and intelligent development. They buy freedom for themselves with material welfare for their chilren in order to give priority to their own leisure, cowardness or career. Research indicate that lack of care during the first period of life may contribute to an unfavourable development later on. Many young people, especially in developing countries and big towns grow up thinking that violence is a suitable mean of solving conflicts.
The purpose of education today is to create citizens who are conditioned to fit into a competitive society. That means that young people as adults will support the structures of today´s society. To get a job, they have to work hard at school, and in addition the quantity of knowledge has increased and the interconnections become more complex and difficult to understand. That lack of meaning can give rise to confusion about the world and about oneself. Out of this there may rise a need for relaxation and demand for medias entertainment. The popular and superficial become important. Even adults seem to gather still more knowledge and less understanding and insight.
"Probably we live at the beginning of the age of illusions."
Everybody, in particular unemployed young people, try to escape this sad existence and a risky future. Modern illusionary industry mislead them to do so. Many people feel it useless to participate in the debates of society because they have not the knowledge and do not expect to be heard.
"The more we loose contact with real
life, the more dangerous becomes
democracy, and the more doubtful the public opinion as a corrective."
Simultaneously the need for an awake and informed public opinion is larger than ever before. This applies both to industrialized- and developing countries. For those who always have to pay the bill, there is a need to create an informed and rational counterweight against spesializing and abuse of power.
Page 51 - From 5.2 - Public control
The objective of the steering of the society is not always clear either. The politicians argue in what direction society should move. That means that the captain is replaced by politicians from different parties who do not have the same goal for the "voyage". They have also different views as to where the "society vessel" is, and how the "waters" are. Here is correct information important. And at the top of this, the politicians have different opinions as to how the instruments, rudder and machinery, that is the means of society, work.
In society there are other people too than the politicians who influence the movement of the indicators; businessmen, media, pressure groups, capital manager etc. All have their personal goals. In addition groups, political parties and organizations have made their collective goals. The wish to realize these goals push them forward to do what they are doing. All of them act according to their information and thoughts about what will support them and what will not.
As "all is connected with all" in society, the use of one means will influence many factors, and one factor will be influenced by many different means.
"All together, we cannot talk about
control, but of
influencing society in a rather unclear process."
The conditions for this process are, roughly spoken given. Examples are: the resources of the country, the geografic location, the educational level, international agreements etc. But what one think of these conditions may vary; that too reduces clarity. And in addition, these conditions may be modified. Authorities in some countries have for instance dropped their possibility to regulate the capital current in and out of the country.
Guiding development of a society involves many problems. In some sense society has become more complex due to the increased international influence. On the other hand, this development has been made easier with complicated mathematical models. In spite of this, unexpected consequences may occur, and one may even achieve the opposite of what was intended. To achieve the desired outcome, it is important to be aware of the "bottlenecks" that may limit the effects of one's initiatives. This means that action will have two objectives; to reduce or eliminate the brakes and in addition to use socalled positive measures.
Today, society is charged with some special costs, for example
elimination of problem waste from companies and consumers. Some
countries are now charging the producers and consumers these costs.
In addition such production can be charged with taxes, based on
the steering principle; what society wants to reduce should be
Another aspect of great importance when directing the development of society is the existence of exponential growth especially linked to the rapid growth of the human population on earth, where the number of new inhabitants increases every year. At the beginning such population increase seems "harmless". However, to be within an exponential growth is like being in a slowly detonating bomb. Consequently, it is important to get out of the actual exponential population growth.
Page 58 - From 5.4 The roles of man - Media and their role
Which role do media play in society today? Let us have a look at the four mentioned fields. (1) Media influence public debate in many ways. They decide the themes, who is allowed to say something and, to some extent, what shall be said. To the editors, the petty kings of our time, it seems more important who is saying something, than what is being said. What the journalists and some known people say is given a weight far beyond the reader's letters, although journalists often harp on old news and reader's letters may have a quality high above some of the editorials. There are newspapers abroad, and perhaps some Norwegian, without such haughtiness, where good letters from the readers are given a presentation according to its quality.
Thus, freedom of the press is only actual for those who pass the sensorship of the editor, or have the capacity to launch their own magazin. It is a paradox that these private businessmen, who dayly execute sensorship to others - with reference to the freedom of the press - react extremely emotional against the slightest control of their own work.
