Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

Imaging rights? Monetising the right to use your likeness…even when you are dead….they say money never sleeps, well it doesn’t much die either

Muhammed Ali sold his rights while he was alive….but now he has passed, it will continue to be used. Much like the rights of Elvis Presley which have financially benefitted his estate long after his death.

The ability to recreate an actors image from CGI…most recently seen by the reimaging of Peter Cushing’s Star Wars character is also not a new thing, but something which is becoming increasingly believable and sophisticated, and therefore a potential market exists which can only become more lucrative for the living celebrities who have distinctly popular images.

This allows people to ‘trade’ on their own image, in life and increasingly, in death. Creating revenue streams beyond your physical presence, or even your own labour, in this life.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned how money defies the some of the basic laws of the created realm, notably the way it is created…out of nothing

It seems it can cheat death now too

 

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Abstain

Posted: June 11, 2016 in Consumerism, Poverty
Tags: ,

The Islamic month of abstention (Ramadhan) began on Monday 6th June 2016

A month when we cease to eat and drink; we cease to consume.

We are no longer consumers, we will not buy what is being sold, yet we will give up of our property to those who need it most.

The economic undertones of this period are worth considering

Something to ponder over….

Has Capitalism (and please be aware of the way this term can be defined) enabled the greatest amount of progress man has ever seen? Or is this all built on the lie that is Debt? Years of booming economies ultimately paved the way for rising debt; consumers discovering credit, nations discovering deficit spending, leaving future generations to foot the bill…and yet the only tonic to a demand slump is to encourage more consumption.

Have we developed, or is the simply arrested development – who knows how far we could go, how much justice there would really be if we had genuine freedom, not an illusion of prosperity

An oft repeated argument by numerous commentators about the benefits of free markets and capitalism is the incentive system it fosters.

Whilst constructively shaping human behaviour is needed in order to positively reinforce the benefit humanity can bring to the wider universe/environment, a question continues to linger about what type of incentive do alternative systems propose, and can they indeed work?

This post by a Muslim Counter Racist activist sheds meaningful light here and in my opinion makes a compelling argument if fully analysed

One particular point I would like to highlight here is the final part;

If this all sounds too ‘idealistic’ and ‘anarcho-libertarian’, I should like to draw attention to the closing phrase in this sign / indicator (ayat) – which is also the closing phrase of this enclosure / chapter (surah), viz. “and if you turn away, He will replace you with another people; then they will not be the likes of you.” In short, if a people are not willing to measure up to this ‘ideal’, then they will be replaced by others.

Capitalism might appear robust and permanent, but it is nothing but the ‘froth’ that mounts up on the surface of the water and is destined to pass.

I draw your attention to this because it ultimately plays to another well rehearsed attribute of capitalism and pluralism which should be supported; the idea of ‘Creative Destruction’, if an idea is deemed to fail, then it should be allowed to, naturally (no bail-outs/artificial support), and a more robust, stronger idea will take its place by having learnt from the weaknesses of what came before.

The true form of Deen-al-Islam is not with us in the contemporary world and how can we therefore assess accurately if it can indeed work. If it is not implemented correctly, it will indeed fail.

How do we assess whether our flirtation with capitalist principles have failed – do we really have the freedom to choose to replace it, or have we been coaxed into believing that it works?

The above three part documentary (The Foods that Make Billions) is a well worth a view

For me it explores an underlying truth: the business of capitalism is to exploit and manipulate

Nowhere is this better shown than in the first of these episodes on water. How do you sell something that is readily available to people for free – you change (manipulate) people’s perception and convince them that they are better for paying to consume it.

As one commentator in the first part profoundly observes, (and to paraphrase); “The backdrop to this predicament should be clearly understood where one part of humanity can’t get access to any clean water to live, yet another part spends remarkable amounts moving/selling vast quantities of water from those that have to those that already have”

A further example of how insane behaviour can be shaped by the desire to accumulate capital and sell anything for the sake of profits is the following business which was recently seeking to raise investment. An extra-marital affairs website encouraging spouses to cheat, thereby increasing business potentially for divorce lawyers (very expensive), possibly increasing leisure/retail consumption (with the new partner, maybe even another wedding?), perhaps a spill over into the housing market too (new abode, sell old home?), whereas the real cost (and how would you like to measure this exactly) on any offspring from the marriage, on the wider family, the established correlation to crime statistics with those who grow up in broken homes and the consequences for society generally, is completely ignored.

