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Book Review: Occupy World Street 284

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
jsuda writes "For those billions of people for whom the current political-economic system doesn't work–the Occupy Wall Street people, the Tea Partiers, the 99%-ers and have-nots, the middle and lower classes, and the rest of the unwashed masses, Occupy World Street is a starburst of enlightenment and a practical vision of hope for a new and advanced society." Read on for jsuda's review
Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform
author Ross Jackson
pages 336
publisher Chelsea Green Publishing
rating 9/10
reviewer jsuda
ISBN 1603583882
summary shows how a handful of small nations could take on a leadership role; create new alliances, new governance, and new global institutions; and, in cooperation with grassroots activists, pave the way for other nations to follow suit.
The book is subtitled appropriately "A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Order." It functions in a substantial way as the missing "content" for the Occupy Wall Street movement people who know that global capitalism and its political elite are screwing the middle and lower classes and the world environment but don't know exactly how they are doing it and how to change things. The book provides an unusually lucid analysis of the American political-economic system which should make clear to the Tea Partiers what their real targets of rage should be (it's not merely the Democrats nor the federal government.) Nearly everyone else who wants a "big picture" comprehensive analysis of the global economic system will be educated by this book.

The author, Ross Jackson, identifies who and what is responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown and many other problems in society. Most prominent are a seriously-flawed "neo-liberal economic philosophy" and the political-elite class which sponsors that philosophy for self-interested reasons at the expense of the rest of us. Jackson makes clear that economic philosophical theory is not value free and is class politics in disguise. But way more importantly than the mere class versus class struggle, the neo-liberal economic philosophy has created severe energy and environmental problems which are almost certain to lead soon to major economic and political disruptions affecting the entire globe.

The author's main perspective is as an environmentalist; he utilizes a systems approach of an overarching environmental model where the global environment is a closed, finite system and the economic, political, and other topics are subsystems of the whole. The book explains (in six parts and 17 chapters) how and why our existing economic model is failing and will create environmental, economic, and political chaos unless it is replaced soon with an economic model emphasizing "sustainability" and "development" versus simple "unlimited growth." Jackson explains in the second half of the book what we can do about it, hopefully before it's too late for future generations to have a chance for civilized life.

I have never heard before of Mr.Jackson, but he is bound to be (or at least should be) hailed as a top-notch public intellectual. He is a brilliant analyst of global economics, politics, and environmental matters; and a clever synthesist of the relevant economics, politics, philosophy, environmental science, psychology, sociology, history, physics, and biology, which apply to his examination.

He has an unusually broad and diverse background as a global currency trader, executive of a nonprofit environmental organization, software designer and businessman, and degrees in engineering physics, industrial management, and operations research. This may explain, in part, his ability to see major categories of human life with such a wide lens while also being able to analyze the subcategories and the factual data.

Part One explains the scientific and economic reasons why the neo-liberal approach of unending growth is unsustainable and a lie. It is a lie because it implies, at least, that everyone has a chance ultimately to achieve the high level of consumption of the successful capitalists and that the high consumption gravy train will go on forever. He uses biological, environmental, and mathematical data to show that the neo-liberal assumption of infinite natural capital has already resulted in net deficits of global energy resources, and that the world (and the neo-liberal economic system) will end frightfully unless we reduce population, give up the idea of "more of everything is better," redesign and downsize our economies, use less fossil energies, and emphasize sustainability.

The next two parts explain the politics and human factors which drive the irrational economic policies. He goes into good detail about historical economic theory from the mercantile period, to the classical free trade period, to our existing neo-liberal period. He clearly explains how and why the 2008 financial crisis occurred and why it is likely to repeat itself, and how the current debt crisis in Europe (and elsewhere) happened and why the European Union is not equipped even now to successfully deal with it. Any effort to address it (using the existing neo-liberal strategies) will be temporary and the crises will deepen.

His discussions on the neo-liberal insistence on a deregulated economic environment, free flow of global capital, and the use of exotic financial instruments and transactions, especially naked short sales, are the clearest I've read about how these elements de-stabilized the global economy. They will continue to do so as long as those who (very lucratively) benefit from them (the political elite) insist upon them regardless of the consequences to hapless small nations and their economies, small businesses, and people like you and me. He thoroughly and lucidly explains how this political-economic philosophy destroys real democracy, including in America. What we have, he says, is a corporatocracy which dominates much of political and social life through the forces of wealth and ideology.

