I’m not often angry. But now I am. I’m livid! I’m fuming!
Reading an article by Follow the Money, a Dutch journalistic platform, I feel the heat rise to my cheeks. Ready to explode!
Look at what’s happening right before our eyes. This crisis is showing us exactly who the greedy want-to-have-it-all-at-the-expense-of-others are.
While we tell each other stories about the health care workers who are finally getting the appreciation they deserve, the sharks are waiting patiently. Their prey is coming closer. They know…
What’s happening that makes me so mad?
Money Paid for Not Delivering
The big businesses such as airlines, and oil companies, and lease giants are making me angry.
In my country, the Netherlands, we have the airport Schiphol and the airline giant KLM (okay, as pointed out in the comments, it’s not a giant, its a mid-size airline). They are pillars of our economy. They employ tens of thousands of people and many more in the area are reliant on their existence.
Right now, planes are parked, kept on the ground. And to save the jobs, our government pours in money. Tax money. Our money.
Okay, that’s a choice. So far, no real madness. I can understand it.
But where does the money go apart from the salaries? In the business of flying, there are a lot of uncertainties. Like for instance the price of fuel, kerosene.
And in order to deal with these uncertainties, airlines have made deals with oil companies to deliver them kerosine for a set price. In these deals, they have to promise, however, that they will definitely buy the fuel in the future.
The future is now. Airlines don’t need fuel. Planes are not flying.
But they have to buy fuel. They promised. So our tax money is going to oil companies for NOT delivering kerosine.
This is not a relevant economy!
This is pure speculation!
And our world is being destroyed over it!
Then there are the lease companies. Planes are not owned by airlines, they are leased. So while the planes are waiting on the ground until the next passengers need them again, the airlines still have to pay the lease companies for NOT using their fleet.
This is our economy, folks.
This is what we’re trying to keep afloat at all costs.
And who will pay?
The nurses who care for our sick loved ones. The teachers who are flexible enough to support our children online in their growth process. The farmers who produce our food, no matter what.
The ordinary folks just going to work every day and paying their taxes.
You and I are paying this bill!
A Bonus for Greedily Wasting Tax Money
And then the Board of Directors of KLM is voting about giving their top man a huge bonus. He’s a bit underpaid if you compare his salary internationally to other top men. Poor him…
After all, he made sure KLM is kept afloat. He has secured all those billions from our government with his lobbying schemes. He deserves to be rewarded for that honorable fact!
This is the world upside down!
It cannot be happening! But it is…!
Right before our eyes…
An Economy As It Should Be
So what’s the alternative you ask? We do need jobs. We do need money. Are there any better ways to spend our savior billions?
Yes, there are.
A healthy economy should be built on people spending their money, buying things they need. Food. Water. Houses. And the more active this local money is, the healthier an economy can be.
The money spent at the baker’s shop will be spent to repair the shoes of her children. After which the money will be spent on food from the local farmer. Who then buys some new clothes with it and goes for a beer at the local pub.
The local pub is not owned by a multinational beer brewer but serves the golden foamy nectar produced by the local beer brewer. Who, in turn, supplies the farmers with his waste to be composted for healthy soil.
And don’t think I want to un-globalize the world. That’s a passed station.
The world will not be going backward.
I think we can still travel to get new experiences. Let’s just go by train whenever possible. It gives us an opportunity to have an interesting talk with some unknown people along the way.
We can stay longer, learn languages, connect to local people for real. Help each other restore ecosystems locally.
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And go back to our local economies richer than we were before. Rich with knowledge, wisdom, and connection.
And if the past months have taught us something, it’s that we can connect from a distance. We can zoom, skype, team. We can have eye contact at the supermarket and convey a message without having to say a word.
We can smile, we can laugh, we can enjoy ourselves.
You get the picture? Does it sound strange in any way? Unfeasible? Yucky? Back to where we don’t want to be? I don’t think so.
It will just be our lives as we know it, with some changes made.
Now, big multinational companies are extracting money out of this healthy ecosystem. They grab this money, put it in the deep pockets of rich, anonymous shareholders.
And our local economies are a bit poorer again.
A healthy economy is about giving and receiving. Money should be supporting real activities that matter. It’s all about producing beautiful, useful, and durable stuff.
It’s about designing products in such a way that waste can be resources for the next product. It’s about self-sufficiency and keeping the money active inside a local ecosystem.
Our current economy is sick to its core.
And instead of trying to make her better, we’re putting a big plaster on the growing tumor. Hoping the pain will go away.
Universal Basic Income
This is the time to be thinking about a universal basic income.
If ordinary people have money to spend, they will keep the economy afloat in a much better way. Much more REAL than pumping the billions into large molochs that spend it on fuel that’s not needed.
Has the time finally come for universal basic income?