The monetary benefits from such a business venture will readily show up in financial performance, shareholder returns, GDP indicators, but most of us will be left to argue about the drawbacks which no-one will be capturing and therefore any debate can be calmly brushed aside as unsubstantiated moral opinion.

The fact this company specifically targets married couples as a differentiator to other peer-to peer dating websites speaks volumes for the no limit approach to capitalism in the name of liberty and free markets.

I have previously discussed the argument about how the allocation of resources works more ‘efficiently’ under this approach than the alternatives, but it should be noted how severe misallocations of capital can easily occur which the wider community will pick up at the expense of the individual or select few participants.

Clearly, its not only bad tax law that significantly affects human behaviour. The amount of manipulation exacted in the name of profit should be appreciated.

 

 

Consider this piece by Dr Nazeer Ahmed about the Atlantic slave trade although focusing in this extract on the sugar trade;

The introduction of sugar transformed America, Europe and Africa alike. Its impact on history was far greater than that of Mayan gold treasures or the rich silver mines of Mexico. To understand how it happened, it is important to know the process of sugar extraction….

…..the Native Americans were not suited for the kind of backbreaking work required on the sugar plantations. So, labor had to be imported.

At first, Muslim slaves from Portugal and Spain were imported, but it was soon realized that Europe could not meet the increasing demand for labor. African labor was ideally suited for this task

Sugar processing yields molasses as a by-product. Fermented molasses yield rum. Molasses were processed into rum in the factories that sprang up in New England, as well as in England, Holland and France. Much of the rum was consumed in Europe. From there, some of it found its way to West Africa. European merchants paid for the slaves with rum, guns, horses, and industrial products from southern Spain, and fine muslin cloth imported from India. Guns were in demand by the African slave agents who used them to hunt for more slaves. Both guns and rum were destabilizing factors in West Africa. It was a recipe for men to get drunk and kill each other. There were enormous profits to be made at each stage of the sugar-molasses-rum-gun-slave transaction. In the process, Europe and America grew rich as Africa bled in agony.

Now consider the progression of this trade into the formation of the Joint Stock Company; the very root of the world of globalised business of today;

The slave trade was not a business for the common man. Since it required enormous capital….French and English pirates were active against Portuguese shipping throughout the 16th century. Rich merchants in London, Liverpool, Paris, and Amsterdam financed the expeditions. On occasions, even their monarchs participated.

By 1600 the Atlantic slave trade had taken on the character of organized international trade. As sugar plantations grew in the Americas, so did the demand for slaves. Indeed, slaves had become a “commodity” wherein profits depended on timeliness and speed of delivery. The European slave traders had their counterparts on the African coast. The coastal chiefs controlled the trade, employing slave catchers who raided several hundred miles into the interior and hauled in the captives. Competition was intense

Trade with India, West Africa and the Americas required enormous capital. Ships had to be built, soldiers hired, fortifications erected and depots maintained in distant lands. The overhead was high. Initially, only the kings, noblemen or rich merchants could supply this capital. The Dutch were the first Europeans to open up this trade for broader participation.

In 1602 the Dutch East India Company was formed which enabled a broader spectrum of merchants to invest in the profitable Indian Ocean trade. The evolution of this one institution, the joint stock company, was the single most important development in the world in the 17th century.

Ultimately, it proved to be the means by which Europe conquered and colonized much of the world. By the year 1660, the Dutch had already accumulated the experience of sixty years in the formation and operation of trading companies. The British and the French realized that in order to compete they too must form similar trading companies

As the British gained dominance of the oceans, the Atlantic slave trade gathered momentum…..Many more millions were killed in the tribal wars that were fought in Africa to capture the slaves. When all these numbers are added up, a conservative figure for the total casualties of the Atlantic slave trade would be fifteen million.

Oppression cannot be institutionalized without moral justification. A sociology of domination emerged in 18th and 19th century Europe and America, condemning the black man to an inherently inferior position and providing a moral justification for his enslavement

A small example of the link between diets (food commodities), slavery, industrialisation/commercialisation/capitalism and colonialism. In short, how the dominant contemporary form of supremacism works, how part of it was formed and how EVERYTHING we think we know must be viewed in this context and DE-COLONISED

Consider the following two articles about some growing disruptive trends, which we should all be at least slightly familiar with in our everyday lives;

We must unleash the sharing economy to help drive living standards

Farewell Corporate Power: How the rise of the blockchain could change everything

Of course, as long as there is money to be made, we will continue to be exploited for the goal of maximizing shareholder returns. However I posted these to enlighten us about the realm of possibility in our modern age, and how, if used for different reasons than those prevalent today, we already have the means to shape a fairer, more just world.