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Those of you Kossacks who might have had occasion to read any of my comments over the last year know that I frequently speak of the need for a new economic paradigm.  The release of the latest IPCC report and the news of the certain collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet make that need all the more pressing.  Human civilization has now reached a crisis point where the choices we make in the very near future will irrevocably determine the fate of countless generations of all forms of life on this planet, including our own descendants.

An unsettling number of observers and analysts have looked at our situation and become convinced that collapse is now unavoidable; they see absolutely no likelihood for the type of system-wide transformation that is needed at this point.  I can’t say that I blame them, frankly.  Things really do look pretty bleak and hopeless.

I cannot and will not share that sentiment, however; I am by nature an optimistic person and believe that a fundamental shift in society’s trajectory is still possible.  

I recently submitted an abstract for a paper I am writing on this subject to the journal ephemera, which was accepted for inclusion in an upcoming special issue on Organizing for the Post-Growth Economy.  This and my next four diaries are an adapted version of the presentation I was invited to give at last week’s related Post-Growth Conference at the Copenhagen Business School but which I was unable to attend.  And so, I shall present my thoughts on this subject to you, my fellow Kossacks.  I hope you enjoy them.  Below the fold, then, shall we?

Next month, Andrew Haldane, an outspoken central banker that Time Magazine named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, will become the Chief Economist of the Bank of England.  He will be taking the helm of the 320-year-old institution at a time of socioeconomic instability and uncertainty unparalleled in human history.  He summed up the magnitude of the situation as it relates to the discipline of economics in a recent letter that has received significant notice up and down the corridors of the powers that be:

In the light of the financial crisis, those [macro and micro model] foundations no longer look so secure. Unbridled competition, in the financial sector and elsewhere, was shown not to have served wider society well. Greed, taken to excess, was found to have been bad. The Invisible Hand could, if pushed too far, prove malign and malevolent, contributing to the biggest loss of global incomes and output since the 1930s. The pursuit of self-interest, by individual firms and by individuals within these firms, has left society poorer.
The crisis has also laid bare the latent inadequacies of economic models with unique stationary equilibria and rational expectations. These models have failed to make sense of the sorts of extreme macro-economic events, such as crises, recessions and depressions, which matter most to society. The expectations of agents, when push came to shove, proved to be anything but rational, instead driven by the fear of the herd or the unknown.

...we are a co-operative species every bit as much as a competitive one. This is hardly a surprising conclusion for sociologists and anthropologists. But for economists it turns the world on its head.
In this light, it is time to rethink some of the basic building blocks of economics.
These extraordinary remarks dropped a bombshell on the economics profession.  They are an admission that the “neoclassical” economic paradigm that has defined and described the world economy for the last century is fundamentally flawed.  They signaled to the global economic policymakers that their world is about to drastically change.  An economic paradigm shift is about to happen; the neoclassical framework is imploding on itself.

The problem is, they have nothing to replace it with.

Mr. Haldane is only the most recent (if the most prominent) analyst to have come to this radical conclusion.  Over the last year or so a growing chorus of voices has been sounding the alarm, and the arrival of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has vindicated those voices and put the final nail in the neoclassical coffin.  And although Piketty has offered little in the way of proposing the practical steps that need to be taken, he has at the very least identified just how far-reaching and comprehensive the task before us now is.  As Peter Radford at the New World Economic Review put it recently,

He has reintroduced history. He has explicitly reintroduced political economy. He has delved deeper into the foundations of capitalism and produced a fact that needs a response. It needs a new theory. He has not produced that theory, he has simply pointed out the natural asymmetries within capitalism.

Further, he has done in much of Marx. For all the same reasons.

Both left and right now need to reformulate their thinking.
This starts at the bottom, because … the top isn’t listening.

An unprecedented opportunity has opened up that beckons to us to seize.  We have now, for the first time in over a century, a chance to rebuild economics from the ground up.  We can reach across the political spectrum and discuss shared goals and values, define new measures of wealth and capital, declare the best pathways forward, and demand of our national leaders that they change the rules of the game so that everyone benefits instead of just a few.  The economy, and the planet it is a subset of, are in too dire a need of fundamental healing transformation for this undertaking to be left to the professionals. The time has come for all of us to become economists.

But we need a new conceptual framework - - a new economic paradigm - - to do this.  

This paradigm does not yet exist; it must be built.  How might we do this?  It makes sense to inspect the collapsed pile of old paradigm building blocks lying at our feet to see if we could reuse some of them at our new building site next door.  In some cases we might be able to.  In other cases not - - for some problems we are going to have to quarry new rock and shape it with our own hammers and chisels to make what we need.  Because the situation we are facing is not a list of problems with identifiable solutions we can implement.  That time has passed.  We are now in an era of multiple interconnected dilemmas that have no solutions.  At best our current predicaments will only be able to be managed for the rest of our foreseeable future.

But let’s leave aside that rather discouraging reality for a moment and talk about paradigms.    

The word paradigm can take on any number of meanings in its usage, ranging from popular articles on golf and pastries to deep philosophical essays of this sort (quite the read!).  Being an avid student of science I tend to the standard Kuhnian definition, especially as it unfolded in the history of quantum and relativity theories.  From that perspective I like to think about paradigms as being able to provide the following three things:

Understanding:  first and foremost, a new paradigm provides new insights to existing problems that the current paradigm does not or cannot provide;

Vision:  next, a new paradigm provides new investigative approaches that lead in novel directions inconceivable within the existing paradigm;

Action:  lastly, a new paradigm must be able to utilize existing investigatory tools and techniques in order to test and apply its usefulness.

A fourth characteristic might be, and for lack of a better descriptor, Communicability.  A new paradigm must be capable of being expressed in a way that is readily comprehensible.  This may or may not include the introduction of new terminologies and vocabularies, and in some cases visualizations (for example, in Feynman Diagrams).  Ideally, the most effective new paradigms can be reduced to very simple concepts that can be understood by the general public, Einstein’s famous E = mc2 equation being the most recognizable example.  This is especially helpful if we desire it to gain widespread and rapid acceptance.

Now, to use the example from quantum theory, what was happening to those physicists a century ago was that recently-developed scientific instruments were generating data that they could not make sense of.  The existing conception of physical reality was that matter consisted of ever-smaller point particles and light/energy acted in a continuous wave-like fashion; their new observations of wave-particle duality threw that millennia-old idea right out the window.  Then physicists started looking at the data from a completely different mindset using new concepts and terminologies.  Over a brief period of time, as a result of this collective effort, the new quantum theory of matter and energy emerged and totally subsumed the old atomistic model.

Today in economics we are in a very similar, yet very different set of circumstances.  Economics has increasingly become a very narrow-minded discipline that has lost most of its explanatory power.  The century-old model that assumes economic agents act rationally in markets that eventually reach equilibrium no longer works.  This is exacerbated by the reality of global resource constraints and the biosphere’s inability to assimilate the material loading we are placing upon it.  The economy is not behaving the way it is supposed to according to the existing economic paradigm.  So it must be replaced with a new one.

So where to begin?  As with physics, with observations, of course.  Easily enough done.  We see evidence all around us of what works and what doesn’t.  However, economics is not a science like physics is, in spite of the dense equations one encounters in any econometrics textbook.  Not only is it a fuzzy discipline because it involves human behavior, it is inherently normative - - economics at its core is a moral practice.  Most economists would like to deny that fact, and fortunately a few of them are beginning to acknowledge it.  We can’t and shouldn’t wait for them all to come around to that realization, however.  We haven’t the time.

To begin this undertaking, then, what follows is my own “laundry list” of observations:  what I think a new paradigm should include and address; what I think it should proscribe and prescribe.  There is a lot of overlap and intersectionality in the items below, and unabashed moral judgments.  I also might have missed some obvious ones.  Please add your own as you feel moved.  Here we go:

Limits to Growth:  It should go without saying that our growth-focused industrial civilization fueled by non-renewable material and energy resources exists on a finite planet - - but for the most part it unfortunately does. For nearly every single one of our politicians, policymakers, and media pundits, the inevitable certainty that we have now reached the Limits to Growth predicted four decades ago is the 1600-pound bull elephant in the room that cannot be discussed.  Within academia, the discipline of Environmental Economics has addressed limits better than any other field. However, all too often Environmental Economists work within the existing neoclassical paradigm and introduce limits as a set of new constraints or variables attached to existing mainstream models.  This must change; the planetary limits on all our resources must be incorporated into every fabric of the new paradigm we seek to weave.

New Economy Initiatives
:  As I and others have diaried about previously, there is an ongoing explosion of economic initiatives that are based on cooperative principles.  Worker’s cooperatives, time banks, maker’s spaces, transition towns, complementary currencies, and all manner of hybrid organizations such as this one, are not amenable to analysis and policy formulation using an economic paradigm that views competition as the primary human economic drive.  Our new economic paradigm must view competitive forces as only one social dynamic among many that humans occasionally partake in when circumstances allow.

Inter-temporal Needs:  One of the unique characteristics of our species is that we (supposedly) possess sapience: the ability to do long-term strategic planning and implement those plans. We are able to do this fairly well when we have adequate material resources, and the more resources we have the further into the future we can act.  With those resources in decline, it is becoming more difficult for the average person to care about the needs of our descendants beyond those that they can see and touch right now.  And unfortunately, this is happening at precisely the time when the need to apply our sapience has never been more urgent.  The current economic paradigm attempts to address this issue through what is called a future discount rate. However, inasmuch as this approach is treated as a mere additional variable in an equation in a fundamentally flawed model, it is not working and most probably will not accomplish its objectives within the existing system.  Our new economic paradigm must treat the needs of future generations in a much more explicit and implicit manner.

Definitions of Wealth and Capital:  It’s been recognized for many years that GDP is a lousy metric for measuring wealth and productivity.  In the last few years alternatives to GDP have been developed, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), a beta version of which is being tested in Maryland.  Another alternative way of measuring wealth, and more for accounting and auditing purposes, is the Global Reporting Initiative.  It is time for these tools to be implemented full-force on a wide basis across all sectors of the economy.  This will be more readily accomplished within the conceptual and analytical framework of our new economic paradigm, which will at its inception contain these types of qualitative and quantitative measures as an essential building block.  It could also likely prove to be essential for the transformation of our financial sectors in particular, as the transition to an economy based on steady-state operating principles is going to especially unsettling for them.  

Inequality:  Thomas Piketty’s groundbreaking work has empirically confirmed what Progressives have instinctively known for a very long time.  That the one solution he has proposed is a simplistic and unrealistic global wealth tax is testament to the inability to find effective solutions to this ongoing problem within neoclassical economics.  The question thus before us now is how to act on that realization within the framework of our new economic paradigm.  

Organizational Transformation:  Although the New Economy Initiatives noted above are a not insignificant and growing part of the economy, overall they are still a pretty minor part of it.  If the analysts I cited in my first link in this diary are correct, their growth is unlikely to occur fast enough to ensure that sufficiently resilient socioeconomic structures are in place when serious power-down begins.  Thus, it would be very helpful if our new economic paradigm provided us with the theoretical and practical means to accomplish a rapid transition of existing competitive-oriented production structures to forms based more on cooperative principles.  Such a project may not be as hard to envision as it might seem on first consideration.  As Julie Nelson eloquently and very accessibly describes in her work, socioeconomic institutions are products of the human imagination; the rules by which they operate can be changed very quickly.  The strength in proposing such a bold undertaking is that at the heart of every organization are ordinary people who (the occasional sociopath aside) mostly have a set of shared values that are common to all humans.  A new economic paradigm, if it utilizes a new conceptual vocabulary unassociated with the polarizing ideological economic discourse so widespread today, might be able to use framing techniques to facilitate the rapid and widespread organizational transformation that is very likely going to be needed in the coming years.

