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Guest Blogger: GlobalPost's Tom Mucha on the Global Economic Crisis

We'd like to thank Thomas Mucha, managing editor and commerce columnist at GlobalPost, for sharing his thoughts on the global nature of the economic crisis.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Thomas Mucha are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.

Lost fingers and a world of trouble
by Thomas Mucha, GlobalPost

You are, no doubt, paying close attention to the nightmarish U.S. economy, Wall Street's woes and the bitter back-and-forth over President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package, now signed into life.

The interest in what's happening here is no surprise. After all, the great 18th century thinker Adam Smith made this shocking observation about the odd relationship between human trouble and proximity:

"Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment. He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many tranquility concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquility, as if no such accident had happened. The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger tomorrow, he would not sleep tonight; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own."

That's right: you'd rather see China disappear than lose your own little finger.

But maybe Adam Smith—the progenitor of modern economics who dreamed up the division of labor, supply and demand and the invisible hand of the market—had it wrong.

In today's interconnected world the economic pain sweeping though China, Japan, India, Russia, Germany, Ghana and just about every other place can't be good for any American. While this economic crisis has its roots in the U.S., that fact is now irrelevant. What matters now is that, for better or worse, we are all connected.

Chinese factory workers, and their relatively low wages, make many of the products you buy more affordable. Japanese designers make your flat screen TVs flatter. Korean engineers churn out most of your computer chips. Brazilian farmers put food on your table. South African miners dig out the platinum that goes into your car's catalytic converter.

These multiculti connections go on and on, and inform everything from the movies you watch (Slumdog Millionaire), to the authors you read (Khaled Hosseini, Jumpha Lahiri, J.K. Rowling), to the music you download (on your Chinese-manufactured iPod) and then listen to (on your Sony headphones).

So as you fret about losing your job, or making your house payment, or whether you'll ever have enough money to send your kids to college—spare a thought for the 1.6 million Japanese living on welfare (the highest number since 1965). Or the 20 million migrant workers in China, suddenly out of work. Or the one in three Brazilian households that have suffered a job loss in the past six months. Or the millions of Indonesians substituting chicken for cheaper fried tempe, or all the Koreans drowning their sorrows in inexpensive Soju.

Because, my fellow Americans, you need them. And they need you. And we all have fingers.

Thomas Mucha is managing editor and commerce columnist at GlobalPost. Previously, he was a global economics columnist, writer and producer for Business 2.0 magazine, Crain's Chicago Business, and CNN International. His most recent editorial project, A World of Trouble, details how the global economic crisis is affecting 20 countries around the world.

We invite you to respond in the space below.


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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

It's become evident to me that, despite a great education, that economically I will do a lot worse than my parents. Further, that my kids will economically do a lot worse than me. I'm concerned that not only is the American dream gone, it's now become a nightmare.

Why is US military being brought back for Iraq to patrol US streets?

Why is US military practicing combat maneuvers in multiple US cities?

Could it be that the military is being primed to invade the US?

The criminal banking cartel is breaking the back of America in order to realize their One World Government: 1 currency, 1 army, 1 religion etc. with what is left of humanity to serve as their slaves.

False Flags (WTC/Okl/911/London/Mumbai and on and on plus illegal wars/invasions using illegal DU weapons (amongst others), the "green/global warming" movement which will return mankind to feudalism, etc. are all pieces of a puzzle nearing completion. Millions worldwide are now waking up and the Globalist/Illuminati are beginning to soil their pants.

Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" depicts 3 lion statues in different states of attention; from supine to rising to standing fully alert. Humanity is that lion. And ss someone said,"When you run with a lion, you're bound to get scratched..."

To "Have My Own Problems":

>>Any third world resident that decides to make nine babies by constantly having sex. Doesn’t deserve my consideration. Maybe these people should zip up their vaginas and start working?

There are a couple of problems with your statement and I suggest re-thinking your so-called logic.

1. It takes more than a vagina for a human to reproduce. Perhaps you'd suggest castration too? Oops, is that automatic when one is laid off and has only ONE child or two? What would be the limit?

2. Your so-called "third world resident" is often-times more resourceful than your so-called "U.S.-born multi-generation citizen" who isn't accustomed to hardship and digging deep for resourceful planning and sacrifice.

