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  • Mayuri

Invest in Planet Real not Planet Financial

Drought in California

I was just visiting family in Palm Springs and drove through the San Joaquin (central) valley to get there. There were many disturbing things that stood out on that drive. There were abandoned almond groves, huge industrial agricultural facilities and signs about the drought including ones blaming Congress.

When I got home, the San Francisco Chronicle had an article on the Valley and there was much to ponder in that article (Writing On The Wall For Prime Farmland on Monday March 24 by Carolyn Lockhead). There used to be the biggest fresh water lake in the west in the Valley with huge trout before it was drained for irrigation.”In some areas of the Valley, salt from irrigation has crystallized on the surface, covering the fields with what is known as “California Snow”, rendering the ground useless not just for crops but also for any vegetation at all”.  Never mind the huge numbers of endangered migratory birds and other species.The Fish and Wildlife Service as well as Federal studies from long ago have concluded that the only solution is to stop irrigation with water that California doesn’t have as made apparent by the drought, and to remove the underlying source of the problem which is agriculture by retiring 379,000 acres of land from irrigation. Experts believe that if farmers don’t retire the land, then nature will do it for them.  The water district has proposed converting damaged cropland to solar farms.

This situation is a reflection of what I have spoken about before in the coming money paradigm shift to a Planet Real from a Planet Financial. We have been living in a Planet Financial instead of a Planet Real, where money is more important than something creative and productive and tangible or sustainable, where our stock markets are casinos, and banks invest in unregulated intangible derivatives and not real assets. It seems that this Valley was not meant to be a huge industrial agricultural base, but finances drove it in this direction. In this way, perhaps Congress is responsible in its policies that support large corporations (think Monsanto, the GE corporate agriculture giant whose interests are actually encoded into laws of Congress) over individuals, profit over sustainability.

Some economists predict that the currently shifting paradigm will include moving from a bull market in financials—where banks and hedge funds are betting on which way the stock market will respond—to a market in tangibles. They see a time when stocks will be valued on their actual earnings, and those who create, grow, or sustain real goods will be as valued as much as investment bankers, when investment in land and resources and commodities—including food, energy, and water—is more important than investment in stock and bonds.

With recent world events, we are beginning to recognize that we can no longer trust in centralized systems and that we have to rethink what diversification means. For now, most of us remain dependent on highly centralized systems, not only for money but also for food, water, energy, and most goods. The shift that many people are foreseeing includes an expanded view that considers the purchasing of consumer goods to be a form of investment. We’re not used to thinking about it in that way, but in fact, every day we are investing in those people and companies that we give our business to.

This is what I say in my book “Many people believe that investing in activities that promote sustainability is the only hope for our planet. Catherine Austin Fitts, president of Solari, Inc., suggests using the principle of “total economic return” as a basis and navigation tool for choosing investments. This means participating in only those investments that have a positive total economic return—that is, a return not only to the investor but also to every party along the way. This is a practical application of the Buddhist doctrine “Do no harm.” It is a way of “doing good” and “doing well.”  Another way of saying this is to choose to support activities that include the 3 Ps- profit, people and planet.

Slow Money is a “local and global gathering on food, investing and culture” that is affirming a new direction for the economy. As they say on their website, the Slow Money Alliance is bringing people together around a new conversation about money that is too fast, about finance that is disconnected from people and place, about how we can begin fixing our economy from the ground up…starting with food. If you are interested in making a difference when you make money in your investments, by voting with your money, this could be a good place to start.

There are many on the planet who know much more than I do about sustainability, so why am I speaking about it? Because it also relates to consciousness. Consciousness challenges the belief that we are separate individuals, not connected to the planet, to other species, to even to other people. Recent events in the world, including the 2008 financial meltdown and the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan, have affected all of us and have made us more aware of humanity’s interdependence and oneness.

This recognition is a reflection of the spiritual experience of the oneness of Being, or reality. We are beginning to realize we are not disconnected human beings but are members of a greater whole. Yes, we are differentiated as individuals, each one a part of the infinitely diverse manifest mystery of the universe, but we are not separate. The implication is that when we impact others, we impact ourselves. This means that when we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. It also means that if someone is starving or angry, it affects each of us. As I heard Bishop Desmond Tutu say in the movie I AM, “The sea is only drops of water that have come together.”

When we apply some discriminating awareness to our financial situation, we recognize that none of us can afford to live in our own little bubble of competition or the arrogant isolation that can result from great wealth. Instead we must each support cooperation with and compassion for all. It naturally follows that we need to be personally involved in our money and where it goes in all areas of our financial lives.

Practically speaking, this means knowing as much as you can about the products you are investing in and under what conditions they are made. You can ask yourself questions such as, What kinds of enterprises do I want to support, to invest in? Local businesses or large, centralized companies? Organic farmers or corporate, conglomerate food providers? When you shop at a supermarket take note of what distances your food has traveled and who has grown it. What do you notice when you look at the labels of goods you buy? What types of employee conditions are you supporting with your purchases? Who might not be able to get a job because of your choices? Because we live and relate within communities, we have the opportunity to think consciously and globally but act locally.

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