Consumption Ethic:  In my opinion this is going to be the most challenging and problematic issue to deal with.  While a portion of the general population “gets it”, by and large the Western industrialized world is wedded to consuming stuff.  It is embedded in and essential to the healthy functioning of the current economic system and enabled by a long cultural history of the desirability of owning an ever-increasing number of material possessions.  Such a mindset is obviously not congruent with a steady-state economy on a finite planet.  This situation is only going to get more complicated in the near future when an additional two billion people in the still-developing world join the global on-line community and are presented that level of expectations as an attainable goal.  Our new paradigm must be prepared to deal with this from the very beginning.

Sustainability:  Ahh, sustainability.  What to say about this that others have already said much more eloquently than I am capable of?  From Lisa Fernandes’ insightful essay, “Sustainability Sucks” to Wayne Visser’s apt observation that sustainability “is about as exciting as watching lettuce wilt under the midday sun”, it is clear that sustainability as a useful term has lost any recognizable meaning; it is time to delineate and clearly define the concept and its goals and vision, and that must be one of the top jobs for any successful new economic paradigm.  I think Joe Confino put it best when he recently observed,

The greatest risk to the sustainability movement is that it is struggling and so far failing to articulate a vision of a future that is both prosperous while remaining within planetary boundaries.

Until it is able to showcase a plausible paradigm shift, then no-one is going to feel safe letting go of the current system that is driving us towards the edge of an environmental and social abyss.
So what can we do about this? What I am hearing from numerous experts is that we need to find a new narrative that creates a sense of confidence to take more radical steps.

I agree that this should be one of our primary immediate tasks in this undertaking.  We must find this new narrative and articulate this prosperous vision, and this will only be possible within the conceptual framework of a new economic paradigm.  We must heed the earlier advice of Mr. Haldane and Mr. Radford and construct this new paradigm with new building blocks, from the bottom up.

In my next diary we’ll head over to the building site, and without the laundry list for the time being.  And you won’t have to bring your hammers and chisels just yet, either, you can leave those back at the house, too.  But do bring your rakes and shovels, though; we’ve got some rubble to sift through and some digging to do first.  Please join us!

~ vasudhaiva kutumbakam ~


Originally posted to lehman scott on Thu May 15, 2014 at 06:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Chat, DK GreenRoots, Postcapitalism, Changing the Scrip, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent. (19+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    This paradigm shift that you've articulated so everything. It's get this right or perish.

    •  Thank you, OPOL. And I couldn't agree more. (14+ / 0-)

      I keep assuring the millenials I'm working with on these various local new economy initiatives that this is going to be my one last shot at attempting system change, which they all for the most part have written off any hope for.  If I fail in this effort I will be devoting 100% of the rest of my life to local initiatives only.  This is it for me.  Thank you for your comment!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Thu May 15, 2014 at 07:22:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's a key part of a survivable paradigm that's (2+ / 0-)

      been on tap for millennia: " Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you." It's almost universal as a moral prescription. And speaking of prescriptions, you might gain by reading "Debt: The First 5000 Years." Speaking of the importance, actually dominance, of the stuff that's looked at by acolytes of the squishier disciplines. I have to wish good luck to anyone starting with the premise that that undefined term "we" are going to do anything that will change all the infinite behaviors and modes of interaction of I guess " them." But those of us who love our grandchildren are I guess doomed,obligated, to take a stab at it.

      The kleptocrats will give up their rents and gains and privilege when those are pried from their cold, dead hands... On my very humble estimation, at least...

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:25:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great comment, jm214, thanks! Yes, Graeber's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        One Pissed Off Liberal

        book has been on my reading list since it came out.  It is a must-read and one of these days I'm going to get to it.  So many books, so little time!

        Your prescription intuited well where we need to be heading.  I firmly believe it is that or we all perish.

        But those of us who love our grandchildren are I guess doomed,obligated, to take a stab at it.
        I have neither biological children nor grandchildren, but yet i still feel that obligation somehow, too.  I think maybe it's hardwired into our genes or something.  So I am likewise doomed to be Mr. Stabby McStabstab, too, I guess.  :)
        The kleptocrats will give up their rents and gains and privilege when those are pried from their cold, dead hands... On my very humble estimation, at least...
        Let's hope it doesn't literally come to that.  But the kleptocrats are definitely going to be left in the dust behind us if they choose not to keep up with where we're heading.

        Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

        by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 08:41:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  When you say get it right there is a critical path (3+ / 0-)

      When we don't have a lot of time to waste, a critical path analysis works backward from the desired end result to determine what has to happen to get there.

      For me as an architect my first project would be to save our cities which are most immediately threatened by rising sea levels. I allow most large projects require about 25 years to design, basically just to map out the route.

      My deadline is 2035 which already puts me behind schedule. That's when I expect to see more than 100 East coast cities with populations over 100,000 in a serious enough predicament that the flooding can't be stopped with sea walls, levees, or anything else.

      Our cities will begin by losing their ports and airports which will be closely followed by underground utilities, water and sewer treatment, communications, power, transportation, subways, railroads, highways, tunnels, bridges.

      After that we start to lose buildings either because they get cut off from other infrastructure, or because the structurally compacted soil under their foundations gets saturated by rising watertables and ceases to be have the necessary bearing capacity.

      36,000 square miles of residential housing is considered expendable at this point, it simply can't be saved, won't be insurable and none of us can afford to replace it.

      That's an 11 trillion dollar loss we may see developing in the next few decades which indeed in some places has already begun.

      I wan to develop a plan to relocate or salvage those cities rather than just rebuilding their crumbling 75 year old infrastructure in the same threatened locations where it resides now.

      If you think about it for a moment people need to look for new locations for everything they have now with approximately the same spacial adjacency.

      New cities are not a new idea, Washington DC was a planned city. In my career I have worked on several, Reston, VA built back in the sixties and Hawtah a new city in the Rub al Khali back in the nineties, Bostons big dig built a new city in the middle of a very old city.

      We routinely replace all our infrastructure over centuries as it becomes obsolete, transportation infrastructure has a life cycle of maybe 40 years and then its obsolete, the same is true for our markets, manufacturing, housing, communications, utilities, somebody is always digging up the street for something.

      Airports and subway systems, railroads, seaports highway systems all have long term planning that has to be coordinated with everything else in a city.

      That's true even for malls and housing developments, but never before in our history have we had to relocate so much infrastructure in such a short period of time

      "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

      by rktect on Sat May 17, 2014 at 02:25:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent. I look forward to the rest. (15+ / 0-)

    You might consider dividing the material in your next four into six. :)

    I hope people persevere through this one. It's dead on. We're dead unless we devise and quickly adapt, worldwide, economies designed for people, not capital.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Thu May 15, 2014 at 06:55:07 PM PDT

  •  Your optimism is palpable (10+ / 0-)

    beneath the rubble. I'm glad that it sustains you in actively trying to build something better. I'm looking forward to hearing your further recommendations.

    'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

    by janis b on Thu May 15, 2014 at 06:59:56 PM PDT

  •  This a great re-mapping piece (8+ / 0-)

    I like the way it is organized and intertwined.

    Question:  Are you talking about population overgrowth here?

    Limits to Growth:  It should go without saying that our growth-focused industrial civilization fueled by non-renewable material and energy resources exists on a finite planet - -
    I mean, don't we have to lose several billion people before we can talk about real sustainability at 21st century standards for everyone?
    •  It's so tragic that the most innocent will be (5+ / 0-)

      the ones most likely lost, or first, anyway. I have more trust that the earth will survive, than the human and animal population. I wish that we could, right now and here, provide more for the most essential human needs of all.

      'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

      by janis b on Thu May 15, 2014 at 07:33:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it is tragic. (8+ / 0-)

        But a self created tragedy because people cannot control themselves from narcissistic reproducing, when they are clearly at the top of the food chain and it serves only to hurt the larger community of mankind.

        Population deniers. Just like climate deniers.

        I insist on going into it with eyes wide open and believe that every proposal for reform, especially environmental, should be prefaced with the root cause of the problem:   over-population and the fact that we have to shed as much as half of the current population to ensure survivability.

        Perhaps, then, the consequences will be understood and the mistake never be made again.

        •  I'm not sure I could survive (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lehman scott, Pluto, linkage

          Witnessing this probability. But if that's what it takes for both to survive than that is itself a great tragedy.

          'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

          by janis b on Thu May 15, 2014 at 07:56:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What are you imagining? (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lehman scott, linkage, Bob Guyer, Pluto

            Witnessing what exactly? Are you imagining population control and reduction will look like something from a baby sealpelt harvest?

            Let's start from a purely numeric extreme. If humans stopped reproducing right now, the human race would be extinct in little over 100 years. Gone absolutely. Earth would be completely free from us. In a mere 100 years.

            That's an astounding thought isn't it? Humanity extinct in  a century by no other means than the elimination of its own reproduction.

            Now, however, let's think of this more practically; if humans produced just half the off-spring we do now on average, the human population would be reduced by something like a third in little over 100 years.

            Simply asking people to consider limiting the number of children they have, if they have any at all, would be a very natural, and almost painless (considering the effects of a declining work force, in particular when it comes to elderly care) human population reduction method.

            No tragedy necessary.

            "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

            by Pescadero Bill on Fri May 16, 2014 at 08:35:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Urbanization and educating women reduce offspring (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lehman scott, tardis10

              My understanding is that within urbanized settings, especially modernized ones, couples tend to have fewer children. I've heard that it has also been shown that with as little as a 6th grade education women are likely to have fewer children as well.

    •  Thank you, Pluto. Argg, population. :/ Although (11+ / 0-)

      I am fully cognizant of how central an issue that should be on the laundry list, I am unfortunately one of those folks that lives in the camp of not wanting to touch it with a ten-foot pole.  We shouldn't neglect it, though, really, you are right, and thanks for reminding me of it.

      As to your reduction assessment, if you watch the Vinay Gupta video I linked to in the Consumption section, he makes the assertion that it is theoretically possible to maintain stabilized global population at current numbers, albeit at very modest consumption levels.  I haven't bothered to check out the viability of that, but i can conceive of a scenario with such an outcome.  Many things would have to change in major ways to make that possible, however.  Seven billion at Western industrialized consumption levels is clearly impossible.

      Thanks for your comment and reminding me of that very important issue!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Thu May 15, 2014 at 07:48:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, that's the rub. (10+ / 0-)

        At Western industrialized consumption levels....
        Are we capable as a species of being so communally-oriented that we who have more would in massive numbers be willing to do with less?

        Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Thu May 15, 2014 at 10:39:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is indeed the rub, peregrine kate, and your (4+ / 0-)

          question could not be more trenchant.  My short and cynical answer to it is an immediate "Ha!  No bloody way! You're out of your mind if you think anyone would!"  My longer and a bit more optimistic answer would be "quite possibly, given that the following things happened...."

