The Institute For Living

Tag: employment

Moving from a Fear Based Economy to a Love Based Model

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

This post was originally written over 16 months ago, but in light of current events, it seems to be appropriate to re-post it. Often we do not like to consider the raw truth of our affairs, but healing begins with unvarnished disclosure.

Here is the original post:

There has been much talk in recent months about our free market system and socialistic threats to that model. While no one suggests that there is really a “this-or-that” dichotomy, most of the participants in the debate are simply afraid that we are moving too far too fast away from the free interplay of capitalistic forces to a controlled economy. That is certainly a fair debate. As with so many debates, some of the positions people take start to get dangerously close to “sacred cows” for various stakeholders, and then passions are ignited.

What we want to consider, though, is that the basis of the argument itself may be from a perspective rooted in fear. As with so many aspects of our lives, when fear drives our decisions, we do not make the best decisions — although we might think we are doing so at the time. One of the best examples is a driver whose car starts to skid. Their fear causes them to slam on the brakes and steer in the direction that appears to be appropriate, although it will only put them in greater danger. Their fear based response makes them incapable of good decision making. Personal relationships are replete with such examples. One such example is the person who is caught in an abusive relationship but is afraid to venture out into the abyss of unknown alone-ness and possible new relationship.

This fear based captivity directly affects our behavior in the marketplace. We are the same characters in the bedroom that we are in the boardroom. And our virtues are no different.

So, then, what are we afraid of?  Even when the free flowing forces of capitalism are working just fine, isn’t fear underpinning the success or failure of that system? For example, fear that housing prices will rise causes people en masse to  go out and purchase houses — thus creating an upward pressure on prices. Fear that company XYZ’s stock price will decline causes its shareholders to sell — thus creating a downward pressure on its price.

Competition among participants in a given industry is all based on fear. The fear that one competitor will gain market share over the other causes a variety of behaviors to combat that outcome. So fierce has been the behavior in this category that the SEC has been required to regulate activities, under the umbrella of “combinations in restraint of trade” and other oversight. Price cutting, price fixing, collusion, and a number of other behaviors have been used to combat the fear that competitors carry that they will lose in the game of market share vis-a-vis their industry rivals.

All of this comes about because of the core value of WIFM (What’s In It for Me). In order to preserve the “sacred cows” for all stakeholders, we must embrace a new system. Whether we have a free market system without intervention or a completely supervised and regulated system, it will still be fear-based. At its core is the fundamental question WIFM? On February 9, we published an essay titled, Love and Its Opposite. In that essay we established that moving from self-centeredness to love is the key to unlocking greater capacity.

The creative spirit that we call God — or some choose to call by other names — is love. God is love. Fear and love stand at opposites, one destroying the other. When we have a model that is fear based, it is inevitable that we will create conditions of unsustainability. It is like a mother eating her own children, rather than nurturing them.

Of course maybe fear is a reasonable precursor in the dance of love. May be without fear we cannot make the journey into love with all its wonder and all its splendor.

 

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Room for Compromise?

by on Jul.26, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

I saw two rooms: one sat vacant, the other was overflowing with two groups of people — one unlike the other.

I questioned why one room sat vacant while the other room had plenty of space for discussion.

My answer came: “We are waiting for discussion between the two groups.”

But no discussion happened.

So one room sat vacant, while the other room was overflowing with two groups of people.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing.

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Actions Have Consequences

by on Apr.14, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Actions have consequences. That is an inviolate spiritual law. We get to choose our consequences by the actions we take. The problem is we don’t know when the consequences will show up, or what form they will take. But it is as sure as sunrise follows sunset that actions have consequences.

In our limited sphere of operations we can inflict consequences on those over whom we have power, but those become actions — which have consequences. The universe is the final arbiter, and equity is assured.

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Bankruptcy

by on Apr.04, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Blockbuster Video has come to be the generic for at home entertainment over the past few decades, yet there is now talk of that company going bankrupt. New trends in media and entertainment have perhaps shifted the dynamics of the market such that it can no longer be profitable with its business model.

