Have you Ever been Swept Off Your Feet?

In both cases – whether the bubble was inflated with positive or negative energy – the participants in the bubble are being swept away further and further away from actual physical reality and start to see everything either ‘extremely negatively’ or ‘extremely positively’ – neither experience is grounded in reality – because the physical is neither positive or negative – it just is what it is.

And Then You Crash – Meconomics

In this little series, we’ve been investigating the phenomenon of inflation, how we in our daily lives participate in ‘inflating our reality’ and so, how we are on a personal level participating in the same principles/dynamics that we see playing out on a bigger scale when it comes to inflation, speculative bubbles and financial market crashes.

Welcoming New Life with Living Income Guaranteed

Comfort, security and nurturing are all things we wish are present when a baby comes into this world. Yet, these conditions are not a reality for many babies, as parents themselves like these things in their lives. In Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa, 3 to 5 babies are…

Humanity Washed Ashore

This was an excerpt of just one of the stories about the boy. Over the last few days, dozens have been written and published on various major news sites. What is more striking than the content of the posts, is the comments that are left on these articles. What is humanity’s response to such images, to such news?

Voting Fun – What does it Feel Like to Have a Say?

Now – before such increased direct political participation is a reality – let’s do a little test to see what it feels like. So – here are some mock-questions where you’re asked to give your input. Imagine that this relates to your direct reality (eg. your town) – and your answer has a weight that influences the outcome of the decision. Of course, in reality…

23 June 2015

Reality in a Bubble - Meconomics

Here’s a fun topic to explore – BUBBLES!!!

What do you know about blowing bubbles?
1. It’s fun
2. You blow air unto a film of soapy liquid and it starts creating a bubble
3. The more air you blow into it, the bigger the bubble becomes
3. Blow in too much air – and the bubble pops.

Bubbles exist in economics as well – they’re called ‘Speculative Bubbles’.

Here’s a definition from Investopedia (don’t worry if you don’t understand everything):

“A spike in asset values within a particular industry, commodity, or asset class.

A speculative bubble is usually caused by exaggerated expectations of future growth, price appreciation, or other events that could cause an increase in asset values. This drives trading volumes higher, and as more investors rally around the heightened expectation, buyers outnumber sellers, pushing prices beyond what an objective analysis of intrinsic value would suggest.

The bubble is not completed until prices fall back down to normalized levels; this usually involves a period of steep decline in price during which most investors panic and sell out of their investments.”

In the simplest terms, what is said here is: Air is put into a bubble and then the bubble bursts. What happens, is that the value of assets is inflated beyond their real value. So – you have an asset, say a house – that has a particular intrinsic value – say 3 million dollars. Through speculation, the price of the house is driven up, for instance from 3 million to 5 million dollars – but the actual value of the house doesn’t change – it’s still only actually worth 3 million dollars. The 2 million that gets added on top is just air – and the bubble bursts when the price decreases at a fast pace from 5 back to 3 million.

You can imagine how these bubbles can create economic disasters – because in the end, economics is about sustaining lives. When you don’t know whether the ground you’re walking on is real or could collapse any moment, you’re working with instability and uncertainty, which at the moment are two words that are embedded in our economic system, partly due to the nature of these speculative bubbles.

To give you an idea of the far-reaching consequences these bubbles can have, just think of the recent financial crisis. Greece was herein the unfortunate ‘posterchild’.  On the 17th of June the Debt Truth Commission, set up to investigate the truth about the Greek debt, presented their preliminary findings to parliament. I suggest you read through the entire article (http://cadtm.org/Summary-of-the-first-day-of-the), but for the purpose of this post, specifically read the following paragraph:

“The scientific coordinator recounted the history of the Greek debt in a way that has not been done by the mainstream medias during the last five years: “We realised that the usual explanations of a disastrous state of public finances were not confirmed”; he said. A strict analysis of the facts and the figures has allowed the commission to look at past events differently. As from the moment that Greece entered the Eurozone private capital rushed into Greece where it earned high yields. Wherever capital converges speculative bubbles are created! We have the figures that prove this happened: between 2001 and 2009 household loans increased sevenfold and small business loans increased fourfold, while State loans only increased by 20%. At end of the 2000s the finances that were suffering were heavily indebted private finances not State finances.”

Speculative bubbles were right at the center of the on-set of economic instability in Greece – this instability rapidly escalating and spiraling out into these disastrous consequences:

“• –– Vicious circle of recession.The continuous drop in GDP, in 2011 surpassing the historical maximum for the entire postwar period, led to a rapid reduction in domestic demand. Lower production led to dismissals and the loss of thousands of jobs, further amplifying recession.

