Where in the world can we go to get an accurate picture of where capitalism will inevitably lead us 20 to 30 years down the road?
Communist China, ironically.
When referring to sheer numbers, China's economy has grown to the point of invincibility. The unemployment rate is incredibly low at 4.1 percent, GDP climbs significantly nearly every quarter, and more and more industries are locating to China to produce their goods. China's population is exploding, meaning more tax dollars and productivity. Many American businesses talk of adapting to the "Chinese Model" of doing business. But how has China become the shining beacon of capitalism the world over?
Foxconn may have taken up the bulk of the news coverage, but they're merely one of many examples of China's business culture. Unions are almost unheard of in China, as is anything resembling a living wage, adequate benefits packages or labor regulations. Companies such as Foxconn can pay their employees as little as they wish, make them work unbelievably long hours, employ them at very young ages, hold them to unrealistically high standards, and sap their employees' physical and mental health until they work themselves to exhaustion or injury, even to the point of threatening mass suicide at the workplace.
Environmental standards for Chinese businesses are similarly deplorable. In some parts of China, air quality is so bad that being outside requires wearing a mask to avoid breathing in dangerous particulates emitted by coal plants, unrestrained by any clean air regulations. Groundwater in rural Chinese communities and big cities alike has been shown to cause cancer through consumption, as 70 percent of lakes and rivers are polluted. Conditions are unlikely to change, because the Chinese government refuses to impose regulations on the companies that employ a bulk of their people. Their excuse is to "help enterprises pass the winter."
The Chinese model has prevailed. American labor unions have lost their last bit of influence and the halls of Congress are completely filled with corporatists eager to undo a century's worth of regulations to enrich their campaign donors' bottom lines. Reversing corporate funding of elections would require an amendment to the United States Constitution that would not only have to pass through both halls of Congress and be signed by the president, but also ratified by three-fourths of the states. Such a plan would take decades to succeed, which is longer than we have to radically change society.
Our current problems are all rooted in greed and inequality -- corporate greed, Wall Street greed, greed of the top .001 percent, who now own more than 970 times more than the bottom 90 percent. Such greed has led to staggering inequality even greater than the inequality that preceded the economic crash of 1929. Nearly all income is flowing to a very tiny minority in a country of more than 310 million people. And even though the size of the U.S. economy has tripled since 1960, middle and lower-class wages have actually gone down. And those at the very top can't make up for the lost economic activity of the bottom 90 percent. This has inhibited the rest of the country's ability to create new wealth, rendering more and more once middle-class people to become dependent on government assistance just to meet daily costs of living.
In the years it would take to enact positive campaign finance reform, new rules for lobbying, term limits for lawmakers in carefully gerrymandered districts, a new generation of organized workers, carbon emission limits, nationwide green energy infrastructure, universal health care, elimination of wasteful corporate tax loopholes and subsidies for big corporations, and meaningful tax reform that will redistribute wealth from the top .001 percent to the rest of us through conventional political means, the middle class will be long gone and our planet's health will have deteriorated beyond the point of no return. Lasting change has to come through not reforming our broken and corrupt system, but through implementing a new system entirely from scratch.
The Venus Project calls for the elimination of a currency-based economy and the implementation of a resource-based economy. TVP's ideal society would be powered by sustainable housing and communities, powered by renewable energy, would use scientific developments and state-of-the-art technology to automate everything necessary for the continuation of the human species. Everything from production, manufacturing, inventory, distribution and transportation would be automated, as we have the technology now available to do so. And because it would be powered by clean energy, generated from the sun, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal sources, humans would need only to set these systems up, and as a species, begin a new, sustainable lifestyle.
Questions that TVP raises:
-Are our lives really only about acquiring an education, developing a skill, earning money, paying taxes and procreating, and making kids to live the same lives as cogs in a capitalist/consumerist machine?
-Should humanity be about celebrating being human and living in a way that preserves our resources, or about earning money, consuming resources, and providing for your family?
-What if, instead of spending 8 hours a day (realistically more like 12 to 14 for a lot of us) at a job to earn money, if money was no longer an issue and everyone had enough resources to live comfortably on, because resources were our economy?
-What if we had a system where we did away with corporations like Monsanto and Cargill, and food was organically grown through new technology?
-Do we want to keep up our lifestyle and economy until gas hits $20 per gallon and creates mass hysteria, or do we want to start working toward a system where gas prices are irrelevant?
Such a system, critics say, would be rendered irrelevant by the greed inherent in human nature. That's where a concept like the Equal Money System comes into play -- it guarantees an equal income for all people, from birth to death. Greed is borne out of fear that there may not be enough one day, so those feeling the human urge for self-sufficiency and survival will grab and hoard all they can, with little regard for the needs of others. An equal money system will negate that fear, eventually leading to the elimination of greed several generations down the road.
Such solutions are radical, but so are the problems we face as a species. Our goals must be to create these systems on our own and render irrelevant the corrupt authority currently in power, or we run the risk of letting mutant capitalism take hold, like it already has in China.