In the past few weeks, calls for a universal basic income have been louder than ever. Even the US is sending cheques to…
“It’s supposedly futile because we can’t pay for it, dangerous because people would quit working, and perverse because ultimately a minority would end up having to toil harder to support the majority.
Futile? For the first time in history, we are actually rich enough to finance a sizeable basic income.”
— Rutger Bregman
And if you want to read some criticism, try this one by Kacy Qua:
“It requires people to have an entirely different set of skills and motivation than what is available among our current workforce.” — Kacy Qua
By the way, I don’t agree with her assumptions that people are programmed too much to adjust to this new way of being.
Many studies on for example poverty aid have shown that giving people money makes them creative. They will be thrifty and finally see a way out of their misery.
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It’s as if a veil is lifted. The veil of fear being in the gutter. The veil of hopelessness. The veil of desperation.
So let’s trust all our fellow human beings and try a basic income.
This is the time. We are going to spend trillions anyway.
Let’s use these trillions to envision a future that’s really contributing to world health. Instead of pouring it into the deep pockets of the rich rulers who have made this mess in the first place.
Aligning the economy, ecology, and the human spirit
As many of my readers know, I’m a fierce advocate for aligning the economy, ecology, and the human spirit.
Well, a universal basic income can be a huge step forward.
“Any further necessary funds can be raised by taxing assets, waste, raw materials, and consumption.”
— Rutger Bregman
Let’s create “An economy as if people mattered”.
The thoughts and books by the famous economist E.F. Schumacher could guide us here.
What else would we need for such an economy?
First of all, we would need to restore ecosystems. We should unleash the abundance of nature again. We can do that by supporting regenerative agriculture. By restoring our oceans. By restoring our rainforests.
If people are not dependent on destroying nature to have food and care for their children, we can preserve all these necessary planetary gems much more easily.
And we do need healthy ecosystems. To deal with climate change. To deal with the loss of biodiversity. And that, in turn, will stop viruses from spreading from animals to humans.
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Secondly, we should be thinking about multiple values instead of just money. Businesses should create money AND clean air, clean water, and healthy soil.
We should be prepared to produce the stuff we need. And make our lives abundant by adding lots of love, experiences, and personal growth.
No useless, sh*tty plastic nonsense that is thrown away after a fortnight.
It won’t lessen the pain of existence anyway. The happy feeling of shopping lasts only as long as a bar of chocolate.
If companies will embrace economies of scope instead of economies of scale and will be prepared to take responsibility for all production outcomes, it can be done.
Companies should take responsibility for their pollution, their waste, their short cut ways of production. And design their processes differently.
And by doing that, we can unleash innovation.
We can motivate our staff to design the production processes in such a way that clean water will be produced as well as money. We can design houses in such a way that they will purify the air, inside and out.
It can all be done. We just need to want it badly enough.
And this might be the time to consider actually getting on with it.
Just do it!
To the board of KLM: please, earn your salaries with re-inventing your company. Become a smaller, relevant airline with multiple value streams. Be resilient in the future. Combine freight and passengers, whatever is needed at a certain time.
Collaborate with companies that re-invent our airplanes using renewable energy. Or companies innovating with materials that clean the air while cruising through it.
Let’s give back to the skies for the curtesy of carrying our loads.
To the boards of oil companies: it’s time to re-invest the trillions you made in profits by raping our earth into restoring our soils now.
Please, be a big contributor to the change we want to see in the world. Let’s unleash the abundance of nature again instead of destroying it. The investment will be worth it.
You can collaborate with users of the abundant materials, the farmers that produce our food, and you can break-even. You can find new business models together with the designers of the new, advanced products made of abundantly available materials. Just try it.
To the boards of lease companies with their holdings on the Cayman Islands: it’s time to look for other employment. It’s just never okay to make heaps of money speculating with other people’s money. It’s destroying our relevant economies. Stop it!
There’s much more to be said about healthy economies, so I’ll just keep writing and initiating projects that will contribute to this world-vision.
I don’t think the transition will be easy.
It’ll hurt. It’ll mean we have to look at our purpose of being in another way.
It’ll mean change.
But now that we’re hurting anyway, why not make the hurt productive and transition together to another kind of economy?
An economy in line with the planet we so proudly call our home…
Thank you, Mike, for adding your anger about injustice, and your wise energy to my words on the economy.
Desiree, I can agree with the sentiments that you express so eloquently, but for an essay or…
Yes, I agree that in our world the executives far too often are allowed to walk away from the financial wreck that they…
After publishing this story, a well-based critical comment came from Rudy Jakma in that gives a lot of perspective to what I wrote.
However, my opinion still stands: our economies are not resilient. And until we take our natural world seriously into account and businesses solve social and environmental issues in their business models, it will not get better…
We need to redesign our economy that is now just addicted to unlimited economic growth! And I’m sure we can do it if we want to badly enough!
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Nature, Me, and Others
Here’s my story, especially for Illumination readers, editors, and writers and the rest of my audience…
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