• –– Unemployment had already more than doubled within the first three years of austerity and reached 25.4 percent in August 2012. More than half of the population between 15–24 years old is unemployed (57 percent; Eurostat 2012), while thousands of jobs have been lost under conditions of insufficient social protection. Given the continuation of the crisis, the new unemployed become the chronic unemployed.

• –– Rapid labor deterioration, as shown by the increase of precarious and uninsured work, insecurity, degrading payments, weakening of labour rights, and deregulation of labour agreements.

• –– Strangling of the lower middle class, traditionally consisting of small and medium sized enterprises. A great number of such enterprises (family-owned or not) were unable to survive declining consumption, lack of liquidity, and emergency taxes. More than 65,000 of them closed down in 2010 alone, resulting in a “clearance” of such enterprises and disaffecting the people dependent on them.

• –– Migration of younger, highly educated people has risen (“brain drain”), while those studying and living abroad are discouraged to return to Greece, and those who previously would have stayed, are now leaving.

• –– Homelessness increased by 25 percent from 2009 to 2011. Along with the pre-crisis and “hidden” immigrant homelessness, a generation of “neohomeless” now exists who include those with medium or higher educational backgrounds who previously belonged to the social middle.

• –– Suicides hit record levels, increasing by 25 percent from 2009 to 2010 and by an additional 40 percent from 2010 to 2011.

• –– Deterioration of public health evidenced by reduced access to health care services and an increase of 52 percent in HIV infections from 2010 to 2011. Drug prevention centers and psychiatric clinics have closed down due to budget cuts.

To this, one could also add a worrying political impact – that a country with a traditionally weak far right now has one of the largest organised Neo-nazi movements in Europe. In the 2015 legislative elections the ‘Golden Dawn’ secured third place in the popular vote.”

So – perhaps economic bubbles are not as fun as the bubbles you blow as a child. But what about the bubbles we blow in our daily lives – what do economic bubbles have to show us about the human condition? That’s what I’ll explore in posts to come. After all – the economic system is a human creation – created in our image and likeness.

16 June 2015

The Humpty-Dumpty Effect - Meconomics

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?
Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?

In the previous post we started looking at why and how it is that we can experience certain wants as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’, where we looked at the role of expectations:

“Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not really part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’.”

There’s many things we feel we are lacking, not on a physical level, but on a… let’s call it ‘beingness-level’ – be it acceptance, freedom, passion, intimacy, happiness, etc. Those are things we cannot buy and that we cannot even get from something or someone else – they cannot be ‘acquired’ or ‘given to us’. They are things we have to give to ourselves and that we inherently feel ‘should already be part of ourselves’. So, when we feel we are lacking them, it’s like we’re not complete as a being, as a person. If you add to that a shiny new smartphone that you wrongfully believe will give you, for instance, ‘acceptance’ – you have the perfect recipe for a very strong urge and desire to go out and get that smartphone.

Most of the time we take our desires for granted – “I feel I want it, therefore I want it”, lol – when actually, it’s not, for instance, the smartphone you really want, but the smartphone is representing ‘acceptance’ to you. So – on a conscious level, all you’ll feel and be aware of, is a strong urge to get that smartphone, where you probably don’t really understand why the urge is so strong and maybe you will give yourself reasons by summing up the specs and telling yourself how good of a phone it is, but the underlying reason is missed. You might even try to tell yourself you don’t need the smartphone, and give yourself all the rational reasons why you should and can wait – but damn, that urge is still there – it just doesn’t go away – and what’s more, it’s building!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but when positive energetic experiences, like desire, are very strong and keep building and are not ‘moving out’ – it can become quite uncomfortable. There are sayings like ‘I love you so much it hurts’ – well it’s kind of like that. No matter if the original experience was ‘positive’ – like desire or love – if it just keeps building inside you and you don’t know how to give it direction – it becomes uncomfortable, sometimes even feels like emotional ‘torture’. And it’s there that the want will start feeling like a need – because pain and discomfort is how needs make themselves known.

In the end – the reason why we can mistake a want for a need is because we’re not really aware of ourselves and we accept any impulse or experience at face value. Somehow we don’t know or forget that we actually have the ability to look at a want and go: okay, what are my expectations here? Are they realistic? If they are not realistic, we can look at what it is we expect to ‘gain’ from our purchase (say freedom, acceptance, etc) that we should actually be giving to ourselves – then how do I give that to myself? How do I create that in my life? Once you see how this works, and start applying this reasoning – you’ll see you can direct your wants and your inner experiences quite easily. So long as you ‘remain in the dark’, you’re powerless and at the mercy of what your experiences dictate and you can become quite a dysfunctional human being. Take the example of addictions, what are they but an extreme form of the confusion between wants and needs?