          I've done some thought-exercises and spun some scenarios in my mind and think it could happen.  In spite of the rampant and dysfunctional type of individualism that currently permeates our culture, one of our defining traits as a species is our innate ability to act communally.  It's what enabled us to become the dominant hominid on the planet.  I see no inherent neurological barrier preventing us from rediscovering that capacity and implementing it on a wider scale beyond just tribe-sized groups.  There may be, though, I don't know.   People's ability to assimilate information is limited, after all, and that same limitation may apply to our ability to empathize with people half a world away.

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 02:47:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  we've already moved down that road (5+ / 0-)

          part of the way, but under the old economic paradigm, all of the advantages accrued at the top.  There has been a large wealth transfer out of more industrialized nations, such as the US, the EU over the last decades.  But the gains to nations where the jobs (wealth) and capital investment went were negligible compared to what the multinational corporations and a relative handful of families kept to themselves in profits.

          If the US mananged to buy things that lasted decades instead od days, think buying a toaster in 1945 you were still using in 1960, as my parents did, and cut back consumption from 25% of the worlds' resources to maybe 15%, billions of people could have their standard of living increased.   If salaries and profits returned to levels of equity from a couple generations back, a huge improvement could be made in US standards of llving, if smaller businesses made more things locally and sold locally, there would be macro savings in fuel consumption, and reductions in carbon footprints, etc.

          If education and birth control became a priority world wide, out of control population growth could be slowed significantly.

          If multinational corporations were reined in and some counterweight existed to them internationally so that international agreements could control carbon consumption, production, pollution, etc., we would see major improvements.  But conservatives deliberately stir up  fear of UN initiatives and 'world government' without constituents realizing that world government by the corporations is virtually a reality as they buy up politicians everywhere.

          Some of the climate change problems are irreversible at this point absent miraculous tenchnological changes.  But there is still time to see a world that may remain habitable for humans and a significant number of other species.  If we start changing now we don't have to kill off half the planet to save ourselves.

      •  That's suicidal (4+ / 0-)

        The earth cannot abide 7 billion humans. It's not about consumption, it's about the totality - beyond just consumption. For example, x amount of land can produce x amount of food, but not forever. Humans as a monoculture have been no more survivable than any other monoculture - people need x amount of fresh water - but if x is all the water then there is none for the salmon and we starve. Consequences.
        Pollyannish estimates of population figures are nothing but denialism. Our goal will not be to maintain a population or manage a decline, it will be to salvage a survivable population and make the decline as humane as possible.

        •  You may be right, doh1304. I really haven't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          looked into the matter all that much.  I was just speculating based on Vinay Gupta's video.  He has done some pretty in-depth analyses for a couple of high-level US disaster planning agencies wherein he was tasked with exploring worst-case survivability scenarios, so i more or less trust his gut instincts.  I'll make sure to look into the veracity of his claim before i engage in or go beyond any future hypothetical speculations like that.  Thanks!

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:52:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To be honest about it (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage, lehman scott

            I have to admit that my opinion has a strong emotional context. When I was a child I loved to fish. By 1965 all the fish were gone. When it rained I could go out onto my lawn and pick all the earthworms I needed for my fishing. I haven't seen an earthworm in three years, in part because I don't have a lawn. I used to go walking in the woods; today I cannot, because the remaining woods are too far away, past all the housing developments and malls. I used to be annoyed by mosquitoes and other little flying insects. Now there are no birds. Honeybees?
            What I would suggest is that math is not the point - even if the earth can be made to support 7 billion people, it's just support, and may well only be for a time; there are always unforeseen circumstances.

            •  If you meant that comment to be some sort of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bob Guyer

              confession or apology, doh, please stop thinking that way.  We need to inject emotion into our discourse, it's the only way people ever really understand each other.  As much as economists want to try to quantify the unquantifiable, they need to understand that they cannot.  Valuations must be done but they can never be objectified.  It will always come down to moral decisions, and like it or not, those are informed by our hearts, not our heads.  Great comment, thanks for sharing.  And I am sorry for your loss.  I can sense your sadness.  It sucks.  And probably sucks even more because it was avoidable and due to clueless fellow humans.  Whom are supposed to be a hell of a lot smarter than the fish and worms you are missing.  Unfortunately we're not always.  :(

              Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

              by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:33:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  With all due respect to Vinay Gupta, I think (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, linkage, tardis10

        that's wrong if you consider the current state of topsoil loss due to food production pressures.

        Technology can't replace topsoil at the rate we are losing it. A food system crash may be inevitable.

        I think the fact is, human population pressure, no matter the willingness to change our nature (that being an overwhelming desire for greater and greater comfort) is the only reason we are facing the challenges we are.

        That is to say, if the human population had stagnated, be it by natural, forced or voluntary means, at one billion (preferably even less), we would not be facing the challenges we face today. Fossil fuel emissions would be at a rate way below what they are today, pressures on our environment would be way below what they are today, species extinction rates would be way below what they are today, etc., etc.

        Greenhouse gas emission correlate almost perfectly with the human population explosion. Even if you took our standard of living here in the US and reduced it while improving the standard of living for others less fortunate, you'd have the same demand for resources. Small and smaller houses just won't cut it for a world packed with over 7 billion people..

        Given all that, I don't think you can expect any new economic paradigm of having a chance without seriously taking into account the reduction of human population pressure.

        For those looking to understand just what human population pressure looks like, imagine the North American continent pre European invasion where only a few tens of millions (at most) of humans lived. Now we have hundreds of millions pushing into and demanding more and more from the limited sustenance providing regions of the our finite landscape. It is by definition unsustainable, eventually, under any new economic paradigm.

        And the reason we are facing that pressure here on the North America continent now is, in part, because of human population pressures in other regions of the world. Pushing further and further out and demanding more and more to sustain itself.

        I mean just look at the Amazon rain forest and what's happening there. Just a few decades ago, it was considered wild jungle. Now it's being converted to farm and range land for food and fuel production to sate the demand of our population as is.

        Where do we go from there if we are to improve the quality of life for all 7-8 billion people?

        "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

        by Pescadero Bill on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:17:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You raise some really good points, Pescadero Bill, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          thanks so much.  I'm going to have to give them some serious thought as i finish these diaries and my final paper.  You are right.  I've got to stop avoiding this issue and dig into the numbers and claims.

          Curse your eyes, Sir.  ;)

          Thank you again.  :)

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:05:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  We've already reached Peak Kids (5+ / 0-)

      Population will probably peak at about nine billion in mid century.

      Attrition by accident alone would gradually reduce that figure to a sustainable level...if we don't freak out... IF we get our sustainability on.

      My own assessment is human nature is neither that sedate nor that forward-thinking. In other words, we're not that patient. We'll have warfare and widespread anarchy in anticipation of any climate-generated disaster - look at events in Ukraine, where the population is already collapsing in the midst of polluted and (in some choice locales) contaminated landscape.

      As a species, we like settling debts, rather scores, before we check out.

  •  The "consumption ethic" has to go (7+ / 0-)

    to be replaced by energy/materials/food/natural resources conservation stewardship ethic.

    Also needing replacement is the idea that energy consumption utilization and growth rates can be maintained as in the past.

  •  Great diary Lehman Scott. So sorry you couldn't (8+ / 0-)

    make the trip. Look forward to all the future parts.

    I think the global culture is changing rapidly away from neoliberalism. I don't think it is possible to assure "prosperity" for anyone. Focus on basic needs will have to do. People want a quality of life that is based on fulfillment not foolish consumption.

    I'm unabashedly leftist. The right wing is the devil, and there is no centrist solution. The solutions are on the left. But you're right they will not look like the Soviet Union.

    Thanks for all the people's work you're doing.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Thu May 15, 2014 at 08:16:30 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, Galtisalie. Yeah, i was initially bummed (5+ / 0-)

      that i ended up not going, too, but actually it worked out for the best for a variety of reasons.  At least the piece will still make it in the journal when that issue gets published later this year.

      On your main points, stay tuned, I'll be addressing them soon in what i hope will be an innovative approach that might surprise you.  ;)  And thanks for your comment and all the good work that you are doing for us all, too!!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Thu May 15, 2014 at 08:52:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have one suggestion to start with. (15+ / 0-)

    All of the women in the world should have full civil rights and full control over their own reproduction.

    This would do more for sustainability than any other action.  Of course it is also the right thing morally for half the human race.

    I have made this suggestion several times on DKos, and probably I am preaching to the choir.  But it does not hurt to emphasize how vital this issue is for multiple reasons.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Thu May 15, 2014 at 08:26:43 PM PDT

  •  I like the idea of the GPI (10+ / 0-)

    I've hated the notion that only the profits matter to a company.

    I have thought that accounting rules might help in forcing companies to be taxed on their resource usage and forcing them to declare lobbyists behaviors and organizations and with what actions and with what monies they have supported in those organizations that they belong to so that the political intrigues are more easily spelled out.

    But we are gonna have to put our pols on a campaign finance diet.  And the best would be public financing imo.

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Thu May 15, 2014 at 08:51:48 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, glitterscale. I wholeheartedly agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Galtisalie, linkage

      with you.  Campaign finance reform, along with the revocation of corporate personhood, are foregone conclusions.  Without both of those any attempt at system-wide change is facing an uphill battle with a slope of about 80 degrees.

      And your thinking about the change in accounting rules is spot-on.  The Global Reporting Initiative that I mentioned is part of a nascent larger initiative to change those accounting rules on a global scale.  The tools have been in development for over fifteen years now and are ready to be implemented.  We as citizens just need to empower our policymakers to make it happen.  If we don't, it won't.  As Joe Confino said in that article I linked to,

      This goes to the very heart of the explanation why large businesses are doing no more than incremental tinkering with their operations and also explains the growing evidence that corporate sustainability is hitting a plateau; companies just don't know where else to go before they have to start challenging their core business model and that is scaring the shit out of them.
      I find it a rather intriguing yet amusing notion that the future of industrial civilization may rest in the hands of the world's lowly accountants and auditors.  :)

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:16:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A guaranteed minimum income... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott

          ... is one thing that needs to be looked at seriously.

           People on the right look at it with the assumption that "people are bad", and will lazily waste their lives away in self centered debauchery.

           I, on the other hand, look at it with the assumption that "people are good", and freeing them up from toiling away as a wage slave will allow them to live up to their potential.

           That potential could be raising a garden, playing guitar, teaching children, building a tabletop fusion reactor or developing more efficient photovoltaic cells...

           Endless possibilities....

        "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Mahatma Gandhi

        by PlinytheWelder on Sat May 17, 2014 at 05:34:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The huuuge problem with "only profits matter" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott, tardis10, glitterscale

      is that it's practically an engraved invitation for the corps to do everything possible to saddle some extra-corporate entity with the costs of their operations while holding onto as much income as possible. If that means flouting the law & popular will & ruining the environment, so what? So long as the cost to the corp of suborning justice & sabotaging the political process is less than the costs it can externalize, it's the "sensible" thing for the corp to do under the current paradigm.

      Make the corps pay for everything they use, down to & including ambient oxygen, & the great bulk of their profitability would vanish.


      by Uncle Cosmo on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:02:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  let me add my voice of encouragement (10+ / 0-)

    l s, and also suggest that beyond an economic paradigm shift we are in desperate need of a philosophical model of human existence suitable to the 21st Century,  rather than the 18th Century one we presently belabor under.  

