Part I: The case for a new economy (intro)

David points to the cause of the economic crisis we are undergoing now: the illusionary belief that money is wealth.  It is a mere number created on a balance sheet. Yet we believe it is something with intrinsic value.The major failures of our economic system can be traced back to this misconception of money as wealth. The consequences are dire: destruction of the middle class, nature, and the social fabric.

Money is not a storehouse of value, but of expectations. Wall Street has been allowed to assume control of our economy and we now see the results of that mistake. The author calls Wall Street an illusion factory, that creates phantom wealth unrelated to real wealth. This is known as "counterfeiting, a form of theft".  And the stunning fact is, that it is a legal form of theft, which makes it a perfect crime. When things go wrong, the tax payer has to pay the bill.

Our hope lies with Main Street real-world economy, where people produce and exchange goods and services that meet the real needs of families and communities, and where exists a  "natural interest in maintaining the health and vitality of their natural environment". This is much in line with the vision of Adam Smith, according to David.

A real wealth economy will require a complete "bottom-to-top redesign of our economic assumptions, values, and institutions".

Comment

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Comment by Daniel Noga on March 21, 2012 at 12:49am

It is probably true that the Main Street people will probably need to make sacrifices. Part of the trick will be to find sacrifices that they can make that, at the very least, don't also feed Wall Street. Main Street needs to understand that we won't get from point A to point B without, in fact, initiating changes in our own lives. One example of a worthy sacrifice would be participating in the upcoming May Day general strike. To do so will surely come with consequences, but if sufficient numbers take part, it will also send a strong message and begin to force some changes.

Comment by Michael Simon on March 20, 2012 at 11:39pm
Got it, thanks for the clarification.
Comment by Capt. Anand Kumar on March 20, 2012 at 10:48pm

Thanks Michael.

The problem with change is as someone said, "the more things change, the more they remain the same".

By "main street people" the reference is those of us who have no say in making the decisions that affect how they will live and work. There are no specific geographical locations for those people. They are everywhere.

Comment by Michael Simon on March 20, 2012 at 10:28pm
"You don't stop change; you roll with it." - our 17 year old. What are 'main street people," and what are the names of the "other" people. I like geographic analogies, I'm just trying to see what you are seeing.
Comment by Capt. Anand Kumar on March 20, 2012 at 9:58pm

Thanks Dan. One of the problems is that in order to change things, it is the main street people who will be called upon to make the sacrifices again.

Comment by Daniel Noga on March 20, 2012 at 4:07pm

Though of course there are still sociopaths who are totally incapable of embracing those values even if it is the only thing that will save them.  :S

Comment by Daniel Noga on March 20, 2012 at 4:04pm

 As bad as the current economic situation is, I still can't help but to see it as part of the natural evolution of the economic system. As far as incentives go, we got to where we are now by simply following their lead. One major problem is that the handful of those whose every decision affects the economy on a global scale are not people who just recently struck it rich--we're talking about hulking financial dynasties going back generations, so they were born, raised and socialized into their current roles by families that never knew poverty. They're insulated personally from all of the misery they're causing. It is just not real to them. So they are doing what lies in their best interest. They can't be totally ignorant of the poverty their actions generate, but it is distant to them. The corollary to this is us: People have been talking about these fundamental economic issues for years and years--they have long been aware, but until recently have not actually felt the sting that is now motivating so many to take action. Before, as seriously as they may have taken it on an intellectual level and as real as it was to them, action did not come until a genuine threat became imminent. Now the threats are here that practically nobody can escape from, and people are getting serious in a way we've only dreamed of before. It's ironic, because things have literally been pushed to the point where altruism, compromise and sharing are the values that will pave the way out of this mess, even for those who are still purely self-interested.

Comment by Martin Euser on November 30, 2011 at 3:02pm

Sheer necessity will force us to develop local and regional economies. Peak cheap oil seems to occur right now, or very soon any year now. Community initiatives are being taken for years now: community gardening (vegetables, herbs), Local Exchange Trading Systems, Transition Town Initiatives, Repair shops, local discussion groups and other things as well. I will make a link to the Do-it-yourself handbook for further study. See here.

The sense of belonging to a community is an incentive in itself and resonates deeply in many people. The opportunities outlined above need to be broadcast to as many people as possible.

Comment by Martin Euser on November 30, 2011 at 2:18pm

Well, Michael, things go a bit further than the individual's sake. It has now become a matter of systemic failure, which requires new designs for our economy AND group effort and cooperation to make the best of it, in the current derailed situation. It certainly is a matter of consciousness too.

Comment by Michael Simon on November 30, 2011 at 9:14am
“…so long as I draw breath and have my faculties, I shall never stop practicing philosophy and exhorting you and elucidating the truth for everyone that I meet. I shall go on saying, in my usual way, my very good friend, you… belong to a city which is the greatest and most famous in the world for its wisdom and strength. Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honor, and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul? … For I spend all my time going about trying to persuade you, young and old, to make your first and chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions, but for the highest welfare of your souls, proclaiming as I go, Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the state.” --Plato, Socrate’s defense (apology), Plato: the collected dialogues, pp 15-16, Ed. Hamilton & Cairns, Princeton University press, 1989
Comment by Martin Euser on November 22, 2011 at 5:27am

Yes, it always comes back to values and beliefs we hold. Wall Street financial institutions care for money, not for people. That is called sociopathic behavior. Normal people care for a clean environment, the health of their family, a meaningful job, loving relationships, to mention some values. Most of these things cannot be quantified, and need not be quantified, although some aspects (like impact on environment and health) might need quantification in order to direct companies into the right direction as how they treat their employees and as to damage to the environment. 

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