The system is failing, what can you do about it?

Only Wednesday and all ready this week is shaping up to look like a giant bleeding ulcer for investors everywhere. The government bailout of AIG is going to cost over $80 billion in tax payer money, government regulators are having a hard time rounding up investors willing to bail WAMU out of their collects of unwise mortgage loans. The government was forced to take over mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae last week. Lehman Sachs collapsed earlier this week and Merrill Lynch was boat out by Bank of America. What on Earth does this mean to the rest of us?

I’m not an economist and won’t pretend to understand exactly what is going on or the massive scope of what it encompasses. I comfort myself in the fact that I have no money, therefore one less thing to worry about in a time like this. For those of you who do have money tied up in investments, I’m sorry but I have no advice for how to best survive this mess.

I will say though that for some time, to me anyway, the writing has been on the wall that the system is not working. Here are a few of my ideas why.

The combination of giving a corporation the rights of an individual and mandating them to put profits for the shareholders above all other considerations has created a system where workers are allowed to be nothing more than a commodity. Illegal labor practices at home and use of “free trade” zones around the World have changed societies and taken away indigenous cultures abilities to support themselves on a subsistence level in the poorest areas of the globe. Industrial food production along with the use of pesticides and genetic farming practices by large corporations have put our entire food supply into the hands of a very small amount of companies. If these companies begin to fail in the same manner that the financial institutions have, get ready for panic in the streets.

Multinational corporations have attained assets that put them beyond the regulation or control of any government. The sad truth is that no matter which of the major party candidates is elected in the United States November elections, they will be in debt to the same major corporations that have driven us into the problem in the first place. Real change will only be possible when we are able to wrestle back control of the assets that make our society what it is from the massive entities that control them. Our government may be the best tool we have to do that, but we have to learn to properly use it.

We are the sheep. No, I’m not going to get biblical here that’s not my style, but its important to realize that Western civilization and Americans especially have been kept fat and happy for generations leading a life of ease and privilege. The Walmarts, Exxons, Fords, and Monsantos of the World have tended us like a flock and we’ve followed blindly to the fields of privilege they have taken us to. Those fields are starting to suffer the effects of overgrazing and eventually the shepherds will have to begin to cull the herd and the number of privileged sheep will be drastically reduced.

Enough doom and gloom. What can we do about it?

First, make friends with a farmer. The grassroots development of local organic farms has been growing rapidly for the last five years. We need to take our resources (grocery budgets) away from Monsanto and Walmart and give them to people within our community capable of growing our food so they can further expand their production to provide for additional demand.

Second, stop pouring your money through your gas tank and into the oil companies pockets. Let’s start giving more of that money to mass transit. The more we invest into bus and light rail systems by using them the more routes our mass transit lines will be able to develop. The best part, we don’t have a vote with Exxon, we do have a vote in our local governments who control the management of our mass transit systems. If we put our resources there, we will be able to work to make them more efficient on a local level.

Third, reduce the amount of energy you use and begin to produce some of your own energy. It’s not as hard as it sounds to do this. Making simple steps to conserve power like turning off your lights when your not in a room and keeping the thermostat a few degrees lower are a great place to start. It takes discipline, but it will be easier to make the change now than it will be to make it in the face of sudden power shortages. If you’ve got some money to invest, consider hedging against rising energy prices by investing in solar or wind power now. Producing your own power will help to shelter you from difficulties that will be wide spread if our energy companies begin to see the same types of troubles that the financial institutions are facing now.

This week’s financial troubles may not be the end of the World as we know it, but the financial institutions may just be the canary in the mine indicating further trouble on the horizon. Take advantage of the early warning to begin your readjustment now and you’ll be ahead of the rest of the population if things get considerably worse. Worse case scenario is that you will make yourself part of the solution and gain piece of mind knowing that you can survive future troubles that may arise.