But bankruptcy is not new, many successful companies and individuals have declared bankruptcy at one point, and moved on to reinvent themselves. Among the field of our potential presidential candidates, one is reported to have declared bankruptcy more than once, and another could be declared morally bankrupt by virtue of his integrity.

Indeed, in the recent economy — marked by massive layoffs, a mortgage crisis, runaway health care costs, and unsustainable credit — bankruptcy is an inevitable part of the individual and corporate fabric of our lives. Neither the principals nor the creditors are the real beneficiaries; the accountants and legal staff are the winners.

So deep is this structural, not cyclical, malady that its ripple effects are felt throughout communities. Those collective effects render states and our federal government (and, in turn, the world economy) pushing up against a ceiling that is not ideological, political or philosophical.

This crisis calls into question the core function of money. At its root, is money a medium of exchange, or is it a determinant of value? Does money, in fact, have the quintessential role to determine worth?

There is a powerful relationship between variables, and when that relationship is breached,  eternal damage is done at soul level. Priorities are misplaced, intentions are misguided, and behaviors are not authentic.

Unexpected tragedies can bring death at any time. When we trade the currency of life for the currency of eternity, what will we offer? Will we be full, or will our coffers be empty?

We may have amassed great material wealth; built estates around the globe; perhaps even bought an island or two; but when our sunrise turns to sunset, how will we answer the call?

Will our currency be good in eternity?

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When the Answers are Hidden

by on Mar.26, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

In today’s 140-character, soundbite world, we often miss the deeper meaning of the events unfolding around us. When I was going to school, a major curriculum requirement was the study of Shakespeare’s works. The very point of studying his works was that the value was in wrestling with difficult questions –not rushing to easy answers.

And so it was with Jesus, the Christ, whose parables rendered life-giving principles that profoundly confused and disturbed the rulers of his day. His “asset value” was not valued; in fact, it was so profoundly devalued that he was killed. And yet, two centuries later, we set our calendars by the event of his being, and his teachings provide the moral compass for many of us.

In Mark 11:13, he said that although there were no figs on the tree, the value was there. The answers were hidden from those who were only willing to spend 140 characters to find them.

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Poor People

by on Feb.28, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

“The Poor you will always have with you” is a well known scripture. It sets the core value for many religious, economic and political conversations. But who are the “poor”?

Are they the ones who don’t have big bank accounts, or the ones who stay awake at night trying to figure out how to maintain the big accounts?

Are the poor those who go along to get along, or the ones who know that they know that they know that somehow…through it all…?

Are the poor those who know the Way Maker or those who become the Gate Keepers?

Is poverty a state of mind or a financial statement presentation?

Even profitable entrepreneurs became so because of their ability to hear the voice of purpose rather than the noise of the naysayers surrounding them.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God.”

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Real Money

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

We all need goods and services for daily living. We could barter with each other for all of our needs, but it would not be efficient across time or place. Money, therefore, becomes necessary as a medium of exchange. It becomes the surrogate for value produced and expended.

Money can become corrupted, though, when it is manipulated currency — or “phantom capital” as we called it in previous documents. In these cases, rather than representing real value, it exists on paper only. One of the most common examples is when I buy a house for $100,000 which appreciates to $150,000. On paper, I now have a new $50, 000 worth of capital — money — although nothing new has been created. If I own a business, there is a more complex set of opportunities to create “paper” money. This new money is simply the function of agreed upon accounting and regulatory conventions, which can be changed, hidden, accelerated, diminished, or otherwise manipulated to conform to the wishes of those in control.

In a parable in Luke 19:23 a man is scolded for not giving his money to the bank, who would have charged usurious rates on the money. This precedes the oft quoted phrase: “to him that hath shall be given, and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

The “haves” and the “have-nots” are the groups that create financial energy in a macro system. Jesus said, “the poor you shall always have with you.” Like stirring a pot of soup, its flavor results from the process of energy generation. Some of the ingredients must die that the soup may live. The cries of the dying, though, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (See James 5:4).

