Thursday, April 17, 2008

Allan Economics 101 or what did you do with your life Daddy?

Mark Anielski (author of the excellent "The Economics of Happiness", New Society Press, 2007) writes:

"I'm curious about your reflections on Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and others; you suggest you don't quite understand how they can be capitalist with a green conscience? It would be fun to unpack that all."

Thanks Mark! I am honored by your response!

From my work as a Psychiatric RN over the last sixteen years or so, I've become more and more convinced that most mental illness is caused by a lack of connection to Self, Others and our Environment. The psychotic disorders seem to be a lack of connection to self (often brought on, in my opinion, by using substances which skew reality). Psychosis is a lack of the Self being able to perceive reality. Depression is a lack on connection with others. Anti-social behavior is most definitely a lack of connection with others, and the natural environment. All mental illness is a lack of connection.

Let's make the leap from the pathology of the individual to the pathology of the Corporate.

Most of the world has slid into a western form of Capitalism. A system whereby an elite few make economic decisions which affect the multitude. Our ability to have power and control over our lives resides with graduates of business schools, CEO's, Owners of Capital thru birth or accident. Efforts to reform the power and control of the elite have been stymied over the years. Unions have been squashed. Monster Corporations think only of minimizing labor costs---and maximizing profit. Lost is the notion from Henry Ford that a worker should be able to afford the product they are making. So now we have children in Asia making products they will never be able to afford; and the culinary workers at the hospital I work at (recently given their walking papers to bring in a contract food service agency) will no longer be able to afford to purchase the services of my hospital should they become ill.

Most of Monster Capitalism suffers (just like the mentally ill) from a lack of connection to self, others and the environment.

Along come the Green Entrepreneurs. Does having a Green Consciousness do anything to change the pathology of an economic system as it has evolved in the West (and increasingly, the East)?
In my opinion they will be successful only if they enhance connection between Self, Others and the Environment. They get the last one correct (improving the connection with the Earth), but what about Self and Others?

There is no Environmental movement without social justice. Social Justice implies sociability. Enhancing social relations. Community (both natural and human). Western Monster Capitalism doesn't do that very well.

Back to the Strawbale House. Buying the strawbales from a local farmer enhances my relationship with the farmer. It didn't come from the HOME-DEPOT-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX. It enhances the farmer's life by providing a cash revenue. And it enhances my relationship with that family.

Using Adobe from the land and a few selected trees (from the Digger Pine) for the Post and Beam work, improves the land by enabling the forest to be less congested. Where we take the Adobe for the floors and walls, there will be a pond. This will enable us to create a rain catchment system. Working with the land to improve it's beauty and sustainability. Also providing water for the critters of the area.

The choice of materials matter. Exploitation of the Earth and Others matters. So if a Green Entrepreneur stops the former; they must also stop the latter. Going Green is not a get rich quick venture. It's learning to be peaceful with the Earth and with others...

Hence my skepticism of Green Entrepeneurs.

No comments: