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Nature’s view of economy vs. Wall Street’s

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

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.

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