Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Happiness, Money, Social Justice

                                  HAPPINESS, MONEY, SOCIAL JUSTICE 

 

This is a MUST READ article.  Researching these issues I found very significant information about underreported or censored issues of great concern as well as helpful perspectives for the future.

 

Personal happiness levels are at historic lows while stress and illness are increasing dramatically.  Who has peaceful restful sleep without insomnia and sleep aids?  What is bothering people so much?  A majority of people feel that happiness and the American dream are lost to us.  We wonder why our financial stability is at risk while the stock marketeers and banksters are raking in money.

 

Money can buy things; can it buy happiness?  At the poverty level, its obviously very difficult.  Otherwise the research actually shows only a  marginal relationship.  Between 1972 and 2004, with a 50 percent increase in real income, the percent of very happy Americans remained close to 30 percent.  In Mexico, a country with much lower average income than France, 63% of adults said they were very or completely happy versus 35% of the French.  So lets think about why we continue linking money and happiness other than fear of poverty. Maybe you dream about winning the lottery. Advertising and heavy media coverage push dreams of happiness with lottery money while research describes the event as overrated and fraught with turmoil. Lottery winners often lead tragic lives as their extra funds bring unexpected complications such as social estrangement..  Our corporate culture promotes money and consumerism constantly..  New toys are shown as making a child happy.  If we study this issue, or even think about it, we do adapt quickly to new things.. Children want new toys constantly, especially those they see on TV, then abandon them for the next advertised toy. So we see that the rampant advertising of our modern world is pushing a message different from the time honored wisdom that money does not buy happiness.

 

It is a strange new world we’re living in nowadays.  We’re starting to wonder what happened to our traditions and our values of social justice.  We’re told that corporations are people and have sweeping new powers and legal rights, often more than we the real people.  Criminal behavior isn’t being prosecuted for corporate executives, even banks including HSBC and LIBOR drug laundering. Meanwhile prisons are overflowing with poor offenders, a more than 100% increase since 1991. In Chicago people being arrested, regardless of innocence, will be fined $30 merely for being arrested. Twenty-five percent of us work long hours in full time jobs and cannot afford ordinary living expenses while a small number of people are making unbelievable profits.  For example, the CEO of Aetna insurance is making $90,029 a day!  Who needs or even can use $90,029 a day?  We look up and our skies are increasingly filled with pastey cloud-like streams instead of fat billowing clouds. We learn we may be entering the sixth mass extinction, losing 1000 to 10,000 times the usual rate of 1 to 5 species per year.  We read that our Department of Homeland Security has purchased hollow point bullets, 2 for every person in the country.  Here in NC disabled and elderly people will be cast out of nursing homes because of political decisions. Here in Chatham County fracking machines can roll in, even destroying personal property over the objections of homeowners.  I could continue listing these types of disturbing and dangerous changes.

 

There’s an old saying, “Reality is only a source of stress to those who are in contact with it”!  Since I’m not advocating schizophrenia, I think we do need to understand and come to terms with these issues.  I’m going to review some information and provide references so that you can understand these often complex topics. I found informative sources which I will mention below.  The internet is still free and available although threatened.  Sign up for two sites which provide well researched information on censored topics.  WantToKnow.info has an impressive data base and will email you several times per week with the latest news. ProjectCensored.org compiles the top 25 censored stories every year and publishes them in a book and also in web news. Their top finding for the last 2 years concerns the emerging “police state” in our country, the country we still see as the “ land of the free and the home of the brave.”

 

Why haven’t you heard about this information in the news?  Media blackouts  We believe we have a free press.  So why are so many issues actually censored by the press?  Corporations now control the major news outlets and are using them for profit as you will learn.  You will be amazed to find out how many important topics have been censored as you read the websites above.  Instead of real news you will find a great deal of opinion reporting and trivia. For example, MSNBC coverage now consists of 85% opinion only reporting while the “news” channel CNN is 46% opinion only information. During 17 days of the breaking news of the massive LIBOR banking scandal, the bank news was covered 12 minutes while the Tom Cruise  divorce was broadcast for 91 minutes.

 

Credible sources document that the world’s 100 wealthiest people are presently worth a total 1.9 trillion with their assets accumulating ever faster.  The discrepancy between the rich and the rest of us has escalated recently.  Through the early 1970s, the average US family income grew in accord with the nation’s gross domestic product and few families carried a lot of debt.  Since that time US families have been in an ever increasing economic depression.  Wage earners are forced to supplement income with debt while wealth has been steadily shifted upward to the power elite.  Project Censored has explained how multiple, often hidden,  bank interest policies inflate prices so that 35 percent of all costs could be returned to the public if banks were public utilities instead of private institutions benefiting the wealthy. The documentary film American Winter graphically depicts the plight of 46% of American families now living near poverty or in poverty.  Today, despite media portrayals otherwise, the US ranks near the bottom of an international inequality scale, comparable to Cameroon and Rwanda, with China, India and even Russia having more equality of income distribution than our nation today.  The film documents how these individuals and families, caught in this economic vortex, are increasingly stigmatized as incompetent, lazy, takers or even welfare cheaters.   While funding grows for overseas projects and military hardware, cuts in social services are increasing dramatically.

 

Delving into these issues, there appears to be increasing complicity between corporations and government with increasing corporate financial control.  You will find out as much of this history as you want to know in the book “Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy”, Ted Nance,. Berrett-Koehler, 2005.  Reading this book I was amazed to find Abraham Lincoln’s words of warning in 1864 anticipating our current situation:  “a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country...corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed”.   In 1870 Henry Adams predicted that corporations “will ultimately succeed in directing government itself.  Under the American form of society, there is no authority capable of effective resistance.”

