Nothing is more important to human beings than an ecologically functioning, life sustaining biosphere on the Earth. It is the only habitable place we know in a forbidding universe. – Joseph Guth; Director, Science and Environmental Health Network
According to archaeological evidence, we strayed from Nature with the beginning of civilization roughly ten thousand years ago. That quantum leap beguiled us with an illusion of freedom from the world that had given us birth. It nourished the belief that the human spirit can be molded into something new to fit changes in the environment and culture, and as a result the timetables of history desynchronized. – E.O. Wilson; The Creation
Recently I’ve read a lot of critiques of GDP as a measure of economic progress. Mostly the idea pops up in writing about economics and the environment as well as income inequality and other decidedly liberal opinion pieces.
Economist, Dan O’Neil was recently interviewed in the Globe and Mail about his theory of a “Steady-State-Economy”, the recent British budget and the continuing Eurozone crisis as it extended to the tiny island of Cyprus this past week.
You can read a portion of the interview here. But the core of what he says, and how it relates to my theory of Meekonomics is summed up in this quote:
The way things work at the moment is that financial institutions create most of our money through loans. Banks are allowed to create money effectively out of thin air and loan it to me because I promise to pay it back.
As I see it, the system creates three basic problems: It drives inflation because banks tend to create more money than is actually needed for exchange; it drives growth because people then go out and generate economic activity; and it creates periodic crises when the amount of debt gets to be too much. – Dan O’Neil
Banks create money and drive the economy out of thin air through loans! This is ridiculous and it serves only to enslave people. Government has bought into this lie hook line and sinker through their low interest rate policies. It’s gotten so bad that for some it’s downright unpatriotic not to carry a huge amount of debt.
The amount of debt in the economy right now is stupid!
I’m not sure that Mr. O’Neil’s solution of prohibiting banks from creating money in this way is a viable solution but if enough people simply refused to take on debt as I advocate in the Meekonomist Manifesto the situation will repair itself.
The point is, consumers need to get out of debt, NOW!
For an advance copy of my book, “Meekonomics: How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest Under God’s Economy” write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too Late.” – Martin Luther King
It’s with this quote from Dr. King that James Speth ends the introduction to his 2008 book on Capitalism and the Environment. It’s an uncomfortable read that is not afraid to back down from the fact that we are standing on the precipice of profound change. Change we can either embrace and direct or change that will be thrust upon us as the logical conclusion of our actions.
Speth form’s much of his argument around statements like this. In fact he quotes other authors so often that at times I was actually unsure if I was reading any of Speth’s original thoughts or a collection of quotes from others. But the fact that he draws from so many other sources only serves to provide weight to his argument. If all of these other writers have being saying these things for so long why haven’t we heeded their warnings before now?
One particularly damning statement comes from a collection of some of the brightest scientific minds of our time:
The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluents is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. Moreover, we are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits. Current economic practices that damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued with the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair. – Joint statement of Nobel Prize Winners (1994)
Speth goes on to place the blame for our over consumption squarely on the shoulders of Global corporations and their propensity to “externalize” costs by drawing on the work of Paul Raskin and others like him.
All the bad things that happen to people and the environment as a result of corporations’ relentless and legally compelled pursuit of self-interest are neatly categorized by economists as externalities – literally, other people’s problems. – Paul Raskin; The Great Transition
Finally at the end of the book Speth begins to show some originality when he begins to discuss Globalization and its effects on sovereignty. Globalization is the corporately driven phenomenon of our time. But when done right, influenced not just by economic share holders but also responsive to the needs of local communities, what emerges is not traditional globalization but what Speth calls “Glocalization”.
When responsible corporations rule the world the result is a more global village than anything that can be accomplished through our current political structures. This is part of the choice that must be made, this is The Bridge at The Edge of the World.
Globalization of many descriptions is eroding state sovereignty. The nation-state, is has been said, is too little for the big things and too big for the little things. “Glocalization” is emerging, with action shifting to local and global levels. In many places, especially in Europe, one can see psychological disinvestment in the nation-state and the strengthening of both local and transnational citizenship. – James Gustave Speth; The Bridge at the Edge of the World