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Rise and Fall in the Land of Change
The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
A Fairy Tale from the History Book of the Future
“What happened to all the money, mommy?” little Johnny asked.
“The truth is, honey,” she replied, “there WAS no money.”
It’s All Make-Believe
Once upon a time, a thing called money was developed to represent things. In olden times, if you wanted to get a cow, you would have to find a farmer with a cow that he wanted to trade, and trade him your two goats—since that was the going value of a cow. But what if you didn’t have two goats? Well, perhaps cow-farmer Brown would accept 500 eggs for his one cow. But what if farmer Brown didn’t really like or want eggs? Oh, heavens. Things just got so messy for farmer Brown, goat-herder Thomas, chicken-rancher Evans and everyone in the town. What on earth would they do?
Well, on the other side of town, economist Smith came up with a great idea.
“What if we create this thing called ‘money,’” he suggested, “that we use to represent the cows, and the goats and the eggs? Then, you could sell your 500 eggs at $1/egg to anyone for this thing called money and you would receive $500. Then you could use that $500 to buy two goats at $250 each, or one cow for $500. Now, you don’t have to raise chickens or raise goats to get a cow, you can sell practically ANYTHING you have that someone else wants, and you can have this money thing to buy practically ANYTHING you want! And they all agreed that they would accept this money thing in place of the eggs and cows and goats.”
And here’s the greatest part: The money was “backed” by gold. In other words, no one could get a dollar—none could be created—unless there was a fixed amount of actual gold in the bank of the land that represented that dollar. So, at any time you wanted, you could simply trade your dollar for an actual nugget of gold and have something of real value that just about anyone the world over would recognize and accept. Money backed by gold! It was a brilliant idea.
But then, something sinister happened. Someone decided to introduce something called a “fiat” currency, and instead of money based on tangible assets like gold, currency then became simply pieces of paper or coins backed by confidence in a country. In other words, that paper dollar was worth a dollar simply because the government said so. Your faith alone in the government is what was backing the currency.
Without the need for gold or silver or other tangible assets, money became the easily manipulated numbers on a balance sheet; ones and zeros in a computer. It became something that could be created at the drop of a hat, placed into circulation, thus inflating or deflating the economy at will, manipulating the masses and moving wealth from the many to the few.
In this new age of the fiat currency, “Tangible assets became the “mortal enemy” of the Fed-led central bankers....because if tangible assets become legitimate alternative stores and measures of value to the bankers’ “Paper Assets” (i.e. treasury securities and fiat currencies), the bankers lose power, influence and profit.” [from financialsense.com]
The Fatal Flaw
Once it became common practice to issue money that was not backed by anything real, tangible or of quantifiable value (like gold or silver), then all heck broke loose. Banks could lend money they didn’t have. People could borrow money that didn’t exist. Lenders could charge real interest on this un-real borrowed money (that they didn’t really have in the first place), and repossess the real property of those who defaulted.
Corporations could expand and grow based on imagined wealth, by misrepresenting their true economic health. This unchecked and unnatural growth, and the greed it inspired, led to overpaid CEOs, underpaid and exploited workers, the rape of the earth’s natural resources, an expectation of infinite growth based on finite resources, and unchecked consumerism. It was a system that was doomed from its inception. That it even lasted so long was simply testament to the game of smoke and mirrors that those in control were able to perpetrate on the masses as things careened to their eventual demise.
Basic laws of supply and demand, production, exchange, value, as well as universal laws of cause and effect had been violated in the process. This was capitalism’s fatal flaw.
You’ve heard all the descriptions: “a house of cards,” “chickens coming home to roost,” “paying the piper,” “the day of reckoning.” Trite, perhaps, but highly appropriate to describe what happened next in the global economy. It was inevitable.
The rumblings had begun as early as the 1970s. There had been bailouts of the auto and banking industries before. But this time, the highest floors of the economic house of cards were just too precariously perched to be sustained.
Combined with the perfect storm of other economic conditions, what happened next is now history. The cards came tumbling down. Businesses based on the old paradigm started to crumble. There were layoffs. There were bankruptcies. Stocks plummeted. Prices of the basic necessities increased. The price of survival skyrocketed.
But then, despite, or perhaps because of the chaos, people finally “got” it. The fall of this brand of capitalism brought many formerly accepted and entrenched ideas into question, and made others undeniably obsolete in their flaws. And people woke up.
People realized that despite what they’d been led to believe, the direction in which we as a society had been heading—that we sometimes refer to as progress—was woefully, completely and spectacularly misguided. They realized they’d been lied to about practically everything they believed to be true.
Reggae singer Bob Marley had a posthumously released song titled Who Colt the Game (lyrics by Lee Scratch Perry). “Colt” is a Jamaican term in the game of dominoes that refers to the act of a player misplaying a card. No one catches the mistake, and everyone continues playing their cards according to the misplayed card, and when the error is eventually discovered, the game is said to be “colt.”
