Social Media isn’t Social at all

In case you may not have noticed, Facebook is the #1 Social Networking site in the world. According to their own number s, they now tout 1.8-Billion people now have a Facebook account, nearly a quarter of the world’s population.  The US users makes up 10% of that total, or 180-Million, which is just over half our population.  That number isn’t expected to change much over the next several years – most of the growth in the social space will occur on other/new networks.  It seems as though Facebook may have reached critical mass and some are now predicting that there has been blowback from the amount of political postings which could negatively impact any future growth.

social [soh-shuh l] adjective
1. pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations
2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendlygregarious.
3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society
4. living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in community, rather than in isolation
5. of or relating to human society, especially as a body divided into classes according to status
6. of or relating to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in community

Disgusted with the animosity and outcome of the election, I am one of those people who deactivated their Facebook accounts in November.  It’s not the first time I’ve done this, mind you, but in the past few months I haven’t felt like I was “missing something” like I had in the past.  In fact, I recently re-activated my account with nearly instantaneous regret.  Looking through the vitriolic nature of the posts in my news feed, the continual spread of dipshit stories and fake news, and liberal outrage over micro-aggressions while missing the bigger picture issues, affirmed that I truly hadn’t missed anything.  Maybe it has to do with age…but I think it has more to do with how ANTI-social the network has become over the past few years.

It’s deeply troubling that more people will share their most intimate thoughts, feelings and photos with near strangers, but can’t carry on a meaningful conversation with their significant other.  So much so, that the network has amassed data on the age, gender, income, employment, interests, travel habits, behaviors, likes, dislikes, food preferences, workout routines, and anything else you can imagine.  In the wrong hands, this data could be used by governments for more nefarious reasons and many users have begun to realize that they are allowing their privacy to be willingly violated with one click of a button.  The EU sees this level of tracking as a clear breach of their Safe Harbor laws, as to do I, but the rest of the US hasn’t caught on yet.  More than that, I no longer want to participate in the denigration of society by dividing ourselves into these “all-or-nothing” viewpoints and classes, according to our status updates.

From a 2014 Op-Ed on Media Post:

10 Times Social Media Made The World Worse In 2014

1. ISIS Recruitment. Social media plays a “huge role” in recruiting aspiring jihadists from Europe to fight in Syria, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator. ISIS, giving the Nazis a run for their money as “worst group of people/ideology ever,” also likes to distribute horrifying images of its atrocities via social media.

2. Facebook experimented on people to make them depressedThe study, titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” tinkered with the emotional content of news feeds for 689,003 Facebook users to see if moods can spread via social connections. Turns out they can — thanks Facebook! Oh, also, OKCupid deliberately set people up on bad dates.

3. Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Dae Williams, quit social media after an outpouring of abuse following her father’s suicide. Gross.

4. Social media fuels negative body image issues in women, according to multiple studiesOne researcher observed: “The biggest thing that stands out is social media. In the 2014 survey, a huge number of women — 64 percent — report that looking at pictures on sites like Facebook and Instagram makes them feel bad about their body.”

5. Social media also makes new mothers feel insecure, according to a survey of 1,100 women by BabyCenter. 60% of moms surveyed said they feel pressure to appear well-to-do on social media, as well as feeling envy and embarrassment because of their own situation compared with others; one in four millennial moms said she feels “significant” pressure to look well-off on social media. Another survey by Current Lifestyle Marketing and Impulse Research also found that many mothers feel social media creates unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on them to craft an idealized image of their lives.

6. The Fire Challenge. Read it and weep. ‘Nuff said.

7. Speaking of kids setting fire to themselves, parents believe the risks associated with social media outweigh its benefits for children. That’s according to a survey of UK and U.S. parents with children ages 6-17 who use the Internet, conducted for the UK’s Family Online Safety Institute. Overall 43% of parents surveyed said they though the negative impacts of social media outweighed the positive impacts, compared to 26% who believe the positive impacts were greater.

8. That massive leak of celebrity nude photos. Gross.

9. Social media undermines trust and makes us unhappy. A study titled “Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being” focused on measures of “social trust,” referring to the individual’s tendency to assume — or not assume — that strangers, as proxies for society in general, are benign and trustworthy, in the sense that they will “observe the rules of the game” in basic social interactions. According to the authors: “Internet-mediated interaction often violates well-established face-to-face social norms for the polite expression of opposing views. In online discussions with unknown others, individuals more easily indulge in aggressive and disrespectful behaviors… In online interactions, dealing with strangers who advance opposite views in an aggressive and insulting way seems to be a widespread practice, whatever the topic of discussion is.”