The question is whether media focus on the right things. What is new, actual and popular, seem more important than the weight of the case, measured by its consequences. Therefore much attention is given to small things, while significant things, which are not acute, are easily neglected.
Often, media don´t ask the right questions either. However, this may be lack of insight more than lack of will. Still worse is it that money may influence media. One should not criticize a good advertiser. Recently a large company boicotted a newspaper because it had reported that the owner of the said company was accused of embezzlement. What consequences may it have for media's independency that their advertizing incomes are getting higher?
Media have a special relationship to politicians and politics in general. Politicians are often very interested in re-election, and thus depend on media for their own publicity. Is it strange that media have been allowed to overstep their limits without corrections from the politicians?
(2) The task of keeping official administration clean, (= the role of "the fourth power" of the state) seems to function satisfactorily in most democracies. Those who introduced the tree-divided power of the country were obviously aware of the fear of abuse of power. The three powers should control each other. In addition media should control them all. But who should control media? Whilst the control of the three has developed further, the control of media is still insufficient or missing. Media's general impact on the opinion will be dicussed under 5.8.2.
Which role do media play in developing countries? To a larger degree media seem to be used by the authorities as a tool in religious and political propaganda. Used that way media may even by purpose nourish hatred between nations and groups of people.
For millions of poor people without hope, media offer escape from reality through all forms of films. Although media also are being used to eliminate information and to desinformation, the underprivileged people have information enough to compare their own situation with those who are more privileged. Is that the way wishes for weapons are created or the desire to leave for an industrialized country as an economic refugee?
A sort of "media-war" is going on between the "North" and the "South". The large information agencies in the developed countries have dominated information even in the developing countries. These countries have found this information unsatisfactory and are now creating their own information agency and system in order to give a more balanced picture of their countries; they are more than poverty and suffering.
Information crime is a new phenomenon. One became aware of it after the Gulf war. Some persons from Kuwait's upper class had hired a US public relation agency to plant biased information into the opinion and to the president's advisers. One may ask today whether there had been a Gulf war without this information?
Page 64 - From 5.4.2 The roles as producer and consumer
We are all driving forces as consumers and producers. Looking closer, we find that these forces do not act in the same direction. In a way, we, public opinion, are schizophrenic because we push in different directions dependant on whether we are consumers or producers. The reason may be that we do not reason deeply enough, and that we - out of this lack of perspective - only respond in the way we think will be the most beneficial to us.
We are protected as consumers, because producers and production,
with which we indentify, do things that we, as consumers, are
not interested in. Products may not be what they promise. They
may be environmentally harmful or dangerous. Price agreements
can make the products (unduly) more expensive etc.
On the other hand are we, as producers, urged in different ways to serve the interests of the company and ourselves. It may involve increased productivity, different types of restructuring of the company, fear of loosing the job etc. Where does this pressure come from? It comes from competition and the desire to survive or expand in the market. Who is pushing this competition forward? The market, wanting all things as good and cheep as possible. And the market? - at the end is it all of us. Roughly, this is how the mechanism works in a free market with overproduction.
It seems that we primarily consider ourselves as producers and not as consumers, although we, mankind, consume what we produce. What we produce gives us jobs and associated benefits, income, satisfied requirements and a certain standard of living. High prices are the basis for a healthy economy of the company and for high wages. As consumers we primarily use products made by other people. And they shall (of course) be as cheap and as good as possible, simply spoken. This means, in the over all view, that we are activating forces which put pressure on everyone, that we put pressure on ourselves, that we increase productivity, unemployment and a desire for ecomomic growth which the environment obviously cannot sustain.
"This means, in the over all view,
that we are activating forces which
put pressure on everyone, that we put pressure on ourselves."
As producers we are well organized, not as consumers. Therefore increase of productivity does not primarily lead to reduced prices, even though that would have increased standard of living to all of us, would have prevented new unemployment and therefore been solidary for both reasons.
In an expanding market this works somewhat better. The risk of loosing a job is not so large, and the forces, which are also present in this situation, involves expanding fast enough to increase market shares and to create new jobs. That is a more positive, "successful" process.
If the market expands so much that growth (in %) exceeds growth of productivity (in %), than unemployment may eventually diminish to zero. All is well, except the environment that will not be able to sustain this economic growth. This situation is the basis for development of material welfare of the conventional type, where less profitable production will be phased out and replaced by more profitable production.
