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Posts Tagged ‘Economics

Joe Bageant: Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball

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Capitalism is dead, but we still dance with the corpse

By Joe Bageant Deer Hunting with Jesus

July 6, 2010   Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

As an Anglo European white guy from a very long line of white guys, I want to thank all the brown, black, yellow and red people for a marvelous three-century joy ride. During the past 300 years of the industrial age, as Europeans, and later as Americans, we have managed to consume infinitely more than we ever produced, thanks to colonialism, crooked deals with despotic potentates and good old gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived, and still live, extravagant lifestyles far above the rest of you. And so, my sincere thanks to all of you folks around the world working in sweatshops, or living on two bucks a day, even though you sit on vast oil deposits. And to those outside my window here in Mexico this morning, the two guys pruning the retired gringo’s hedges with what look like pocket knives, I say, keep up the good work. It’s the world’s cheap labor guys like you — the black, brown and yellow folks who take it up the shorts — who make capitalism look like it actually works. So keep on humping. Remember: We’ve got predator drones.

After twelve generations of lavish living at the expense of the rest of the world, it is understandable that citizens of the so-called developed countries have come to consider it quite normal. In fact, Americans expect it to become plusher in the future, increasingly chocked with techno gadgetry, whiz bang processed foodstuffs, automobiles, entertainments, inordinately large living spaces — forever.

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“The Great Transition”- an outline for sustainable economics

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New Economics Institute

There is no doubt that the number of new ideas emerging in the field of humane, sustainable economics is accelerating.  But complete blueprints are still pretty few and far between.  Even so, our British colleagues at the New Economics Foundation (nef) have created an outline that is both impressive and hopeful.  Their blueprint offers a coherent foundation on which to build a future economics.

They have called it “The Great Transition.”

All of us at the E. F. Schumacher Society look forward to collaboration with nef as we undertake our own transition to become the New Economics Institute. David Boyle, a senior research fellow of nef, and his family, have joined us in the Berkshires to further that organizational transformation.

David shares his thoughts below on nef’s Great Transition report for your information.  The full document is at www.neweconomics.org.

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Economics has always been nothing more than politics in disguise

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“The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise economics is a form of brain damage.”
~Hazel Henderson

“I’m not trying to make it sound that all economists are intellectual mercenaries. It’s much more complex than that. It has something to do with the sociology of knowledge and with what happens to young minds when they are inducted into a certain kind of educational style. When they come out of the other end of this process they have a certain style of thinking which I refer to as ‘brain damage’ – not endearing me at all to my economist friends. Of course, there are very good, honest economists who don’t do this. I have found that all down through the history of economic thought there have been honest economists who began to explore this body of information and recoiled aghast, saying righteously, “Well, this is an intellectual scandal! This is not rigorous. This is a whole set of ‘deductions’ – a priori types of statements really – and the world doesn’t conform to this kind of economistic model.” And what I found is that every one of these economists who had honestly dished the dirt on this discipline throughout history had been summarily silenced in one way or another. They had not been given tenure, they had been run out of the club in one way or another and it still goes on today. You get critics from within the discipline like, for example, Kenneth Boulding who has always been critical of the entropic nature of modern production and the excessive exploitation rates and what he always calls “cowboy economics”. So, Boulding was run out of the club with, “Oh, well, he really is a philosopher, not an economist.” Or take John Kenneth Galbraith who was a very good critic of the current situation and wrote a lot of books about the ways in which the market didn’t really work, about monopoly power, stuff like that. They designated Galbraith, “Oh, he’s really a sociologist.” So, there’s this kind of game that goes on. Of course the only one they could never shut up was Karl Marx. He had a constituency.”


For more by Hazel Henderson see here

Also see:  Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_Henderson) and from Chelsea Green (http://www.chelseagreen.com/authors/hazel_henderson) and from Henderson’s web site (http://www.hazelhenderson.com/):

The Value of Nothing (Video Preview)

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By Raj Patel          Organic Consumer’s Assn.

Oscar Wilde observed, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Patel’s book, The Value of Nothing, shows how our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. He reveals the hidden ecological and social costs of a hamburger (as much as $200), and asks how we came to have markets in the first place. Both the corporate capture of government and our current financial crisis, Patel argues, are a result of our democratically bankrupt political system.

Social organizations, in America and around the globe, are finding new ways to describe the world’s worth. If we don’t want the market to price every aspect of our lives, we need to learn how such organizations have discovered democratic ways in which people, and not simply governments, can play a crucial role in deciding how we might share our world and its resources in common.

Our current crisis is not simply the result of too much of the wrong kind of economics. While we need to rethink our economic model, Patel argues that the larger failure beneath the food, climate and economic crises is a political one. If economics is about choices, Patel writes, it isn’t often said who gets to make them. The Value of Nothing offers a fresh and accessible way to think about economics and the choices we will all need to make in order to create a sustainable economy and society.

To read the first chapter, click here: http://bit.ly/1ajaxZ. For more information on both Raj Patel and The Value of Nothing, visit http://www.rajpatel.org. Video directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy (http://www.thegardenmovie.com).