Mr. Jackson is also a political-economic visionary of the highest order as shown in the second half of the book by his "break away" strategy where he sets out his alternative environmentalist paradigm. It is a new worldview emphasizing the finite reality of our natural resources, especially energy ones, and how we should alter much of what we do to comply with that reality. He argues for a new set of social values harmonious with a holistic sense of people and nature being part of one "system." The values of that system include smallness, localization, quality versus quantity, interrelationships, and long-term perspectives.

These values are organized into a moderately sophisticated set of new global political and economic institutions modeled much like the European Union but emphasizing environmental issues and designed to satisfy long-term environmental needs. This process will also lead to enhancing of true human values in the political sphere, especially in more effective democracies.

The "breaking away" strategy starts with small nation states building a new economic paradigm based upon the environmental perspective, rejecting the flawed and elitist global institutions we have now (the WTO, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund), and even developing new currency systems. The nation states will be supported by a grassroots activist movement which will create local eco-communities and more self-reliant economies while lobbying existing political powers to get on board with the new paradigm. The measurements of success will not be GNP or GDP but the broader-based measures of social happiness and human rights. (Take the case of the nation of Bhutan which measures its activity by a standard called "Gross National Happiness Index.")

The parts of the book explaining the roles of the neo-liberal economic philosophy and the political elite are solidly presented and not really new. The program of change he proposes, however, is new and intellectually sound. Being intellectually sound, however, is not sufficient to affect change. There is a gap, it seems, between the ideas and what is necessary to activate people at the grassroots level. Relatively few people in reality will even read this book. The ideas need to be connected to "street-level" understandings, perhaps tied to basic human values of respect and dignity. The roadmap proposed here, Mr. Jackson acknowledges, needs much more development.

You can purchase Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Book Review: Occupy World Street

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:01PM (#39280767)

    Putting aside the obvious problem of going up against the incredible, almost god-like, power of the huge megacorporations that own almost every major government in the world, there is an even bigger problem that you're going to face with your "sustainability" message (especially in the U.S.):

    Your first message to the masses is going to be "You have to make real sacrifices."

    You won't even get the final "s" in sacrifices out before they tar and feather you and run you out of town on a rail. This is a country where a dollar-per-gallon increase in gas prices almost starts a riot, where "keeping up with the Joneses" is considered a birthright, where not one single President or politician has asked *any* American to sacrifice *anything* in over 40 years. No politician here has EVER won on a message of "I'm going to make things materially worse for you" irrespective of whether or not he adds "But things will be better in the long-term for your grandchildren."

    They only way your revolution will ever happen will be by force (force of economic collapse or force or arms, but certainly not by popular vote). No one is going to vote for the guy who is asking them to give up their new car, their big house, their HDTV. You can't guilt someone into making REAL HARD material sacrifices.

    Social movements in the U.S. do occasionally succeed in getting minor sacrifices out of the public, but the MAJOR ones that this would require? Good luck with that.

    • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:24PM (#39281081) Homepage

      While I agree with your sentiment, what a movement needs is a main figure who will "make real sacrifices". People are not stupid and will no go out on a limb if they feel they are going to be out there alone. If you get at least one person who feels strongly enough about something to actually go it alone, others will and do follow suit.

      It really follows a bell curve, you get the people who feel strongly about it first. When you have enough of them, you get people who agree with you and feel the time is right now that more people are being active, after the peak you get the people who don't really care but will go with the crowd and at the far end the people who probably disagreed but won't go against the crowd.

      The fuel is there, there just needs to be enough "spark" to get critical mass.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:43PM (#39281325) Journal

        The movement needs more than a leader. It needs a point. By the time the Occupiers were finished, you had everybody from homeless advocates (and homeless) to raving Marxists, neither of which represent in any way the alleged 99%. At least the Tea Partiers had a tangible set of principles and goals. Being reactionary Libertarian, I despise much of what the Tea Party stands for, but there was at least some sense that there was a direction beyond "we're just against those guys".

