Exposing and Exploring Capitalism
“I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.” That was the response from Representative Nancy Pelosi to a college student who cited a study by Harvard University that showed 51% of Americas between 18 and 29 no longer support the system of capitalism and queried whether the Democratic party was addressing the need for a contrast to right wing economics.
When I read what Ms Pelosi said I was amazed, and appalled. In essence she is saying that she accepts the increasingly huge gap between rich and poor, the poverty and hunger in the world, the destruction of Earth’s life support systems as “juat the way it is"! And this is the Minority Leader of our House of Representatives in Congress! Talk about a lack of vision, a lack of desire and determination to create a new and compassionate society which puts people and the planet before profits. She speaks for many who are reluctant, resistant and unwilling to look the system in the eye, to see the problems and change the rules so everyone wins.
What do we want? What will a new system look like?
I’m no economist. I barely passed out of Econ 101 in college. But I see, as do millions of people around the world, that our system is fundamentally flawed. It is corrupt, it is violent, it is cruel and disrespectful. It is wasteful and destructive. It is grossly inequitable. The cartoon gives you the idea. People and the planet are providing the fish; the resources, the energy, the food, the air, the water, the land, the diversity of species. The system, represented by that character with the black hat, is taking it all for his purposes and for those select few who are his buddies.
For starters we want an economic system
• that is regenerative, that works as a closed loop, circular system as the Earth does. It is not wasteful and destructive.
• that does not measure growth in monetary terms alone, but considers the well being of living Earth systems and all who dwell on this planet.
• that is not a “one-rule economy” as Frances Moore Lappe´ describes, that is, the highest return to existing wealth; a system that favors a few at the expense of the many.
• that puts people and the planet over profits.
There are many qualified economists and thinkers working to envision and create a new system that works for all. Here are some that stand out for me:
David Korten: A Living Earth Economy
Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economics. I particularly recommend "Animations"
Helena Norberg-Hodge: Local Futures, also known as "The Economics of Happiness"
Frances Moore Lappe´: The Small Planet Institute
The Next System Project
Genuine Progress Indicator
I have been, and am, a grateful recipient of the material benefits this system has provided me. Millions of us in wealthier countries are likewise grateful. Yet I will not be totally happy until every person on this planet is respected and cared for in the most fundamental ways. I will not rest easy or be at peace until the Earth is restored and replenished and respected.
Want to explore further?
Here are four articles I find most compelling, clear and positive. I highlight this first article as it references the encounter with Ms. Pelosi and gives a very clear picture of the capitalist system as we know it now.
Are You Willing To Consider That Capitalism is The Real Problem?
Why the Economy Should Stop Growing and Just Grow Up
We Will Soon Be Using More Than the Earth Can Provide, and other articles by David Korten in the Living Earth Economy series
If We Can't Continue to Grow Our Economy, What Then?
Capitalism is not a sacred cow. We are not stuck with or beholden to a system because “it’s just the way it is.” As favorite teacher and author Caroline Caaey says,
“IF WE CAN DREAM IT UP WE CAN DREAM IT DOWN!”
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