Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"What is the economy for?"

Bill McKibben is not the only one questioning the economy in his book "Deep Economy:The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" . Joel Arthur Barker speaks about paradigm change in terms of problems solved (Paradigms: The Business of discovering the Future 1993). New paradigms solve problems that the old one no longer can. The current economy is no longer solving problems, it is creating them. It is totally dependent upon growth for survival, more customers and new products are necessities for current economic health. The United Nations has noted that population has for the first time shown tendencies of slowing, particularly in so called industralized nations. We are seeing statistics for many countries like Japan, Italy and Spain that are at replacement level or below. That means that while the customer base is still growing, we can calculate it's downward turn. This is a first in human history.

The current economy has created huge pollution problems, many of which may never really be solved. The current economic measures only include what we produce per person as if items are the only things that are worth measuring. That means that weapons produced are counted and the loving care of a couple for a foster child is not counted. The distruction caused by weapons as in a war is counted as positive for the economy as the damage is repaired, but the lives distroyed and lost can never be repaired and often lead to new wars. Politically, corporations have taken over power from many democracies so that people have lost faith in both government and corporations.

One of several economic writers in Visionscentrets library is, Margit Kennedy who wrote a little book titled "Interest and inflation free economy" (1988) in Germany, in the same year, Marilyn Waring came out with "If Women Counted, A New feminist Economics" (1988). As indicated by the title, Waring digs deep into the gender bais of economic measurements on an international scale. Hazel Henderson, writing in 1992 and 1996, also covered economy from a women's perspective, but goes"Beyond the Battle of the Sexes" (Chapter 5) in "Paradigms in Progress: Life Beyone Economics"). While Paradigms gave ideas as to how a new system could work "Building a win-win World: Life beyone Global Economic Warfare" deepened her writing by offering new ways of measuring prosperity.

"Binary Economics; A New Paradigm" (1999) by Robert Ashford and Rodney Shakespeare goes deeper into economics with an eye for the elimination of poverty and the discrimination that characterizes market economy. "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power" (2004) by Joel Bakan (not to be confused with Joel Barker) looks at our economic system from a structural perspective. He presents a detailed history of the development of the corporate entitiy from the 17th century forward and suggests what we need to do to change this structure so that the economy will work for the people not just the corporations.

There is also a bevy of practioners who are actualizing the ideas of these writers and some of their own. All in all there is a growing "margin" from where one can become aware and inspired. The greater numbers of individuals who spread, discuss and try these ideas will bring us closer to a new economic paradigm. It will not be perfect, but it will solve the problems that the old system didn't solve and create some new ones of its own!