“Only the strong survive” is an oft quoted phrase. It provides justification for the tasty broth of the system that is created by stirring the soup to the boiling point. And the financial elite are able to enjoy the tasty delights of the energy created by the soup of financial fantasy.

There’s only one problem: as they enjoy their tasty bowl of soup they forget that it has no real nutrients.

Soon after eating, they will get the runs, because there’s no substance to their meal. Manipulated currency is like a house of cards. Some of them will realize the lack of substance, and feel fear tugging in the stomach — just before the diarrhea starts.

Eternity will laugh

Job 41:10

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We Have no King But Caesar

by on Dec.07, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics

Caesar represents money, power and control; how seductive are those qualities. As we move into the Christmas season, we are presented with the Christ who represents the alternative: love.

But he was despised and rejected of men, and we hid our faces from him. He was a wine bibber and a friend of publicans and sinners. He identified himself with the suffering and those less fortunate. Who would want to be in his club when offered the choice to fraternize with Caesar’s court?

So when the babe of Christmas was offered up to death, the judge said, “I offer you the king”, but the people said, “we have no king but Caesar.”

His mother cried.

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When Greed Cries for Compassion

by on Nov.28, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

It has long seemed a paradox to me that people who had wronged me would later come to me for compassion when they were being wronged by someone else. I think, for example, of a past job where a supervisor had done many injustices to me. Yet, she felt no hesitancy in confiding in me when she was hurting because of wrongdoing that other people did to her in the organization.

Of course, I listened with compassion and offered her what help I could, because I believe that love and forgiveness is the ultimate solution for our problems.

Nevertheless, I kept my amusement to myself: why would she turn to me — the person she had mistreated — for solace and understanding during her time of trial? This is the paradox of the universe.

This paradox was eloquently displayed by Mr. Bernanke last week (as reported by Time.com) on the subject of Rebalancing the Global Recovery. A simplified paraphrase of his thesis suggests that since the pace of recovery is greater for the emerging market economies than it is for the advanced economies, there must be a voluntary co-operation to achieve balance.

That same — very reasonable — thesis does not seem to apply in Mr. Bernanke’s homeland. If that same penetrating economic analysis were applied stateside, then the same compassion that we are calling for in the international community would be applied to those less fortunate among us.

One phenomenon I have always noticed is that conservatism  seems to be a characteristic of people as they increase their wealth, whereas generosity is one of the truths of the less affluent. Of course, “charity” is commonplace among the wealthy, so long as it is tax structured. There is a spiritual difference in business giving and giving from the heart: God will judge.

So either the root of the tree can  be full of life, or it can be full of decay. The branches and the leaves might take years before they betray a dying tree.

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Bed Bugs in the Queen’s Palace

by on Oct.16, 2010, under News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Recently there has been an outbreak of beg bugs in our country. New York has been especially hard hit, which is the queen of commerce and power. Reportedly some of the landmark venues have at least temporarily closed due to this pestilence. Some have suggested that travelers might unknowingly bring the creatures in their garments from other countries and seed their domestic dwellings upon their return.

Ironic isn’t it that the powered elite are more likely to travel than the unemployed who (1) would not shop in the expensive New York stores, and/or (2) would not engage in foreign travel? While we certainly cannot say that this is an irritant for the rich and famous, we can say that it has not discriminated against the upper class.

And the upper class — or the powered elite — is what most of us aspire to become. The abundance of money is certainly one aspect of its appeal, but the locus of power is no less appealing. Indeed some members of the powered elite are deemed so because of their power rather than because of their wealth.

Recently Columbia University convened the first Elites Research Network conference. This is very interesting at a time when one little $75,000 house  in Maine has caused a foreclosure crisis that threatens to become the bed bug for the nation’s largest banks.

Just like the BP Oil Spill, the Goldman Sachs ordeal and other recent events, unforeseen consequences of routine behavior can disturb the locus of power. No such disturbance is necessary when power relations are maintained in an equitable manner.

Equilibrium is maintained in the universe and all is at peace.

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