I'm watching a documentary on the Amazon on Animal Planet network.
The documentary shows how humans are wiping out species and forests.
A man uses a chain saw to cut down a tree that's at least 150 years old. There's a massive eagle raising an eaglet in a nest in the tree. It's already had to build two other nests because trees have been cut down-- trees with medicinal properties known to the local indigenous tribal dwellers.
We don't know much about the man who's cutting down the tree. But there are so many problems with him cutting it down.
-maybe he's doing it legally. That doesn't make it right. There are so many legislators and regulators who are easily bought by corporations.
-maybe it's illegal. Once he cuts down the tree there are plenty of buyers who don't ask questions. You may have something made from that tree-- something you bought at a box chain store.
-Then there's the question of WHY he's cutting it down. Indigenous forest dwellers don't cut down 150 year old trees because they respect and value the role the trees play in the balance of nature in the forest. When Westerners invade indigenous territories, usually with the excuse that they are bringing god and modern civilization, one of the first things they do to the survivors of the western diseases they bring is to get the natives addicted to technologies that they never knew of or needed before. Then the natives forget about their relationship with nature, with Gaia, and they see trees and animals that were part of the commons as easy treasure they can harvest for cash to buy crap-- metal knives, alcohol. and tools that will make it even easier for them to despoil the forest that fed and clothed them and their forebearers for generations.
We need a new economics that is smarter and deeper. Most of the current economic models are incredibly shallow, looking at monetary profit and loss. This approach is primitive, brutal and barbaric. It is anathema to the original teachings of most religions. It is unsustainable.
This is the problem. Current economic models and laws and regulations do not take into account "externalities" and "systemic effects." I would argue that any economic system or model that chooses (not fails, since it is intentional) not to include externalities and systemic effects is non-sustainable, unaccountable and perhaps even, like Joel Bakkan documents for corporations, in his book and movie, The Corporation, these economic models are, by their nature, psychopathic.
The current popular economic models ignore two factors that Noam Chomsky described in my interview with him here
, where he said,
"...the organisms that are considered the peak of intelligence (namely, us) is now engaged in the process of destroying itself and destroying everything else along with it, which would give the final touch to the theory. And that's what we're doing. I think I was referring specifically to environmental catastrophe. We don't have to do it, but we are doing it, and it's not because we're intelligent. It's because we've developed institutional structures which kind of drive us in that direction. So, take say, market systems: I mean we don't really have market systems, but we have partial market systems. And, a market system has a built-in doomsday machine inside it. In a market system, you don't pay attention to what are called externalities, for example, effects on others. So, Like if you sell me a car, let's say: if we're paying attention we'll make a good deal for ourselves, you and I will both come out OK. But we don't bring into the calculation the effect of that sale on other people, and there is an effect. There's another car on the road, there's more pollution, there's more congestion, there's a greater chance of accidents, and so on. And magnified over a lot of people, that can be a big effect. Well, that's inherent in the nature of market systems, unless they somehow internalize externalities, in which case they're not really market systems. That's just an individual transaction. But you think about it in terms of bigger institutions, like say banks and investment firms, say, Goldman Sachs, when they make a transaction, say, a risky loan or something like that, they take into account the effects on them; will the profits overcome the risk, and so on. But they don't take into account what's called systemic risk: that is, the chance that if the loan goes bad and they're in trouble, the whole system may crash. They don't take that into account. That's not part of the calculation. Well, that's a significant part of what lies behind the regular financial crashes, increasingly severe ever since deregulation set in. Now if you go a step higher than that, and you're, say, the CEO of some Exxon Mobile or something, your job is to maximize profit and market share. You don't take into account the fact that there's an externality: the fate of the species. You don't calculate that in, and that's true for non-energy corporations too. In trying to maximize profit, you don't take into account the impact on the fate of the species, and that's no joke now. We're reaching a point in human existence where the fate of the species is indeed in danger, and one major reason for it is, just that it's not a calculation that is made within market systems - well, again, we don't really have qualified market systems - but to the extent that they function, this is a built-in doomsday machine."
I'm not saying, nor am I certain that the psychopathic tendencies of externality-ignoring and systemic-effects-ignoring economic models are intentional. Then again, the predatory nature of animals like crocodiles, piranha, wolves and eagles is built into their nature, and not necessarily "intentional." It's the way they're DNA makes them.
We need to talk about economic models that are not predatory, that include and consider externalities and systemic effects as parts of the costs. Anything less is unsustainable, dishonest, predatory, thieving and probably psychopathic-- in that it creates a system that uncaringly exploits.
It can be done. There is a price. The people and institutions who/that depend upon the existing externality and systemic effect ignoring economic model will lose. They will lost the profits they were gaining by stealing from the total system. They will lose assets when they are re-assessed for the debts they owe for having predatorily exploited the social and ecological systems, not paying the full costs.
A wholistic, sustainable economic system that operates in a non-predatory manner will embrace bottom-up values that resist centralization in favor of decentralized localization. It will favor egalitarian principles and policies over hierarchical, dominating, authoritarian approaches. In a human-centered, wholistic economic model, people and communities will come before corporations and industries.
The new economic, fully balanced models will be smarter and deeper, and they will cause a cacaphony of shouting and moaning by the profiteers of the existing economic models. Things will change. Prices will change. Values will change. It will be difficult and it will be fought. But it is not only worth it, it is absolutely necessary for long term planetary ecosystem survival.
Famous leaders have said that there's no alternative to capitalism that's better. Indigenous tribal people have thrived for tens of thousands of years with "economic models" that have worked. Billion dollar pharmaceutical drugs are developed based on amazon biologics. Perhaps we need to go back to nature and to the indigenous to re-discover economic models that work better than the stupid, shallow, possibly psychopathic system that dominates our culture.
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