        Political movements that cannot solidify a single set of goals die out. It's not the leaders alone that do it. The problem with the Occupiers is the same as the peace movement of the 1970s. At the core, one of the founding principles is that everyone has their own idea of where the movement should go. There's a core kind of philosophical anarchism which means that no one is ever really going to become a leader, and if they did, they'd just end up fracturing the movement if they ever did anything faintly leader-like.

        Beyond that, revolutions are dangerous things. Smashing existing economic, political and social structures rarely actually ends with something stronger. The American Revolution is an exception, rather than a rule. I much prefer the more evolutionary approach that lead to democracy in Britain, from the Glorious Revolution to the greater and lesser reform acts of the 19th to the 20th century. No burning down buildings or taking emperors and their families out into the woods and gunning them down.

        The last thing you want is fanatics. The Tea Party almost brought the US debt into discredit for the first time in the history of the United States through some sort of mad desire to remain ideologically pure. No thanks, don't want that kind of revolution.

        • by Thing 1 (178996) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:03PM (#39281613) Journal

          The last thing you want is fanatics. The Tea Party almost brought the US debt into discredit for the first time in the history of the United States [...]

          Almost? Our credit rating dropped. I'm not sure you can use a more cogent term than "discredit".

        • by jkauzlar (596349) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:16PM (#39281761) Homepage

          They had their 'points' clearly outlined [nycga.net] in their 'Declaration of the Occupation of NYC', which they submitted to the city of NY at the start of the protests. Aside from ignorance, the reason these points went unreported was because they challenge power (i.e. money), and for many people in the MSM, it is not convenient or even permissible in many cases to challenge power. The Tea Party, on the other hand, was in direct support of power (the answer to debt is austerity, the result of austerity is the rich get richer) and so their idiotic points were repeated far and wide.

          That said, as with all movements, when it became popular you had anarchists, communists and just about every left-wing (and some other) special interest group under the sun involved confusing matters. The same thing happened to the tea party when racists, gun fanatics, birthers, tenthers and morans with misspelled signs used the tea party as their platform, because that's where they could get on TV.

          Beyond that, revolutions are dangerous things.

          Occupy was not a 'revolution.' The 'core' occupiers and the movement in large never suggested taking down the gov't. But what they did was enormously successful in that they brought unprecedented attention to the corruptive influence of Wall Street on gov't. In a democracy the best you can do is get people talking about facts, and hope the raised level of consciousness will ultlimately give politicians the courage to do the right things.

        • by scot4875 (542869) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:26PM (#39282451) Homepage

          By the time the Occupiers were finished, you had everybody from homeless advocates (and homeless) to raving Marxists, neither of which represent in any way the alleged 99%. At least the Tea Partiers had a tangible set of principles and goals.

          Your bias is showing.

          Being reactionary Libertarian

          Ahh, well at least you're honest.

          I thought the Tea Party sounded like a great idea. Then they built an 'official' website. The website showed *nothing* but a more extreme version of the Republican platform. (socially regressive to the extreme, typical small government platitudes for the proles who buy that shit, etc). I don't get how so many people like you can rag on OWS and praise the Tea Party in the same breath.

          --Jeremy

        • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki @ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @08:01PM (#39282773) Homepage

          The Tea Party almost brought the US debt into discredit for the first time in the history of the United States through some sort of mad desire to remain ideologically pure. No thanks, don't want that kind of revolution.

          Yeah I mean it couldn't have ANYTHING to do with Obama's failed economic plan of Keynesian economics of blow lots of money without any plan at all right? I mean how the hell do you blow ~$4 trillion in under 3 years alone except by being an idiot? That you blame the tea party simply says you're wallowing in what you're being told instead of understanding the metrics and economics of what Obama and his panel of idiots pulled.

          That plan: Throw money at it. Tell me, does throwing money at something ever work? And does cutting 1% to 'save' yourself while in debt up through your asshole work either? Of course it doesn't. At best the US needed to take direct spending cuts, at worst they needed to properly prioritize, the entire government bureaucracy is top heavy and start gutting. Want to know how I can say this? Because we had someone here in Ontario by the name of Bob Rae(now Liberal leader) who did exactly the same thing that Obama is doing. It ended with our rating cut here, and it should only be another 20 years or so before the province pays off his debt. And he only doubled it.