Marley sings, “somebody colt the game, and caused the world to follow.” That is exactly what had happened. In practically every field of life as we know it, certain people with insufficient information, inaccurate perceptions, incomplete world views, poor analytical skills, and sometimes simply evil intent, had arrived at conclusions based on erroneous assumptions and misguided motives which led to courses of action (misplayed cards) which colt the game for the rest of us. And we, with our faith invested, unknowingly and unwittingly followed along.
People quickly realized the simple truth that “If your understanding of reality is flawed, you will not be able to make the best decisions for survival.” So people sought the truth about everything, not just in matters of the economy, but it spilled over into every area of their lives. From education, entertainment, medicine, economics, to new definitions of progress, spirituality, and survival, there was a massive resurgence of new ideas in what has since become known as “The Great Sheep Uprising.”
The Growth of Self-Sufficiency
You’ve no doubt heard that “you can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that got you there.”
As the effects of capitalism’s fatal flaw spread throughout the globe, and this new consciousness emerged, it became glaringly obvious to all but the greed-motivated few, that a new paradigm was not only necessary, but vital if the earth and its inhabitants were to survive. Across the globe, the self-sufficiency movement kicked into gear. What emerged from the chaos of the tumble is now legend.
On the basic survival front, people resisted the control of natural resources (like drinking water and seeds) by the multinational corporations. A new grassroots, green-conscious ethic called the “Multi-Natural Movement” emerged in its place.
Green Corporations formed as part of this multi-natural movement. But, unlike the corporations of old, mandated to put profit first, these multi-natural corporations created a global charter that began with the following:
“If the world is to be saved; if global warming is to be prioritized and addressed; if people are to live disease-free lives; if the rights and freedoms of all on the planet are to be honored and respected without exploitation; if we are to develop a workable understanding of ourselves, of others, of the natural universe, and of reality to be able to make better choices, then there must be a change in the way people currently think, communicate, act and do business...”
On the consumerism front, people retooled their lives, streamlined their needs, and curbed their appetites for excess. As a result, products based on faulty science, mere profit or status, fell out of favor.
On the health front, people finally accepted the connection between their deteriorating, seemingly random health and what they’d been using as food all their lives. People became healthier and less reliant on prescription drugs and even health insurance.
On the lifestyle front, people moved from claustrophobic urban centers to more rural areas where farming—pesticide-free, natural farming—increased. Organic farmers markets sprang up everywhere.
On the medical front, with prices skyrocketing, people’s use of prescription drugs decreased. The masses reclaimed control of their health freedom and their right to choose their health treatments. The multinationals’ plan to limit health-freedom, and restrict access to natural remedies and cures was thwarted.
On the career front, forced by massive layoffs to seek alternate streams of income, people started turning their passions into profit. There was a resurgence of entrepreneurial spirit as people created passion-centered businesses first in desperation, and then as an obvious component of happiness and self-actualization.
The New Economy
Yes, it was a glorious time! As people sought truth-based alternatives to the “house of cards lives” they’d been living, a new economy arose with new products based on new motivations, new mandates, a new commitment to sustainability and (a new definition of) progress.
As traditional carmakers folded, green fueled technologies and cars that had been suppressed were now in demand.
As drug companies reeled, cheaper, natural and real cures for sickness and disease that had been suppressed, now fell into favor.
Products and services that helped people live really better lives trumped those that were merely for show. Businesses were started to provide real value rather than imaginary status. People created incomes that satisfied their need rather than their greed.
It wasn’t always a smooth transfer of power, however. As the various components of the old regime fell away, replaced by the new, people at first rejected it. But, slowly at first, as each new entrepreneur selling new ideas and products met with success, others joined the bandwagon.
They realized that all the fears and pronouncements of complete and utter disaster were exaggerated.
Yes, people would lose jobs, but they would look for or create new ones. Yes, businesses would close, but new ones would emerge to replace them.
Yes, things looked dire, but looking back, we now admit that the solutions were always there, always obvious, but were simply not easy given the unwillingness of those in power to share it, the reluctance of those without power to claim it, and the tendency of both to stick with the known rather than the unknown.
And so it always is in the Land of Change, that all things work for the good of all....and they lived happily ever after.
Note: The African American Cultural Preservation Committee is calling for entries for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Essay and Elocution Contest. The topic this year is “What Would Martin Say?” All students in the CNMI are invited. See the www.blacksonsaipan.com website for details. Fliers are being distributed to the schools this week.
Note: For more tips on overcoming your fears, acting on your ideas, changing the game, and creating a passion-centered lifestyle, visit www.passionprofit.com!
Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!
Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of 12 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several successful businesses in the US, and now makes his home here in Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt’s philosophy and formula visit www.saipanpreneur.com and www.passionprofit.com
WHERE IS SAIPAN?
Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench.
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