10. Social media use contributes to divorceA study, titled “Social network sites, marriage well-being, and divorce: Survey and state-level evidence from the United States” and published in Computers in Human Behavior, found that Facebook use is a “positive, significant predictor of divorce rate and spousal troubles,” according to researchers at Boston University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile’s School of Communications. Specifically: “Results show that using SNS is negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce.”

This anxiety producing experience with Instagram is more veiled.  It’s owned by Facebook, so it has all of the same drawbacks of traceability and self-loathing.  Since the platform only allows users to post pictures and short videos, it’s easy to get caught up scrolling through the imagery and feel like you are connecting to the outside world.  Many users, however, quickly find themselves caught comparison game, they lose track of their self-esteem and no longer find they are relating to those around them.  Fortunately, I haven’t had that experience, mine has been more pleasant, but I do find that I’ve become engrossed in scrolling through pretty pictures of places and food, only to realize that 45-minutes has gone by without me hardly noticing.  That, my dears, was by design.  Most social platforms employ the psychology of gambling when coding their sites.  There is a reason that little notification button has a red bubble with numbers on it.

Once the platform for broadcasting news alerts and updates quickly, thanks to our new Cheeto-in-Chief, and King of Online Bullies, Twitter has thrown the idea of a polite and fashionable society into the garbage can.  Fortunately, the number of users is dwindling, as more and more people tire of its ability to amplify hate speech in a matter of seconds, but the death of the platform can’t come fast enough.  It is the platform for reporting on what is happening on the ground, in live time, in the moment, frequently used by law enforcement to track protestors and quell free speech.  Since it is conversational in nature, it is also the platform for gossip and unsubstantiated claims, causing frequent meltdowns over the smallest of slights, further isolating us from ourselves.

Sadly, the number of social networking sites continues to grow, as does the amount of time we spend on them.  In 2012, eMarketer estimated that most US adults spent an average of 4-minutes a day on social media.  Just five years later, that amount of time has grown to close to an hour.  Every day, we choose to spend 50-minutes fighting, coveting, longing, and freely acting like guinea pigs, while giving away our privacy so that these companies can resell our data to advertisers, to earn themselves billions in revenue….BILLIONS.  In 2017 alone, Facebook’s ad revenueis estimated at $16.5-Billion,  This does not take into account Instagram, or any of the other dozens of social networks profiting from the same practice.  This is your time, your privacy, and your sweetness of mind, but you will not be compensated for what you willingly gave away.

Instead, think about what would you do with an extra 50-minutes a day?  If you could shut off the “social” network, how would you relate to your life again?  For me, I have revived my account to get updates from a women’s group and writer’s group that I am part of, along with the occasional update on how friends of mine are, and what their children are up to.  I suppose these are the reasons that we all glommed onto the idea of social networks to begin with.  Now that more of my news feed is filled primarily with negative and often times violent language, I think it’s time to disconnect the “social” network and reconnect with my fellow humans, most likely this time for good.

This is what 40 feels like

You are under no obligation to be the same person you were a year, month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow. No apologies. –Unknown 

I celebrated a birthday recently….40.  Changing decades never used to be rough on my spirit, but this one has been weighing heavily on me.  Not be overly dramatic, but the reality of turning 40 is that, given the current life expectancy, approximately half of my life is now over, so I’ve been taking an inventory of my accomplishments, my failures, and the things left undone.  It’s not a fear of death, per se, but there is a new awareness about dying that wasn’t there previously.  I feel a greater sense of urgency, to plan for the inevitable, and I feel there are still far too many things on my “bucket list”.  There is a feeling of empathy, as well, for what others may (or may not) experience after I die.  Of course, it takes an incredible amount of ego to think that people will care, but I’d like to think that some would.

