A PANDORA’S BOX OF PARADIGMS

The United States is lurching and convulsing through a shift in a number of paradigms related to issues such as energy independence, the role of capitalism, and the place of unbridled consumerism in our society.  The following are two definitions of paradigm.

  • One that serves as a pattern or model.
  • A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

Americans are now shifting their models of thinking and of viewing reality and of living their daily lives.  And it is not pretty.  From a nation that burst at the seams with unfettered consumerism and unchecked expending of energy to a nation now grappling with gargantuan changes in a capitalistic system that has – for whatever reasons – spun out of control.

Americans are now tamping down their spending – something that economists have suggested they do for decades – to control outlandish debt that comes from living with pieces of plastic as help-mates as well as installment loans and other credit purchases.  But the decrease in reliance on credit also comes with its price.

Expending less by zipping pieces of plastic through those nifty little machines – such a sense of power – and curtailing consumer spending decrease the money businesses take in which in turn decreases the number of employees needed and on and on.

Instead of worrying about the domino theory in Asia decades ago, we should have been worrying about the domino effect of less consumer spending using credit.  The time has now come to retool how we see credit as a part  of our lives.  The urge to save and the necessity of decreasing reliance on credit have taken priority now that the pitfalls of too much spending have come home to roost.

But credit isn’t the only area where Americans are slowly coming to the realization that things must change.  Energy dependence has been a roller coaster over the last half century – and  I remember it all.  From oil embargoes to gas lines to using less electricity to run households, Americans have endured a love – hate relationship with energy resources.

Oil – the source that provides for 70% of our transportation energy – is a finite resource and increasing consumption and increased competition throughout the world has put a strain on this resource.  But some Americans would still rather continue using energy like there is no tomorrow than change old habits based on a philosophy that we have the “right” to consume as much energy as we darn well please.

That philosophy no longer works in today’s world as we compete with China, India, and other countries bursting at the seams with economic development potential that depends on energy in the form of oil.  And their philosophy is at the same point ours was at the turn of the 20th century – they believe that they also deserve to exploit and industrialize just like the United States did over one hundred years ago.

And the last area?  The toughest one of all to reassess – the capitalistic system of government.  Capitalism is the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods.  While we are in no danger of “nationalizing” all private businesses, many Republicans would have Americans believe that all is lost because of the collapse of financial institutions.

The government has become a partner in the banking industry – something that probably was unthought of a year ago.  But most of what the government has undertaken is to impose regulations to control the ability of the large institutions to exploit, to merge, and to grow ever larger.  And large is not always better, contrary to some beliefs.

Where pure capitalists think that the “free market” will work to solve all life’s problems, pragmatic individuals realize that there is and never was a pure capitalistic “free market.”   The nature of capitalism itself will always require some form of regulation – not ownership – to restrain its tendencies to run roughshod over the American public.   And Americans are becoming more disenchanted with the way business handles itself, and they are becoming much more accepting of the idea that business must be controlled.

We are facing a new era of how we view our economic business systems and the way we live our lives daily.  Pandora’s box has been opened and the old paradigms are falling subject to newer ways of viewing our changing society and world.  Paradigms change over time; the critical question is whether or not we will adjust to those changes as well.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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9 Responses to A PANDORA’S BOX OF PARADIGMS

  1. john b kalb says:

    Charlotte – Your dissertation fails to mention the fact that the present financial problem was totally created by governmental interferrence with the issuance of home mortgages by demanding that banks grant credit to non-credit-worthy customers! And, remember, this started with the Carter administration – the bubble burst did not occur soon, but later! And our kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids will be getting the bill! What Obama, Reed , Franks plus two female senators from Maine are imposing on us, didn’t work in the 1930’s and the “free market” is saying, “It will not work in the 21st century either”. Stay tuned for a repeat of one-termer Carter and a return to a conservative congress in 2010.

  2. John:

    I really think the American public is tired of hearing about how “well” the “free market” and captitalism work. Especially with millions of people laid off work while CEOs collect all they can.

    The free market isn’t working either for those whoes jobs are lost to outsourcing so that corporations can line their pockets with ever greater profits.

    There is no truly free market, and everyone knows it. My dissertation was a broad-painted picture of what I see happening in the minds of the public. I think Obama will be a two-timer, and I don’t see Americans ever returning to teh conservative bent. After all, conservatives had six years to do something and they failed.

    Even though problems may have started long ago, no one made the banks lend like there was no tomorrow. How about some responsibility and accountability on behalf of big business and big banking?

  3. Iceironman says:

    Good to see you write and not slam.

    I will disagree in part with you on the basis that you seem to act like there were no oversight and or regulation. I cannot emphasise this next statement enough.

    THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAD OVERSIGHT ON THE CORPORATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry for the emphasis but our govt failed us miseralbly. The people in charge of oversight and regulation on these industries. That is what concerns me about your plight to give more control to an out of control govt. If they would have inforced the regulations and did their oversight, maybe we could have avoided this. If we changed the name of ENRON to US Govt–you would probably re-elct Enron even with its gross mismanagement and lies. Barney Frank lied, Chris Dodd lied. Yet they will be re-elected. They had oversight and failed the American People.

