Open Future NZ "Be the change you want to see in the World"

A better set of economic principles. by John S Veitch

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He who pays the piper calls the tune. Economists explained to the king why he was their king and how his wealth was his just reward for his virtuous ways. Economists have served the world very badly, but their government and business masters well.  Building an "Open Future©" requires new economic principles.  

In the modern world economists give academic credibility to the self perpetuating alliance between governments and business interests. You can recognize this alliance by agreement with the statement that "only business creates wealth". The biggest disservice of economists is the failure to find a way to measure an improved economic position. Growing the External LinkGross Domestic Product, dodges the issue. GDP simply measures what the government might be able to tax. It does not distinguish between desirable and undesirable monetary transactions. But worse, it doesn't account for the loss of resources or real capital in the process, nor does it count the losses caused by pollution. The cost of cleaning up the pollution, is usually avoided by business and is inflicted on the environment. The worship of Growing GDP is following a false God.

Economists have been slow to understand that the economy is a subset of the natural environment. For most of my life politicians have told me that we can't afford a clean environment because we need to grow the economy first. That's economic nonsense.

Economists have refused to support the redistribution of income inside and economy, claiming that who does or does not get rich isn't an economic problem. Yet when they are asked to solve problems like resource shortages, they always suggest market principles. Market demand can only come from people who have cash. External LinkAttempts to sell the water supply to private interests in Bolivia shattered on the rock of local poverty, and the political/economic failure to provide basic incomes for the poor. According to economists, politicians are supposed to take on the responsibility of deciding how much redistribution of income should occur. Of course in the real world External Linkthe politician is himself part of the wealthy elite, or is the tool of the wealthy elite. The law in almost every country is written to protect wealth and property. The necessary task of income redistribution is ignored, labeled socialist, and vigorously opposed. Social justice is an economic issue too.

The economic debate is commonly framed as the most critical debate in the community. Governments see the goal of economic growth as an imperative. But the debate is often very narrow, it's about reducing taxes and removing government regulation, or about offering the business community export incentives or innovation grants. Effectively it's no debate at all, and far too often a feeding trough at the public expense.

Economic growth is a faulty goal in all the rich countries of the world. Even modest growth of 2% a year DOUBLES the resources the economy uses in only 35 years, four times as much in one person's lifetime. We do understand, I hope, that this is an impossible target. For most of history real growth has been close to zero, and that's finally where we will end up again.

Personal relationships, one's own fitness and health, happiness and a stable family life, are all more important than growing the GDP. If you sacrifice those things in order to be rich, no amount of money will buy them back for you. LocalfileA clear case of priorities in the wrong place. We need to give ourselves permission to choose a life enhancing lifestyle first, and to find within that ways and means to earn a living.

External LinkA continually expanding GDP is impossible to maintain. The attempt to do so will destroy of environment, the quality of life and the economy too. We've seen what over-fishing does to the oceans. We've seen how powerless we are to STOP people fishing by applying regulations too late and too reluctantly. The whole economy is on that same self destructive pathway. We are losing the planet. To save it we first we have to understand the problem. It is US.