          Enjoy your taste of socialism. Because that's all it was.

        • by Lehk228 (705449) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:42PM (#39283711) Journal
          >> At least the Tea Partiers had a tangible set of principles and goals.

          principles like rage over a black president and goals like finding the birth certificate?
      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:55PM (#39281495)

        Ghandi, Jesus, Buddha etc.

        Eh. Wait... That didn't work. I know. Lets try it again and see if it works this time!

        No what it needs is for people to understand the truth rather than the fantasy being sold to them by the mainstream media and start acting in their own self interest. Understand exactly how things really work and why the vested interests want them that way.

        That will only happen as the shit hits the fan btw.

      • by Thing 1 (178996) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:56PM (#39281533) Journal

        While I agree with your sentiment, what a movement needs is a main figure who will "make real sacrifices".

        It almost sounds like Warren Buffett could fill this requirement: he complains that his taxes are lower than his secretary's, and dares the government to do something about it -- in other words, he's saying "please help me (and others like me who aren't as willing) to sacrifice."

    • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:30PM (#39281169) Homepage Journal

      Oh, that I had mod points. However, one note:

      This is a country where a dollar-per-gallon increase in gas prices almost starts a riot

      It will never come close to starting a riot. All it will do is make a lot of talking heads on TV talk about gas prices more, some people will drive a bit less, one guy will start taking the bus, three guys will each buy a bike but only one will ever use it, and everyone will post to Facebook about how much gas prices suck.

      The only thing that will make Americans in general riot these days is if their sports team of choice does... something. Win, lose, disband, it doesn't seem to matter, it all leads to civil unrest. (I really don't understand this, either.)

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:42PM (#39281315)

      http://xkcd.com/1007/ [xkcd.com]
      Sustainable is already boring.

      Infinite debt and economic collapse for the win!

    • by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:52PM (#39281447)

      Sounds like you and the author are standing on a pile of 100 million people murdered by various tyrants looking to build a better society and shouting, "Let's try again!"

    • by mspohr (589790) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:55PM (#39281499)

      The summary said nothing about sacrifices. It does say:

      "The "breaking away" strategy starts with small nation states building a new economic paradigm based upon the environmental perspective, rejecting the flawed and elitist global institutions we have now (the WTO, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund), and even developing new currency systems. The nation states will be supported by a grassroots activist movement which will create local eco-communities and more self-reliant economies while lobbying existing political powers to get on board with the new paradigm. The measurements of success will not be GNP or GDP but the broader-based measures of social happiness and human rights. (Take the case of the nation of Bhutan which measures its activity by a standard called "Gross National Happiness Index.")"

      It looks like it is proposing a system based on strengthening local economies and freeing them from the tyranny of corporations while at the same time causing less damage to the environment. If you measure happiness by how much petrol you burn or how much cheap shit from China slave labor you consume, then I guess you might consider this a sacrifice. Many other people measure their happiness by health, security, family and friends as well as having adequate food and shelter. I believe this is what the book is proposing, not sacrifices.

    • by Geof (153857) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:00PM (#39281573) Homepage

      There is truth to what you say, yet I think it's a question of framing, not of whether there are actual sacrifices.

      Many people support austerity, even though it means significant sacrifices for the majority (even as it is twinned with tax cuts for the few). You might argue this is because people do not perceive themselves as beneficiaries of government spending (see: Alaska), or because they have an aspirational view of themselves living the American dream and benefiting from tax cuts, because they believe that the pain is necessary in order to grow the economy and create jobs, because they believe current spending is unsustainable so there is no alternative, or because it is linked to their sense of patriotism or identity.

      I don't buy any of this, but my point is: people are willing to accept sacrifices. While I don't deny that people are often too much focused on what's in it for them rather than the greater good of the society or the future of their children, if they believe it is necessary, or inevitable, or ultimately for the best they wholeheartedly embrace sacrifice, even making it a point of pride.