By the time my mom was 40, she had a 20-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.  I have a 16-year-old cat.  She owned a home.  I rent.  She was well into her career.  I am starting over in mine, for like the 6th time already.  It seems as though she had her shit together, way more than I do now.  Yet, it’s hard to compare myself to my mom – we are so different.  We’ve made different choices and have led very different lives.  This has never hindered our relationship, though.  We have always been very close.  I like that about us.  Our mutual respect, and a willingness to learn from one another’s differences, has formed a profound bond between us.  When she was around my age, my mom was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia – a disease that would consume her life for the next 10+ years.  A disease that she has thankfully, and finally, been cured from.  I keep wondering if I were faced with a similar prognosis, would I be as brave, or tenacious?

Although I have done so much work in recent years to heal from a bout of major depression, it still pops up every now and again (it’s like a recurring infection of the psyche).  I’d like to believe that after the work I did to heal from my own massive falling out with life, I’d be “cured” of such misery.    Depression runs in my family, and major life changes don’t really help matters much.  Although I gave up yoga, I still meditate and try to stay motivated to work out on a consistent basis.  Lately, even exercise has become a chore, yet it doesn’t stop me from complaining about how “soft” my body has become.  At 40, it’s time to accept that depression has been a part of me all along and I need to be kinder to myself.  I know that exercise improves not only my sagging ass, but my mood too.

Speaking of, I catch myself staring at younger women’s asses a lot lately.  I remember when my ass was in its rightful place – my boobs too – and my clothes fit me fairly well.  Youth is most certainly wasted on the young.  You never know how good you have it – I lived in a state of invincible oblivion until my mid-30s.  Now, I no longer have a 20-something ass, nor do I have the energy to commit to the regimen that a 40-year-old needs, in order to defy gravity.  I am simultaneously envious of the 40+ year olds who can make that commitment, and loathe their feigned enthusiasm.  I have never really trusted people who are overly positive.  How can you stay positive, in a world where women are judged by how they look, when your ass is dragging on the floor?!

I’m not a look on the bright-side type of gal – I  need people to give it to me straight because, again, none of us has time to waste on bull shit.  I much prefer those who state the obvious, live in reality, and are able to see things as they clearly are.  While turning 40 clearly has me in a funk, I can’t do anything to change the transition of time.  I’d like to accept this transition with the same amount of grace that I admire in others, but that shit just ain’t happening.  My mother has grace – I do not.  As I age, I have become ever more discerning about the people and things I choose to invest both time and money with/in.  And, as my time on this planet begins to dwindle, my patience for bullshit has run dry.  I simply do not have the time for anything, or anyone, which does not bring joy to myself or others – none of us do.

While I enjoy learning about other people, their cultures and their struggles, I’m no longer interested in relationships that aren’t reciprocal.  I tow a pretty hard line with this expectation of others – and it used to leave me disappointed.  Now that I am older, I have come to appreciate the consequences of these standards.  I simply refuse to relent to wasting time on people who are incapable of replying in kind, and I’m okay with that.  While this means that I don’t have many friends, I also have a deep appreciation for the ones I do have.   The older I get, the more I realize it isn’t things I want to acquire, but experiences and moments where I feel connected and alive.

This sometimes means making compromises and sacrifices, in order to cherish those connections – something a 20 or 30-something person can’t understand.  It means letting go of old habits and thoughts which do not bring you sweetness of mind.  It meant moving back to a city that I do not love, to be closer to the people whom I adore.  It means that while others may not agree with that choice, I can forgive myself because I value what is important to me.  It means being at peace with the fact that my mind is often melancholy.  It means standing in my truth and owning all of the good and bad that comes with it.

With age comes wisdom and for that, I am grateful, but I also wonder if I am doing all of the living that I could.  There are times that stand out in my memory, when I felt completely present and fully engaged in the moment.  Those occasions stand still in my mind, regardless of the amount of time has actually passed.  It seems like it was a little over a year ago I had graduated high school, or a month ago that I turned 30, or last week when I was helping my mom after her stem cell transplant, and just yesterday I returned from a 3-month soul healing mission in Europe.  There are many other moments which I have forgotten, moments I wasn’t present for, and moments that I wish I hadn’t been present for.

As I take note of the causes and conditions that have helped shaped my worldview, I acknowledge that I have no desire to relive my 20s, or go back in time to my 30s, but I do wish I could have brought my butt with me.  I am better equipped to handle those moments now – to be comfortable in the comfortable with the discomfort.  I am better able to know when a difficult person, or situation, is worth investing time in or when it is time to thrown in the towel and walk away.  I’d like to think I am anyway – and I should at least get a fabulous ass out of the deal.  Lord knows, I’ve busted mine most of my life to get to wear I am today, and I am proud of the work that went into getting me there – both from myself and from those who were willing to stick it out with me.  For those who were unable to be here for me through the difficult parts, I’ve been harboring resentment for awhile now.  As my gift to myself on this 40th birthday, I offer up forgiveness for suffering caused due to their lack of awareness.  It’s time to let that shit go and move on, for I’ve got more mountains to climb, and I don’t need heartache weighing me down.

Photo by: Laura Riggs, Mount Hood, May 2016
Photo by: Laura Riggs, Mount Hood, May 2016

How do we move forward?

When I saw the first text from my partner, it was still pretty early on the West Coast – 11:15pm or so.  The headline read, “Orlando shooting: Police confirm multiple injuries at Pulse nightclub“, so (sadly) I didn’t really think much of it.  I am not familiar with the Orlando area, and had no idea that the club catered to the LGBTQ+ demographic at the time.  All I really thought before I went to bed was, “another shooting at a nightclub with casualties – some drunk idiot shot some other drunk idiots – such a shame.”  Shootings were a big reason why I stopped going to nightclubs back in Denver.

The next text came a couple of hours later from a friend in Jacksonville to a larger group of friends, “Florida Pulse gay club attacked in Orlando – mass casualties“, and I thought to myself “This is serious.  Gay people don’t go around shooting up nightclubs.  It’s not really their style to be so aggro and shit.  The news has to have it wrong.”  It still didn’t register that tragedy had just enveloped Orlando.  Our group moved on in the conversation to discussing a documentary that one woman had recently seen called, On A Sunday Morning – about a baptist preacher instigating death to gays as a cure for AIDS.  Collectively, we couldn’t fathom what could make someone hate others so much as to go all Adolph Hitler on people, and try to wipe out an entire group of humans, simply because they make you a little uncomfortable.

I switched from the text conversation to checking the news on my phone and saw several stories streaming in, estimating 50 people dead, 50+ more wounded at a hot LGBTQ+ spot in Orlando.   Then, the gravity of the situation hit me.  This was more than an argument at a nightclub gone south, this was an attack on an entire group of humans, whom I have revered for as long as I can remember.  My intuition didn’t need to know much in order to know that this was clearly another attack on a community that has always been loving and welcoming to others.  Memories of Matthew Shepard’s murder came flooding back, and a wave of nausea hit me. This was, without a doubt, an act of pure hate.

President Obama called it an act of terrorism, an act of hate and a direct attack on the LGBT community.  While the shooter was supposedly inspired by ISIL to commit the atrocity, Bill O’Reilly candidly pointed out that everything ISIL does is an act of hate.  And while I’d love to be talking about how we can finally enact meaningful massacre prevention (aka gun control) in this country, the real conversation that we need to be having should be centered around how our faith-based and political leaders are culpable in seeding hateful ideas and rhetoric towards the LGBTQ+ community with their constituents and congregations across the country.  It is they who must to answer to the families of the 49 fallen and 53 injured at Pulse Nightclub, for they helped embolden the shooter into believing his cause was worthy.

In fact, I helped to co-create and launch the We Are Straight Allies campaign in 2013, to directly combat the misinformation and hateful discord that centered around Jacksonville, Florida’s failure to pass expanded Human Rights protections to the LGBTQ+ community in 2012.  The continuing conversations with City Council have proven why the additional protections are necessary, but we wanted our campaign to also send the LGBTQ+ community a more powerful message to remind them that they are loved, appreciated, and valued members of the community.  Sadly, in 2016, we are still fighting together to get an expanded HRO passed in the city of Jacksonville, mainly due to people citing their own religious bias for why the LGBTQ+ doesn’t deserve the same protections as everyone else.