 

Related information can be found in “The Corporation:The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power”, Joel Bahan, Free Press, 2005. In 1916 Henry Ford was sued when he attempted to reduce prices for consumers, with the ultimate finding that a corporation can have only one goal: to profit shareholders without any legal or moral obligation to the welfare of workers, the public, the environment or the well being of society as a whole.  Bahan accuses corporations of being programmed to exploit others for profit, finding that corporations have intentionally allowed injury and death to occur because changing the product would cost more than paying fees or fines.  Corporations can lie, add toxins to food and water, damage consumers and the environment for profit with very few restraints under their legal profit mandate.

 

As one of many examples of corporate malfeasance, you may have heard about the deplorable conditions of Apple production facilities in China and the suicide epidemic in some of their factories.  The subject was explored briefly in our news and then dropped.  Project Censored data shows that worker exploitation is continuing.  In addition to the problems in Apple’s globalized production system,  Apple used other tax avoidance systems to avoid 74 billion dollars between 2009-2012.  In 2012 a 55 billion payout was made to shareholders to avoid paying 9.2 billion dollars in taxes.

 

Global corporate control is increasing as documented by Project Censored.  Swiss researchers found that 147 transnational companies control 40% of total global wealth in an unregulated “super entity” network. They also found that global wealth is being used in nefarious and criminal ways.  For example, the top 1% of global rich individuals hid 23 trillion dollars in offshore havens to avoid taxes, while the Federal Reserve reported that the top 7 US banks hid more than 10 trillion in assets to avoid taxes.  We are warned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which “threatens a regime of corporate global governance while the public, US Congress, and the press are locked out. Future efforts to protect the public could be subject to foreign control and even financial damages.”

 

Lincoln warned about all wealth being aggregated.  The world is well on the way to fulfilling this anguished prediction.  Project Censored has summarized the data of economists studying the newly termed Transnational Capitalist Class, even listing the 161 board members who manage 23.91 trillion in funds.  “Through their intricate monetary designs and international assets, these corporations comprising this superclass...coordinate much of our material existence.  Such a predicament could not be possible without a severely censored news media that keeps the broader public from knowing the frequency and degree to which it is methodically swindled.”

 

Banks have been found to be among the most egregious of corporations as dramatically exposed in “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap,” Matt Taibbi, Spiegel and Grau, 2014.  Describing the power and control of banks, Taibbi exposes the increasing complicity of the government, regulators and enforcers in allowing various forms of crime without any more than token penalties.  Bankers can even engage in criminal behavior with no punishment!  In the case of HSBC bank, for example, bankers were engaged in clear criminal behavior including drug dealing, money laundering and financing terrorists.  Government publicity emphasized the 1.92 billion dollar fine, impressing the general public which was unaware that the fine was only a slap on the wrist, as the money represented only 5 weeks of profit.  Since the publication of this book the government has continued to move to protect banks from enforcement.  On June 5, 2014, the N&O reported that a Judge calling for sanctions against Citigroup received a “harsh rebuke” on Circuit Court appeal stating that SEC regulations will curtail a Judge’s discretion in these cases in the future.  What is the divide described by Taibbi?  He shifts between the perspective of the rich and the rest of us increasingly caught in the crosshairs of social injustice.  Regarding legal issues he writes, “common city courts become factories for turning poor people into prisoners, while federal prosecutors on the white-collar beat...behind closed doors quietly dispose of the sins of the rich for a fee.”  Taibbi asserts that we have given up on our traditional American standards of due process, equal justice and simple fairness!

 

Fracking is now making its appearance in North Carolina.  According to Project Censored there has been a lack of disclosure by energy companies as well as government regulation to protect the environment and citizens in other states. In Pennsylvania the law states that patients harmed by fracking are not allowed to know the names of the chemicals causing their physical harm.   A recent peer-reviewed report links fracking to illness in animals and predicts that chemicals leaking from fracking sites should start appearing in human food supplies.

 

What should we do once we understand the increasingly serious problems in our society and our lives?  Too many retreat to their cell phones, facebooks, twitters or other diversions, still ending up stressed and confused when reality does not match the artificial world portrayed or promised to us.   All is not lost unless we give up.  The many can still cope with the few. There are promising examples.  Learn about Iceland and how they threw out bankers and crushing debt.  Two of our states, North Dakota and Montana, have established public banks.  When you sign up for the WantToKnow.info email list, look for the 10 page summary about free energy.   You will find out that, “An independent source of wealth (free energy) in the hands of each and every person in the world ruins the plans of the wealthiest families for world domination permanently.”  An additional source of information about free energy can be found at Thrivemovement.com. You can make political stands and create change from your homes and offices by signing internet petitions.  Whatever your cause, you can find national petitions, some of which have already created changes.  These days we hear strident calls to buy guns and defend ourselves.  Taking up arms against the government, however,  will not change the current situation but will put you on the same losing playfield of well defended dominators.

 

Lets clear up one issue.  The earth still has enough abundance for all of us. The issue is control of resources.  Money is basically a printing press issue as demonstrated in current Federal Reserve practices..  A comparatively small change in resource allocation will eliminate global poverty (3 trillion in current money terms.)  If you believe in the tenets of religion, abundance is promised to all of us, not to a small number of money-changers.  If you believe in the Christian scriptures, 2 Corinthians informs us of God’s abundance.

 

I will be writing future articles about how to cope with the stress and distress of our modern world.  Today I will conclude with a recognition that we live in a greater reality than the world of money and subterfuge.  The ethic of the Golden Rule is recognized by all major world religions.  When you live in a heart-based world you will love your neighbor as yourself!  The Loving Kindness Meditation starts with self-love and then extends the positive feelings around your life and out to your neighbors and the whole world.  Try it!