I started this series to investigate the cornerstone of economic theory: the economic problem of satisfying ‘unlimited wants and needs’ in a world with limited resources. To determine whose wants and needs will be satisfied, purchasing power is used as the criterion. I zoomed in on the fact that ‘wants and needs’ are treated as one concept with the same characteristics, when actually needs are limited and so we could at least start with satisfying everyone’s needs and then afterwards design a system that determines whose wants will be satisfied. Since the concepts ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are used in such a sloppy way in economic theory, I wondered if the same is true on a personal level – applying the principle ‘as above, so below’.

So what is the conclusion? Lol – I think it’s clear those two little words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ can create quite a bit of havoc in our personal life if the distinction isn’t clear and we don’t look further than the tip of our nose. It’s no wonder we have failed to eradicate poverty so far. And yet, maybe that is all that is required – or at least it is a start – to clearly define the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ for yourself and begin to approach ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ appropriately in your own life. It is one way to start taking responsibility for the ineptitude with which we’ve been attempting to confront global economic problems. If we can address wants and needs effectively in our own life, then we can do the same on a large scale – first making sure everyone’s needs are met and then we can start looking at how to satisfy desires.

A political and economic proposal was designed with this purpose in mind – the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal by the Equal Life Foundation. Please share and create awareness on this proposal, because it simply is not acceptable that millions suffer just because two words are not clearly defined in our dictionary.

04 June 2015

Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living 
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?

I ended off my previous post with the following:

“So – we have looked at how wants can in a moment override a need – where we identified subjective experiences and time as important players – but we can look a bit further and ask: why does it sometimes feel like we ‘NEEEED’ the things that we ACTUALLY don’t need. Objectively speaking – they are wants, things you can go without – and yet, you can experience a sense of ‘urgency’ and ‘must have’ and ‘I need it’ towards that which you want. Now wants really start messing with your sense of priority, lol. It’s one thing to be clear on the fact that what you are enticed by in a moment is not something you truly need, but you want to indulge yourself anyway – it’s another to feel like you actually NEED it when you don’t.”

Let’s do an exercise: search for one of those moments in your memory – a moment where: you felt that you absolutely NEEDED to have something, where, if you look back at it now, you didn’t ACTUALLY really need it, but you wanted it so bad that it FELT like you needed it. Now zoom in to the actual experience of need and ask yourself the following: were you experiencing physical discomfort? Were you deprived of something on a physical level, which needed replenishing to ensure you remain functional in your body? Were you in physical danger?

You’ll see that the answers to those questions are ‘no’ – because the apparent ‘need’ was not experienced on a physical level – it was instead experienced on an ENERGETIC/ EMOTIONAL level – where we feel we are being emotionally tortured so long as we don’t go and buy whatever it is we’ve now fixated on wanting to get. If those are not actual, physical, genuine needs, then what are they?

Here we need to actually look at different types of wants or desires. And more specifically – how realistic our expectations are of fulfilling these wants and desires. See – you can want to have a cup of coffee, because you expect that for a moment you’ll really enjoy drinking that coffee and it might assist you being more focused and awake for a short period of time – and when actually having that coffee – that’s exactly what you’re experiencing and what happens. That would be a want with realistic expectations. A want with unrealistic expectations, would be for instance if you want to buy the newest smart-phone because you think your friends will accept you if you keep up with the latest tech trends. What you actually want here, or expect to gain – is acceptance – that is the underlying want you are looking to fulfil. Now smartphones can increasingly do very impressive stuff – but giving you acceptance in yourself and your life is a huge and unrealistic responsibility to place on any phone. Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’. And this is known by the marketing industry and is deliberately used within advertising strategies. I watched a series the other day where one of the characters, who was a car salesman said: “I don’t sell cars, I sell freedom”. As an exercise for yourself, you can look at advertisement and try to see what unrealistic expectation they are trying to create within their viewers – and as a fun challenge within that: try to see how many products apparently will give you passionate sex, lol – advertisements of all kinds of products, from soft drinks, to cars, to perfumes – implicitly play on the desire and urge for sex to sell their products for them. 

So what is it about those wants where we have unrealistic expectations, that we would experience them as a ‘need’?

I’ll continue exploring this topic in my next post.