Ever since same-sex marriage was sanctioned by the US Supreme Court in 2015, the LGBTQ+ community barely had a moment to celebrate their historic win before they began to face waves upon waves of brutal backlash.  There are currently 100+ other bills up for a vote across the country to weaken that ruling, which allows the same legal marriage protections that the rest of the “privileged” straight people have taken for granted for centuries – protections like making funeral arrangements for a loved one who has been murdered by a deranged, religious fanatic in a city that is home to the “Happiest Place on Earth”.  Marriage is not a religious concept – it is a legal contract, hijacked by the Churches centuries ago, in order to be able to oversee which member of one Royal Family was allowed to married another.  Not much has changed…the Conservative Right still wants to be able to dictate who can get married, and they are pissed now that they can’t.

In recent months, Houston (a city with a Lesbian mayor) voted to rescind the expanded protections for their LGBTQ+ community, while North Carolina passed HB2, blocking Transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify with.  Mississippi wants to allow people to discriminate based on their religious choosing.  The GOP blocked a bill confirming Obama’s Executive Order which expanded discrimination protections LGBT people employed by Federal Contractors, just 3 DAYS after the Orlando Massacre, and Congress hasn’t been able to get the Civil Rights Act updated since 1968.  Opponents hide behind this guise of religious freedom and the First Amendment as their justification for being judgmental pricks.

In fact, many members of Congress are guilty of spewing their own load of hateful language towards constituents in their own districts, without any sort of remorse, simply because they don’t follow their so-called book of ethics.  Last time I checked, Jesus wasn’t too keen on hating “the sinner”.  As someone who reveres the First Amendment above most others, I am tired of seeing the American Taliban perverting the spirit of the law, providing all Americans with both the freedom of religion AND the freedom FROM religion.  The Conservative Christian Right and Radical Islamic groups preach the same ideologies; cousins with the same lust for power.  They hate women, LGBTQ+ people, people of different faiths, free speech, people with different ethic heritage, and free thinkers alike.

Now, after years of spewing their vile, they are shocked when someone commits the largest hate crime in modern US history and act like it was a terrorist attack on all Americans.  No, it was a terrorist attack, targeted at a specific group of Americans, which makes it a hate crime.  A group of Americans that these “leaders” have condemned with their spiteful language for years now.  A group of Americans who have been the target of more hate crimes than any other.  The shooter didn’t have to pledge allegiance to ISIL, or any of the other conflicting groups he gave a shout out to.  He could have listened to what these shitty leaders tout, day in and day out, and come to the same conclusion.  He may have seen something in the LGBTQ+ reflected in him, that which he was taught to hate about himself.

The LGBTQ+ community lives in a constant state of fear of violence and it is time that we, as a country, demand more from our so-called leaders.  If your religion doesn’t lead you to love others more, then you need a new one.  If your politicians can’t create an environment of inclusivity and equality for all, because of their own ineptitude, then vote them out of office.  If we want to decrease the amount of gun violence in America, gun rights activists have to understand that common sense legislation and the right to bear arms are not mutually exclusive.  Most importantly, we have to stop seeing people as “other” and start seeing each individual as part of the greater whole, as part of ourselves.  We have to start being the change we wish to see in the world.

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Artist credit: @jcdecastelbajac Under the Rainbow+ on Instagram

Crisis in the Eurozone: The Global Impact of Common Currency

Beginning in 2009 the global economy experienced the most severe recession in the last 50 years.  Initially spurred by the financial crisis at the end of 2008, when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, private capital slowed and global trade contracted. This led to the decrease in the Gross Domestic Product for many developing countries, yet their overall deficits increased.  Many of the members in the European Union have been slow to recover from the economic fall-out.  Several countries, in fact, are still heavily in debt.  The EU uses the acronym PIIGS when referring to these troubled countries: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Greece is by far the worst off in comparison to the other EU members.  In 2009, the country reached record level debt of 113% of their GDP, or 300 Billion Euros, which was forecasted to rise to 125% by the end of 2010.  After refusing assistance several times, Greece finally requested a bailout package from the EU in May 2010.  It was granted to the tune of 110-Billion Euros.  However, due to the conversion from the Greek Drachma to the Euro, the country was faced with severely large increase of their national debt.  Greece amassed a deficit equal to 13.9% of their GDP – the highest in modern history!

