Some CUSP Thoughts on the Economy*
prepared for Mother Earth Day Fair, April 2013
- jobs that threaten the environment cannot be considered good jobs
- a perpetual growth model on a finite planet is, obviously, stupid
- a system that rewards the hyper-exploitation of everything – including people – will eventually cannibalize itself until it collapses (see Chris Hedges below)
- individuals can push for change, but they cannot create the new economy we need through their own ‘lifestyle’ changes alone; consuming less is good, as is avoiding the worst corporate offenders, but these are not enough – we need to push governments to make drastic changes, including replacing Gross Domestic Product with a measure of well-being
- we must move to a zero waste economy; this will create many jobs in reuse and recycling
- we should prioritize ‘caring’ jobs – for the elderly, children, the environment & people in need
- we will return to a more labour-intensive agriculture, including urban agriculture, with less dependence on fossil fuels and chemicals
- we should prioritize jobs in retrofitting buildings to high energy efficiency standards
- while ‘green’ energy technologies will provide no panacea and will need to be employed along with strong conservation measures, shifting work to renewables’ and away from fossil fuel energy generation makes sense
- we need a shift from giant, multinational corporations, to businesses rooted in, and responsible to, communities
- justice and equity must be integral to the new economy
- work will look different in the future; a 20 hour work week with less income (and therefore less consumption) will leave time for relationship and well-being
- community well-being will be prioritized above individual gain
*not all members of CUSP agree on everything, and much work needs to be done by everyone to invent an economic and political system to prioritize the survival of life rather than the accumulation of things
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND (VENTURE) CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new President of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.
Chris Hedges: Zero Point of Systemic Collapse
A self-regulating market, Polanyi wrote, turns human beings and the natural environment into commodities, a situation that ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. The free market’s assumption that nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market allows each to be exploited for profit until exhaustion or collapse. A society that no longer recognizes that nature and human life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves until they die. This is what we are undergoing.