    We have regulation and oversight on every publicly traded company. So how about if we enforce what is there instead of heading toward more ink, red tape, and raising the cost of goods because of more govt regulation (that probably wont be enforced anyway). When I look at govt I see more failures than success when dealing with business and finacial issues. Lets keep govt small and on task rather than large and lazy as it stand now.

    And on a final note. Call me greedy like Al Gore, but my checkbook tells me how much energy to use, no govt ever will, or this is not the US.

  4. Ice:

    Come on – naming only Democrats shows how biased you are. I thought you said that you blame both Dems and Repubs, yet you fail to name any Republicans at fault. Remember they controlled both the House and Senate as well as the presidency for 6 of the last 8 years. So care to name a few Republicans?

    Your checkbook should not tell you how much energy to use – your love of this planet and future generations (your kids, for example) should tell you how much energy to use. Oil is a finite resource as is natural gas.

    The government isn’t telling anyone how much energy to use, but it has in the past. I am sure you don’t remember when we had an oil embargo and energy crises. I do, and the government told us what to do to get past the crises. The funny thing is that Americans pulled together during those times, and we made it through.

    As to re-electing corporations! Are you kidding – you know how much I dislike large corporations and, in particular, the one I consider to be the reincarnation of evil itself – WalMart. 🙂

  5. Iceironman says:

    I did not associate those names with a party, those two were in charge and did not forwarn and in fact lied. If you have a few repubs to throw under the bus, go ahead I could care less. Any and all repubs that didnt try to fight Freddy and Fanny are complacent. However, a few did try to stand up to giving homes away and they were call racists by the likes of you.

    So you (a grown up I would assume) at the time of the oil crisis had to have a white male in control of the govt tell YOU what to do? Are you saying you wouldnt have figured it out? I say this in jest for the most part but it is amusing that if gas hits 10 bucks tomorrow, I dont need anyone to tell me what to do. You need to realize the power as a person that you have inside and quit waiting on the govt to tell you what to do, how much to spend, what your “neighbor” needs, what you need to contribute to social security to retire on, how to “survive” and oil embargo, how much energy to use, how bad global warming the hoax is–did you see the mapping was wrong?

    My checkbook tells me whether I can go to Fl, on vacation, I would hate for the govt to say “youre over your mileage, better luck next year” But that is the way you would have it in the intrest of the environment. I want a 1969 pontiac gto, of course this would give Al Gore a heart attack in his jet. I need a powerful V8 truck, however, thanks to the know it alls in govt, the truck must get gas milage of a small car. Yea, for the environmnent, too bad for my checkbook, which means too bad for truck sales, which means too bad for jobs, which means you know what.
    If we wanted to really get to the point on the environment and our economy, we would drop any new legislation and get all of us together against the likes of China and the other. NO matter what we do, we cannot really ofset what they are doing. So lets get off of each others backs and get on Chinas.

    ON Y VA

  6. If I recall, the republicans were in charge for 6 of the 8 years – that is why I stated you appear to be biased. You selected individuals in charge for the 2 years since November 2006. They weren’t in charge before that.

    As to the oil embargo of 1973 – I was 25, my husband was 24, and yes, we were pretty darn naive about what was happening on the other side of the world. I imagine at the age of 25, you might not as been so worldly either. So think back to when you were 25 and whether or not you were paying any attention to the Middle East, etc. I bet not!

    It was a Republican white male – Nixon – who mandated the measures we used. I assume he thought it was in the best interests of the country to impose restrictions. As we have seen in the past, Americans tend not to want to take measures to curtail anything, so Nixon had to impose them.

    Now come on – you have been reading this blog for some time now. You can’t have missed the fact that I oppose outsourcing, NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and the other free trade agreements that are simply one-way tickets for jobs out of this country.

    I thought you favored things like free trade and corporate greed – as long as it was in the name of capitalism.

  7. Iceironman says:

    Can you tell me who this quote is from:

    The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year’s unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won’t be wasted.

    Last week I was pleased to attend the president’s White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit. It’s about time we had a leader committed to addressing the deficit, and Mr. Obama deserves great credit for doing so. But what ultimately matters are not meetings or words, but actions. Those who vote for the omnibus this week—after standing with the president and pledging to slice our deficit in half last week—jeopardize their credibility.

    …The bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November’s election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters’ mandate.

    This is from Bayh.

    If you think repubs are dead in 2010, wait and see if the blue dogs sign this in the conservative states.

    Did you see Virginia already has recieved money from the “stimulus”. It allowed the state to save 7100 jobs!!!!!!! ALL GOVT JOBS!!!!!!!!!!! Looks like we need to shift the paradigms.

  8. Ice:

    Bayh is far from being a Democrat. He is known as a DINO, and just like there are RINOs, we have our DINOs.

    I am sure his father, Birch Bayh, has to be scratching his head in confusion over Evan’s conduct and voting patterns. You will also recall that Evan Bayh backed Hillary Clinton and quite possibly has not quite gotten over her loss. After all, he had a lot riding on her win.

    Here’s another thought – Bayh might be posturing for the 2012 race, thinking that Obama will fail at pulling the country out of its slump. What better way to do that then to reject Obama’s policies.

    Now the danger is, of course, to any politican who rejects the stimulus package is that if it succeeds, the doubters are done.

  9. Iceironman says:

    Jim Cramer pissed me off during the election with his support of Obama, have you seen what he has to say about the spending? He is a democrat that refuses to go along with the d v r thing. He has woken up to the reality.

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