Page 79 - From 5.5 The economic system
What are the consequences if more public jobs are established? Useful work may be done. More people would have a job, and payments from the national health insurance would be reduced correspondingly. The cost would be approximately the difference between the unemployment benefit and the salary. In addition improved purchasing power gives increased demand for products (or increased payments of instalment or saving of money). Consequently, this type of work is cheap. In addition many workers and their families would get a better quality of life with less economic, social or psychological problems. Society may even have the advantage of less crime and less use of certain social services.
The disadvantage would first of all be that people would have to pay more taxes, and the companies might have to bear some of the costs. Where strong unions wish to maintain the financial benefits of their members, the companies would be forced to compensate for the increased taxes with increased wages. As a consequence some of the companies would eventually have to close down, and jobs would get lost. More public jobs may therefore cause losses of private jobs. In this case one would not achieve anything. In fact, one may have made harm for oneself, as it is difficult to re-establish a lost job in a private company.
How does the other alternative work, to improve the companies conditions and their ability to compete internationally? One may reduce taxes in different ways or give subsidies. This would strain the country's economy and may lead to losses of public jobs. New taxes to compensate this would reduce demands in the market. Increased abitity of the companies to compete may reduce imports and increase exports and thereby create new jobs. But at the same time a corresponding number of jobs would be lost in the countries where these products were produced before. One's own problems are solved by exporting them to other countries.
If this happens in other countries too, and that is often the case, the effect of the effort is that the companies, with the covernments' help, push the unemployment problem forth and back across the borders. During this process one tries to improve productivity continuously, so that the same production can be executed by a smaller number of employees.
"To compete internationally to supply
customers with known
products is to compete on existing jobs in a process that all
together reduces the total number of jobs."
If trade is "free", companies have to compete on the markets. Their weapons are prices, quality, design, time of delivery, marketing, service etc. However, there are less shiny weapons too: Threaths of reprisals, industrial espionage, purchase and eliminating of competitors, false information, hidden subsidies from the authorities etc. If trade is "unfree" one compets with hidden trade obstacles and hidden subsidies. In this case authorities have to act with the companies as assistants.
Let us illustrate this by an example (1994): Japan exports cheap products to Europe and USA without importing correspondingly so that Japan gains an enormous balance in it's favour. Thus Japan exports unemployment to other countries. In spite of this Japan has to struggle with a certain unemployment recently due to reduced exports. The unemployment in Europe and the USA, to which Japan has contributed, contributes later on to a recession that strikes Japan in the form of reduced exports. In addition, the yen is strong due to the economic power of Japan, and puts a certain brake on exports. Other contributors to unemployment in Japan seems to be surplus capacity in the market with the corresponding increase of efficiency in their own country and a tougher competition in the countries they are exporting to.
The problem of unemployment in wide areas of the world cannot be solved in that way. The problem has to be solved out of an overall understanding to which this book wishes to contribute.
Page 92 - From 5.5.4 The superproductive system
We will now ignore the environmental limitations and ask: What happens if (1) a smaller number of people are in charge of a production capacity that can meet the needs of all people, and (2) which are the driving forces towards this concentration of production to only a few superproductive jobs?
What is the most productive system we can imagine? Fully automatized (and continuously operating) factories for all sorts of products, from natural resources to finished products? Automatized factories made by other automatized factories and so on? The driving force in this direction is obvious; international competition in a free trade system, as discussed earlier. Such a supersystem also needs people, partly highly qualified persons to develop, establish and operate it. However, as this superproductive system can produce far more than what these few persons can consume directly, one will need markets, that means people outside the system who can consume without having produced.
Do we here see the contours of a self interest in being generous? The producing people will have to give to those outside the system parts of what they produce so that their great system may function properly? They can distribute the products directly or through a money-system, where parts of the stream pass through those who do no other "work" than, with their consumption to contribute to the good functioning of the supersystem. The psychological fortune (and motivation) for those who produce and share are: (1) They obtain the power over a far larger system, and (2) they avoid all the usual disadvantages of unemployment: Beggars, crime, disease etc. (3) They are financing services that they may need themselves. And (4) they can show how good they are. If, on the other hand the system is large enough to function without giving anything, - which may be the case in a developing phase - and if the compassion towards those outside the system is limited, then it may happen that large groups outside the system have neither jobs nor gifts in the form of money or products. This is for instance the case in India and somewhere in Italy, where a fully automatized car factory has been erected in the middle of unemployment.
