Monday, September 27, 2010

Economics and Compassion

image is from here
A collection of related thoughts and concerns follows.

A fundamental question is this: What does an economic system exist to do? Follow up questions are these:
Does an economic system that is increasingly globalised exist to support the welfare of the rich only, or also people generally? Does our corporate capitalist system in the West exist to serve the so-called First World at the expense of every other region of the world?

Is the dominant economic system in the U.S. one that replicates and reinforces or challenges and transforms white het male supremacy?

Does our economy work for the rich and not for the poor? Does it work for rich people and not for non-human animals and the Earth?

I have been in discussion with people about re-envisioning what "an economic system" does, what and who it exists for, and how we might transition to a more humane global community that doesn't seek to become one globalised community, but rather increasingly diverse and sustainable, flexible systems of support for humanity, non-human animals, and the Earth and its atmosphere.

The discussion is about paradigms and programs, values and vision, and whether we are capable of seeing what paradigms we live and die in, and what those paradigms exist to do, and how they become what we live.

That we live inside a few people's ideas is perhaps unsettling but it is true enough. Someone designed the systems we live in. Perhaps many people did, and many more have modified these systems over time. But in the last many decades, increasingly few people have increasingly more power and control over the systems in which we live and die, in which animals live and die and become extinct, in which the Earth gets sick and begins to die.

On an economic level, why do we need a global economy? Why not support very local and regional economies which are relatively self-sufficient and sustainable with the land masses they exist on and with?

If you have an economic model that required ever-expanding growth, and that growth takes natural resources that are not ever-expanding, do you see a problem with the model? If an economic system requires continually polluting and destroying land masses, soil bases, forests, and many ecosystems, how is it that we expect to survive? What we can see quite clearly is that when humans fuck around with ecosystems, everything and everyone suffers the consequences.

Think about Haiti and the devastation of the Earthquake on land that had its trees removed and political systems ravaged by outside forces. Consider the Pakistan floods and mudslides, and how dependent those were on the removal of trees. Consider New Orleans and that once upon a time that land and sea met at wetlands which existed to slow and shut down hurricanes, not welcome them deep into the land mass.

Consider that money economies don't show much regard for the many non-material gifts each of us bring to one another, including the raising of children, and instead force us to do work that we can get to survive, not work that we can enjoy doing.

To me, a lot is not working, and the proof of that is the amount of human and non-human suffering we witness when things like earthquakes, economic downturns, ceaseless and expanding poverty, increasingly trafficking and slavery, and environmental disasters happen that are all caused or exacerbated by greedy humans who disregard laws of nature in order to get rich and richer.

Support local bartering and humane service exchange economies, and community strengthening that considers the land mass as part of the community. Support local and regional efforts to strength systems of support that don't require that taxes be generated to support warfare, poverty and famine, and the destruction of the Earth.

If we care about each other, why would we want to perpetuate economic and political systems that do unfathomable harm?