Social Investment Is A Spiritual Investment

by Mayuri on March 1, 2012

Quit Depriving The Less Fortunate Of Spending Power

I just heard a radio  interview on  KPFA in Berkeley, California of author and History Professor  at Rutgers University, James Livingston,  on his book, Against Thrift. I loved it. I didn’t agree with everything he said, and I haven’t read the book, but I do agree with his strategy as I understood it, if not always his reasons.

In effect what I heard him say, is the assumption of capitalism has been that growth is created by private investment. And we have entrusted that growth with the 1% and their financial policies. That is misplaced trust. There has not been an increase in private investment, but rather as Livingston says, it has “atrophied”. We have ended up with a lot of capital chasing too few assets, which creates bubbles like the housing bubble. What we need is a different model of income distribution. He poses the question “what happens if we drop that assumption?”

Dropping that assumption though would go against our societal roots that believe we need to be productive- that we don’t deserve wages unless we are productive. But work by and large (especially in the manufacturing segment) has been exported. The question we need to be asking, according to Livingston, is “How do we maintain a standard of living without attaching a value for work- the criterion of productivity?”

One of his assertions is that we need to substitute productivity with need. This seems to be a socialist principle (an apparently dirty word in the US, even though it seems based on many criteria socialist democratic countries are the most successful). He points out is that this principle is not just socialistic and thus political, but  also part of our early Christian churches and ancient Judaism, and is in keeping with the morality of every great religion.

What is needed  is a redistribution of income in the form of higher wages, not private investment. We need to increase the pie by allowing everyone the opportunity to spend- not save money for the few. We need to value enjoyment and leisure, and not just productivity.  I would add to this, we need to value our our Beingness,  and our humanity. Productivity as a measure only can value monetary gain. Livingston believes people deserve an income for freedom, mobility, and dignity. And this is where his point of view, and mine dovetail.

I would add that every person is a unique valuable individual in the eyes of reality. Value is an aspect of our Beingness. We are valuable as unique expressions of reality regardless of what we have or do not have. It broke my heart the other day to listen to a distraught single mother whose brilliant son could either not go to college, because of not enough money, or  prohibitively mortgage his future with student loans, while the 1% parents in her neighborhood were deciding which  Ivy league school to choose. Our current financial system places hierarchical values on individuals.

I have always hoped that money could eventually become not only a useful tool that we all could work with effectively, but also a creative extension of who we are, an expression of our uniqueness in the world.Embracing this new consciousness requires each of us to take responsibility in our lives, to turn inward and follow the thread of our unfolding deeper into contact with our own Beingness,  into the true nature of reality within each of us. To find truth within. To see that each of us is a spiritual human being. And, without exception, to find that each and every one of us is a face of God. The question becomes “What if we could embrace a rich inner life and have our outer life express our spiritual realization”? This is attainable, but before we can use money in the world as an expression of who we really are, we ALL need to have some.

So I like Livingston’s conclusion: we need to socialize investment and start using the pile of public capital for the general public good. That means removing the power from the 1% and increasing wages for all. As he points out, this is a movement from a financial point of view, to a political one. What it requires is Social Power. And we are seeing that kind of social momentum in the 99% movement and Occupy Wall Street.

By redistributing income , there will be less withholding from the present in the name of some elusive monetary growth that hasn’t ever materialized.  Everyone on the spiritual path knows that NOW is the only reality. Beingness lives in the moment, not in the future. We could live as human beings, NOW, with sufficient resources to flower our unique individuality.

As I see it, it is not just a financial or political movement, but a spiritual one.





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