But even if the gentlemen in this supersystem are "good" and distribute products to those who do not work, many of them will never have a job. They will form an under-class dependent on "hand-outs". Most of them will be frustrated due to lack of self-respect and meaningful use of their time etc. If they are numerous, they may organize and try to get out of their situation by use of violence. The reason why they will never get a job is simply that the jobs don't exist any more. The jobs have been taken by robots and technology. They work cheaper and better, unorganized and without personal departments. If all people should get a job in such a supersystem, a production potentional would be erected far beyond what the country could consume. Through cheap exports unemployment is exported. If many countries have reached this state, the production potentional would far exceed what humanity could consume and the Earth could bear.
Slowly the world society develops in this direction because
productivity increases gradually all time due to further development
of international competition, technology, organisation, management
and other factors. Once development of this complex machinery
is set in motion it will not be easy to change its direction.
Page 123 - From 5.7 Man in the economic system
The economic system has consequences for old people too. They are positive and negative. Larger economic resources then ever before are available to secure old people a sufficient standard of living and care, if health should fail. However, the contact between generations is reduced to the detriment of both grandparents and grand children.
Older people who are staying healthier longer, both physically and psychologically, are often neglected, because their status has changed considerably during the last decades. From being honoured people with experience and knowledge who one listened to, they are now more considered to be an anonymous charge on the state´s economy. If a pensioner wants to work, the opinion is that he or she takes a job from an unemployed person. And in politics most old people are being pushed out. If one has reached the pensionable age, one has become a "pensioner", unless one belongs to the new upper class of old people becoming a former ambassador, a former general etc.
Page 127 - From 5.7 Man in the economic system
How influence living conditions the situation of children and young people? After having discussed some "new" elements in the living conditions of children and young people, we will now have a look at "new elements" in their behaviour and health. It seems logically that what is new in behaviour and health may have someting to do with the new living conditions. To find more exact linkages seems difficult or impossible, except some limited examples, such as the probable connection between allergy and air pollution and nicotine and fetus deformation.
What new of importance to us can be observed as to the behaviour of children and young people? Schools have problems due to lack of consentration, unrest and lack of dicipline. As the mondays seem to be worse, some people link it to intencive TV and VIDEO-watching as a contributing factor. Early sex is another phenomenon; some young people leave their homes and live together with a lover. Is it a need for safety and frankness that their homes did not meet? The large felllowship in which young people go to - and integrate with - at music festivals may perhaps have a similar reason?
Alcohol, drugs, crime and suicide are not new phenomena among young people, but the increase during the last years is remarkable. It seems clear that young people from homes using, and especially abusing, alcohol or drugs, are more disposed to do the same things. Here the significance of the home again becomes obvious although the links are more complex. At the same time the economic system is becoming more liberate so that drugs and alcohol become more accessible.
Looking at the overall situation for young people, a picture emerges which shows that more demends are placed on them than before. On the other hand, the parents and society have not given them the strength to face all this. On the contrary, many parents do not have the ability to give them a safe and harmonious childhood and youth. Therefore so many children experience lack of love and care with the consequence that they get problems later in their lives.
"Unfortunately, our culture offers
little that could help
these people to understand themselves, that they might
solve their own problems without conflicts."
Cannot this situation increase the risk for some young people
to react in one of two different ways: To "live-it-up"
while there is time. Or to resign, become frustrated and seek
comfort in video and decibel?
Page 136 - From 5.8.2 On media in human life
As to the generel influence of the public, we will have to choose some central aspects: The width, thoroughness and objectivity of information. Within the popular fields people are reasonably well informed. But media may give people the wrong impression of what is important and unimportant. In addition the frequent failures of the media may influence people psychologically, especially when these failures are not censored. And self-criticism is nearly absent. We are perhaps in a vicious circle when media attracts buyers of economic reasons with the consequence that one focuses on sensational news and misinformation. As the buyers thus get what they want, they will be influenced by the media and so on. Therefore the buyers are responsible too of their contributing role in enpowering such media.
