It’s unbelievable. We are facing a serious global crisis (global fiat money system collapsing, resource and energy shortages,..) and all our countries’ leaders care about is to get us back to the self-destructive high-consumption mode that is actually causing all our biggest problems at the first place!
Did anyone hear about any mainstream politicians or economists looking into – or put resources into studying economic alternatives? The closest call would probably be presidential candidate Ron Paul’s tireless and brilliant efforts to propose a return to a free market and true democracy. Corporate media of course hate him, ridicule him and ignore him and chose their candidate for us – as usual. Even fewer people may be aware of other solutions like the ones proposed by the Venus project or znets founder Michael Albert’s participatory economics (PARECON).
Given the urgency and massive global impact of the current flawed system, one would think alternatives to the failing and dying debt based economic system would be in the headlines and discussed in schools, universities and at dinner-tables – daily.
Instead we only see our leaders working on getting us back on track to “our” worshiped perpetual economic growth. Growth based on never-ending wasting of resources leads to pollution, over-production and over-consumption. It seems as if our elected “governors” treat us as if we were brainless kettle that would find no other purpose in life but to consume more every year and spend much of our life producing those things we don’t want or have enough of.
Here is the unlikely fictitious but descriptive conversation about the economy between a busy high earning businessman BB and a brave free thinking recently fired software engineer SE:
BB: How can we increase production and consumption (i.e. consumerism) and return to a growing i.e. producing and consuming “healthy” economy?
SE: Why should we? Low consumption and slow or non growing economy can be a good thing. Who really thinks that high consumption is desirable? Maybe the 1 percent of the population that own the companies selling us those products?
BB: Ok. Say we try to be happy with low or constant consumption – what do we do with the not needed workers?
SE: Simple. Instead of sacking people, we could cut working hours (and burn-out syndromes), the retirement age.. If necessary why not offer part-time jobs or longer holidays?
BB: OK – but then everyone earns less and many can hardly make enough working full-time already.
How could an economy work with shorter working hours, reduced income and reduced consumption?
SE: Now, this ought to be the problem the human species needs to think about. Instead, our leaders are only looking for ways to keep consumption and working hours up and unwanted companies alive which seems a certain path to global disaster.
I agree with SE above. I also believe the first step towards affordable reduced working hours is pretty obvious. Many people could afford working less if they used their money for what they really need or genuinely aim to have. At the moment humans consume as much as corporations can make them to.
To get out of the destructive high consumption cycle we will need a law to gradually cut commercial advertising and any form of marketing as much as practically possible.
Marketing, in particular the creation of artificial needs, consumerism and fears, may well be the main reason tor the enormous social, economic and environmental, energy and resource problems we keep battling. A law to cut marketing could allow the media to shift their priorities from selling us things we don’t need or can’t effort towards giving us ideas how to live within our means. True practical education and slower lifestyles would be re-discovered, valued and desirable.
We have become accustomed to believe it is normal (because everyone does it) to serve a growing economy and corporate profits. That’s why, today it sounds bizarre for any human to even think of a societal system that’s putting its species at the top of all priorities.
Even with reduced marketing we may still have some unemployed people i.e. oversupply of labor until more detailed improvements take place. However, would these people be worse off than the 10-30 or more percent we are facing with the current global unsustainable growth system?
Constantly reduced marketing, followed by gradually reduced working hours would also cut much of the enormous waste of human talent and the many stress related health and social issues we see exploding today. It could simplify and heal our highly complex fast living decaying society.
Over time a global transition from dominance of international corporations to companies, then co-operatives, then non-profit organizations and eventually voluntary work or a money-less society (e.g. Venus-Project) could become thinkable. I find such an utopian scenario more “thinkable” than trying to patch a system that will always be driven by greed/profit and growth and eventually – almost per definition – self destroy itself possibly including its supporters, servants and many irreplaceable resources.
Only by changing our system to one that allows us to put priority back on improving the lives of people, we could find a truly advanced way of living where everyone will be better off than most people are today.
Amazingly, our leaders and most talented brains, from politicians and CEOs to the scientists at commercial “think tanks”, focus their energies on getting us back to consuming, spending and working more! – not less.
Anyone up for a little law that gradually eliminates both commercial and political advertising?
It will not happen as long as governments continue to serve companies before people (corporatism).
Maybe a smaller more specific advertising law like this one would be a thinkable beginning: a law banning the commercial and private donations for election campaigns?
Strange things humans do.