3. Population control is not the only issue here. Were it that easy, I suspect many nations would have done like China by now and instituted one-child-per-family laws.

Back to the drawing board, eh?

The problem and solution to the present economic disaster is as plain as the egg on the perpetuater's faces.
The world economy ran out of necessary funds to keep the economic system functional. Many pie in the sky attempts to bolster the economy have failed.
The simple solution to the problem is to generate enough cash flow to the right people to equal the necessary funds to run a quality society. Economics is based on numbers and faith in the system.
It is the simple mathematics: X=Demand, Y=supply and Z=functional exchange of goods and services. When X=Y then Z.
When the ratio between X and Y equals 1; then Z is at its best.
Everyone in a monetary system is doing both demand side of economics and supply side of economics. Everyone also benefits by an efficient monetary system.

This reasoning suspiciously resembles the old Southern Baptist falsehood which goes,"I was sad that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." Insight is clouded by the imposition of hierarchy. The footless man could conceivably be a better person than the shoeless man. It all depends upon the humanity and humility of the actions each chooses to take.

A wealthy elder physician once admonished me for attempting charity when I had little material wealth.
His mind was trapped in the "success ethic" even unto death, and he could see no worth in a person's character if that person were not comfortably off. But there were many days I lumped that doctor with the disadvantaged and helped him anyway, without the offer of payment.

People like to think the things they possess are good. Some horde bundles of newspapers and balls of aluminum foil, when they have lost hope for gold.

But 7000000000 fingers Tom,
thats so much more than a hand full to me. I lose count not sleep after about
ten. Whoa is me.

And,

There's an old saying that goes: they breed faster than rabbits, but not faster than mankind.
Self Control!

=
MJA

To everyone concerned about the current state of the economy and all of you sitting on your chairs thinking: "How could this happen?"

Watch this for starters: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meltdown/view/
Then watch Charlie Rose and read!

People: If we expect to live in a functional society and expect our grandchildren to have even half of the opportunities we have to start learning about how are society works!

I see and hear so many people that have no or hardly any understanding about how are economy works, how are political system works (lobbyists, basics of governance etc.), or how what the US is does overseas affects us at home.

Yet I hear so many opinions, so many different opinions - all from the same people, who when asked, could not explain to you how legislation originates and is passed, how banks made money off of housing loans, or what the name of the commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan is and what the their strategies are.

People:
Without knowledge, will is useless! Without knowledge, no opinion is constructive!
Without knowledge, nothing can be justified!
Without knowledge, nothing is right or wrong, only ignorant!

And so I thank you all for watching and concerning yourself with these matters.
We must become like children again when faced with new challenges like these, we must first listen deeply to those who have experience and wisdom before even beginning to formulate an opinion.

I realized this, and I have to do it myself everyday, at first it is humbling, but I never would have formed the understanding of theoretical physics or macro economics, to take two examples, that I have today without listening, reading and humbly asking questions first. We might not all agree on things, but we should not be fools and believe that we are the smartest at anything, for there is always someone who is smarter. As a scientist it is hard for me to take this sometimes, but it is true.

However on the other hand, even though someone will always be smarter, it is still CRUCIAL that everyone contributes because everyone is significant. The people who change the world the most are those who take charge and are active, not the smartest (ex. George Bush). We should try and make it both by improving ourselves, realizing our potentials and then taking cooperative action.

Secondly,
Excellent comment Denis Neville, religion aside, your sentiments and logical conclusions are essential to take aboard if we truly wish to better this society, something that will not only benefit the poor, but everyone.

Brief Manifesto (he he)
American Student
MSc Immunology and Immunogenetics
University of Manchester, UK

Knowing my finger would be lost tomorrow would cause me great concern.

Finding out my finger was to be removed because of a lost bet my neighbor (willing not nature)made that I knew nothing about, was not involved in in any way, without any chance of benefit would really
OUTRAGE me!

People were flipping properties & making annual salaries even before having to close the sale.

I saw the risk, did not refinance my home to enter the gambling, but now
President Change wants to use my tax money to bailout the gamblers!

When & How much will the tax increase be?

Obama did not create this financial crisis, but he fought very tough for the office of President.

Now HANDLE IT HANDLE IT
HANDLE IT!

Billy Bob, Florida where Obama agreed my vote could not count

What matters now is that, for better or worse, we are all connected.”
“Because, my fellow Americans, you need them. And they need you. And we all have fingers.”


In Compassion, Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote that “We cannot suffer with the poor when we are unwilling to confront those persons and systems that cause poverty. We cannot set the captives free when we do not want to confront those who carry the keys. We cannot profess our solidarity with those who are oppressed when we are unwilling to confront the oppressor.”

Jesus often engaged in confrontation and was rarely concerned about being tactful or pleasing others. According to Nouwen, “Probably the best criterion for determining whether our confrontation is compassionate rather than offensive, and our anger righteous rather than self-righteous, is to ask ourselves if we ourselves can be so confronted. When we can be confronted by a NO from others, we will be more able to confront with a NO. Saying NO to evil and destruction in the awareness that they dwell in our own heart is a humble NO… And so all our NO’s become challenges to purify our own hearts… Each attempt to confront evil in the world calls for the realization that there are always two fronts on which the struggle takes place: an outer and an inner front.”

Nouwen further observed that “When there is no community that can mediate between world needs and personal responses, the burden of the world can only be a crushing burden… Confronted with human pain and at the same time reminded of our powerlessness, we feel offended to the very core of our being and fall back on our defenses of numbness and anger. Therefore, the question is, how can we see the suffering in our world and be moved to compassion as Jesus was moved when he saw a great crowd of people without food? The Christian community mediates between the suffering of the world and our individual responses to this suffering… As a community we can transcend our individual limitations and become a concrete realization of the emptying way of Christ… As individuals we cannot be everything to everyone, but as a community we can indeed serve a great variety of needs. Moreover, by the constant support and encouragement of the community we find it possible to remain faithful to our commitment to service.”

David Eddy is correct. The government tossing trillions of taxpayer dollars at socalled "toxic assets" is fruitless, impotent, and doomed to FAIL. The old models, the old institutions, and the old management FAILED. Intelligently dismantle the entire corrupt overtly predator class intensive, PONZI scheme economic system and erect a new more fair, or balanced, more legal, and more moral system.

The key to stabilizing markets are restoring confidence in the system is NOT throwing imponderable Fed printed taxpayers dollars at toxic or failed assets, - but providing meaningful well paying jobs to poor and middle class Americans. $10.00 an hour is SLAVE wages. Every predator class operator and apologists should be forced to live one entire month on $10.00 an hour wages, $400.00 dollars a week. Let us see how these socalled masters of the universe survive on that wage without begging daddy or mommy for funds, or conjuring some patently illegal PONZI scheme, or resorting to other deceptive or criminal behavior to make ends meet. This is the reality far too many Americans must face, hazard, and endure.

JOBS are the only remedy to right the terrible wrongs of the last eight years of predator class largess and favortism proselytized and practiced by the bushgov and the lockstep partisans in the gop.

JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! People are not going to spend, and have few options to borrow if they are unemployed. The missing math is found in the 5million and growing unemployed Americans, and the unknown unknown underemployed Americans who are working harder, longer, with less benefits, and still not making ends meet.

The focus should turn aways from supply side machinations which only benefit the banks and the predator class - or target poor and middle class job creation. A gainfully employed prosperous middle class America is the only viable option for restoring credibility and enertia into the markets.

JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

"We must not measure greatness from the mansion down, but from the manger up."
Jesse Jackson
"God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that it might be saved".
If we are going to save the world we will need the will power to do what is right and the funds to support that effort.

To Whom It May Concern,
The whole world is in our hands...
It is time to swim or we surely will sink. My grandfather used to say that he could swim furthest where it was deepest. There is also a saying, "When you hit the bottom there is no where to go but up".
As usual, the experts are wrong and the government solutions to the problems are similar to throwing someone an anchor when they are drowning.
We are wasting money on the supply side of economics when it is the demand side of economics that has run out of funds.
With no fuel for power; the ship of state is going no where. In fact, it is drifting onto the rocks.
Just as the lead pots lead to the down fall of the Roman Empire; the mass media has poisoned the food for thought.
The truth will make you free but if we want to survive, we will have to reinvent economics and do what is necessary to "save our ship"(SOS). We need a dynamic system of economics that meets the needs of the future as well as the needs of today.

Any third world resident that decides to make nine babies by constantly having sex. Doesn’t deserve my consideration. Maybe these people should zip up their vaginas and start working?

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