Finally, we shall mention the tendency of media to speak in "capital letters". The increasing use of pictures and large headlines may to many people contribute to a misleading impression of the content. The main message shall be presented short and fast, and therefore often uncomplete and without details. A deeper understanding of what is really going on can not be mediated that way. Because public opinion should be well-informed and aware of what is going on and not going on at the political level, this superficial and often misleading journalistic practice is despicable. A critical opinion is weakened by peoples indifference. But it is also weakened through lack of true and honest information. Medias responsibility is great.
TV programs for young people deserve equally a comment. Much of it is "normal". Some of the programs disjointed, giving half-truths and fractured sequences without context. There is action without context. What may the consequences be of such influence where the only aim seems to be a conscious and unconscious stimulation of emotional feelings like fear, sex, loneliness, aggression etc.? Am I right when I assume that this may lead to lack of concentration and at best make them passive?
Thus, media are not only information, but to an increasing
degree entertainment too. More and more they fill people´s
spare time. That some of this entertainment may dull their minds
seems less doubtful than that violence and sex as entertainment
in the long term may make them indifferent and break down decent
codes of behaviour in society. This professionally conducted contamination
of the human mind on such a large scale cannot possibly be favourable.
Page 162 - From 7.1.1 How make use of productivity growth?
Productivity is now undergoing a more or less rapid growth in most countries. We have already seen why it happens. Before we discuss how one should make use of it, we will see which alternatives one has. (To make it clear: Productivity growth is not directly linked to profitability. But we will not go into that here.) Companies' increased productivity may give:
- Increased salaries (and other benefits) to those who have a job. (It will create larger differences in the standard of living between those who have a job and those who have not. But increased demand may give more jobs.)
- Increased dividend to the shareholders. (This may lead to increased concentration of capital and - in some cases - increased unemployment: Fewer employees can produce the same, and the dividend to shareholders does not necessarily lead to an increased demand and more jobs.)
- Reduced working hours. (May eventually reduce unemployment. In any case, this alternative will not increase unemployment.)
- More share capital in the companies. (Will improve their ability to bear losses, eventually increase their willingness to take risks, or be the basis for expansion within the country or abroad.)
- Taxes. (If the state takes a too large part, the incitement to increase productivity may be eliminated.)
- Productivity growth may also lead to lower prices.
In this case the customer gets the benefit. To the company it means improved ability to compete, but not increased profitability. To the customers/consumers it means a little higher standard of living. To society it means less concentration of capital and spreading of purchasing power. If there is a trend to reduce prices of many products simultaneously, one may risk deflation.
A more detailed analysis has shown that unemployment especially then occurs, when the "profit" is used in the form of reduced (and unequally dispersed) spare time, so that some lose their jobs and others work as much as before. Unemployment may also occur if capital, or the capital owners, get a to large part of the profit in the form of money. This concentration of capital may lead to lack of demand in the market, so that the whole production cannot be sold. In addition we get surplus production capacity with all its disantvantages. If one will avoid unemployment, one should avoid the two mentioned solutions. If one in addition wishes to avoid to charge nature with more economic growth, productivity growth should as far as possible be used in the form of more spare time for the employees. Capital will have its normal interest, so that business still should get a sufficient capital supply.
Page 168 - From 7.1.2 Measures against unemployment in industrialized countries
In the economic system of today one often exploit the natural resources of the nations to maintain a standard of living with a consumption larger than what is being produced, eventually to create balance in foreign trade. That happens in Norway and the OPEC countries with the oil. It happened in EU who "emptied" the see for fish, in Indonesia and Brazil with deforestation of tropical forests. And it happens in Israel, Italy and other countries who exploit their ground water resources.
"Experts" have said that wages in Norway have to be reduced to make the companies able to compete. However, companies' ability to compete depends not only on the wages, but also on design, marketing, capital costs etc. Yet, such measures have already been proposed in other countries. This would mean a new tool in international competition; low consumption as a factor of competition. This measure would only be a weapon in the war pushing unemployment to other nations without solving the basic problems. Such procedure would in fact involve dangerous aspects. By reducing wages, purchase power would at first be reduced and later on would the number of unemployed workers increase. In the short term a country might capture some jobs from other countries and believe they had done a wise thing. But they are part of an international process where the total number of jobs inevitably would be reduced. A similar measure would be a reduction of the number of holidays, and our comment would be the same.
Trade between industrialized and developing countries should not be allowed to create more unemployment in industrialized countries where there are many unemployed people already. Developing countries should be helped in other ways. We shall come back to this soon. Free import of cheap products from developing countries would involve a sort of transformation of standard of living. For the present free trade should be restricted. These products are cheap mainly for two reasons. Because wages (and standards of living) are low, and because these countries mutually compete in a market dominated by the industrialized countries.
Before one opens up for more import from developing countries, one should have found compensation in the form of new sustainable and profitable jobs and/or an international agreement to reduce working hours below growth of productivity, as described above. But free trade should not go so far that the economy of the industrialized world might collaps. That could lead to great economic and political problems, which could affect the developing countries too.
- This implies that import to industrialized- from developing countries and Eastern Europe (and eventual from superproductive systems) should be regulated until conditions for a more equal competition exist. This includes even agricultural products. One will approach to this more equal state as the wages become more equal and as the developing countries manage to solve their problem of unemployment.
- Industrialized countries should produce more of the products they consume.
- It should be investigated which preconditions will be necessary to secure the good function of a national economic system (production, consumption, distribution and the financial system).
Page 174 - From 7.1.2 Measures against unemployment in industrialized countries
Freedom of capital
When we talk about freedom of capital, we mean its possibility to go where it "will" and to concentrate as much as it "will". Our investigations have shown that it is very important to the economic system and to all who depend on it, how available capital is used and how expensive it is to use it. It is of public interest that capital be used to meet needs.
Let us first make a short summary. What is the role of capital in todays situation, with overproduction in large parts of the business world? A smaller part of it is (1) used to establish (profitable) production of new products. Some of it is (2) used to replace humans with machinery in existing business and (3) to public investments and even public consumption. And some of it is (4) used to buy (and sell) shares and currencies to achieve labour-free profit. Only point (1) and (3) contribute to meet actual needs. But (3) has also an unfavourable aspect, because it is a competitor to that use of capital which people would prefer. In addition, it contributes to higher interest rates. Point (2) acts against our preferances, and the same can be said of point (4).
It is legitimate for capital to seek the best investment. If authorities wish capital to act in accordance with public interests, they will have to make it more attractive for capital to do so. Two principally different measures are at disposal. Authorities can make it more attractive for capital to be spent on what the public want. Or, they can make all other possibilities less attractive, so that the remaining, preferred use after all becomes the best alternative for the capital managers. From this we suggest the following proposals:
- Capital should be influenced so that it "acts" in accordance with public interests, and that it be kept away from what is undesirable.
- All should be done to secure that interesting, new products can get the necessary capital to establish production and new jobs. (The pressure directed towards rationalizing investments are reduced through measures mentioned earlier.)
- Official projects based on loan should be limited to avoid capital to be lead away from the more risky business investments and to avoid higher interest.
- Action should be taken to make speculation less attractive than investments in business. The problem is however, that when too many want to make investments (on the stock exchange) in business that for no other reasons do not expand, than it becomes speculative, because the rates of exchange rises without basis in reality. In a common market will a higher demand and higher prices lead to higher production and reduced prices again. Thus, the unbalance between supply and demand is being eliminated. But in the stock market, it does not work that way. Higher prices do not lead to production (and increased supply) of shares. What happens then? Do the rates continue to rise without limits? If that were the case, one had a secure source of "value creation". However, the laws of games and psychology rule the "formatin of values" of this market. As we have seen how the consequences spread thoughout the economic system, authorities have every reason to keep an eye on this special market. And no authority should contribute to escalate the rates with their tax-policy.
Page 206 - From 9.2 How to improve quality of life?
Although one is talking more about quality of life now, not only of standard of living, the whole society, including the international society, is organised to achieve a rise in the standard of living through economic growth. It seems therefore urgent to learn to think anew.
In the project behind this book we have realized that an increase of quality of life is obviously the primary goal all the time, regardless our situation. Because development has been so fast during the last few generations our thinking, our goals and organisation to achieve those goals have become antiquated. However, we are not fully aware of it, neither have we taken the consequences. Roughly spoken, we think that continuous rise in the standard of living is central to improve human quality of life, as it was some decades ago. We have now seen that the standard of living is good as long as it improves our quality of life. Especially when the standard of living is low, quality of life will increase in proportion with the standard of living. If the standard of living is high enough, quality of life may even decline if the standard of living should further increase. In the global perspective we have further seen that a policy which increases conventional standard of living may threaten quality of life of the entire future humanity.
In an ideal world the possible standard of living within the
limits of sustainability, should be used to meet the basic needs
of as many people as possible. Probably, that may only be achieved
if people in the industrialized world will recognize increase
of quality of life as the primary goal. The way to further
increase quality of life for all of us seems to lie before us,
and that is the main thing. One has only to realize it!
In realizing what means and measures are needed, we will have to focus on: (1) What one can do to increase quality of life for oneselves. (2) What one can do to increase quality of life for others. And (3) what society can do to improve quality of life for most of us.
What can one do to increase quality of life for oneself? If we can influence our quality of life in a favourable way, it will often be of advantage to others too. It is true that some people leave their family, children and partner, to improve quality of life for themselves through another partner. If, on the other hand, quality of life consists of inner harmony, it will also benefit people living near to them.
- The relationship to ourselves is also central for our relationship to material things, titles and our environment. To have a look at this first, we refer to Appendix 4, Which possibilities has man to change himself?
- In addition we will mention how inclined we are to take risks, to expose us to danger, to lead a life that in the long term may harm our health and our own quality of life for years. Indirectly, this will harm the quality of life for those who live next to us.
What can one do to increase quality of life for others?
- The role of the educator is central here, because the educator influences the quality of life of young people not only through direct contact, but throughout their lifetime. Who is the educator? Many, but obviously the parents and the school are central because they have the most intensive and lasting contact with the young person. One seems to agree that the way one is, is important, not what is being said. But what is being said must of course correspond with what one does.
Page 246 - From Appendix no. 5 "Mechanisms" in the human mind
We are used to learn about the human psyche in psychology books. Of course, we can learn a lot this way. Nevertheless we live with ourselves, our own psyche year after year, throughout our lives. That gives us the possibility to learn about ourselves more directly, if we are aware. Here I present some of what one can discover in oneself if one observes with great attention, and what conclusions one can draw from these observations.
We are very product-oriented in the Western World. We work to achieve something, tacitly understood, some future day. Behind our action is a motive; what we wish to achieve. That means also that we are living in the dimension of time. When the goal is reached, it will be good. But there is another way of living too. The "motive" here is being interested in doing what one is doing. The motive is put into inverted comma, as it is no real motive. One does what one does because one likes to do it, not to achieve something in the future. One is present here and now. The whole activity is process-oriented, not product-oriented. One may even be disappointed when the process has come to an end because the process itself was interesting, fascinating, fun.
As a child we lived process-oriented all of us. Observe the little child, when it is fully occupied with seeing, using the senses, experimenting with what it has in its hands. In this case the child is experiencing a learning process almost free of thoughts about a result. This implies that that in me, which is thinking, is not the same as that in me which is sensing and feeling. It implies also that there is no thinker apart from thought, only a thinking process creating thoughts. This one may discover within oneself. The mentioned learning process is incredibly efficient. At no other age does the child learn so fast. And what it learns is real because the senses and the movements bring the child in direct contact with reality.
As the usual thinking process develops, this direct experiencing gradually gets lost. The thinking process (and the types of feelings linked to it) take over as the dominating factor in our consciousness. Thought deals with symbols, which only represent (parts of) reality, and not allways that either, because we also use words without any counterpart in reality at all. Past and future are such words. All that exists, exists here and now. In the real world there is no past and no future, only in our symbol world of thought.
We, as adults did not graduate from the child´s way of living. We lost someting valuable when thinking became the dominant factor in our consciousness. But what got lost can be re-established, and it can function perfectly well together with a developed intellect. One can discover and make use of the "security valve" consisting of the observation of ones own reactions with alert curiousity and interest here and now. This is one aspect of the self knowledge that should be part of our culture. That would give a significant contribution to a better quality of life in one's daily work and in our spare time.
Society lacks this insight. But should this understanding come about, it would have great consequences for our understanding of what it means to be human, our possibilities and limitations. We hear often that all will be well if one only would do this or that. The tacit condition is that human beings have a free will to do whatever they choose. But is this true? Experience doesn´t seem to confirm this view.