Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spiritual Solace in Sad Moments

Golu, (Naynesh), my God Grandson


Human life is made up of sad and happy moments, some very sad moments, and brief or prolonged periods of sorrow or difficulties as well as prolonged periods of happiness. Yesterday on TV one of the principal characters of a program I watch mentioned that an evolved human is one who can face both sorrow and happiness calmly with equanimity, since these are inevitable portions of life. I completely agree with this view and feel that the Universal Intelligence makes humans face sorrow for precisely such evolution.

One of the things that has made me face sorrow and difficulties in life with calm is the belief in an afterlife – the belief in reincarnation. I know that many do not believe in a soul or reincarnation but I believe that when one firmly accepts reincarnation as a fact, then sorrows and difficulties of life become less serious, even trivial at times.

Perhaps all of us would have experienced an unpleasant dream in which something awful happens. We wake up and feel relieved that it was just a dream. Some such thing happens to a human soul that is facing an awful time in this life but on departing from it feels relieved that it was just like a prolonged dream that is over and that the soul must move on to a new life. On the other hand, when we wake up from a pleasant dream the happiness may persist for some time into the waking hours. Some such thing must happen to a soul that leaves this body in a happy state. It is likely to continue into new happy lives. Our future lives are drawn from our past.

A very rich person however, such as some of the richest persons on our planet may feel sorry on leaving this body because of the realization that they can no longer access the riches that have been left behind. It is therefore good to be rich enough so that one’s essential needs can be met with ease but not so rich that one does not have time enough to use those riches for producing happiness in the limited time that is available to humans before they move on to a new dream, a new life. Those who are poor do not realize that the richest persons in the world are such that if they set about to withdraw all their money in cash from banks and attempted to set fire to that cash, their lifetimes would not be enough for them to complete that task. This could even become a criterion for the limit to the wealth of an individual in a new world order. No human should be permitted to acquire more than he or she can burn in his or her lifetime.

Looking back at one's life one can draw joy and satisfaction from moments and periods of happiness. I also draw contentment from moments of difficulties and sorrow because those were periods of learning that produced most maturity, but only after the sorrow has long gone by and is lost in the mists of time. It was definitely not pleasant while it lasted. This makes one realize that it is important to continue learning about life even in happy times. As mentioned in an earlier post, a highly respected saint of India – Kabir – even went on to suggest that a human would not face sorrow if he remembered God in times of happiness.

During my younger days, moments of happiness were found in the bustling metropolises of this world. However during childhood and now that I am older such happiness is found in communion with nature – trees, forests, green fields, fresh water lakes, streams and green mountains. I feel that Nature provides the same sense of warmth and security to an older person as a mother provides a feeling of warmth and security to an infant, because Mother earth is the mother of all life on the planet.. Our planet is a beautiful one with vast tracts of green spaces. It also has harsh areas such as deserts, frozen spaces and arid grounds. At the present moment in the history of mankind it seems that human population has become far more than desirable. I feel it is so because in the ideal case it should have been possible for all humans to live in the green and pleasant parts of the planet, reserving the deserts etc. for small settlements for the purpose of mining or research. However that is not quite feasible at the present time. Large sections of humans are compelled to live in arid or inhumanly cold and frozen parts of the planet. It may take many centuries now for the population of humans to decline to a much lower level. Nature alone knows how and when that will happen, or perhaps it will all come to pass very soon as described in another post in this blog here:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/08/will-world-end-in-2050.html.


Photo is of Golu, my adopted grandson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Future of World Economies – Green Thoughts

The developed economies of the world, reeling under debt and rising unemployment, have been facing severe economic pressures ever since the crisis began in 2008.

One may wonder as to where the future of developed economies is heading. The developed economies still lead the world in high technology manufacture such as such as computer chips, aircraft etc. They will probably continue to do so for several more decades. However for the rest of manufacturing, ranging from undergarments to motorcars, it appears that high standards of living coupled with high wages in developed countries makes much of manufacturing uncompetitive in a globally trading world. It is partly for this reason that economies of the BRIC countries are growing rapidly while developed economies stagnate or struggle with insignificant growth.

