I am currently reading a very interesting book on this touted new era of financialization. So far, this phenomenon is being portrayed as being pretty grim, and all sorts of terrible and disastrous things are going to happen unless we stop it. I am always wary of catastrophizers—especially when the government is being sold as the sole possible savior. It took me seven hours to renew my drivers’ license because I needed my eyes checked. I could have had my eye doctor send the results since it would have taken only about ten minutes to have my eyes checked with him. However, I was required to wait for seven hours and report in person (even though ironically, I have to bring my doctor’s report, as I have a weird eye that cannot do their little machine thingy—for most it looks like a common eye chart for me it looks like several eye charts—my eyes are not fooled by the optical illusion that the machine creates). That is a lot of wasted productivity. Consequently, when we get into economics and what would save this country and the world I think everyone should take a full three hundred and sixty degree look around. Twice—and with your mind-sword drawn. Because in truth, this is terribly important business.
A good way to think of financialization is that there is, a kind of money for money machine in our world and markets that is increasingly gaining a lopsided amount of power, market share, and corporate profits, and yet, this machine only needs to employ a comparatively small amount of people to do what it does. As I stated before I am not yet sold on anything yet and as a trained debater I am disciplined to learn both sides thoroughly before I present my argument. I will note that this issue is being talked about in ominous ways by people on both sides of the isle—which does for me lend it a little more weight—a little more concern. (In the interest of full disclosure so the reader can know what sort of possible bias I have, I will say that I am of no party. I am a fully committed Free Thinker—this is not to say, however, that I have no strong opinion on the subject of political parties—I do actually. One day I hope to share it with you…. That is of course, when I can find a way to express it without loads of swearing and very lude sexual references.)
One of the pointed-out perils of financialization is the mounting trend away from investment in small businesses, new enterprises, and research and development. The reduction of investment dollars spent has spread from a banking phenomenon to a corporate one as corporations are now preferring to spend funds on stock buy-backs (in order to boost stock price) verses investing in R&D. In fact, a perfect ‘X’ is formed when you graph monies invested in R&D verses monies spent on stock buy backs (when tracked from the 1980’s). Institutions are not fully to blame as mass 401k shareholders now demand yearly performance reviews—and yearly returns (and it’s important to note 401k managers of both companies and pension fund managers of government and union sectors are now getting sued for not producing high enough yearly returns—especially in ratio with investment fees—so do not be so rash in assigning blame). Consequently, a CEO or fund manager is asking to get fired if he favors investment—because the fruits of investment are often a long time coming.
While currently I have no idea where I am going to land on this issue of financialization, it did cause me to think a lot about investing in research and development. I do not think things just arise out of the blue. And while causes and conditions are difficult to ever fully pin down I could not help but wonder if this financial trend of going for quick profit via corporate buy backs, debt vehicles, and speculation was not also reflected in our era’s personal lives. Are we looking and wanting things a year from now and not investing in ourselves knowing that it might take a decade for that work to show? Investing in your own personal R&D is in my opinion the most valuable and empowering thing any person can do. It does take a lot of time, effort and patience. However, it carries a promise that few car loans or credit cards can: the things you end up possessing through self-cultivation are the only things you actually own. Fate, weather, divorce, banks, and accidents can take your car, your home, or your business. However, nothing can take away a truly perfected virtue or discipline—not even death. They can take away your life, but they can never take away your dignity.
Hats off dear heroes. Socrates! Hans and Sophie Scholl! Martin Luther King Jr.! Benazir Bhutto! Great love and well wishes for you all.
Happy Friday everyone.
Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”
Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.