      What the OP proposes is an agenda with long term benefits, one that is necessary if we are to avoid serious negative consequences. The sorts of arguments made for austerity could easily be made for it or something like it. Such arguments are not being presented by mainstream media - but that is for reasons of power, politics, ideology and institutional rigidity, not because it's not possible to get the American people on side. Therefore, we need to fight on the terrian of politics and communication. We cannot afford to surrender democracy, excusing ourselves because of a belief that the American people are iredeemably selfish.

    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:05PM (#39281637) Homepage

      The political and social elite are of the following mindset...

      Do as i say not as i do

      That's the core if not *only* problem standing in the way. Aside from selling people on the idea, there must be genuine leadership behind the helm of any moment. And you know damn well as I do that this will never happen short of some religious experience. And even that is not guaranteed to be enough of a mover and shaker.

    • What sacrifices? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:22PM (#39281821)
      Over the past three decades, the masses have had declining wages. The masses have seen fewer employers offering health and retirement benefits. The masses have seen explosive growth in the cost of education, which was supposed to be the method by which they bettered themselves. The masses suffered unemployment and foreclosure as the result of the last economic collapse.

      I think a lot of the masses, which have already lost quite a bit, are starting to ask, "When are the controllers going to start sacrificing as much as we have?"

      You said, "...not one single President or politician has asked *any* American to sacrifice *anything* in over 40 years." Obama suggested that the tax rates for the top earners go back to the place where they were ten years ago, and he was branded a job-killer and capitalism-hater. Maybe it's not the masses that are your problem here.
    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:03PM (#39282233)

      Just ignore the economic/political message (whether you agree or not), but take the sacrifice part of this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkEtArDFNYA#t=0m26s [youtube.com]

      Asking Americans to make sacrifices is ludicrious...

    • by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @08:35PM (#39282973)

      ..and that's the problem: 'social' movements never offer anything as a solution.. they just demand sacrifice. here in america we have that on the left and 'lower taxes for the wealthy' on the right.. it's a shitty, non sequitur choice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:10PM (#39280869)

    Does the book go into the fact that OWS was a smokescreen to blame private corporations for the results of government misregulation for the aid of the Obama re-election campaign?

    • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:17PM (#39280971)

      Exactly. I'm sure the author goes on and on about the evil banks and corporations, without acknowledging the fact that they would never have had the power to do so much evil in the first place if the government hadn't given it to them. The notion of an entity that's "too big to fail" is the farthest thing imaginable from a capitalistic perspective... yet look who gets blamed.

      Regardless of the question you're asking, more gatekeepers and middlemen are not the answer. That applies to governments as well as corporations.

      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:30PM (#39281893)
        I'm not sure where the claim "Obama wasn't responsible" comes in, because he certainly WAS responsible for helping to continue this mess. Not to mention lying during his campaign about almost all of his actual political agenda.

        Be that as it may, I have to agree that "corporatism", or greedy corporations in league with government, is indeed about the farthest thing from capitalism that exists.

        "Fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is a merger of state and corporate power" --Benito Mussolini

        "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." --Theodore Roosevelt

        It should be obvious that this "first task" has yet to be completed.

        It grieves me when blame for these problems is placed on "capitalism". Mr. Jackson seems to have gotten many things right but he errs if he is actually equating this "neo-liberalism" with capitalism. He should read his Adam Smith. They are not even remotely the same things. Fractional-reserve banking and the Federal Reserve are not "capitalism", they represent Keynesianism. And yes, even though government policies were behind many of their actions, they still do deserve a good bit of the blame. Their very existence is "anti-capitalism".

        Wall Street is NOT an example of "capitalism at its finest". Not even close. It is no more than a government-endorsed casino. Complete with the house advantage. And the so-called "big content" companies, represented by the RIAA, MPAA and other organizations, are in fact excellent examples of Fascist philosophy, not examples of capitalism at all, good or bad.

      • by jkauzlar (596349) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:43PM (#39282029) Homepage

        You must have lost the TCP packet from the review that contained the following text:

        The author, Ross Jackson, identifies who and what is responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown and many other problems in society. Most prominent are a seriously-flawed "neo-liberal economic philosophy" and the political-elite class which sponsors that philosophy for self-interested reasons at the expense of the rest of us.

