Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Empire economics vs Eco-economics

David Korten is an author, Vietnam vet, Harvard Business School advisor, international aid expert, and since 1992, campaigner for an sustainable world because like other "economic hitmen", he saw that the system for which he worked was deepening the twin crises of poverty and environmental destruction, both at home and abroad. He says:

"The money-serving Empire prosperity story is repeated endlessly by corporate media and taught in... our colleges and universities almost as sacred writ.
  • Economic growth fills our lives with material abundance, lifts the poor from their misery, and creates the wealth needed to protect the environment.
  • Money is the measure of wealth and the proper arbiter of every choice and relationship.
  • Prosperity depends on freeing wealthy investors from taxes and regulations that limit their incentive and capacity to invest in creating the new jobs that enrich us all.
  • Unregulated markets allocate resources to their most productive and highest value use.
  • The wealthy deserve their riches because we all get richer as the benefits of the investments of those on top trickle down to those on the bottom.
  • Poverty is caused by welfare programs that strip the poor of motivation to become productive members of society willing to work hard at the jobs the market offers.

"Few notice... its legitimation of the power and privilege of for-profit corporations... to make the rich richer. Furthermore, it praises extreme individualism that, in other circumstances would be condemned as sociopathic; values life only as a commodity; and diverts our attention from the basic reality that destroying life to make money is an act of collective insanity. In addition to destroying real wealth, it threatens our very survival as a species.

"The Earth Community prosperity story... looks to life, rather than money, as the true measure of wealth.
  • Healthy children, families, communities, and ecological systems are the true measure of real wealth.
  • Mutual caring and support are the primary currency of healthy families and communities, and community is the key to economic security.
  • Real wealth is created by investing in the human capital of productive people, the social capital of caring relationships, and the natural capital of healthy ecosystems.
  • The end of poverty and the healing of the environment will come from reallocating material resources from rich to poor and from life-destructive to life-nurturing uses.
  • Markets have a vital role, but democratically accountable governments must secure community interests by assuring that everyone plays by basic rules that internalize costs, maintain equity, and favor human-scale local businesses that honor community values and serve community needs.
  • Economies must serve and be accountable to people, not the reverse.
"The human species has reached a defining moment of choice: between moving ahead on a path to collective self-destruction, or joining together in a cooperative effort to navigate a dramatic turn to a new human era."

See Korten's full text, his biography in Wikipedia, a recent interview, his international campaign for People-Centered Development, and video of his 2006 presentation on The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. Also John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2005) and The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption (2006), a video interview, and his Pachamama Alliance. The Corporation film and resources. PBS 2003 series Commanding Heights: the Battle for the World Economy with videos and transcripts, teachers' guide.

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