September 23, 2019
by Hazel Henderson©, author of
“Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age: From Economism to Earth Systems Science (2014)
As so many of us watch our representatives meeting at the United Nations (UN) this week, many of us, particularly in the USA, yearn to restore norms of behavior we learned as children from caring parents and teachers: the simple guidelines of the GOLDEN RULE: treat and respect each other as we wish to be treated.
This GOLDEN RULE is also at the core of most of the world’s great religious and spiritual traditions. Yet in the rush to industrialize and grow as economics textbooks taught, by growing according to the money-based GDP and all its market statistics about maximizing “efficiency” of production, this omitted all the dis-economies, dis-services and dis-amenities to those in the rural, unpaid and voluntary service “Love Economies“, while ignoring the fundamental life-supporting services of Nature.
Economists ruled the world with their pretensions to scientific exactitude, even lobbying the Nobel committee to set up the phony Bank of Sweden Prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel, now rejected by his descendants in today’s Nobel family.
Yet the view of economic textbooks was wrong: equating human nature as fundamentally selfish, competitive and individualistic, with all loving, voluntary unpaid activities in the other half of these caring sectors all societies was designated as un-economic and ignored, while declaring that the world was dominated by scarcity, which drove people to anxiety, fear, competition and conflict. In other words, the GDP, economic growth model is based on the 7 Deadly Sins; greed, selfishness, hoarding resources, pride, envy, competition dishonesty and conflict! Yes, humans have these temptations and traits, but the glass is also half full of kindness, caring, respect for others and Nature and all we were taught as good behavior, as in the Golden Rule!
The economists are wrong in believing we inhabit a fundamentally scarce world. We actually live it a world of abundance! Our planet Earth receives a daily shower of free photons from our Mother star, the Sun, which we are now learning from plants, how to harvest successfully in solar panels, wind generators, and the life-supporting technology of photosynthesis which plants invented to turn those free photons into carbohydrates — providing humanity with our foods, fiber, wood and all the materials we need to live well and sustainably. When as creative caring individuals we also practice collaboration, sharing information, volunteering and focusing on our communities and the common good and the future of our children, we assure an abundant future for all in healthy soils for plants and trees and a life-giving biosphere.
So, let’s incentivize our best behaviors and dismiss the economic advisors from our decision-making! Most economic models and incentives still reflect the 7 Deadly Sins of GDP-growth now revealed as malfunctioning source-code that crept onto the hard drives of our societies’ operating systems and now must be de-bugged, replacing GDP growth with the more systemic view of human development expressed in the SDGs!
Let’s release ourselves from the dominance of money and the price system which holds back our global SDG model and the global green transition beyond fossilized industrialized production, since market prices are always history and a reflection of human ignorance and our financial markets have become global casinos. Steering by GDP and economists’ statistics is like flying over a country at 60,000 feet, with little idea of what is actually happening on the ground in what they call “flyover country“!
Whenever creative new social and collective actions are proposed to clean up our environment and include everyone in our common future implementing the SDGs, always challenge any economist or politician who asks, “Where’s the money coming from?” This is a false model, or they are simple ignorant! Money is just one form of information we create in various currencies including cryptos, which are actually information-based social protocols resting on various electronic and social platforms and traded on forex exchanges, whose prices rise and fall based on network effects of how many people trust and use them.
This is the 21st century Information Age and we all live in “Mediocracies and their Attention Economies”, while we are learning the politics of money-creation. We can create our own local currencies and learn how central banks operate and how our money is printed and credit allocated to control peoples’ incentives and behavior!
Data is not only the new “oil” but actually the rocket fuel driving our societies, feeding our computers, training them and our algorithms with human personal information (bias in-bias out is the new watchword!). We need new rules embodying the Golden Rule for our social media, which can no longer be allowed to be driven by money, greed and the 7 Deadly Sins! When we awake to these new realities, we have all the technological tools and can honor our social skills which created the SDGs guide to a sustainable, equitable and knowledge-richer common future for all. I discovered all this as an environmental and social activist and wrote about it in 1978 in “Creating Alternative Futures: The End of Economics“, an underground best-seller of that time and now a free download at www.ethicalmarkets.com, with all our other research in our Green Transition Scoreboard ® reports and TV series “Transforming Finance”. Let’s all choose to evolve toward the SDGs and the emerging Solar Age.