What does America value?

In our society money decides how resources are distributed. Those with the most money, have the most options. Sometimes I wonder is money the most efficient way to decide who gets what? In America specifically, status is determined by income. However, it can be argued that the most noble work is done by those paid the least, maybe even nothing–volunteers. At the same time there is a lot of money pooled with those who seem to be lacking a heart of service. They hoard money in off shore accounts. The work done by some of the highest income earners does not appear to be work that is life-giving. The work does not produce anything lasting. If that is the case, we are not doing our best to effectively manage resources to meet the needs of the people who our government represents. We have lost the sense of stewardship that human kind needs to live with peace of mind and in balance with the ecosystems that we occupy.

Life is about more than profits.

The first problem with having money decide who is able to access resources, is that there are many worthwhile endeavors that are not profitable. Adding the profit aspect to health care, education, and prisons creates a business model that breaks the systems they claim to serve. The fact that they are not profitable does not mean that they are not worthwhile endeavors. It simply means that society does not want to pay for them. Many of the social services are not “fun” ways to spend money. Yet, they are vital to the general well-being of the communities that we live in. There are many things worth doing for the greater good that does not make a profit.

Bringing back the balance.

How can things be brought back to balance?

Some say charity is how to solve society’s imbalances. Yet, I am not sure that charity as we know it is the answer. The first reason why that is true is because the work that needs to be done is not always the work that people want to pay for. Some of the work that is needed by society is not considered “sexy” by funders. The process to access grants is lengthy, complex, and limited. The process is cumbersome and does not always address what is needed but instead focuses on what the charity is willing to give.

There needs to be a review of the way America does business. Stockholders versus workers. Which should be the priority? When stockholders do not see the vision of the company and are looking for a one-way street to profits not seeing the long-term vision of community and the way that the organization lives in the community it can be problematic. What then should be done to keep the fiduciary promises to stockholders while still being able to invest back into the company and community.

Our society appears to be economically driven, however the economic cycle is not free-flowing and the stagnant lack of a strong economic flow worsened by the lack of disposable income, makes solving problems on a one-on-one or community level, virtually impossible. The way we think about resources and problem-solving must change and become more egalitarian so that our society begins to reflect the best of all of us manifesting real solutions. Instead of what has been happening which is the worst of all of us manifesting our fears. I still have faith that humanity is capable of amazing things. However, to get there the focus must be on working together. That gives value to all Americans and I believe that is truly what American values is all about.MiamiHeraldValues

we need a watchdog, not a lapdog

President Obama appointed former Jeopardy champion and former Attorney General for the State of Ohio (a swing state) Richard Cordray to head the top consumer watchdog agency the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the White House on July 18, 2011. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is set up much like what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is for law enforcement. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB will be a centralized department for consumer protection which was previously spread out amongst government agencies.

A primary task of this agency will be to make sure that correspondence between financial institutions and the public are written in a way that the layman can understand. It is also charged with addressing practices which may be less transparent to the consumer so they can better understand what is a good product or not. They will be educated to protect themselves in the marketplace.

I resent the fact that this bureau needs to be in place. That basic best practices are not created and maintained within the industry. However, it has been shown time and time again that the financial industry is unwilling or unable to make these types of ethical standards on their own.

“Self-regulation is to regulation as self-importance is to importance.”
— Willem Buiter

The President side stepped the logical choice for the position Professor Elizabeth Warren the Bureau was her brain child and she was the driving force creating it. Yet, because Republicans and those in the industry that would be regulated did not like that she wanted to do the job and not be dissuaded to water it down and do the usual “make it look like we’re doing something without actually doing something” that is so prevalent in the cesspool of American politics.

See more at http://www.elizabethwarren.com

The concern with the current path is that it becomes a drain on the tax-payer with mediocre at best results. Without Elizabeth Warren at the helm I am concerned that the CFPB will be more of a lapdog than a watchdog.  With Congress holding the financial leash. If Congress is influenced by the 10’s of  millions of dollars of lobbying they can merely strip the Bureau of needed funding to do its work. Sure Obama says he’s fighting now for the agency, but what about Presidents to come? Will they have the same passion to protect the consumer in the future?

“Deregulation is a transfer of power from the trodden to the treading. It is unsurprising that all conservative parties claim to hate big government.”
— George Monbiot

I love the idea of the CFPB. I think it is important that the consumer be offered a fair playing field on which to participate in the game of capitalism. I am just not sure that this is the way to get it done. I  saw on an MSNBC interview with Andrea Mitchell this morning that Professor Warren felt understandably fatigued and ready to spend time at home with her grandchildren. I would hope that she would be willing to head a well-respected non-profit agency. A watchdog for the watchdogs or lap dogs as I suspect they have a high risk to become.