A few facts about riots, wars, viruses, and economies:
- The recent riots around police brutality, racial inequities and injustice are the worst riots in the US since the 1960’s rebellion against the Vietnam war and racial discrimination.
- Black American COVID-19 mortality is more than 3 ½ times the white mortality rate.
- Real median Black household income is less than $40,000 while for Whites it is 50% higher, at about $60,000;
- More Americans have been killed by the coronavirus in the past few months then were killed during the 15 plus years we fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars;
- The US spends as much money on the military as the next 10 countries combined;
- With just over 4% of the world’s population, the US has recorded nearly one-third of all coronavirus cases, averaging more than 1,100 deaths per day since March;
- The US economy is by far the richest in the world – its gross domestic product is more than that of the next two countries combined;
- Three Americans have as much wealth as half the rest of the US population.
- The US has been the leading proponent of a form of predatory corporate capitalism that has resulted in a failed global governmental-social-economic system that economists refer to as a Death Economy. It is the cause of many of our current problems, including the riots, the emergence and spread of the coronavirus, climate change, income inequality, species extinctions and so many others – all are symptoms of this failed system;
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
Anyone who considers himself or herself to be a loyal American, or for that matter a citizen of the world, should find these facts to be extremely disturbing. They are indicators that the US – seen after WWII as the leader in democracy, science, medicine, and education – is now leading the world down a path that is very unbalanced, environmentally unsustainable, and socially unjust. The fortitude, ability to unite for the public good, and the resolve to act in ways that serve as models that once characterized the US have been replaced by timidity and laws and regulations that elevate wealthy people and corporate profits above the public good. The hierarchical societies of England, France, and other parts of Europe during the times leading up to the American Revolution and the French Revolution come to mind.
These facts should inspire all of us to take action to turn things around. In my last blog and several previous ones, I’ve suggested ways that each one of us can contribute to transforming this failed situation, a Death Economy, into one that can lead us down the path to creating a successful situation, a Life Economy. Here are few more – simple actions that you may already know about and that should drive us to new levels of commitment and determination now that we face the COVID-19 crisis:
- Be aware of your personal racial biases and any privileges or lack thereof you experience as a result of your own race or cultural heritage and take actions of initiate changes;
- Shop consciously; if there is something you must have, purchase from companies that are committed to creating a Life Economy and only items whose packaging, ingredients, and methods of production are sustainable and support life;
- Make everything you own last as long as possible;
- Purchase at consignment and thrift stores (once they reopen) where everything is recycled;
- Support minority-owned businesses and other organizations;
- Protest against “free” trade agreements that favor oligarchic corporations and those that operate sweatshops;
- Participate in or organize social network campaigns to support anti-racist and pro-democracy movements;
- Participate in or organize social network consumer campaigns against corporations that exploit labor and ravage environments;
- Participate in or organize social network consumer campaigns to support companies that pay living wages, recycle, and take actions to clean up pollution and regenerate destroyed environments;
- Support local merchants;
- Encourage stores to buy from local growers, producers, and suppliers;
- Shop at your local farmers’ market – once they reopen;
- Drink tap water (get the water company to do a better job if necessary, but avoid buying bottled water);
- Vote for enlightened, racially diverse school boards, commissions, ordinances, and politicians;
- Run for office;
- Insist that those who use your money—banks, pensions, mutual funds, companies—make socially and environmentally responsible investments;
- Speak out whenever forums present themselves;
- Discuss externalities, the costs of pollution, poor working conditions, public subsidies, corporate exemptions, and other environmental, social, and political factors that should be included in the prices we pay for goods and services but are not; let people know that when we do not pay for these very real expenses we rob future generations;
- Encourage “taxes” on externalities—higher prices for gas, clothes, electricity, etc., as long as the difference pays to right social and environmental wrongs;
- Offer on-line study groups for local libraries, bookstores, churches, and clubs to discuss thes subjects;
- Expand this list and share it with everyone you know.
All the items listed above impact corporate and political leaders. To break the stranglehold this empire has on our planet, we must remove power from the elites who’ve created the facts outlined at the beginning of this blog post.
We each have power. Parents, students, teachers, carpenters, construction workers – all of us have the power to speak out and to influence others. Each of us can think of a hero whom we respect, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Greta Thunberg, Thomas Paine, or our favorite athletes; we know that such people started off having no idea of the success they would achieve; they simply had faith and kept going. Perhaps most important is the knowledge that their successes depended on many other people who supported and inspired them, who never made the history books, and yet who played an essential role in changing history. We all have a role to play. Choose one – or several—that pulls at your heart and play it to the hilt.
This is a time when what has been referred to as the “mainstream” media is being replaced by blogs, podcasts, webinars, and other forms of social media. It is a time when all of us have more opportunities to be heard. It is a time when we need to speak out, for each of us to take our part.
About the author:
John Perkins is an author and activist whose 10 books on global intrigue, shamanism, and transformation including Touching the Jaguar, Shapeshifting and the classic Confessions of an Economic Hit Man have been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 70 weeks, sold over 2 million copies and are published in 35 languages. As chief economist at a major consulting firm, he advised the World Bank, United Nations, Fortune 500 corporations, US and other governments. He regularly speaks at universities, economic forums, and shamanic gatherings around the world and is a founder and board member of the nonprofit organizations, the Pachamama Alliance and Dream Change.