Notes from reading "One world: ready or not"

William, Greider; 1997.

p440: "Three generations ago John Maynard Keynes prophesied that only when humanity finally escapes the ancient fears of scarcity and puts the economic problem behind it will people at last be free to discover what it truly means to be human. ""For the first time since his creation,"" Keynes wrote, ""man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem -- how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, ho to occupy his leisure, which science and compound interest have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well."" .... Who am I? What is my life for? If people are no longer bound to endless toil, what is their real work and purpose here on earth? If survival and accumulation are no longer the challenge, where does one find meaning and pleasure? As wealthy people can attest, these are the hardest questions."

p440-441: "The capitalist process, by its nature, encourages infantile responses from every quarter, as people are led to maximize self-interest and evade responsibility for the collateral consequences of their activities, the damage to other people or society or the natural environment.... The atomizing nature of the marketplace itself thus separates people from responsibility for their own actions, allows them -- or even requires them -- to detach themselves from the whole."

"...disinterested investors, who pursue personal returns regardless of larger consequences."

What is the magnitude of such disinterested investments? What work would catalyze interest and subsequent re-investment of the capital in good works?

Are not the abused workers of the world the consumers as well? Where is the core of consumer power?

"In time (with universal ownership), people might learn how to weigh the trade-offs between their social values as citizens and personal gain as owners with more responsibility than the present system does." "To illustrate the point crudely, factory owners are less likely to dump their toxic wastes in the river if they have to drink the water."

Rather than advocating worker shares in the corporations that employ them, let us link them to the disinterested investor!

"Stockholders are, in a sense, the most infantilized participants in capitalism since, unless they are wealthy and dominant players, their connection to the income-producing asset is a disinterested paper transaction, easily discarded, utterly detached from any real responsibilities of ownership."

What about making public who owns shares in every publically traded company? How about a (green brokerage?) web site where you can self-publish your portfolio?

"Conceivably, if a new global labor movement arises in the future, it will be built around borderless networks of organized owner workers -- people speaking for themselves and for their own communities.... So long as only a few were rich and the many were poor, so long as wealthy nations dominated and the rest were hapless bystanders, capitalism did not have to become more responsible to societies. Indeed it thrived by distancing itself from the social consequences. but now that many new nations are industrializing, claiming greater shares of production and consumption and wealth, the question of responsibility has taken on a new and different urgency. A greater social question now stalks everyone, rich and poor alike: Can the earth survive the triumph of global capitalism?"