Some 30 trillion gallons of toxic waste has been kept out of sight, out of mind by U.S. industries that have injected it hundreds and thousands of feet underground into wells since the 1960s.
What do you think about this??
It is the inevitable outcome of measuring value in markets.
Markets do not take a whole systems perspective.
Markets measure value only in terms of current and expected scarcity.
So long as we continue to use markets as our greatest measure of value, we will get this sort of insane systemic result.
I do see it as a deep systems issue in a sense.
Most things in our current world sort of make sense within an economic paradigm.
Our education system makes sense, it is designed to create people who will follow orders and not question authority (at any level). And certainly there are evolutionary aspects to that which we must all pass through as individuals, and there is more beyond that. The spiral dynamics model captures some aspects of it, but to me ends up obscuring far more than it clarifies.
For me, it is clear that markets and money are a key part of the problem. Because money is the universal method of valuation and exchange, then most people look at systems only in terms of the money flows. Most people have lost the real systems level connections to the processes of production, distribution and consumption, and have become trapped within that subset of the systems as a whole.
There is little incentive within the current social systems for individuals to invest the many thousands of hours required to gain a deep appreciation of the systems present and their inter-relationship. Money rules.
Human beings have been dominated by evolution in a sense. Survival issues have dominated.
We are on the cusp of creating something else entirely, and it requires of us many levels of transcendence and responsibility.
It seems clear to me that there was never any mythological past where humans enjoyed some special balance of nature that was in some way perfect. There was only ever the balance that there was in the moment (usually unbalanced in many key aspects).
We now have the capacity to create balance at levels never before appreciated.
We can now create universal justice, universal freedom – but not the freedom to follow whim, or breed without constraint – no reality can tolerate that sort of insanity.
We have the possibility of long life and happiness, and it demands of us that we acknowledge the realities that exist.
So yes – we can cause damage, and we have the ability to undo most of that – we just need to step up to that awareness and make the choice, both individually and collectively.
I know that there is a sense in which the simple exchange works in a reality that contains real scarcity – where I have blueberries and you have strawberries in that sense. Markets really do work in situations of genuine scarcity. That much is clearly real, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt. No argument from me there.
That is not, nor has it ever been the issue for me.
The issue for me is that markets fail when there is no scarcity.
There is no market value of air in a market place – as everyone already has all they need.
The great lie of the market is that everything has a market value, and that all values can be expressed in a market. That is demonstrably not the case.
When the issue was one of genuine scarcity, markets had real social value.
The reality we have today is that we already have the technical capacity to deliver an abundance of many goods and services to everyone, but there is no market value in doing so. There are in fact many meta incentives with the market based paradigm to put in place systems that prevent the production of universal abundance. One can see this in the laws regarding shareholder capital.
Capital is such a difficult idea to get an understanding of.
In a very real sense, it is all illusion.
In a very real sense, money (be it gold or fiat money or any other form of money) is a promise to deliver some sort of value at some time in the future. It has value only to the degree that people believe that the future value will in fact materialise.
So in one aspect, money is a belief in a future value, and in another aspect it is a measure of market value (which is a function of scarcity and desire – the more scarce something is, or the more generally it is desired, the higher the price).
At the fundamental systemic level, all of these incentives work against the delivery of universal abundance, and work against the establishment of universal cooperation.
While acknowledging that we do very often relate in terms of exchange, I am also very clear that there is no necessity to relate in terms of exchange, if the survival needs are met, one can operate perfectly well entirely from a gift relationship. If survival is not an issue – exchange is not a requirement.
History is not replete with robotic systems delivering abundance.
History has many examples of social structures based on abundance for “citizens” delivered by “slaves” of various types. All such societies have collapsed from various instabilities, often related to the slaves revolting. It is possible to characterise our social system as a wage slavery, and it is more accurate to characterise it as a capital slavery (though as stated before, few people have any real concept of what capital is and how it has evolved over time).
We have possibilities available to us now that are outside of any domain in history – are completely without historical precedent.
On advice from several people I went and watched “Jupiter Rising” at our local theatre earlier this week. There are some profoundly positive themes in that movie, and the fundamental premise of “business as usual” is to me profoundly dystopian and disturbing. I acknowledge the several levels of genius in the movie, and there is a level of genius that is required, that is missing, that for me leaves a profoundly disturbing outcome that was not present from seeing “The Matrix” (acknowledging all the dystopian aspects of that series of movies – and I rate them as some of the best movies I have seen). To me, Jupiter Rising is a sell out to the establishment in its unquestioning acceptance of the economic paradigm – it just makes no sense to me at all.
So no – don’t see it as you do, not even a little bit – sorry.
To me, you seem firmly trapped within a set of assumptions that you seem to have not yet seriously questioned. And you are not alone – it seems to me that 99.99+% of people are within very similar unquestioned paradigm sets.
My apologies OM
I thought by basic you meant necessary.
I agree that it is common in the present and that it need not be so in the future.
It was mostly about the money thing and also about systems thinking more generally, and stemmed from the different ways we use and interpretations we take from the word basic.
It often seems to me that you tend to defend markets, and their role in the expression of freedom.
I do see some degrees of freedom in the use of markets, and in the wider systems perspective I see markets condemning most to a life that is essentially slavery.
I am really clear, that we have the technology to deliver something else.
I am equally clear that the dogma that markets equate to freedom is a major risk factor to the broader expression of freedom.
Acknowledging that there is a degree of freedom in markets, it is probably correct to a first order approximation to say that markets equal scarcity and slavery – for the majority that is mostly true.
In much of your writing, in your support for ethical capitalism, I see an acceptance of markets that I no longer share.
And certainly, I once did.
I am not condemning you or anyone else.
I am just speaking what I observe.