Confronting Collapse | Michael C. Ruppert

Summary of: Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World: A 25-Point Program for Action
By: Michael C. Ruppert

Introduction

In ‘Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World,’ Michael C. Ruppert assesses the future of capitalism and its implications for society. The book examines capitalism’s significant shortcomings, including poverty, income inequality, adverse social costs, debt, job loss due to automation, environmental issues, political maneuverings, and short-term thinking. It suggests that better state policies and the collaboration between corporations and governments may help remedy some of these problems. Furthermore, the book evaluates the role of technology in exacerbating unemployment, and the potential solutions in the form of new economic models and collaboration between corporations, governments, and nonprofit organizations.

The Limitations of Capitalism

Capitalism offers economic freedom but is plagued by serious flaws, including poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and short-sighted practices. While it is often seen as an ideal system, better government policies could address these shortcomings by encouraging more ethical corporate growth.

Poverty and Capitalism

Poverty has been a social issue since the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. Despite government efforts, one-sixth of the world’s population lives in poverty. Income inequality continues to grow, while wages remain stagnant. The solution to poverty requires a multifaceted approach that involves corporations and government working together. Efforts such as raising the minimum wage, capping CEO earnings, and reforming taxes may help level the playing field. The consequences of capitalism have dangerous implications for society and governments. It is time to take a realistic view of economic growth and development and embrace conscious capitalism or the new economy to address this growing issue.

Workers’ Plight Today

The legacy of the Industrial Revolution still haunts global workers with 21 million trapped in bondage and slavery-like conditions. Unions, which secured substantial benefits for labor, are in decline creating an adversarial relationship between employees and management. Growing income and wealth inequality reduce consumer demand, prolonging economic malaise. With a federal minimum hourly pay of $7.25, new ideas to fill the gap between earning and basic needs include a guaranteed minimum income, refundable tax credits, workers’ stock ownership, and universal savings plans for retirement. With over 200 million individuals unemployed, technology is disrupting industries and killing more jobs, leaving undereducated workers out of the service sector growing jobs. To acquire new job skills, the long-term unemployed may need retraining. Corporations may find supporting unemployment too costly. A fair wage enables a person to maintain dignity and move to a better job, highlighting the importance of job creation.

The Business Cycle

Businesses thrive in a stable economy, but capitalism brings turbulence. The four phases of a business cycle are contraction, trough, expansion, and peak. During these phases, factors such as an overheated economy, high debt, and low confidence can influence the cycle. With advances in technology and globalization, businesses have become more interdependent and need to anticipate environmental issues and changing markets. However, experts disagree on how to recover from economic downturns with some supporting austerity and others stimulus spending. Some argue the US has shifted to “pro-business” cronyism.

The Myths of American Capitalism

American capitalism glorifies individualism and self-reliance, portrayed in popular works like Ayn Rand’s novels and movies like Wall Street. However, this idealistic view has led to corrupt practices and a warning from economist Friedrich Hayek. Communitarianism, a third perspective, promotes shared values and rights, and corporate social responsibility, as practiced by Avon, General Motors and Starbucks. It is popular in Europe, China, and Japan, and avoids the dangers of fascism associated with hyper-individualism. As the corruption of campaign finance threatens democracy, communitarianism provides a solution to create an enlightened and moral society.

The Rise and Fall of Capitalism

The post-World War II era marked a period of economic growth driven by capitalism. However, the 1980s saw market changes and the deregulation of finance led to an increase in income inequality. Companies directed profits towards higher CEO salaries and excessive lending while moving towards obscure financial instruments. By 2008, wages stagnated, and the economy was driven by financial services and consumerism leading to recessions, bank failures, industry bankruptcies, bailouts, and unemployment. The need for responsible consumption is evident as capitalism attempts to double its business while reducing environmental impact and footprints.

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