Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded–but virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top. In reality, it is precisely the other way around. This is one of the biggest taboos of our times– the truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state.
Charles Eisenstein writes: We need a parallel system of technology development that can guide society as conventional systems unravel and conventional technologies fail to adequately address our problems. Imagine a worldwide archipelago of land-based institutions of learning, sanctuaries of alternative technologies of earth, mind, matter, and body that are marginal or absent within conventional universities.
The services provided by Nature mostly bypasses markets, escapes pricing and defies valuation. Consider this. A 50-year-old tree provides services like oxygen, water recycling, soil conservation and pollution control worth Rs 23 lakh. Cutting and selling it fetches only Rs 50,000. Yet due to ignorance olf its ecological services, felling a tree seems more profitable.
The worldview that informs contemporary global culture was conceived during the European ‘Enlightenment’ of the 17th century. Its shortcomings have become increasingly evident today, and they are beginning to be seen as the root cause of the many seemingly intractable global problems that confront us today. This essay presents an overview of an alternative worldview.
Ariana López Peña writes: Costa Rica was the most environmentally advanced and happiest place on earth last year, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Vanuatu, according to the Happy Planet Index, which measures life expectancy, well-being, environmental footprint and inequality to calculate nations’ success– all areas where Costa Rica’s government has made significant effort and investment.
Modernity’s dominant narrative of material progress– which represents an industrial model of development–gives priority to economic growth and a rising standard of living. It is being increasingly challenged by the alternative narrative of sustainability, which seeks to balance social, environmental and economic priorities and goals to achieve a high, equitable and lasting quality of life.
Enlightenment thinking is coming to an end… But our civilization still operates as if reality is about organising inert, dead matter in efficient ways. It is impossible to achieve sustainability with our prevailing ‘operating system’ for economics, politics, and culture if the underlying ‘bios’—our unconscious assumption about reality—remains tied to an ideology of dead matter.
Western liberal democracies dominate the top rankings of progress indices. But are they the best models of development when their standard of living is unsustainable and their quality of life is, arguably, declining? Only when environmental impacts are given significant weight, as in the Happy Planet and Sustainable Society indexes, does this ranking change substantially.
Gandhi and Kumarappa shared an objective of building a non-violent social and economic order that promoted equity and justice for all. Their understanding led them to conclude that “the only path to true democracy in political life, and to peace among nations” was a decentralised economic and political system where, necessarily, the “rewards were moderate”.
What lies ahead for the economy this year? Will there be a global economic collapse as predicted by many or will the early positive signs in stock markets around the world continue? While focused on the U.S., this compilation by Daisy Luther of forecasts by 12 leading experts has implications for the entire global economy.
Steve Keen, Professor of Economics at Kingston University London, is a long time critic of conventional economic thought, and is also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. In this interview with Steven Sackur on BBC HardTalk, he tackles the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally.
Colin Todhunter writes: Data from the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index indicates that 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries, but now it has the second worst position. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.
Development is more than an ideology; it is an ideology in service to an economic necessity which, in turn, is not a real necessity but contingent on a growth dependent debt-based financial system. Until that system changes, the pressure to develop— to convert natural resources into commodities and social relationships into services— will not abate.
Gana Kedlaya writes: “With India trying to accelerate economic growth and relax forest laws, there is immense pressure to divert forests to non-forests uses. There is a pressing need to undertake an economic valuation of ecosystem services, especially intangible benefits, provided by Indian forests.” professor K.N. Ninan, author of a study on valuing ecosystem services.
From TheWire.in: Ecological economist, Gandhian thinker and author Mark Lindley has some stark warnings for the future of hi-tech societies, and a few ‘prescriptions’ for India and for economists, who he says vastly underestimate the gravity of the looming environmental crises. Ecologise and Graama Seva Sangha recently organised a lecture series by Lindley in Bangalore.
A new book, The Great Invention by Ehsan Masood, unveils the genesis of the Gross Domestic Product and how it shaped the modern economic paradigm. It comes at a time when a growing number of people are questioning this flawed metric. Down to Earth magazine presents exclusive excerpts from the book, followed by a debate.
The renowned American ecological economist, Gandhian thinker and author Prof. Mark Lindley will be delivering a series of lectures in Bangalore, starting from 25th. Academic institutions hosting him in the city include IISc, NIAS, Azim Premji University, ATREE and Gandhi Bhavan. The lecture tour is being organised by the Ecologise network and Graama Seva Sangha.
Dr. Manmohan Singh was a World Bank employee before he became finance minister and later prime minister. As PM, he nominated Montek Ahluwalia from the IMF as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. The present RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan, was Chief Economist in IMF. This is how the neoliberal agenda has been imposed on India.
Aniket Motale writes: Many new age economists have realised the limitations of GDP as a measure of development, including a few Nobel Laureates like Joseph Stiglitz. US politician Robert F. Kennedy once criticised GDP saying, “It measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile “. Let’s take a closer look at the arguments against GDP.
George Monbiot writes: So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom recognise it as an ideology. We accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.