Structure: Hidden Agent of Change
David Brooks, in his recent articlein the New York Times addressed an issue that has been totally ignored – structure. We talk of change, but mostly we just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. A delicious case in point are the recent Banking scandals. Banking scandals have a long history and most of them are structural in nature. The Rubbergate scandal happened because there was no penalty for members of congress who overdrew their checking accounts. This allowed 22 members of congress to have, what amounted to free loans. Their overdrafts were honored, so they were free to write checks with impunity, even if they didn’t have the funds.
In March England was rocked by the knowledge that many of their most prestigious banks sold highly complex interest rate derivatives to small businesses, essentially bilking the unsuspecting small businesses in the name of ‘insurance security.’ This is the same kind of investment laundering that got the whole world in trouble in 2008. Banks are being allowed to bet (hedge) against their other investment, there by playing both sides (AIG?), hoping to win no matter what happens.
JPMorgan Chase & Co declared that they have lost 2 billion in just such a scheme. This will continue until the structures in which they operate are changed to make such gambling impossible.
The ‘robo-signing’ of mortgages has created a fiasco as homes are foreclosed upon and no clear line of ownership can be established. For decades banks were encouraged to make loans quickly and using signatures that had no ties to humans speeded up the process. Banks have shifted their focus from providing money to making money and that intent has built structures that support that process, but at the sacrifice of good business, honesty, fairness and trust.
Agriculture is corrupted in the manner. Big Ag is no longer a supplier of nutrition, but of cheap food and grain products that never intended for food. As agriculture shifted to supplying resources for manufacturing and biodiesel the health and nutrition of food has come to be an unimportant aspect.
Structures have been developed to ensure huge crops of corn and soy so that the price is cheap as they are diverted into non-food uses. This is where the money is, so the effort that has to be put in to growing healthy, non-toxic and non-polluting food, is just not worth it – and they have the clout to create legal structures that free them from having to do so. The line that we need to feed the world is just a cover to provide corn for 4,000 other products. According to the Texas Corn Producers: “According to the Corn Refiners Assocation, nearly 4,000 food items in your grocery store contain corn ingredients - and that doesn't include the products that come from corn-fed animals or the sweet, whole-kernel corn that's available on the cob, in cans or frozen.” They go on to say, “Corn can be found in a number of industrial applications such as bioplastics and fabrics. Because of advances in technology, you can find corn in a number of items, including crayons, compostable tableware, food containers, bedding, shirts and carpet. Learn more about the unexpected products you can find corn in by visiting the Corn Refiners Association website.”
Follow the money and you will find structures designed to make that money flow happen. Until these structures are seen for what they are – human created funnels, and dismantled, we will not see any fundamental change! These structures fly in the face of fundamental laws of ecologies and instead of being dispersionary they are accretionary, favoring the few at the expense of the many. They are unsustainable!
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