The winter issue of YES! contains an insightful article written by David Korten that helps the reader understand many of our present challenges, pages 24-27. Titled “The Down-to-Earth Economy,” it includes an informative table with different organizing principles to compare two ways of looking at the economy.
Organizing principles: Wall Street’s perception
Defining value – Money
Performance indicators – Growth in financial returns
Primary dynamic – Competition, self interest
Decision-making power – Global, top-down, centralized, concentrated
Time frame – Immediate return
Local character – Uniform
Resource control – Monopolized
Resource flows – Global, linear, one-time use, from mine to dump
Deficits of concern – Financial
Measure of efficiency – Financial capital
Growth – Infinite increase of money, material consumption
Organizing principles: Nature’s view
Defining value – Life
Performance indicators – Life’s abundance, creative potential
Primary dynamic – Cooperation
Decision-making power – Local, bottom-up, distributed
Time frame – Sustained yield
Local character – Diverse
Resource control – Shared
Resource flows – Local, circular, perpetual use, zero waste
Deficits of concern – Social, environmental
Measure of efficiency – Social and natural capital
Growth – Endless regeneration
Korten is definitely using nature as a valued economic model. We are part of nature and need to utilize the wisdom that has evolved over billions of years. “Competition is but a subtext of life’s deeper narrative of cooperation,” Korten writes. He mentions the economy of the human body in which tens of trillions of living cells work together in a harmonious fashion.
Unfortunately, the gross domestic product (GDP) is one of the primary measures of the quality of our economic performance. It offers promises and not results of a happy and thriving society. It also does not include the quality of life of other folks on the planet.
The author closes by reminding us that the earth is our mother and needs to be honored. Clearly, we children now need to serve the mother for our own welfare.