Society

Xenophobia and Globalism

Xenophobia is a word often hurled at people objecting to having local industries and jobs replaced by people from outside one’s locale or country. The word is derived from a Greek term meaning fear of strangers and is used to mock those wishing to resist being replaced by less expensive labour as though fearing job loss or lower wages is motivated by prejudice toward foreigners, a dislike of immigrants and not simply fear of personal and family economic destruction.

Contrasting with the term xenophobia is the idea of globalism which seems more complementary to those to whom it is applied as it connotes a kind of worldly generosity, a willingness to sacrifice one’s self, family and country to a greater worldly good.

The conflict between the globalists and xenophobes has heightened since the early 1970’s. During that time to the present the champions of globalism seemed not so much foreign countries seeking to acquire the wealth of other nations but by international companies often using the political and military strengths of their countries of origin to further the welfare of their own businesses. During this time the wages of most workers, the non knowledge based workers, have stagnated while the wages of executives and professionals have soared.

Bank Power

I read in the Financial Post that saying “so long to banks’ [is a] risky business” which seems to mean that bank power is so extensive that efforts to buy or sell without the involvement of bankers may be unnecessarily expensive. I remember my mother’s surprise on hearing that today’s home owners unlike those of the 1930’s and 40’s no longer financed the sale of their homes by taking back mortgages because now banks held most mortgages. And not too many years ago banks started buying back the equity in these homes by giving owners in their sixties more money to spend on fun stuff.

And this fear of using money free of bank involvement also brings to mind the Ford motor company that from the inception of the auto industry functioned successfully without bank loans or government bailouts.”Henry Ford was able to maintain the Ford Motor Company’s position as the leading firm in the industry through the 1920s without raising any capital at all through bankers.”(David M. Kotz, Bank Control of Large Corporations in the United States,University of California Press,1978; p.43.)

Cutbacks

What we possess, we take for granted, believing that since we have become accustomed to receiving it we have a right to it: it is a reward for our job, our age, our social status, our education, our fine character and talent, our importance to society. If cutbacks are necessary cut overall expenditures and programs trickling to the less talented, faceless, less privileged not accustomed to the perks and pleasures of a better society. Here there is little room for objective judging of value or justice. Here there is only fear of losing what one already has.

 

Fear and Consuming

“And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
will show you fear in a handfull of dust.”
(The Wasteland,canto I; T.S.Eliot,1922)

As I was growing up fear was a constant media message. Then we were encouraged to fear communism especially Russian communists who we heard wanted to enslave the world, just like the Germans and Japanese whom we eventually defeated with the help of the US and the UK in the second world war. Eventually communist China assumed the frightening aspects of Russia especially after China on the side of communist North Korea helped create the stalemate that concluded the Korean War.

Since Richard Nixon’s trip to communist China in the 1970’s, the fear of communist China subsided as a vast variety of consumer goods made in China were exported for sale to North American consumers. And since the decline of its Soviet Union, Russia has become a sort of friendly bear joining the US in space exploration.

Today the object of fear has shifted from fear of communists to a fear of Islamists, bad weather, incomplete insurance coverage,bad credit scores, inadequate diet, anxiety over sports losses,global warming and bullying.

Recently I heard that fear and greed are useful to marketers in attracting consumers to their products. I used to think that the fear valued by marketers was the fear a consumer might have of not obtaining the marketer’s product and the greed or desire was simply the desire to obtain the advantages that the product might provide. But I eventually learned in studying my own fears and desires that when experiencing fear/anxiety the desire to purchase something appeared to create a sense of momentary power over this fear which at times seemed so powerful that it increased the desirability of the sale item.

The term consumer, closely associated with the term purchaser, is metaphorically derived from the idea of eating, which I have known for years was inspired by anxiety, for I have been aware as many others have that much of my appetite is inspired by anxiety, an overwhelming urge to fill a psychological emptiness which too often is mistaken for real physical need.