The largest of developed economies, the US, that is largely consumer driven hopes to grow once again if consumer demand increases. However a sustainable future for mankind does not lie in increasing consumption but rather reducing consumption if it is already excessive and far above world averages. This is even more valid in a world where basic resources such as fossil fuels are rapidly being exhausted and consequently becoming more expensive with time. It is true that other sources of energy such as wind and solar will eventually replace traditional sources of energy but they are unlikely to be as cheap as the fossil fuels prepared for free by Mother Earth. The developed economies like USA must also consider that if consumption and retail sales do begin to rise again this may not be a win-win situation if the increased demand is catered to by trade deficits. Indeed that is what is likely to happen.

The other route suggested by economists of old is of stimulating growth through large government spending. This too appears to be a losing game in the present scenario if spending leads to more debt by governments already overburdened by debt. In future, it is becoming increasingly clear that democratic governments would have to be obliged to live within their means. However in the meantime the debt exists and one has to live and deal with it and the accompanying pain. Large stimuli are provided in the hope that they will eventually lead to rising demand and restore the economy on a path of growth fuelled by ever rising consumption. However this may not happen anymore and one may find that after the stimulus is exhausted the economy sinks once again. Indeed some such thing may have already happened with the earlier trillion-dollar stimulus of the American economy.

There exist some basic danger points in western economies that can trigger a recession once again any time in the future. One is government debt that has already been mentioned. Future generations must learn the lesson now and prevent governments from undertaking that route again. It is likely that they would have to add such safeguards into their constitutions because democratic government decisions are partly based on winning the next election. If such short-term goals are partly met by incurring a debt, left for the future generations to pay, then a time may come that the future debt becomes much too large to handle. Indeed it has already happened in most developed economies, most obviously in Greece, and a little less obviously yet in other developed countries Greece has lead the western civilization for two and half millennia followed by Rome.

A second danger point, that was the trigger for the most recent economic recession, is the behavior of private corporations such as banks. The total emoluments of the highest paid executives of such banks comprising of salary, bonus perks and benefits are such that they are several times the emoluments of the lowest paid employees of the same organization. The justification for that is that if these corporations make huge profits, the senior executives deserve a share. Does it have anything to do with greed? Senior executives need to eat better perhaps! A second rationale is that if they did not do it, a flight of talent will take place. Both these arguments are suspect. First if a corporation makes a huge profit then all its employees are responsible and not just the chief. What is the justification for the salary being one hundred times or more? Is ten times not enough?

What if there was a law in a country that dictated that the highest emolument of any employees might not be more than ten times that of the lowest paid employee? In that case, the senior management of the organization in direct or indirect collusion with the board members (The Goldman Sachs directors for example draw millions in compensation) would not be able to draw such high salaries, bonuses and perks. The profits would then have to be shared equitably with all employees or shareholders instead. Therefore such a law is indeed fair and worth considering. What about the flight of talent? That is so much baloney to the mind of this author. There are hundreds of others, even some unemployed, that are more talented than the CEO’s of many such high paying corporations. Placed in that position they would perform just as well. No human is hundred times more talented than other humans unless that other human is an idiot.

A senior executive is given a large bonus if his company makes a large profit. The situation becomes insidious if the large profit is made by gambling as in investment banking. Larger the risk, larger the profits! Gambling is legal in many countries. Gambling with other people’s money is legal in banks. If a large profit is made, the Board and the executives pocket the bonus. If it results in loss, the bank has still enough reserves for them to draw a smaller bonus and move on. Governments complained about this practice soon after the recession in 2008 and a little after pushed the matter under the carpet. The only government that has taken some steps in trying to insulate the public from the potential loss appears to be the UK government. They have developed a plan to implement albeit after a decade or so – long after the Greek and other crisis have eaten some more banks and the savings and pension funds of more of the public. The risk continues and if the recession and current unemployment was not sufficient for governments to act, perhaps they never will, at least not in our generation.

Returning back to our speculation on the future of developed or western economies it can be appreciated that the situation is somewhat different in the old and the new world. Countries like USA, Australia and Canada have huge land resources and fresh water sources as compared to the old world. A possibility exists that future Jobs in countries like USA would come from small-scale intensive agriculture. This intensive agriculture consists of small farms of about ten acre size that involve in labor intensive agriculture practices such as diary, horticulture, poultry, cheese making etc. With an increasing population around the world, there is a world demand for food. Thus, whereas countries like china or India can produce underwear or even a motorcar cheaply they are unable to produce enough food to control food prices within their countries in a rising demand scenario. Certainly this sort of future growth would involve a major shift in attitudes and practices in a country like USA, but it appears to be a feasible path. Such a solution however may not be available to Europe and Japan where land resources are limited and whatever exists is already being used intensively. Perhaps then a cycle of history will repeat that swept from Greece to Rome to Europe and the New World over a period of two and a half millennia.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Spiritual View of the Recession and Economy -II


 Note: Please read first the earlier article: http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2009/02/spiritual-view-of-recession-and-economy.html

According to Sumerian mythology as well as ancient Indian one the great city of Dwarka/Atlantis was destroyed by the gods when greed and sin increased tremendously. The message of the story is applicable even today.

