What if there was a different way to live? What of all the waste, over consumption and reckless consumerism? What if we could change the world if only we were taught things differently?
Economics is a study of the behaviour of people. But it also advocates what the behaviour of people should be. And this aspect is used to dictate policies of countries and has come to represent everything the world as a whole is aiming for; namely GDP.
If the world turns where the economists point, then, theoretically, if economists point in a different direction, the world should follow. There’s a hue and cry being made about the recklessness the current global economy is showing towards the environment. Traditionally this fuss is primarily created by white people in rich countries, the rest of us are too busy trying to figure out policies that will feed our populations. But the whites have a point.
Take the Kick it Over Manifesto for instance: “ Imagine you are riding comfortably on a sleek train. You look out the window and see that the tracks end abruptly not too far ahead..The train will derail if it continues. You suggest the train stop immediately and the passengers go forward on foot. This will require a major shift in everyone’s way of travelling, of course, but you see it as the only realistic option. To continue barrelling forward is to court catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this course of action, others-who have grown comfortable riding on the train-say, We like the train, and arguing that we should get off is not realistic.
These guys think that the world is being deluded by its own stupidity. And that economics students must revolt against their professors to fight what they call the “Thought Control in Economics.” This is essentially the continued teachings of neoclassical principles to students whereas those very principles are now being proven to be bad for the world.
Concepts like consumerism are essential for GDP. And in the haste to increase GDP, we don’t give two hoots for the “ecology.” Another idea is the idea of true cost, that is assigning the true cost of producing something; including the costs incurred to the environment in production, transport, overheads etcetera. Interesting concept, but practically iffy.
I think the fundamental question to ask is whether the world is greedy by nature and is economics simply giving a face to that greed by setting greedy goals? Or is it actually economic teaching that has made the current system so greedy?
If a change in economic attitude must come, from where must it come? Who should initiate it? The professors? Politicians? Maybe like Friedman said, true change will only come with a crisis. This is something that everyone needs to get with, for it to work.
So if you believe in changing the system go to http://kickitover.org and sign the manifesto. Can’t say it’ll do any good, but you might feel cooler because the site looks very nouveau hip, if that’s your thing.
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