The Impoverished

For some years I’ve been naively puzzled by media’s talk of “child poverty” as though children were the only real poor. I could not understand why I rarely read or heard commentary about the poor living among us on the streets,public transit, and in the work place. For the term “child poverty” seemed to ignore the millions of poor people in North America who are poor but who are not children.

But I think I have finally begun waking from my naive slumber to realize that when television and news paper people talk of “child poverty” and display images of poor children they are often encouraging donations for poor children in foreign lands and not the poor who live among us. In addition to this talk of “child poverty”, I have recently become aware of media’s reference to “world poverty” and the world’s poorest countries which again seems to ignore the only poor that I have ever seen, adults who since the 1970’s have grown increasingly visible on the streets, buses, street cars and subway trains of the city of Toronto.

Aint it funny how emotion lets policies slip away.

It’s funny how media television and newspaper reports, and interviews about President Obama’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico seem to suggest that Americans believe that Mr. Obama’s rhetoric about BP’s responsibility for the spill lacks emotion. So in the last few days Mr. Obama talks about America’s getting “through this crisis”(the oil spill that began on April 22,2010 in the Gulf of Mexico)as Americans have always done; and on the Good Morning America interview his emotional outbursts about his knowing “whose ass to kick,” and in his hypothetically firing the CEO of BP, Mr. Hayward if he had been Mr. Hayward’s boss, Mr. Obama seems to be trying to give Americans the emotion that media say Americans want, instead of his administration’s rational management of offshore drilling in environmentally sensitive waters.

It’s also odd that the media looking for emotion has forgotten President Obama’s appearing on the “Newshour” on March 31, 2010 to say that he had partially ended a near 20 year moratorium on oil drilling in U.S. coastal waters.

      JIM LEHRER: ‘There could be more drilling for oil along major expanses of the U.S. coastline. President Obama today partially ended a moratorium that’s lasted more than 20 years.’ ………………………………………………………………………..

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: ‘This is not a decision that I have made lightly. But the bottom line is this: Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel, even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy.’ (Transcript of PBS Newshour March 31, 2010 broadcast)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Investing needs wealth more than literacy.

Financial literacy informs one of ways to invest and give money to those in the business of selling investment products. The less one knows of these products the better, for in the case of investment products knowing less means knowing about fewer chances to invest and lose money, unless one has lots of money. For if one has lots of money like Warren Buffet if we lose money as in the 2008 stock market debacle we may have money left over to continue investing and regaining some of our losses as Mr. Buffet and others of his ilk have done by having enough money remaining after the 2008 losses to recoup, in the stock market rally of early 2009, the losses of 2008.

As markets rose in 2009 from the losses of 2008 a survey by by a Canadian newspaper writer revealed that only 15% of Canadians in early 2010 were aware of these 2009 stock price increases which probably supports the view that only the 15% with money knew of the market rebound because they were the only ones with enough money to keep investing.

American Movies

Criticism of Americans, especially by Canadians seems strange when one considers that most of us in the 20th century have been educated by mostly American entertainment in radio, movies, television, and now the Internet thanks to the American military on which Canada became dependent when Mackenzie King signed the Ogdensburg Agreement. But above all, this criticism seems most incomprehensible when one considers the role American movies have performed in shaping the attitude and manner of our age, its themes and characters invading the depths of our psyche despite what we thought we knew of Americans, unwittingly making us all Americans. I recall as a child religiously attending every Saturday afternoon matinee of comedy, cowboy, war and pirate movies regardless of the films’ content or quality. For some reason just being in the movie theatre watching the light bouncing off the screen making people move between the curtains in the surrounding darkness satisfied a kind of need that the movies themselves seemed to have created.

As I reached my teenage years I began taking the streetcar downtown to various theatres without knowing even what movies were playing many of which were old gangster, science fiction or war movies. As I moved into my twenties I became slightly more discriminating as I learned the difference between first run A and B level movies. But I would still attend any and all movies that I had time and money to attend.

Elder Abuse

War and Energy

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