        By 'political-elite class', I'm guessing he's referring to politicians/officials in the Obama/Bush administrations and congress that allowed what happened to happen. I don't think there's any mistake on the part of the left or the occupy movement about the gov't's complicity in all this, and the author is certainly aware.

        Regardless of the question you're asking, more gatekeepers and middlemen are not the answer. That applies to governments as well as corporations.

        This book might help you think more deeply about this statement.

    • by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:20PM (#39281013)
      the governments and corporates and mega-banksters are all in bed together, and what do you call it when government and finance & industry are in bed together? it is called Fascism!
    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:37PM (#39281255) Homepage Journal

      Does the book go into the fact that OWS was a smokescreen to blame private corporations for the results of government misregulation for the aid of the Obama re-election campaign?

      If you honestly believe the de-regulation of private business (that subsequently led to multiple economic implosions) has only been going on as long as Obama has been president, you haven't been paying attention. [rollingstone.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:13PM (#39280909)

    We will not run out of energy until the Sun expands and swallows the Earth. Oil will run out, but by then, long before then, solar, wind, and geothermal will replace it. We don't have to go back to the stone age. Population will level off as new population's are educated. All governments need to do is get out of the way and just regulate the commons, to avoid tragedy :-P

  • Review Bias? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:14PM (#39280931)
    Why does this book report read like OWS propaganda?
  • by hguorbray (967940) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:19PM (#39281007)
    and it probably still wouldn't drive any measurable change...but one can always hope

    because the powers that be combine appeal of lasissez-faire capitalism with the fear of losing what little status quo remains to pit us all against each other through the tactics of divide and conquer

    as elrous0 says above -there will have to be some painful changes and some ugly battles before things will improve for most people on earth an most of us are not yet willing to make them -and I'm afraid I am probably among them. Maybe your children will see enough of what has been lost and can rise up before it is too late...

    -I'm just sayin'
  • by shoottothrill (1806688) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:27PM (#39281127)
    I was looking for stuff that matters. Not this socialist dribble that seems to be dominating the "news for nerds."
  • Re: Deregulation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:31PM (#39281177)

    The US deregulated? When? Government spending and all the laws and statutes in the Federal Register has been always growing and never stops. The rate of growth might change, but it always grows.

    I take major issue with this notion that some how the US a free market. It would be more correct to call it mercantilism or proto-fascism.

    Fact is, there isn't anything remotely resembling a free market in the US. It's mixed economy. To say it's deregulated is to forget all the agencies that cover it, whether it be employment, food, drugs, stockmarkets, currency, transportation, utilities, or healthcare.

    Compiled quickly with a short search, here is a short list:
    Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)
    Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)
    Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae)
    US Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
    Import Export Bank
    US Dept of Treasury, and it's dozen of so sub-offices
    US Department of Commerce
    Federal Reserve System
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
    Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)
    Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
    Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    US Dept of Energy (DOE)
    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    US Department of Labor (DOL)
    Farm Credit Administration (FCA)
    US Dept of Transportation (DOT)
    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
    Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC)
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
    Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EREN)
    Federal Highway Administration (FHA)
    Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)
    Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
    Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
    Transportation Security Administraion (TSA)

    And this doesn't included other, multiple layers of city, county, and state laws, codes, and regulations.

    There is ***NOTHING*** that isn't regulated in the US.

    Look, I agree with the sentiments of the OWS crowd. There's some straight scum bags out there. But wouldn't it make sense, if you create a massive apparatus, you're also creating a new power center---A power center that these scumbags can use to their own ends against everyone else? A larger regulatory state requires smart, honest people to run it. If you look at something like military contractors at the DOD or large Wall Street banks at Treasury or the Fed, you see back door scam deals left and right. And just because you elect the right guy in office once, there's no guarantee that the next guy in charge will be just as nice.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:52PM (#39281453) Journal

    What about the 98.6%? We aren't billionaires. We aren't communists. We just want common sense. We're not radical. We're well-balanced, healthy centrists. The only options being presented are all burning with a deathbed fever of corporate fascism or hard-left radicalism that will leave us dying in a sweat-soaked poltical deathbed.

