Tuesday, 11 October 2011

No one wants a Great Depression - but what do we want instead?

Interesting juxtaposition on the Letters page of today’s Grauniad. In the ‘Response’ column, Baroness Jenny Tonge writes, in the course of an article on family planning, “Yes, of course, the developed world should reduce its consumption…”; while, above, sundry letters debate whether QE2 will or will not forge a return to economic growth, and what catastrophes await us as this ‘worst ever economic crisis’ unfolds around us.

On the one hand, the casual “Yes of course”: the planet is finite, its resources are finite, the distribution of those finite resources is profoundly unjust, yes of course the developed world needs to reduce its consumption otherwise we’re… stuffed.

On the other, ohmigod, the Euro and the banks and the Great Depression and cuts and GDP and inflation, bloody hell will someone please just sort this out?

And then, on the previous page,
Monbiot quoting Steve Keen explaining that it’s all caused by excessive debt and we need, really, to rethink the whole ball game at a much deeper level, with the help of folk such as Daly and Jackson.

Yup. We wasted what appeared to be the first crisis: and we’ll probably waste this one, too; but the model is collapsing around us and the crises will lurch from one trough to another for the next few years and at some point we are going to have to say: Enough. We need to have a really good think about
what an economy is for; what do we really want it to do, and not do, for us? And, having answered that, then we need to design a new one. Not some sticking-plastered capitalism, but something purpose-built for the 21st century, something grown up, not something adolescent.

Opening gambit: if the economy we have at present was a person presenting at a GP, what would the GP say?

Gambit #2: if the economy had the following character traits, would we admire it? Zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity…