Written by Jeff Nielson Sunday, 06 January 2013 14:49
It is an utter absurdity that “sustainable development” is a proverbial four-letter word throughout our society. No, I’m not referring to the fact that “sustainable development” is actually a two-word, twenty-two letter phrase. I’m referring to the utter, logical absurdity of this attitude.
Proclaim you’re an advocate of sustainable development, and then just stand back as right-wing Neanderthals hurl their idiot-epithets at you. Environmentalist. Socialist. Communist. In fact, however, what advocating sustainable development really signifies is a basic understanding of economics, and the ability to perform arithmetic.
As any/every economy matures, economic growth steadily slows – literally toward zero. This is not a “theory.” This is empirical evidence, from every nation and culture on the planet, spanning thousands of years.
When an economy begins development, growth is initially rapid as economic opportunities abound. However, over time these opportunities dry up; as there are less new markets to discover and the old markets begin to become “crowded” with competitors.
Understand that if one is against sustainable development then ipso facto you are an advocate for “unsustainable development.” Unsustainable development – in a finite system – is not an “economic strategy.” Rather, it is conclusive evidence of either insanity or idiocy: seeking to do the impossible, or not understanding that you seek to do the impossible.
But we’re not dealing with simple idiocy here. We compound that idiocy, many times over. In addition to the inevitable slowing of maturing economies, we have piled insane amounts of debt onto all these mature economies – making them hopelessly insolvent. These massive, perpetual interest payments then (again as a matter of arithmetic) inevitably reduce growth rates further.
Put aside all of the obvious Western Deadbeats (led by the U.S.). Let’s look at Canada. A quarter-century ago when Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio soared above 70% it was universally agreed by governments, the media, and their esteemed experts that Canada was experiencing “a debt crisis.”
Today, with Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio above 80% it is hailed as a paragon of fiscal prudence by these same governments, media, and experts. Obviously the rules of arithmetic haven’t changed in the last 25 years, meaning you cannot re-define solvency. We are being lied to.
Nearly all Western economies are spiraling toward complete debt-implosion – at which time the more than $1 quadrillion in assorted banker, paper Ponzi-schemes will also implode. Want to get some idea of what that will look like? Think Greece.
Thirty percent unemployment (that’s the “official” numbers). A more than doubling of the suicide rate. An economy which is disintegrating so fast that even after the government defaulted on more than 75% of its debts it’s more insolvent today than when it’s own “debt crisis” officially began.
After Greece’s economy has been reduced to nothing but rubble, after ordinary (innocent) people there have been subjected to a level of suffering which no one in our societies can (yet) comprehend; what will we see? In rebuilding from the rubble suddenly there will once again be opportunities for growth. Then the whole “unsustainable development” cycle starts over again: an economic model where the only possible outcome is complete self-destruction. And soon it will be our turn to be “Greece.”
Why do we have an entire economic system which operates like a lemming in a sports car – where as it sees the yawning chasm approaching it steps on the gas? Because the people who control this economic system – the bankers, politicians, and Oligarchs behind them – are the people who prosper the most while our Ponzi-scheme economies create this massive bubble; and they suffer the least when it inevitably implodes.
Written by Jeff Nielson Thursday, 03 January 2013 13:28
How do we define the term “obscenely wealthy”? We start with people who already have more wealth than any humans in the history of our species. We then watch these people getting much wealthier, much faster than anyone else on the planet. And then we listen to them lusting for even more wealth.
No one does a better job of illustrating obscene wealth than the lovers-of-Big-Money at Bloomberg. It’s recent headline summarizes this attitude perfectly:
Billionaires Worth $1.9 Trillion Seek Advantage in 2013
We have a handful of Oligarchs sitting on a mountain of wealth large enough to completely eliminate global poverty – with enough left over for they and their entire family clans to live lives of perpetual luxury. However this is not the truly “obscene” aspect of this paradigm. The true obscenity lies in the fact that these Oligarchs remain obsessed with getting much richer, much faster – and at the expense (literally) of everyone else.
Again, Bloomberg illustrates this for us with perfect clarity. It notes that these billionaires who were worth roughly $1.65 trillion at the beginning of 2012 are now worth $1.9 trillion at the end of 2012. That’s approximately a 15% increase in their total wealth, in one year, after paying(?) their taxes, and after all the lavish spending which characterizes the life of the average billionaire.
How many of the Working Poor got 15% wealthier last year – after paying their taxes and all their living expenses? Zero? Indeed, only the most entrepreneurial (or crooked) millionaires would have been able to increase their wealth at the obscene rate of these billionaires. Yet what do we hear out of the mouths of Billionaires like Warren Buffett? “Tax the millionaires.”
Specifically, tax the income of the millionaires (much harder). Note that the billionaires also have large incomes. However, once one acquires this obscene level of wealth, “income” becomes a trivial element of their total wealth.
Few billionaires have annual (taxable) “incomes” above $50 million/year. Yet for even a ‘bare’ billionaire this amounts to only 5% of their total wealth. So how did all of these billionaires get wealthier by an average of 15% last year alone? The untaxed appreciation of their vast assets.
Even if all the incomes of all the billionaires were taxed at 100%, these billionaires would still be getting wealthier much faster than anyone else in society. This is why I continue to regularly point out in my commentaries that it is never possible to construct a fair tax system based on income taxation. Inevitably, income taxation makes those on the bottom much poorer, while allowing the Top-1% to accumulate (and hoard) wealth at a rate which would have made the kings and queens of the Middle Ages envious.
The only possible fair form of taxation is wealth taxation, specifically a flat wealth tax. Everyone pays the same rate, and no one (including the billionaires) is able to hide the vast majority of their wealth from the Tax Man. Thus when Warren Buffett says “tax the (incomes of the) millionaires”, he doesn’t say this because he wants to start paying his “fair share” of taxes. He says this so that he (and his Oligarch buddies) can continue to avoid paying their fair share.
Note that Bloomberg makes it clear that the Oligarchs aren’t satisfied with getting only 15% wealthier in one year. In 2013 they want an “advantage” for themselves. This presents two, obvious questions for readers.
How much richer do these Oligarchs think they are entitled to become in 2013? How much richer do the Oligarchs think the Little People are entitled to become in 2013?