  • by wild_berry (448019) * on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:08PM (#39281675) Journal

    "Being intellectually sound, however, is not sufficient to affect change"

    Can we have the argument about affect and effect here? I would have used 'effect change' here, unless OP means that change, in some way, is to be altered.

    Also, there an enormous issue about how invested we all are in the existing system, with jobs and housing provided by it. That makes it very costly to change - but it's quite costly to stay paying a mortgage which supports the lifestyles of the people who sold created and sold CDOs and which is also rescuing the present situation.

  • by flyneye (84093) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:20PM (#39281789) Homepage

    So many Anonymous Cowards.
    O.K. I'll knock an oddball out into left field.I'll even stick my name to it.
    We have scientists telling us we aren't smart enough for democracy in yesterdays story.
    We hate everything about our governments and circumstances is pretty global.
    REVOLT! Just everywhere! Start over. Let natural selection take the best of us forward. We're overpopulated, polluted and full of ignorant, corrupt, irritating people and hassles. Let's just pick a day and fight it out with the power worldwide and once the carnage is over, the strong survive and we can start over a little smarter for wear and tear. Hell, we even have history as an example, and the wreckage of the previous era to rebuild with.

    Sometimes, doesn't it just seem like the only sane thing to do is burn it all down and start again?
    There is no fixing, repairing or tolerating the present, so wtf to do from this perspective?
    O.K. This is "Asking Slashdot"

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:33PM (#39281905) Homepage

    emphasizing "sustainability" and "development" versus simple "unlimited growth."

    You know? I've been saying that for close to 10 years... that there is something mathematically wrong with using "growth" as a metric of success. But at a company I once worked for, we read "From good to great" and listened to our C-level executives came back from business conventions saying things like "if you're not growing, then you're dying." The logical failure in these ideas were all too plain for me to see.

    There's a whole lot of crazy and stupid in our society from the very top to the very bottom. People think drugs are a good idea for helping them to feel better at all levels, for example. But it's pretty much everywhere you look where conventional wisdom which our grandfathers lived under successfully after surviving the great depression is being cast aside for "new ideas" which are just short-sightednees and greed in shiny wrapping paper. It's like saying "hey! eat all the candy you want! you're going to feel great and be happy! It's all that matters in life!" Forget about getting diabetes, getting your feet cut off and bieng unable to take care of your children because of your new disability.

    Only one thing will cause a turn-around. Things will have to get bad on a global scale and pretty much apocalyptic before things can even come close to turning around. The ruiners of the world are still in charge and will not stop to think that they are dooming themselves as much as the rest of us even though they won't feel it until a much larger amount of us will have died from it and their first symptoms will be "unable to get enough servants to do their work for them."

    • You know? I've been saying that for close to 10 years... that there is something mathematically wrong with using "growth" as a metric of success. But at a company I once worked for, we read "From good to great" and listened to our C-level executives came back from business conventions saying things like "if you're not growing, then you're dying." The logical failure in these ideas were all too plain for me to see.

      THIS. If nothing else this is an aspect of the economy that needs to be addressed. Perpetual growth is unsustainable and the only thing driving it is the stock market. Fix this problem to stop the economy from over-revving itself to death and go from there.

  • jesus CHRIST (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @06:58PM (#39282183)
    I opened these comments to read insightful posts refuting and supporting the arguments in the book with logic and evidence. I found 100 posts of partisan political bickering without a shred of useful content.

    Today I am ashamed to be part of Slashdot.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @08:21PM (#39282889)

      I opened these comments to read insightful posts refuting and supporting the arguments in the book with logic and evidence. I found 100 posts of partisan political bickering without a shred of useful content. Today I am ashamed to be part of Slashdot.

      Did you read the summary first? I came here looking to see where the slashdot zeitgeist went with this one. I have noticed that on topics like this they tend to be skewed either very much towards expanding government power or towards reducing it. This one seems to actually fall somewhere in the middle. although in this case it appears that that is because the author of the book review (and possibly of the book as well) has managed to support the parts from either side that the sides on slashdot, for the most part, fail to support.

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