Because of the rising anger over government corruption and mismanaged spending, the EU took a hard line with Greece when they requested a second bailout package earlier this year.  There is speculation that if adequate changes are not made, Greece will be the first country forced to leave the Eurozone.  Thus, the country agreed to take extreme austerity measures in an effort to curb spending and drastically reduce their budget.  Not only will the plan cut spending by 14 Billon Euros, but the government will raise taxes in hopes of producing a similar amount in revenue over the next five years.  The citizens of Greece have been outraged by these measures for months because they feel the changes will not improve the welfare of the country, prompting the need for a new government to be sworn into place in conjunction with the implementation of the the austerity measures.  Much of the public sector will be affected as some employees have been forced to take a 15% cut in pay, while 80,000 others have been asked to leave their jobs, ultimately adding to Greece’s already sky-high unemployment rate.

Protests broke out in June when the government revealed a plan that would cut healthcare, education, defense, and social security benefit spending.  The plan also raised the retirement age to 67 for benefits (a dramatic change from the current age of 50).  To help offset the burden from the citizens, the plan proposes selling 10% of the government’s telecom shares to Germany.  As the Irish Republic and Portugal have subsequently been granted bailout packages, there has been additional economic fall-out in the EU as the Italian and Spanish governments need the EU to buy bonds to try to bring down their borrowing costs.  Protests became even more violent in October when the measures were finally voted into place by Parliament.

There is added concern that the bailouts will ultimately affect the US Economy because the countries that are assisting in the bailout will now have less money to spend on American goods, causing more layoffs here.  With the recent news of Italy’s equally massive economic failures, many argue that infusing more money into an inefficient economy will not solve the underlying problem of decreasing the overwhelming debt that these countries have incurred.   Many economists are now arguing for the elimination of the euro in order to help salvage the depressed economies.  It leads to the question: do the benefits outweigh the consequences of maintaining one uniform type of currency in the emerging global economy?

Once touted as the savior of Europe, the majority opinion seems to be turning in the direction opposite direction and there has been suggestion that the PIIGS would fare better if they were accountable for their own fiscal and monetary policies to boost their economic recovery.  Paul Krugman made the case in Thursday’s New York Times article that if governments are unable to borrow against their own currency, they will incur higher interest rates than countries that retain the ability to print their own currency in times of financial crisis.  By parting from the Eurozone, Greece could regain control over its own economic future.  While the country will suffer from austerity measures either way, but there is less likelihood that the entire Union would suffer if Greece defaults on their loans because the bailout money would be better spent on recapitalizing the countries with stronger economies.

This leaves the EU officials concerned about whether all countries with weak economies will leave the monetary union.   Italy is the next in line to default as they were pushed this week to the brink of bailout that the EU currently cannot afford.  The funds are currently tied up in assisting the battered economies of Greece, Portugal and Ireland.  Sky News reported that while Italy is better off now that Berlusconi resigned bailout, should the EU be able to dictate government policy in countries that use the Euro?  Being involved in economic and business policy has proved disastrous thus far.  Austerity measures have not worked thus far to help countries out of recessions, yet Portugal is faced with protests this week that are supposed to help them cut spending enough that they do not default on their loans, much of which will affect France if they do.

In his report “Crisis in the Eurozone and how to deal with it”, Paul DeGrauwe states that the only way to effectively control the monetary policy within the Union means that the members have to agree on political policy as well.  In effect, all of the countries with the same monetary currency need to have a centralized government.  This is not something that most citizens in the EU would readily vote for, as this would cause drastic changes for some of the current welfare vs. non-welfare states.  After hundreds of years of separation, it is hard to predict the outcome of uniting 17 different and unique forms of government and will also abolish the freedom each country currently has over public policies and how they conduct business in the global market.  If Europe were to adopt a central government, just for the sake of retaining one singular monetary unit, what is to stop the rest of the world from doing the same?

From a business perspective, it is better to maintain a diverse portfolio in order to retain a competitive edge in the marketplace.  Countries will fare better in the global economy if they continue to trade the items for which they have a competitive advantage.  Moving to one unit of currency, or one centralized political movement will strip countries of a competitive edge and dilute the market place of choice.


