What’s Wrong With Our Economy?
It’s not what you think. It’s not that it doesn’t produce enough growth. It’s that it is systemically flawed. In no particular order here are some of the ways it fails. For a century it has drawn people off the land, turning on its head the stable pyramid of food producers to food dependent people living in the cities, replacing farming with giant agribusinesses that do not care about the long term health of the land. It has gutted our once stable rural communities. It confuses wealth with well-being and well-being with money, reducing all values to cash value. It requires endless economic growth at the expense of the planet. It requires indebtedness and an ever increasing inequality. It has no sense of how much is enough. It allows for phantom wealth for a few who get rich by speculating on money without producing anything useful. It requires that most people must trade their time and labor to someone else, creating goods that they will not own and robbing them of self-reliance. It funnels the benefits to a few and externalizes the costs to the many. It favors giant, multi-national corporations that erode national sovereignty while putting main street businesses out of business. It swiftly depletes finite resources. It creates instability by hunting for the lowest labor costs of the moment, gutting one city or nation for temporarily locating in another where labor costs can be driven down even farther, and then after a little while it moves on yet again leaving abandoned factories, pollution, and unemployed people. It allows a few through stupid or malicious decisions to throw the whole system into chaos, putting millions out of work. It has abandoned our central cities, leaving unemployment, poverty and crime in its place. It has intensified our lives, speeding us up so we are always on the go in quest of money but in fact working more for less. It replaces people with robots. It results in a race to the bottom for income and destroys laws that protect labor and the environment. It allows for a concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority, corrupting democracy. It results in huge inefficiencies of energy wasting it on moving materials and goods all over the globe. It pits us against each other as individuals, cities and nations through a system of ruthless competition. It actually creates scarcity. It creates needless poverty throughout the world.
Who would want such an economy? Answer—the tiny minority of very, very rich and the politicians they feed. Why do we put up with it? Is it that we are trapped in it? Is it that we are overwhelmed with propaganda that tells us we are losers if we don’t buy all the flimflam it produces? It is that we are blinded by the bread and circuses of professional and college sports? Is it that we are diverted by a myth of national exceptionalism and trumped up threats of war? Is it that we don’t know and are prevented from knowing an alternative? Is it all of the above?