Image courtesy of Pheunix Buzz
As David Korten explains in yes!, by focusing on our financial deficit we are ignoring other “deficits that most endanger our future.” He points out that both Republicans and Democrats have been focusing on domestic GDP growth and ignoring the fact that the money is not evenly distributed in our country. This is bad for the other deficits that he refers to; social and environmental ones. Social capital is necessary for a productive and cooperative society, and allows us to manage our natural resources and live in peace and prosperity. Biosystem capital is simply what nature does for us and other creatures and the reason we can survive. It’s depletion can be irreversible.
Money, Money, Money, Mon-ey!
In order to shake ourselves from our obsession with money and monetary indicators, we must understand that “money is a means, not an end” to guaranteeing health and overall well-being for all mankind. Financial assets are simply a token of exchange, which furthers the false idea that Wall Street is creating wealth. Furthermore, it is important to point out that a deficit occurs when expenditures exceed income, and a debt occurs when financial liabilities exceed financial assets. Thus, one person or country’s debt is another person or country’s asset.
It Doesn’t Trickle Down
Republicans want to leave the assets of the rich untouched and reduce government debt at the same time, despite its impossibility. Instead, as Korten says, we are “stealing from the future” when we focus on GDP and stock market indices because the rich are simply getting richer and the other forms of capital are being ignored and depleted. We know this is true because one year of consumption takes one and a half years to regenerate. Our dependence on non-renewable energy destroys biosystem capital and is not logical under living systems logic, a logic more aligned with indigenous wisdom.
The current U.S. monetary system destroys biosystem and social capital and grows the pockets of the very rich while the rest are left with public debt, mortgage debt, student debt, and consumer debt. This system makes a mockery of democracy and has led to a decline of morals and ethics. The Gini Index rating for the U.S. (as of 2007) is 45 out of 100, where o means perfect inequality and 100 means perfect equality. Inequality is proof of institutional failure. Additionally, research shows that relatively equal societies are happier and healthier. Inequality brings out immoral actions, with the rich showing off their wealth and the poor becoming easier to manipulate due to desperation.
The Future We Want
Hope should not be lost. We can reduce unemployment by creating green jobs and the Fed can print more money specifically to fund the special projects which will push the money back into the economy. Essentially, we must shift the priority from making money to creating well-being for all. We should look to GDP-alternatives such as the Happy Planet Index and other well-being statistics. We must return to being a more equal society and we must begin to live within our environmental means.
We must choose Rights of Nature over a Green Economy. We must choose Rights of Nature because we cannot survive without nature. Secondly, we must choose human rights over property rights because property is a human creation. Additionally, corporations are property and should be seen as so. They should not be given their own rights over humans, as they do now. We can create the future we want and stop stealing from it!