    A new way to define the "value" or "worth" of a human and an honest confrontation of what it implies about us humans  that we even ask such questions.  And, while we are at it,  we ought to re-examine "freedom"  "autonomy"  "sovereignty" and our pathological terror of death.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Thu May 15, 2014 at 09:10:30 PM PDT

  •  Whose paradigm are we talking about here, (4+ / 0-)

    Since there are lots of them out there. One county's? One region's? One continent's? The world? Is this a one-size-fits-all deal?

    No matter what level, that's some heavy sociological and political lifting.

    •  Excellent questions, valion. If one looks at the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Galtisalie, Skyye, linkage

      most general definition of a paradigm, that being a "worldview", there are as many paradigms as there are people.  It's the paradigms that we agree on that matter, as they are essentially mental social constructions.  

      In the case of the quantum physicists, they looked at the objective data and collectively formulated a system of thought that enabled them to make sense of what they were seeing.  It didn't happen right away or with a single person's idea.  There were a number of different competing models that were proposed in the process.  If a model worked, it became part of the paradigm.  If it didn't, it was discarded or modified to fit what seemed to be working.  I think we need to do the same thing now with economics.

      And yeah, that is indeed going to involve some pretty heavy sociological and political lifting.  

      I think enough of us might be up for it, though.  I know I am.  :)

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:48:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I appreciate the diary and am glad I found it. (11+ / 0-)

    I do have one major suggestion to make to your list of elements to consider for the new paradigm, which at present I don't see (though I might have overlooked it).

    Some years ago, one valid criticism raised of traditional economics was the apparent lack of consideration of all non-waged labor. In some eyes, that's a contradiction in terms, but I hope you see the problem as I do: the usual absence of discussion of the vast amount of unpaid labor involved in child-rearing and caregiving, often but not exclusively performed by women. For that matter, in some countries a large amount of work is performed under the auspices of "volunteering." More perhaps lately, with the rise in the expectation of lengthy unpaid internships to be performed by young people. IANAE, but I don't recall hearing of any economic analysis that incorporates such unwaged effort, though obviously it is an essential component of our lives on the micro and macro scales.

    I'm sure I can come up with some older references in which these matters are discussed, some from the 1970s.

    If it's in there already, my mistake, and feel free to point it out to me.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Thu May 15, 2014 at 10:48:27 PM PDT

    •  I appreciate your appreciation, p k! And thanks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skyye, linkage

      for your suggestion on non-waged labor.  I think that may be covered in the GPI item, but to be honest, it's been a few years since i looked at the spreadsheets; it might not be.  If that contribution to our collective wealth isn't in there, it damn well ought to be (and could be easily enough).  It's a key aspect of these alternative measures initiatives that anyone can grasp quite easily.  I know in the past when I've discussed the GPI idea with friends who support their households with unpaid labor and who are unacquainted with all of this stuff they get really excited about the possibility of entering in their daily contributions on a Maryland-style GPI spreadsheet.  Especially the "housewives" whose hubbies don't appreciate all that they do.  I have a feeling there's a huge army of potential participants that would love to see this experiment applied nation-wide.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:09:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I took a peek at the GPI site and I don't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, linkage

        see anything that would accommodate these issues.
        Thing is, it's not merely a quality-of-life matter, but a real, and large, component of an economy that is rarely taken into consideration. I'll see if I can locate some of those references for you.

        Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:57:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for following up on that for us, p k, great (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate, linkage


          That bums me out that's not in there.  I had been thinking that it was, but as I said it had been a few years since i had looked at it.  I either misremembered or had just been thinking wishfully, I guess.

          No matter.  Spreadsheets are easily modified.  We can just make a new and improved version with everything we decide could and should be in there.

          Well done, and thanks again, Ma'am!  :)

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:39:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Marilyn Waring made a documentary (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, linkage, tardis10

        Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

        In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value. As a result, unpaid work (usually performed by women) is unrecognized while activities that may be environmentally and socially detrimental are deemed productive. Waring maps out an alternative vision based on the idea of time as the new currency.
        This is old stuff. But I think she is right about a meaningful alternative metric. It certainly addresses unpaid work.
        •  That looks really good, muddy boots, thanks for (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          muddy boots, linkage

          sharing that, i'll make sure to check it out.

          On the subject of using time as a currency (and complementary currencies and alternative economic systems in general), i highly recommend Bernard Lietaer's new book.  Very interesting and highly readable with lots of great interviews with the people working in the trenches at the front of this rapidly expanding movement.  Thanks again for the link to Ms. Waring!

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 10:12:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The Rich Want Slaves. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott, linkage

      Surely that is a "Zeroeth Law." a precursor of ultimate ownership that operates in human societies across the ages.

      It's part of the theft behaviors. It claims inevitability and crushes hope. Thus:

      Inequality:  Thomas Piketty’s groundbreaking work has empirically confirmed what Progressives have instinctively known for a very long time.  That the one solution he has proposed is a simplistic and unrealistic global wealth tax [at 2% per annum] is testament to the inability to find effective solutions to this ongoing problem within neoclassical economics.  The question thus before us now is how to act on that realization within the framework of our new economic paradigm.
      Haldane is eaten alive. Well, he has been eaten alive. Haldane also misses what "neoconservative" economics has been up to. (The 2% figure for this wealth concentration rate had tumbled out from econometric computer models all the way back to the 1980s and 1990s.)

      The 2% Wealth Tax does the job. At this point nothing else has been proposed that does the job. It is the job. And of course it has to be international, no question of that.

      What else ??? Oh... and global warming is beyond human comprehension. And nuclear war is inevitable. AIDS will erase us all. Welcome to Zombieland.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:24:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good Luck! A new economic paradigm has been under (11+ / 0-)

    serious discussion since the dot-com bubble, but really gained steam in 2008; however, the cure will not be an agreement among academics about whether DSGE is dead or Keynes, Schumpeter and Marx have to be reexamined, or whether the Chicago School is bankrupt or we are living in a continuous Minsky moment... The thing that economists starting in the late 1950's have forgotten is the first part of the name of their subject, which is political-economy, in the mad desire to adopt the tools of mathematical description and modeling given to us by computers and quantum physics.

    Economics is about power relationships and culture as much as it is about information and equilibrium. The profession has forgotten about this because it is hard to quantify and model and requires a level of thinking more  akin to philosophy, sociology and anthropology than physics and engineering. Human beings are not gas molecules, we don't react like the DSGE models predict, yet, "economists" are enamored of the elegant simplicity of the mathematical paradigm and forget the terrible drives for power and wealth that corrupt every human system. Until we can get an agreement about whose ox gets gored in this fight and how to politically implement that agreement, globally, a new description of whose ox should be gored and how to count the wounds may not be what we need.

    However, I do salute your effort, thinking about the world economic system and challenging the status quo needs to be done. I look forward to reading more and opening up the debate.  

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:22:39 AM PDT

    •  I agree with all but the last sentence of the (8+ / 0-)

      penultimate paragraph, where I will quibble. HG Wells, a socialist, wrote a great "history" of humanity in which he predicted trouble where revolution occurs against capitalism without having thought out the basic mechanics of a good alternative. To me, we saw this play out in the 20th century. It is not just about getting power but about what we do with it. The next human revolution will in part be iterative, with cooperatives springing up into an emerging bottom-up anarcho-socialist model, but we need our visionaries thinking about how it will all work and make the rice bowls full. Then we can peacefully democratize much of the revolution if we can manage to have a working democracy which actually has power over the economy. Right now, the conservative Catholic five on SCOTUS are entrenched against democracy and empowering the corporations to personhood.

      garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

      by Galtisalie on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:25:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So much depends on true democracy being allowed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, linkage, KJG52

        to broaden, deepen, and flourish in the economic sphere. That is one of the things that concerns me about Pope Francis, whom I admire in many ways. He shows great concern for the poor but does not link this with how laws currently pass or don't pass, the role of the unelected judiciary that keeps our constitutional interpretation locked in the past and doing the bidding of capital (, and the lack of a democratic global institution accessible directly by the people in search of rights.

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:58:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, KJG52, and wow, there is so much in your (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChemBob, linkage, KJG52

      comment that i could respond to, i hardly know where to begin!  Actually, a lot of the topics you raised I am addressing in the next installment (not including the particulars of the DSGE models, however).  Thanks for your salute and I'm looking forward to further conversations, as well!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:27:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Have to confess I disagree with most of this (10+ / 0-)

    But I appreciate the time and effort that you put into writing it.

    I just think that in order to accomplish the basic goal you set out, we're going to have to think less fuzzily and disaggregate many of the issues we are lumping together.  For example, there's the problem of economic theory; there's the problem of the political system's ability to implement proven economic theory; there's the difference between economic and ecological problems; there's a difference between growth, consumption and ecological impact.

    First, there is no one economic paradigm, so "we" can't change "the" economic paradigm that governs the world economy.  There are many economic systems -- China's socialist market, the US's neo-liberal mixed economy (up to 2008), the relatively heavily regulated economies of western and central Europe and developed parts of the Commonwealth (Canada, for example).  

    Neo-classical economic theory and neo-liberal economic policy may have given us the excesses that led to the crisis in 2008 and make convenient bogey men, but they have not really been the dominant economic theories, either abstractly within the economics profession nor operationally in the policies of government.

    The single dominant economic theory -- and the theory that most unites, explains and is operationalized in most of the world's economic systems -- is Keynesian economics, which is much more progressive that the paradigm you sketch out.  

    To give you a sense of how central the "Keynesian consensus" is, despite the right's three decades of attack on it, even Republicans, deep down, are Keynesians.  When they bay and howl for tax cuts, they are applying Keynesian economics, whose basic equation recognizes tax cuts as a stimulus similar to government spending.

    When the world economy collapsed in 2008, not only was the collapse predicted by our foremost Keynesian, Paul Krugman, but much of the world immediately adopted Keynesian stimulus policies.  When there's a crisis, the many world leaders briefly stopped bullshitting about free markets.  

    Keynesian theory almost perfectly explains the performance of countries post 2008.  Those that adopted aggressive Keynesian policies -- the stimulus in the US, the stimulus in China -- began to recover.  Those that rejected Keynesian economics, for example those that adopted austerity, have been mired in rounds of recession ever since.  

    Also, Keynesian economics meets your criteria of being easy to explain:

    Ideally, the most effective new paradigms can be reduced to very simple concepts that can be understood by the general public, Einstein’s famous E = mc2 equation being the most recognizable example.
    It's not new, but the Keynesian paradigm is explained in a simple equation that was almost as historically impactful as the one you cite:

    GDP = C + I + G + (X - M) .

    The fact that most schools don't teach it or students (or bloggers) desire to learn it doesn't mean it isn't simple and remarkably elegant, and amazingly predictive.

    Of course the stimulus should have been bigger.  But that leads to the next problem, which is implementation by the political process.  Every good Keynesian economist predicted how big the stimulus had to be.  The president trusted that in a crisis, he could go back to Congress for a second helping.  

    But no economic theory can explain or cope with an entrenched political party, the Republicans, that decided, kamizaki style, to wreck the economy as its only viable path back to power.  Economic hostage taking is a political problem, not a problem of economic paradigm.

    The economic paradigm was proven to be amazingly accurate, but the political system couldn't implement it.

