A New Story for a New Economy
Choice making beings of many possibilities, we humans live by shared cultural stories. They are the lens through which we view reality and the basis of our ability to live together in organized groups.
The most important story for any group or society is the sacred story that defines what it considers most important to its well-being. That story shapes the individual and collective behaviors that will shape its future. If it gets its story wrong, it almost inevitably gets its future wrong.
We humans have completed a transition from isolated tribes to a tightly interconnected global society. Our dominant institutions have been guided in their adaptation to this new reality by a sacred money and markets story deeply at odds with our true reality and nature as living beings inhabiting a finite living Earth.
The sacred money and markets story is losing credibility. A reality based sacred life and living Earth story is emerging in its place. It guides many of the movements leading the way to a living Earth economy.
The following chart summarizes essential elements of the two sharply contrasting sacred stores. Read it with an active mind. Ask yourself: Which in your experience has the greater currency in the public culture? Where do you see it being challenge? Which best resonates with your experience? Around what story do you organize your life? Feel free to reproduce this chart and organize a group to share their responses to these questions.
||The Sacred Money and Markets Story
||The Sacred Life and Living Earth Story
||The one with the most toys wins
||We all do better when we all do better
||We humans are materialistic, profit seeking individuals. Earth is a dead rock. Its resources have value only when exploited for human benefit.
||We humans are living beings. Earth is a living organism that birthed and nurtures us. Her health and well-being are essential to our human health and well-being.
||Money is wealth and those who make money are creating new wealth that ultimately trickles down to benefit us all.
||Money is a mere number, an accounting chit. Those who make money unassociated with the corresponding creation of anything of real value are engaged in a form of theft.
||Freed from the burden of taxes and regulation, markets reward in direct proportion to individual contribution & turn the pursuit of individual financial advantage into greater wealth and well-being for all.
||Markets work best within a framework of rules and values that reflect the community interest. Markets that celebrate and reward moral and psychological dysfunction are destructive of community values and well-being.
||The community interest is a simple aggregation of individual interests. Free markets turn Individualism and greed into public virtues when we each seek to maximize our individual financial gain.
||Strong caring communities are essential to our individual and collective happiness, security, and general well-being. It is our nature to care and cooperate. Greed, aggression, and extreme individualism are symptoms of psychological dysfunction.
||Our economic system is basically sound. Its failures are a consequence of government interference. Free the market of government imposed rules and let the market discipline itself.
||Our economic system is fatally flawed. It undermines our well-being, and threatens our survival as a species. Public oversight and clear rules are essential to maintain the conditions essential to the market’s ability to organize in the community interest.
||Whatever may be its flaws, the only alternative to capitalism is the oppressive tyranny experienced under Soviet & Chinese communism.
||Capitalism and communism both centralize and concentrate economic power in unaccountable institutions. The better option is a system of properly regulated locally rooted regional economies.
||Growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the market value of financial assets is an indicator of economic progress and growth in the total wealth and well-being of society
||GDP is a measure of the economic cost of producing a given level of well-being.. Economic performance is better assessed against nonfinancial indicators of the health of our children, families, communities, and natural systems.