Reference Articles

Krugman, Paul, “Legends of the Fail”, New York Times, November 10, 2011

“Berlusconi Quits After Austerity Package Vote”, Sky News, November 12, 2011, Updated November 13, 2011, Retrieved from: http://news.sky.com/home/business/article/16108875

DeGrauwe, Paul, “Crisis in the Eurozone and how to deal with it”, Center for European Policy Studies, No. 204, February 2010, Brussels

Other Works Cited

(1)  BBC News, “Timeline: The unfolding eurozone crisis”, Updated August 8, 2011, Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13856580

(2)  BBC News, “Greek Government Austerity Measures, Updated June 30, 2011, Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13940431

(3)  Katrandjian, Olivia, “Greek Debt Bailout could affect the US Economy”, ABCNews.com, June 19, 2011, Retrieved from: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/greek-debt-bailout-affect-us-economy/story?id=13879426

(4)  Kakassis, Joanna, “Saving Greece: Can New PM Lucas Papademos Save Its Economy?”, Time Magazine, November 11, 2011

(5)  Schuman, Michael, “Greek PM Ditches Referendum: Should Greece Lose the Euro?”, The Curious Capitalist Blog, Time.com, November 3, 2011, Retrieved from: http://curiouscapitalist.blogs.time.com/2011/11/03/should-greece-ditch-the-euro/

(6)  The World Bank, “The Global Economy in 2009”, 2010 World Development Indicators, Part 4: Economy, pp. 217-218 updated April 2011, International Bank: Washington, DC

Economic Theory

After learning about the various approaches towards stabilization of our economy, I would have to say that I most closely agree with Keynesian’s theory behind economic policy.  Keynes stipulated that decisions by the private sector can sometimes lead to inefficient outcomes for the public sector and advocated for monetary policy actions by the Federal Reserve (which was to be created after his theory became widely accepted) and fiscal actions by government in an effort to fill in the gaps of the business cycle.  I disagree with the Classical Economic theory or Say’s Law that ruled supply will create demand.  Logically, in the short-term, if there isn’t adequate employment or a sufficient money supply, then the purchase of goods and services proves quite challenging for consumers.  The Monetarist theory, developed by Milton Freidman proved to be quite ineffective in the late 70s and early 80s as well.

When an economy is in contraction, Keynes’ recommended increased government spending and lower interest rates to help boost consumer spending.  Since this theory was adopted, after the Great Depression, it has proven to be the most reliable way to shift the economy back into expansion.  However, Keynes was not a big proponent of large expansions either because this led to an increase in money supplies that he hypothesized was the catalyst to high interest rates.  He mandated that the government’s main focus for fiscal policy should be placed on smoothing out the difference between peaks and valleys in the overall state of the economy.

Summarized to the simplest of terms, Keynes theory suggests that excessive saving causes recessions or depressions.  If consumers do not spend money, companies that hire individuals do not make money and if companies do not make money, then they do not have money to spend on labor and therein lies the center of the vicious cycle that can spiral downwards from there.  Instead he debated that governments should focus on correcting the fluctuations in the short-term, rather than thinking the economy would self-correct in the long term.  To quote Keynes, “In the long term, we are all dead.”  When applied over the long-term of the past several economic expansions and contractions, Keynesian Economics has proven to be the most effective at creating stabilization.  We still have expansions and recessions, but we have seen overall steady growth and less variance in the economy when it rises or falls.

Our current monetary and fiscal policy seems to be a blend of Keynesian Economics and Classical thinking.  I believe this is a crucial error on the public sector’s part.  Unemployment has continued to be higher than the natural rate for more than 18 months, yet the government has advocated for cutbacks in spending which is strictly against what Keynes would recommend and the current policy has failed to pull the economy out of a recession.  As the global market begins to make severe cutbacks in their public sectors, I fear that will lead to larger amounts of private sector savings, instead of investing which will only deepen the state of the recession.

It is impossible at this point for the economy to recover when there aren’t enough jobs for workers who are willing to work, and the private and public sectors are equally at fault for creating the shortage.  Keynes emphasized that government’s main focus for spending should be on basic research, public health, education, and infrastructure, yet these are the areas experiencing the largest decreases in government spending.  The proposed tax increase, from the current administration, will only exacerbate the recession, according to Keynes.  From a common person’s perspective, this seems like a shortcut by the government to stabilize the economy.  After all, without any training in economic policy, how does the government expect to get any water when the well is dry?


Works Cited

(1)   Krugman, Paul and Robin Wells. Macroeconomics. 2nd Edition. Worth Publishers. 2009

(2)   Klein, Ezra, “Larry Summers: ‘I think Keynes mistitled his book’”, The Washington Post, July, 26, 2011