    Similar problems exist in the intersection of the economic problem and the environmental problem.  We know pretty well how to slow global warming and we know pretty well how government intervention can create the framework for both public and private economic actors to work in a way that meets those ecological targets.  It's the political system, not the economic paradigm that is failing to address global warming.

    Last I would add that there are not limits to economic growth.  There are obviously ecological limits to population growth and consumption of (and disposal of used) resources.

    But the narrow economic notion of growth is unlimited because as the latter part of your essay points out, it is simply the growth of human well being.

    Growth is not "more stuff" or more carbon in the air.

    Growth is people feeling better and more secure about their economic circumstances.

    Just as a trivial example, some high end, hand held electronic devices cost about as much today as a new carbon spewing 8 cylinder truck did 30 years ago.  The ecological impact of the device is less than that of the truck.  Yet looking just at prices and incomes, which reflect human evaluation of well being, many people feel better off having the device than having the truck.  That's growth.

    A high end vegan meal, based on sustainable agriculture, with great service at a nice restaurant costs much more than a bowl of industrially produced meat and potatoes.  I wouldn't probably eat either, but in purely economic terms if more people at the former over the latter, that would be considered growth.

    A solar panel delivered to a home in Soweto, Johannesburg to power a township house costs more than a stinky smokey coal burning brazier, which was the main form of heat in the township until recently.  Replacing the latter with the former would be economic growth.

    I'm certainly not saying all growth leaves a smaller economic footprint -- or even much of it under current circumstances.  I'm saying that growth is subjective and can also include internalizing externalities and making people more secure.  An "anti-growth" agenda seems to me misguided.  People can feel better about their circumstances and consumption in all sorts of ways depending on the larger society, and if that is reflected in prices and incomes (including non market ones) that is economic growth.

    The idea is to create different demands and different culture not to campaign against growth itself.

    I have a number of other points of disagreement, but I'll leave it there for now.  

    •  Thanks for your comments, HamdenRice, they are (5+ / 0-)

      much appreciated!  A great deal to cogitate on and respond to, I will reply in detail later today after I've had a chance to turn them over in my mind a few times.  Am looking forward to the conversation!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 04:53:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree except Republicans are not Keynesians (4+ / 0-)

      They do use a Keynesian argument to push for tax cuts  by claiming that they will lead to higher growth but their fixation on the deficit tells the real story.

      For Republicans tax cuts are a way to defund government and, especially, curtail the social safety net.

      But overall I agree with your comment, if we applied real Keynesian policies in response to this economic crisis we would be so far ahead of where we are now that it makes me pissed off every time I think about it (which is most of the time).  

    •  My thoughts exactly! (6+ / 0-)

      Why reinvent the economic wheel when we already have a ready and proven economic paradigm, one that produced the largest, most prosperous middle class in recorded human history?  And you really hit the nail on the head by correctly pointing out how the current political paradigm is where the problem lies.  Luckily we have yet another ready-made solution for that problem: An informed and engaged citizenry.  It took 16 years for the organized Right, forged in the fires of the John Birch Society and Barry Goldwater's 1964 defeat, and outlined in the Powell Memo, to misinform and disengage the citizenry in order to enable the rise of the New Gilded Age.  My generation has had their messages pounded into our heads:  Your vote doesn't matter, both Parties are the same, government is the problem, and the Free Market will solve all your problems.  The New Paradigm we seek is one that acknowledges that there is no debating with people who cannot and will not be moved by facts and evidence.  As Upton Sinclair famously said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    •  I'm far more on board with the diarist on this one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott, linkage

      Yes, there has been "economic growth" in the US since the stimulus...for those on top of the mountain anyway. For the rest of us, not so much.

      Additionally, we are confronting major resource depletion while the waste products of said resource depletion are spewed into the atmosphere to cause global warming. These issues were not in actual play until recently for any economic theories from the past, irrespective of whether or not they were philosophically contemplated.

      I'm not saying to throw out the baby with the bath water, indeed the diarist indicated looking for reusable blocks of the old paradigms, but clearly none of the old paradigms adequately described a means to achieve the sustainable reality that we now require. I'd look more to biological and other natural cycles that can attain some stability through pseudo-equilibrium than to prior economic theory, were it up to me.

    •  Hi, HamdenRice. Just to touch base, i had said (0+ / 0-)

      that i was going to reply to your comment later today and here it is turning into night.  I've been pondering your comments and i think what i'd like to do is address them in my next installment. They actually make a great framing tool in it.  I hope it will, and if you feel it doesn't, I'll make sure to come back if i missed anything and have another go at them after that.  Hope that works for you!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:53:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm honored ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott

        that you even want to address my comment at all.  The diary was, as I said, excellent and well thought out, even though I disagree with certain aspects of it.  We all need to think this through together, and I'd be glad to read carefully what you have to say and change my opinion.

  •  The Andrew Haldane quote is splendid, but so is (4+ / 0-)

    your extended essay.  I only hope T.S. Eliot was wrong:
       'Go, go, said the bird.  Mankind cannot bear very much reality'

    Armed! I feel like a savage! Barbarella

    by richardvjohnson on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:05:36 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. Much food for thought. (8+ / 0-)

    That said, I wish to take issue with Peter Radford's statement:

    Further, [Piketty] has done in much of Marx.
    The following quote from Piketty significantly contradicts Radford's conclusion:
    Despite these limitations, Marx’s analysis remains relevant in several respects. First, he began with an important question (concerning the unprecedented concentration of wealth during the Industrial Revolution) and tried to answer it with the means at his disposal: economists today would do well to take inspiration from his example. Even more important, the principle of infinite accumulation that Marx proposed contains a key insight, as valid for the study of the twenty-first century as it was for the nineteenth and in some respects more worrisome than Ricardo’s principle of scarcity. If the rates of population and productivity growth are relatively low, then accumulated wealth naturally takes on considerable importance, especially if it grows to extreme proportions and becomes socially destabilizing. In other words, low growth cannot adequately counterbalance the Marxist principle of infinite accumulation: the resulting equilibrium is not as apocalyptic as the one predicted by Marx but is nevertheless quite disturbing. Accumulation ends at a finite level, but that level may be high enough to be destabilizing. In particular, the very high level of private wealth that has been attained since the 1980s and 1990s in the wealthy countries of Europe and in Japan, measured in years of national income, directly reflects the Marxian logic.
    Elsewhere in his book, Piketty praises Marx for reaching essentially correct solutions even though capitalism was, during his lifetime, too young to have produced the data the Piketty has and that confirms Marx's conclusion.

    The 99% are watching.

    by unclejohn on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:36:47 AM PDT

    •  Thanks, unclejohn. And yes, I was a little (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unclejohn, Galtisalie, ChemBob, linkage

      hesitant to use Radford's quote there for precisely the reason you raised.  I was also not sure that I agreed with that statement, as well.  I've not yet read Piketty (and am jealous of you that you clearly have! :) ) so was not in a position to say either way, but based on your cite above I'm inclined to agree with you.  Fortunately even if his assessment is indeed incorrect I don't think it significantly lessens the other observations he made that i cited, which were more to the issue I was hoping to call attention to, and which i've seen echoed by other reviewers.  

      And thanks for your comment on that!  I am looking forward to reading Piketty and digging into it myself so i won't have to rely so much on other folks' analysis.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:05:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Other reviewers on the interwebz (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott, linkage

      have also said that Piketty takes Marx's solutions down along with everyone else's. Just because Marx accurately explained the problems of capitalism does not mean that his solutions were valid ones. I think that's what Piketty means.

      •  Thanks, HPrefugee. You wouldn't happen to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        have a link or citation to any of those reviews, would you?  I've seen a couple reviews that discuss Piketty's treatment of Marx, but i want to make sure i don't miss any. Thanks in advance!

        Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

        by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 10:17:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You have to take into (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, Bob Guyer

        consideration that Piketty is an influential member of the Parti Socialist, having advised both Ségolène Royal and François Hollande. He is also active in an association founded by founded by Michel Rocard and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, both of whom are PS heavyweights.

        Since he is a committed social democrat, like all social democrats he has made his peace with capitalism. Hence, a priori, Marx's solutions are off the table. That Piketty nevertheless credits Marx's analysis of capitalism, which led him to propose his solutions, doubly validates them.

        The global tax on capital the Piketty proposes is a utopic social democratic dream that will never come about. Consequently, the current trend toward greater concentration of the world's wealth in fewer and fewer hands will continue unabated ...

        until Marx's solutions are implemented.

        Or to put it in Piketty's words:

        The dynamic inconsistency that Marx pointed out thus corresponds to a real difficulty, from which the only logical exit is structural growth, which is the only way of balancing the process of capital accumulation (to a certain extent). Only permanent growth of productivity and population can compensate for the permanent addition of new units of capital, as the law β = s / g makes clear. Otherwise, capitalists do indeed dig their own grave: either they tear each other apart in a desperate attempt to combat the falling rate of profit (for instance, by waging war over the best colonial investments, as Germany and France did in the Moroccan crises of 1905 and 1911), or they force labor to accept a smaller and smaller share of national income, which ultimately leads to a proletarian revolution and general expropriation. In any event, capital is undermined by its internal contradictions.

        The 99% are watching.

        by unclejohn on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:10:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  From 2006: Thoughts on that paradigm (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, lehman scott, lotlizard, linkage

    Oil and Water and War and Warming and Whew!

    The problem is the powers that be know...and are cashing out...and have been for years.

    ...[W]e are a civilization that is starting to lose its ability to produce goods of solid quality...of any sort. Oh, the convenience is still there, but with energy being what it is, delivering slop to your trough is about all that this America is capable of doing, and that goes for the full range of products.

    One might suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, we should do something about bringing down energy costs, or changing our paradigm to something less sensitive to the price of gasoline, but there remains that ancient underlying aspect of American frontier culture -- the make-do attitude. It's at once a strength for resolve, yet a detriment to judgment as to what we as a society are resolved to keep, and what to change.

    That's something we see coming out of Washington, out of boardrooms, out of the television every day: The message that the American people should just...suck it up, and deal, and stop being such a bunch of big (forgive the term) pussies about it.

    All the while, the people delivering this screed of resolve and perseverance are cashing the country out, and inching toward the exits, smiling confidently the entire time as they reach for the door, already holding their car keys.

    As for what's coming if we change nothing...

     (1) Centralized authority will be more persistent, due to the uncertainty, and persist as the main focus of power for an additional century.

    (2) Mass media will have more leverage, thanks to its piggy-backing with central state power and the sensationalism of reporting disaster and fear.

    (3) Despite the ecological hardship and need for food, or rather because of the die-off in human population because of the ruination of existing crop zones, agriculture will suffer, and control of food as the mainstay of political power will be delayed a century, as will the rise of computation control as the keystone in its own turn. The trend in social transformation at large is retarded by the long-standing ecological crisis.

    (4) Means of production, new and old, suffer. Nanotech is available, but not as generically. Mechanized production and use of machines fails, but more due to general impoverishment than supplantation by an advanced technology.

    (5) Nanotech never obtains the penetration it enjoys in the mainline scenario, remaining an elite technology, a preserve of the "have" economy, and the division between developed and undeveloped persists for several centuries longer than otherwise. Eventually, nanotech is generically available, but by that time more superior innovations as available, and they are the preserve of an even more restrictive elite. More on those later.

    (6) Global trade is greatly impaired, not recovering for most of the millennium. Save for essential traffic, the world becomes a much less mobile place; Internet and nanotech make physical mobility less essential in both scenarios, but there is a distinction by class between those who travel and those who do not and this condition persists for many centuries.

    ...I think the six points above are valid regardless of one's expectations of the advance of science and technology going forward; it's a world that should be prevented from ever happening, even in a diluted form, for it is a cruel, unsympathetic and stunted place, hostile to life and freedom in equal measure...enamored of security and power and control and the wealth to buy all three.

    What to do...

    1. Diversification of Energy - Diversify the energy supply portfolio of our civilization. We can and should improve capacitor technologies to accumulate near-continuous, low- and/or variable-density energy sources such as winds, tides and sunlight. With primary energy sources becoming the mainstay rather than the marginal source of power, gradually the burning of fossil fuels, charcoal, and dung will fade, as economies of scale for wind, wave and sun will emerge.

    2. Dispersion of Capital - Miniaturization a go-go. Devolution a go-go. Leverage skilled labor a go-go. Reduce capital inputs per output of product, disperse capital to the small shops and tool shed workbenches of the world, as much as possible. This is practicable by reducing the size and complexity and cost to manufacture, use and maintain tools and machines used in the production of goods and services. We don't need nanotech. All we need in the next decade or so - and have time for - is mini-tech. And anything that can empower the weekend hobbyist can make a factory that much more energy-efficient and competitive.

    3. Conversion to an Energy-Based Currency - Make the currency based not on speculation or precious metal stockpiles or good faith and credit, but on the kilowatt-hour. Make the dollar energy-based. In a sense, it already is. Make this explicitly so, such that a country that spends more than it saves in energy terms will see its currency depreciate, the opposite for thrifty societies. This might require the cooperation of several major currency countries, and a mechanics of crediting savings as well as debiting consumption would have to be in place, else not one of the major economic powers would play along since almost all are net energy debtors. The short-run advantage would fall to net energy producers, but in the long run the depletion of extractable stocks and the incremental appreciation of `energy capital reinvestment' would give a significant advantage to the most technologically progressive countries; the worst-hit would be net energy debtors that made no attempts to invest in the new mode; not only would such countries' productivity falter, their currency would crash, as well.

  •  It's Called Degrowth - (3+ / 0-)

    You tried it at Copenhagen and it didn't go over too well with developing nations - - namely, neocolonialism.

    The dark green left fails to understand one basic  aspect of Maslow's hierarchy of needs - that material needs come before other ones. When 1/8 of the world lacks food and shelter and 1/4 of the world's children have inadequate protein in their diets, then such is a primary and overarching need. Poverty-stricken peasants on the brink of starvation will cut the last tree or shoot the last rhino.

    To a lesser, but still significant, degree this also applies to those on the margins of so-called developed economies. The past thirty years have seen the working poor pushed into more and more desperate situations. In Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and Greece working people face extreme unemployment, declining wages, and increased prices for food, rent, and energy. The combination has produced a surge in right-wing politics worldwide.

    And that goes equally for the United States. So Australians elect a Coalition government - partly on the carbon tax issue - and then the Coalition goes on not only to work for ending the carbon tax, but also to cut education, medical care, and immigration. The UKIP, the National Front, and the VVD are positioned to win in each of their countries next week in the E.U. elections.

    Sorry, but I do not buy your argument.

    •  I don't disagree with any (except one) of your (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnnygunn, ChemBob, linkage

      observations, johnnygunn, you are pointing out the realities of where the future seems to be heading.  I do think I could have done a better job of being clearer on what I said about growth, as it was not my intention to argue for "degrowth", which is a very specific movement/plan that I am not behind 100%.  I recognize that it is a non-starter from the get-go.  I DO think that it is crucial that we begin having a national and global dialogue on economic growth.  We need to define what we mean by those words, terms, and concepts, and start reconciling available resources with people's needs and wants.  I should have been clearer on that.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:32:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Hear You - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, linkage

        And yet, the average square footage of American homes has increased 25% in the past 30 years while rooflines have surged and wasted space proliferated. When I see affluent, suburban America and the disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality it gives me cause for pause. And at times, I view green rhetoric as little more than indulgences.

        I have spent time on the Navajo Res - where a small pickup may have three people in the front and three of four more in the bed and the grocery store at Pueblo Pintado has one head of iceberg lettuce, two or three sad apples, and a pack of outdated bologna. Meanwhile - in Santa Fe, the parking lot of Whole Foods is filled with recent-make vehicles, the olive bar is loaded to overflowing, and a range of fresh seafood from Pike Place Market is flown in daily.

        You tell me.

        •  And i hear what you're saying, too, johnnygunn. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnnygunn, linkage

          The game is going to end, pure physics dictate the outcome.  The main questions imo are how long is it going to take to get there, how bumpy will the ride be on the way down, and what standard of living will we all be forced to deal with once we arrive.  All three questions are interrelated, and the sooner we start discussing them as a polity the less low on the energy scale will the answer to the last one be.

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:24:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Malthus.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott, linkage

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:35:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you mean the Dutch anti-Islam, anti-EU PVV? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, lehman scott

      The VVD is a mainstream center-right, pro-European party.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:20:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Biophysical economics (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, lehman scott, ChemBob, linkage

    I encourage every young person to read a book called Energy and the Wealth of Nations by Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard.
    Charles Hall is a systems ecologist and was integral in developing and expanding on the concept of EROEI (EROI) or Energy Returned on Energy Invested. This was first developed in calculating how much energy was expended by a species to search for new food supplies vs. how much energy they gained.

    He realized this same concept applied to economies and human activity, and this book explains and develops the concept of Biophysical Economics.  He points at that all of our organized schools of modern economics were born at the beginning of the age of carbon at a time when energy was cheap and the supply was ever expanding.  Thus energy inputs were taken for granted, and not considered in economic thought. Now we live in an age when energy is scare and far more costly.  

    Before someone points out that we are the "New Saudi Arabia" because of new applications of fracking technology, first let me share how he sees it from a lecture he gave.  The first oil well in North America was drilled in Canada and amounted to a wooden beam with a sharp steel rod that was driven a few feet into the ground by a man jumping up and down on a step.  Today we may drill a typical well 10,000 to 15,000 feet into the ground, then 2 miles horizontally, then fill that hole with heavy steel pipe and cement, often at very remote locations. The cost in energy to produce a unit of energy has gone through the roof. This is a hidden tax on the economy.  While the gross energy units are available, the hidden cost to produce them is an extremely large part of the economy.  This does not even take into account the environmental cost.

    Energy is the oxygen of the economy.  Nothing happens without energy. For Dr. Hall, energy is a proxy for economic activity. This failure to account for energy inputs is perhaps the greatest failure of classical economics.  It only looks at inputs of capital and labor.  But if you take a pile of money, machines and people and put them in the parking lot...nothing will happen without energy.  And that failure is beginning to have profound impact as we move from the age of Carbon to the age of energy scarcity.

    I highly recommend this book, and encourage everyone to consider the thinking behind Biophysical Economics.  We are children of the earth, and have not yet learned how to escape it on a permanent basis.  So we better learn how to live on it while we still can.

    •  Great comment, Buffalo50, thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm familiar with biophysical economics through the work of Tom Murphy and Gail Tverberg, among others.  The concept of EROEI is really essential to any productive conversation on energy issues.  I was unacquainted with Hall and Klitgaard's book, though, am definitely putting that on my reading list.

      And thanks for sharing Hall's analogy on fracking, that was excellent!

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:44:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jeremy Rifkin has some ideas (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, HPrefugee, linkage

    for what is coming.  Here is my review of his new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.

    It's a pretty interesting read.  And the cheering thing is that rather than the current economic paradigm requiring a nearly impossible revolution and going against the tide, his point is that the collapse of the old economic paradigm is not only inevitable, it is inevitable from weaknesses inherent in the structure of capitalism itself.  Moreover, its collapse is speeding along exponentially, at a speed both unstoppable and much quicker than one would expect.  He gives it a couple decades, but if we all put our shoulders to the wheel, we could probably speed up the process.

    Food for thought.

    •  Thanks for your comment, cordgrass, and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cordgrass, linkage

      bringing up your diary on Rifkin.  I recced, tipped, and read it with great interest but unfortunately was unable to comment at the time.  The book has received a lot of attention and is deserving of serious consideration.

      Inasmuch as I am trying to start a project to help implement the vision he presents, I am very eager to support what he is advocating.  I do have some questions about his level of technological optimism, however.  I checked out the index on Amazon and I noticed he doesn't make one mention of Peak Oil, scant attention to energy issues, and no reference at all to the type of EROEI resource issues Buffalo50 brought up in his comment above.  I'll have to read the book before I say anything more, though, I guess.  Thanks for reminding me I have to keep him on my radar!  

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 08:15:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The book focuses very heavily on energy issues (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott, linkage

        His point is that energy will be basically free, abundant and a complete non-issue, and this will happen automatically within the next twenty years due to the miracle of exponential growth.  And he does have a point.  It would be nice if we could make it happen even faster, but it's already happening faster than anyone could have expected even five years ago.

        Solar will soon be dramatically cheaper than every other energy source, and at that point it is game over for the fossil fuels industry.  They will go the way of whale oil companies.

  •  Yummy goodness, I'll comment later, thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:06:43 AM PDT

  •  here's a principle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    that crosses many realms:

    Entropy -- and work required to Reverse it.

    In short, most ordered systems have a natural tendency to transform into a "disordered state."

     -- Living rooms tend to get cluttered.
     -- Paychecks tend to get spent.
     -- Biology tends to break down.
     -- Shelter, Vehicles, Roads and Plumbing tend to need maintenance.
    Without continual "work" to reverse those natural trends towards disorder -- systems will breakdown, markets are disrupted, and panic and chaos (and poverty) can ensue. If you have to spend most your day chasing down water, shelter, and food -- ala some Reality Show -- that leaves little time or energy for earning a "productive" living (ie. long-term savings, creative activities, useful inventions).

    Fortunately, at least on a temporary basis, there are things that can reverse the natural slide of Entropy. These are the keys for a long-term economic system that is sustainable, in theory anyway -- instead of producing pointless "Widgets," we focus instead (nationally and locally) on such Entropy Reversers:

     -- Living rooms clean-up chores.
     -- A percentage of Paychecks can be saved or invested or donated.
     -- Biology has enzymes, complex carbos, targeted medicines that combat breakdowns.
      -- Shelter, Vehicles, Roads and Plumbing can be routinely maintained.
      -- Yeast rises bread;  Mitochondria fuels our muscles.
      -- Electro-Magnetism can induce and produce useful work.
      -- Solar and Wind and renewables can fuel Electro-Magnetism.
      -- Human Inventions in materials and machines, can extract more energy from sunlight, more CO2 from the air, more mileage per gallon (or KW).
      -- Hydroponic systems and greenhouses, can extract more "carbos" per unit area on land.
      -- Weather systems (and solar desalinators) can re-provide fresh water.
      -- Info systems, and the programming skill to channel mountains of data, into actionable, smart, strategic Decision-making.
      -- Telecourses can democratize and accelerate learning.
    Economies that were built around such things -- that are Entropy-light (or even Entropy-Negative) -- are Economies that have half a chance of shifting into long-run sustainability, with tweakable carrying-capacity levers, and with plenty of useful "living room" chores, that are just waiting to be done,

    -- in exchange for NOT having to chase down your daily water, shelter, and food ... It might even leave some time for relaxation and recreation, if such Entropy Reversers become a mainstream paradigm.

    Of what physics-based markets should really provide.

    Controversial, I know. But a theory who's time has come ... or rather is long overdue, if you'd asked me.

    Sooner or later were going to have to: Trade in those Carbon Footprints ...

    by jamess on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:44:30 AM PDT

  •  Just thank you so much! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage, Bob Guyer

    I am so happy to see this! I have been considering the shift in a new paradigm, yet I lack the education or information, in order to gel logical thought! This diary give me tons of both.

    I have read it two times, first time with much going to links and doing some of my own searches to better understand some of the phrases and terminology. I will read a third time before commenting.

    I hope this article and the commenting and sharing of viewpoints, ideas will continue to be active for another day or so at least. I'd like the opportunity to post some of my thoughts but would rather when I do that I be collected my thoughts a bit better.

    I so look forward to this idea and the subject, as I too have felt for some time, we need to get over critical mass and edge toward the shift of new conscious society in order to transform and evolve.

    We are all one humanity living in the space in the universe, what affects one group will have effect on others and the collective whole. (not sure I got the affect/effect right)

    Anyway, I thanks you and look forward to a session of learning and participation in the upcoming diaries that will come.

    The shift starts to increase momentum, in my opinion, when those, like yourself and many of the commenters here, begin to share with those of us who want to learn understand and then share forward, to take part in the effort. It is critical that the unlearned find those who are willing to open knowledge to others so they may assist in the transformation that is required if we should survive the past collective mindset.

    My gratitude

    Work In Progress...Laser Focus on Concepts of Evolving, Expanding Awareness.

    by Skyye on Fri May 16, 2014 at 08:09:08 AM PDT

  •  How do you plan to bring this about? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    There are around 200 distinct countries in the world who are all vying for their piece of the pie.

    You might want to first address where the political will comes from for a new global economic paradigm... otherwise, this is all just academic, isn't it?

    And one more thing... your first item "Limits to Growth ".  Unless you first limit population growth, any effort to limit other growth will fail miserably.  People will not willingly do without basics.  Any entity that tried to limit resources would be tarred and feathered within a year.

    •  Well, we have to start here in the US, of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JJ In Illinois, linkage

      course, JJ.  I think if we took the lead on some of these things like the GPI and GRI, that would spur a lot of other countries to voluntarily get on board.

      As for the political will, I am a student of Earth Day.  Prior to April 22, 1970 no politician had the will to enact the many environmental regulations that were needed.  Then things changed - - in a massive and rapid fashion.  Politicians can be empowered by the people.

      As to the population issue, I will confess to what i replied to Pluto previously:

      I am fully cognizant of how central an issue that should be on the laundry list, I am unfortunately one of those folks that lives in the camp of not wanting to touch it with a ten-foot pole.  We shouldn't neglect it, though
      I honestly don't know how to address population growth.  It is just such a personal issue for each of us.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:11:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who is un-rec'ing this? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    And why are they so cowardly that they can't even explain their votes in the comments?

  •  "alternatives to GDP" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    I always thought a Gross National Happiness index was a good place to start.

    The metric measures socioeconomic development by tracking seven development areas including the nation's mental and emotional health. GNH value is proposed to be an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures:

    1.    Economic Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution
    2.    Environmental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic
    3.    Physical Wellness: Indicated via statistical measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses
    4.    Mental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants and rise or decline of psychotherapy patients
    5.    Workplace Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits
    6.    Social Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates
    7.    Political Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

    by grape crush on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:01:34 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for your comment, grape crush. The GNH (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is another one of those alternative measures that should be looked at.  The only reason i focus on the GPI is that it is the one that seems to have the most momentum going for it here in the US with the ongoing pilot projects in Maryland and Vermont.  As peregrine kate just discovered in a comment above, however, it has some deficiencies that need to be corrected.  So I think at some point the best approach would be to glean the best measures from all of them.  That's my thinking, anyway.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 10:25:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You've touched on it, but it should be said (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    The paradigm change is not economic, it is psychological.
    People do not act mathematically, they act on motivations.
    Those motivations cannot be replaced, they must be satisfied, then replaced.
    My 5 tools hobby horse also applies: a new paradigm must:
    be intelligent - it must be explainable, and in a visible amount of time it must show benefits (it must work)
    morality - it must be good, and it must be perceivable as good.
    popular support - it cannot come from nowhere, it must come from principles commonly understood as good.
    money - must be redefined - I suggest replacing greed with security. Established money will be against us and must be discredited.
    force - we cannot deny coercion, it will be necessary, but we must make sure that coercion is used only in terms that are moral and intelligent. It is an oversimplification, but the reason the Bush Doctrine failed was because it was not the use of force to instill democracy, but because it was really the use of force to aggrandize America and enrich corporate America. It failed not because it was force, but because it was hypocrisy.

  •  Economics today (5+ / 0-)
    Economics has increasingly become a very narrow-minded discipline that has lost most of its explanatory power.
     Economics is a field that could be a science.
      The problem is that it has been totally corrupted by money and power.

     Unlike an actual field of science, economists today start from a very narrow set of assumptions and then try to prove those assumptions by throwing out any data that contradicts those assumptions.

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Fri May 16, 2014 at 09:22:41 AM PDT

    •  I think it depends on how you define (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, linkage

      science, gjohnsit.  But i totally agree with your assessment about how they currently act on their assumptions.  Moreover, not only are they narrow, they are fundamentally flawed.  That's why all these leading economists are making their shocking statements.  Neoclassical economics has imploded.  What we do with the rubble that remains is the question of the day.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 10:37:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  End corporatism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    I think that is a big part of the problem our society faces.  The heart of the unsustainability.  Corporations operate on the myth that profits can grow infinitely, which is insanity.  Yet that is what they must pursue.  I am a firm beleiver that because of this pursuit of the impossible, corporations will ALWAYS do harm to society and people.  Always.  There is just no way around it.

    The core of any new system has to be the realization that enough is enough.  People don't need a 100 inch, paper-thin TV.  People don't need a 100 million dollars.  People don't need 12 cars and 3 private jets and 4 houses.  

    People DO need clean air and water and land and food.  They need some sort of stability and sustainability.  Instead under our current system, they are fed to a meat grinder we call an economy.  Worker hard and longer for less.  To question it is to question our whole way of life.  We've become Orwell's Animal Farm.  All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    My point is that people will always pursue something more.  It seems to be the human condition that we are never satisfied with what we have.  Our current economic system is built around feeding this insatiable need for consumption.  The only viable economic paradigm shift I see working is one that addresses this human drive and tries to turn it into something positive.    

    •  I agree with your comments on the consumption (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ethic, Rosencrantz.  I guess on the "corporatism" thing i would need to understand what you mean by that word.  One of the directions i'm heading with these diaries is trying to get away from ideologically-charged terminologies that are not very specific about the type of social institutions we're talking about and the very tangible effects they are having on their employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and the environment.

      Take this corporation, for example.  Do you think your description of corporations, that...

      corporations will ALWAYS do harm to society and people.  Always.  There is just no way around it.
      ...would apply to them?

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 10:48:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A Good question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott

        When I speak about corporations I am mainly speaking about for-profit corporations which primarily have shareholders who expect a return on investment every quarter.   The type of business corporations that are legally obligated to always maximize profits for shareholders.

        I understand that there are families who create "corporations" to run their family business.  There are many non- (or not for-)profit corporations as well.  However, I think the majority of people will think of big businesses when the term corporation comes up and not necessarily non-profits or other forms of incorporated agencies.

        My point is that when an agency has an obligation to always increase profits, that will inevitably lead to harm to people and society.  Because the only way to pursue the myth of infinite profits is to eventually cut jobs, buy up competition creating an oligopoly, externalize costs onto the taxpayers and/or get people to pay more for less product/service.  

        No business corporation is allowed, let alone capable of saying, "Hey, we made a few hundred million dollars last year.  That's pretty good.  In fact, good enough.  Let's just leave it at that and relax."   They just can't.  They always have to make more and that is just unsustainable at the heart of it.  It means as long as business corporations continue to be allowed to exist as they currently do, we will always live in our current Jenga-game of an economic system.  

        If we want to create a new, better economic system I don't see how that is possible unless there is a way to cap the profit incentive.  This used to be done by having taxes as high as 95% on the richest minority.  At this level, it minimized the incentive for the wealthy and shareholders to pocket excessive profits.  It was a better investment, at this level, to reinvest profits back into the company and it's workers.

        •  You are raising some core issues (0+ / 0-)

          here, Rosencrantz, thanks.  These are the types of questions that we need to be asking if and when we ever decide to move forward with a program such as I am proposing here.

          I guess what i am endeavoring to suggest in this project is that we all start thinking outside the box (or better yet, start from thinking there is no box) with all the different forms of social organization that are possible and what their effects are in the real world, and then label and name those entities.  Attaching abstract names to things most always carries along a lot of associated affiliations that may or may not have lost a lot of relevancy to what is actually happening to identifiable agents, from people to the planet.  Sorry if that's an inadequate description, but that's what I'm trying to convey and encourage here.  Thanks for your comment, i'm going to copy and paste it into my project working journal, you've really hit on some key points and problem areas that we always need to keep our eyes on.

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 06:09:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you scott (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage, muddy boots

    you're speaking my language! Look forward to the next installments. Here's a thought regarding the Consumption Ethic...


    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

    by citisven on Fri May 16, 2014 at 10:27:03 AM PDT

  •  Youth (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage, muddy boots

    Young voters in India yesterday elected a candidate they believe will take them back to honesty, ethics and end massive corruption.  Young voters in Mexico want the same.  Young voters in the US wanted that with Pres. Obama.  Key words are "end corruption". We can not legislate morality.  We can not live under control of a few billionaires.  The answer is in the hearts of the people.  Time to change or there may not be a future given the actions of Mother Earth.  How we handle money is only part of the larger picture.  We have fast-food workers earning $7.95/hr. on the street protesting today working for owners making 1000 times their salary.  Simple math and decency.

  •  Have you read about the Steady State Economy idea? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, linkage

    Check out

    Site is for CASSE: The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. I think you'll find it interesting.

  •  Let's see, we have an economic system right now, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott

    and we are very unhappy with it. We are trying to produce a new "paradigm" or "model" for a new system, and we have already done some preliminary work, but we are still speaking in terms of general categories and that we hope to develop into detailed functions that the new system will require. So, the first step is to develop the model, then to create a detailed functional description of the new system, then to develop its procedures and, no doubt, its computer hardware and software, then to test it, then to devise an implementation plan, and then implement by moving from the current system to the new one. As part of this process we will have to worry about timing and resources, and we will have to decide who is in charge, who will break all the ties when they arise. Who will have the authority to contract and spend as needed.

    I know that I have probably missed one or two things in this laundry list. For example, will all of this work be done within the current political system or outside of it? It is just possible that the answer to this question should be developed first.

    Anyhow, when I was part of the generation that computerized America we approached such problems by answering the following four questions: "Where do we stand?" "How did we get here?" "Where do we want to go?" "How do we get there from here?" The answers to the first two are well known and would fill a library. The answer to the third is unknown and a long way from an answer. And there will be lots of people with different ideas and agendas. It will be tough to answer without a process to settle disputes. Once the first three are answered then fourth is a snap. We are better positioned than at any time in our history to swap economic systems in mid-stream.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:39:02 PM PDT

    •  Great comment, hestal, thanks! If this thing ever (0+ / 0-)

      does get rolling in a serious material way I want to nominate you to be on the implementation design team!  You are also getting a bit ahead of me.  At the stage I am exploring here, we're not yet discussing specific models.  But those stages you spoke of do definitely need to be considered when we're still at the overall paradigm step.  The goal is for the models et. al.  emerge naturally out of the paradigm once we've figured that initial part out.  Great thoughts, thanks!


      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:38:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please, We're Not Changing the Paradigm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott

    within the current political system-- it should be obvious, years ago actually, that our current politicians support the status quo-- because the one percent supports the status quo.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Fri May 16, 2014 at 03:52:03 PM PDT

    •  C'mon, Superpole, show a little optimism! ;) I do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      hear what you're saying, though, really.  Most of the people I'm working with on all those new economy initiatives feel like you and think I'm wasting my time.  This is most likely going to be the last attempt in my life to try to change the system.  If this doesn't work i'm probably going to devote all my time from here on out working on local resiliency initiatives only.  But I have to try.

      April 22, 1970, man.  Things can change.

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:44:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One or two thoughts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott, Bob Guyer

    The reason we need a new economic paradigm is because we're getting into new territory as a species. In some parts of the world, it's no longer necessary for everyone in a group to work as hard as possible all the time so the group can survive. We no longer expect to lose much of our offspring to disease or hunger. We have obesity as a major health problem rather than famine.

    The problem is, not all of the world is at that point, but would like to be. And theoretically we have the knowledge and the resources to make that possible… if we can avoid wrecking our environment, overpopulating the globe, and a myriad other ways of being fatally stupid.

    The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett distills decades of research into some revolutionary findings. In a developed society, the key factor in how well that society does on a whole range of quality of life measures is inversely proportional to how unequal that society is. The narrower the distance between the top and the bottom, the better everyone does. Simply growing the pie and piling up wealth is not as effective as making sure everyone has equitably sized pieces. If we address the factors that lead to inequality and counter them, we'll get improvement across the board in a whole plethora of otherwise intractable problems. (More here)

    Let me add a quote I ran across today that seems apropos:

    Henry David Thoreau: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:10:14 PM PDT

    •  Great comment, xaxnar, thanks! That is a really (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Bob Guyer

      interesting way of looking at things, I had never thought of that perspective before.  I can see how that could generate some very useful insights, it needs further exploration.  I look forward to doing that with you if this keeps going like i hope it does.  Also on that topic you might find George Mobus' stuff on sapience relevant.  Do check him out if you have the time.

      Thank you for that link to Wilkinson and Pickett!  I had never heard of The Spirit Level before, and from a first perusal it looks like mandatory reading and full of great info that i'm going to have to thoroughly dig into.  Excellent!

      And thank you so much for the Thoreau quote.  A perfect thought to end my long day with.  :)

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Fri May 16, 2014 at 08:59:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like the comment that we "are every bit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Guyer, lehman scott

    a cooperative species as a competitive one." You can say that it's traditional capitalism itself that has made us a lot more competitive, and not just our survival instincts as a species.

    Males especially are raised to be competitive, to "beat the other guy," to "rise to the top," and on and on. And I've seen this culture get even coarser year after year: when I was a kid, I used to hear more about "sharing," and "fairness," and those ideas have gone by the wayside.

    The trick is I suppose training the human race away from competitiveness to a cooperative model without forcing it to be so by a dictate, the old Marxian notion of "the dictatorship of the proletariat."

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sat May 17, 2014 at 07:58:17 AM PDT

    •  Great comment, Wildthumb, thanks! This is (0+ / 0-)

      indeed the challenge:

      The trick is I suppose training the human race away from competitiveness to a cooperative model without forcing it to be so by a dictate, the old Marxian notion of "the dictatorship of the proletariat."
      The human race will become cooperative at some point; the physical demands placed on us as we transition from a high-energy growth-based economy to a much lower-energy one aligned with steady-state principles will force a return to cooperative models.  If we can voluntarily adopt cooperative social structures before nature makes them mandatory the better off we'll all be.  

      As to "training"?  It seems like that is going to be necessary, but people have to have the inner desire motivated by something desirable to obtain first if they are going to learn.  That is the narrative and positive vision that Joe Confino spoke of above.  That's what we need to find.  That's our most urgent need right now, imo.  

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Sat May 17, 2014 at 12:05:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right. I think a certain amount of inevitable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott

        cooperation is in store simply from evolution. There is this meme in the history of capitalism that capitalism is "natural," that it more closely reflects "human nature," which in the nineteenth century became a Spencerian survival of the fittest. It's taken a lot of time to begin to move away from that model to cooperation or communitarianism.

        I've been volunteering at a school project for almost twenty years now(!) and have loved every minute of it, even though I haven't made a dime at it, not even gas money. Obviously people "have to make a living," and I worked the entire time I was volunteering, but if we can find activities that benefit the community that people can love even though they're not necessarily compensated at it, this might be a wedge into other larger pursuits. We also see great joy and human sacrifice in helping our neighbors in this country in an emergency, then a return to "business as usual" after the emergency is passed.  How can we capture that sort of energy in a more permanent way outside of disasters? I don't know.

        "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

        by Wildthumb on Sat May 17, 2014 at 03:14:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know how we can capture that, either, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Wildthumb, but it is something I spend a lot of time working on.  I think what you talked about as a possible way is good - - using non-emergency ongoing cooperative activities as a "wedge" into peoples' consciousness sounds like the best approach i've heard so far.  

          I think whatever approach we use it has to go really deep, though, for it to truly "stick".  Otherwise it will just mirror the limitations inherent in "altruism".  Viz, it's still all "my" stuff and "i'm" handing some of it over to "you" out of the goodness of "my" heart because i'm not really connected to you.  Somehow we have to get beyond altruism to a deeper level of understanding of our interconnectedness.

          I appreciated your comment about evolution, too, that's a very relevant topic to what I'm working on.  You might appreciate some of the info in this article by Rob Hopkins earlier this year:

          On Sunday night I went to see Robert Newman's latest show A New Theory of Evolution at Exeter Phoenix.  Readers may know Newman from his last show, The History of Oil. In this new one, he draws from a wealth of sources to argue against the 'selfish gene' theory of evolution, arguing that evolution is as much about co-operation and nurture as it is about competition.  

          Drawing on examples of how nurture and empathy in rats is shown to change brain function, how penguins work together to keep warm by taking it in turns to be on the outside of the 'huddle' and many other examples, he disputed Richard Dawkins' version of evolution, arguing that Darwin originally argued for a much more co-operative interpretation.  

          He argued that this "red in tooth and claw" version of evolution has been used to justify as 'natural' an economic system that sees people, communities and ecosystems as expendible and great polarities of wealth as entirely benign.  "It's not survival of the fittest", he argued, rather "survival of the misfits".  He quoted W.H. Auden from his last collection of poems:

          As a rule, it was the fittest who perished. The misfits,
          Forced by failure to migrate to unsettled niches,
          who altered their structure and prospered.

          Good stuff.  I really need to read more poetry.  :)

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Sat May 17, 2014 at 06:42:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I tried to design a new system once (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott

    It was about 15 years ago and I could see the damage (social, spiritual, economic and environmental) our current system was creating. I realized after a while that our system wasn't based on naturally emerging economic realities but instead it was animating a view of who people are, what things are. The view we animate with our current system is that each person is an isolated individual and that evolution is based on competition to determine the fittest individual and they get the rewards of being the most fit (dominant). The fact that all of the competition to be on top of the social order occurs in the massively cooperative context of a huge and complex social and environmental system is ignored almost completely.

    I created a definition of people, things and dynamics that I liked better and tried to develop a comprehensive social and economic system on that new foundation. I defined all living things - people inclusive - and all things we can experience as discrete objects as being defined by a semi-permeable boundary. All things then are involved in selective exchange across their boundaries and blocking interactions between boundaries. Mutually beneficial reciprocal exchange is the main dynamic of this systems view of people and the world we live in as a dynamic process. So there is separation and individuality due to boundaries but the meaning of those boundaries is not an absolute separation but mutually beneficial reciprocal interdependence. From there economic and social systems look different than from the current mind set of our western culture.

    The second big problem after escaping our current cultural definition of human existence is the rapidly escalating creation of power that stands outside the human biological container. The issue here is that evolution does not have a way to modify that species power and match it to our species biological niche in the environment. Now that humans have achieved this great power we, as shaped in our capacity by evolution, don't have any naturally evolved mechanism to match that power to our environment. Combine this with the fact that nature can't do it for us via evolution we are in a real dilemma. If we are to succeed as a species we will have to develop ways to manage our huge powers (the powers of the industrial and information revolution) in a way that works in our eco-niche. So managing huge power in all its meanings is the main task of a new system. A new ethic that emerges from this way of thinking is that the more power the more responsibility a person has for the living and non living things in their expanded sphere of influence. This is the opposite of the current paradigm where more power = more freedom to act as an individual imagined as more disconnected (free) from constraint of social and environmental context.

    You have revived my interest in big systems change. A lot of what I did on systems is on my website, check it out if you like.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Sat May 17, 2014 at 11:31:50 AM PDT

  •  What's so radical about this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lehman scott

    They are an admission that the “neoclassical” economic paradigm that has defined and described the world economy for the last century is fundamentally flawed.  

    There have been plenty of people in various fields who have essentially recognized the above to be true [such as Stiglitz, Warren, Klein, etc] and who have written/commented about it.

    And these people include posters on KOS and numerous other websites.

    An economic paradigm shift is about to happen; the neoclassical framework is imploding on itself.

    We don't need an economic paradigm shift - it has already shifted.

    We need a political shift; however, the politically powerful refuse any acknowledgment the problem.

    Particularly for the dems, acknowledging that most of our power structure wholeheartedly supports the neoclassical approach would require a paradigm shift or brain transplants.  Dems simply refuse to recognize the obvious.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sat May 17, 2014 at 11:55:55 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for your comment, dfarrah. If what you (0+ / 0-)


      We don't need an economic paradigm shift - it has already shifted. true, what exactly is the new paradigm we have shifted to?  Why have i seen no mention of this new paradigm anywhere?

      Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

      by lehman scott on Sat May 17, 2014 at 12:18:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We already know what works and what doesn't. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lehman scott

        It's called Keynesism [sp??].  It works.

        Whether you want to call it a paradigm, a new paradigm, or an old paradigm doesn't really matter.  

        We already know what works.  

        We simply haven't elected the right people to handle the economy.

        The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

        by dfarrah on Sat May 17, 2014 at 12:24:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Okay, then... could you please tell me in what (0+ / 0-)

          ways Keynesian Economics departs from and replaces the following foundations of the Neoclassical economic paradigm?

          1) Rational Choice Theory;

          2) Walrasian General Equilibrium Theory;

          3) the Solow-Swan Exogenous Growth Model.

          Thanks, I really would like to know, dfarrah.  Because I don't see how it does.

          Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

          by lehman scott on Sat May 17, 2014 at 12:44:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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