Although our planet is beautiful, some of the cities on our planet especially in the developing world are incredibly messy and dirty. My spiritual interpretation of this phenomenon is that we are all children of the universe and mother earth – kind parents who allow their children to play and mess about in the play yard. Just as the play room of a naughty child can become very messy, we too as children of mother earth have messed up some of the spaces we have to play about in. Charged by greed, lust and pride, we have trampled on the flowers and gardens of Nature. We suffer as a consequence of it. Father Universe permits that so that we may learn from the suffering. It is time we grew up and co-operated with Nature in creating the same sort of beauty in our living areas as Nature does in parts of the planet where we have not yet had a chance to play and destroy. The developed parts of the world are facing a serious economic challenge. In order to overcome the crisis, causes of this recession have to be properly understood. Some of these are:

1. The resources of the earth have been exploited and this has resulted in an increase in the prices of commodities such as petroleum products. This directly impacts growth

2. Governments have developed the habit of running deficit budgets and incurring debt in the hope that future growth would make debt repayment easy. If growth does not take place as is happening now this very debt becomes a burden impeding growth.

3. Essential institutions such as banks have been allowed a free hand to run on pure greed as against rational thinking and governments are now finding themselves at a loss as to how to deal with this.

The US government has been talking of restoring the middle class through job creation. The proposed plans are not likely to work. Some of the reasons for this are:

1. The new situation with high commodity costs (which will become even higher with time) is a new one. The old era of low energy costs has gone.

2. The new World trade arrangements are different.


3. Large stimulus and infrastructure spending as is being proposed by President Obama once again will increase deficits and debt and thus prove to be counter productive.

One may wonder as to what the possible solutions to the economic crisis should be in the changing world. To this authors mind some of these are:

1. It has been said the protectionism is harmful. It is so, if it is done in a non-intelligent manner. There is a need for selective protectionism to increase jobs in developed countries. One tentative proposal is that when a trade deficit for goods and services, with any single country of the world is more than five percent of the total trade volume (with all countries) during a year, a prohibitory duty on products from that country should be imposed for the following three years beginning with 100% in the first year, 50% in the second year and 25% in the third year. If during the three years of prohibition the trade deficit is once again in excess of 5% (of total trade volume with all countries) then a new cycle of a three-year prohibition beginning with 100% duty interrupting the old cycle. The effect of this scheme would be that trade will continue freely with countries that do not cripple the economy and would get restricted with others that do. Things like garments would be made once again in the US and more jobs will be created

2. The future of mankind lies with diminishing size of cities and a partial return back to the land. The days of ever larger and larger cities is numbered. It was an unnatural phenomenon fuelled by low energy costs and a low earth population that will die its natural death in the coming centuries. The governments can facilitate this process by creating small farm holding of about ten-acre size with a small two-room cottage ( that may be expanded by the owner) on the dwelling and with roads, electricity and irrigation leading to these farms. A loan and knowledge may be provided to begin intensive farming operations with the farmland as collateral (that can always be allotted to a new farmer if need be).

3. Constitutional amendments need to be made to permit future deficit financing and debt only after a referendum and not as a routine. National budgets must be adjusted so that governments live within their means. The easiest way to do this is to divide the budget cut across all heads by the desired percentage. Monetization of existing debt, leading to inflation, will be necessary in future but it may be spaced over a ten or twenty year period to ease the pain. Such a monetisation may be permitted by constitutional amendment that is simultaneous to the earlier one.

4. There is an urgent  need for government to control corporate barons and chief bankers to run away with the profits that belong to shareholders and the public.  Top executive numerations must be capped and things like severance pay scrapped.


The proposals  need to be debated and refined before implementation. For a proposal on how to cap benefits of executives see the post:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2012/02/rule-of-ten-way-to-strengthen-democracy.html



PS: My book - The Babaji Affair - contains accounts of how man may create beauty and prosperity in co-opeartion with nature. Both are avialbale at Amazon.com.