- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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World Bank calls on countries to take urgent steps to protect 'natural capital'
One of the most significant topics of our time is the current eco-crisis and the ongoing environmental and ecological degradation, affecting the fabric of society everywhere, with implications for our culture, for our society, for our health and well-being, as well as for the integrity of the “Mother Earth” itself. There is no doubt that, we should see this multitude of crises as a wakeup call to action, to see things as they are. We should search with an open mind for the wisdom we need to transform our economic system to a sustainable path, grounded in ecological reality, with respect for justice and dignity for all, and our appreciation for nature and our kinship for all living things.
We need to question the ability of mother earth to support the extravagance of our blind and ignorant consumerism. We also need to put self interest in perspective, and balance it with concern for the common good and for other species and the earth.
Building a new economic system will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives.
It is in this spirit that I was so pleased to notice the World Bank’s report on green growth which was published today (Wednesday 9 May 2012) at an international conference in Seoul, South Korea.
“Putting a monetary value on natural ecosystems is a key step on the road to 'green' economic growth”—World Bank
“Countries must take urgent steps to value their natural capital – such as forests, peatlands and coastal areas – as part of their economic development, the World Bank has urged…Placing a monetary value on natural ecosystems is a key step on the road to "green" economic growth… By making such estimates, countries can develop policies that ensure the pursuit of economic growth does not occur at the expense of future growth potential, by destroying natural assets such as water sources or polluting air, rivers and soil.”…
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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The Olympics and the Jubilee distract from the real issues this summer
…”In difficult times politicians love a distraction. The message from on high this summer will be not to worry about the privatisation of the NHS, not to worry about increasing inequality and its accompanying social problems, but to clap your hands, smile and applaud; always applaud.
As the US author Neil Postman put it in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: “the civil libertarians and rationalists who are forever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”…
“Unless you have something wrong with you, you will be starting to get incredibly excited about the summer. Things will kick off a few weeks from now with the Diamond Jubilee. Soon after that the Olympics are coming to town; and if you weren’t already, you will soon be salivating at the prospect of what will be the greatest games – alas the greatest summer – ever. That’s the official line, at least…
“Away from the carefully choreographed imagery, however, things in the UK are not quite as harmonious as the Coalition would have us believe. A couple of hundred yards from the Olympic Stadium, the deprivation of Newham should undermine any sense of national ‘togetherness’ the establishment would like to foist upon us. As one of the poorest areas of the country, there is very little the residents of this ‘Olympic borough’ have in common with the future occupants of the Olympic Village, and even less with the Windsors and their accumulated hangers on. Much has been made about the “regeneration” the Olympics will bring to a place like Newham, yet as part of the Coalition’s cuts, the borough’s local authority will see its funding from central government slashed by around £75million over the next four years. As the Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson opened Stratford’s glittering Westfield shopping complex last September (with the usual bumbling get-up), libraries, swimming pools and public parks were being boarded-up or earmarked for closure…
“By all means enjoy the Olympic Games if that’s your thing. Be in high spirits at the prospect of the Jubilee if you really must. But don’t forget that for the powerful these are welcome diversions from more serious issues. And don’t, whatever you do, let any media outlet tell you how thrilled and excited you are. That’s for you to decide.”
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 11731
Those familiar with my writings know well that in the last number of years I have been at the forefront of highlighting the serious shortcomings of modern economics, as well as the failure of the majority of the economists who teach the subject. Please note: “the majority of the economists”. Of course not all economists are to blame.
In the wise words of the Real-World Economic Review, “It is the delusional mindset of ‘neoclassical’ economists that caused the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). There are realist approaches to economics but which through power politics have been suppressed in universities and excluded from government policy making. Some practitioners of these other approaches did what neoclassical economists falsely claimed was impossible: they foresaw the Global Financial Crisis and warned the public of its approach.”
In all, for a long time now, I have been saying that the current global crises has given us a golden opportunity to ask ourselves some fundamental questions on the role of education in general and the economic, business, finance, marketing and management education in particular and to search for possible answers to these crises. Soul- searching and self-criticism should not be seen as a source of weakness, but as a source of strength, humility and the search for wisdom.
Here, I do not wish to note these writings of mine once again. They can be seen at this website (www.gcgi.info ), for example. What I wish to do however is to share with you an article by a fellow economist that I recently read, reflecting on the failures of modern economics and economists. I found this article very interesting and telling.
As I have said in the past, I hope that with this kind of articles and reflections we may begin an open dialogue with all concerned- colleagues, students and others, so that together we can prescribe a working solution.
Now I wish to present you with the gist of Prof. John T. Harvey’s article, who is a Professor of Economics at Texas Christian University.
“A lot of blame has been spread around regarding the financial collapse and the onset of the Great Recession. Greedy speculators, big banks, Wall Street executives, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all taken turns as whipping boys. But one group has largely avoided their fair share of attention: economists. They were the ones who provided the intellectual justification for the transformation of our economy over the past thirty years. They stood idly by as jobs went overseas, demand was sapped by increasingly uneven distributions of income, competition was destroyed by lax attitudes towards antitrust laws, and safeguards were discarded in the financial sector. More than that, many actually praised these events. This is not insignificant. Much of the financialization of the U.S. economy (the shift from producing goods and services to managing financial wealth that played such a central role in our collapse) could not have occurred without economists offering their tacit and open approval. Opposition would have slowed, if not stopped, these trends.
There was actually a poll among economists to determine which of their brethren they thought most responsible for our current debacle. The “winners” were as follows:
Alan Greenspan (5,061 votes): As Chairman of the Federal Reserve System from 1987 to 2006, Alan Greenspan both led the over expansion of money and credit that created the bubble that burst and aggressively promoted the view that financial markets are naturally efficient and in no need of regulation.
Milton Friedman (3,349 votes): Friedman propagated the delusion, through his misunderstanding of the scientific method, that an economy can be accurately modeled using counterfactual propositions about its nature. This, together with his simplistic model of money, encouraged the development of fantasy-based theories of economics and finance that facilitated the Global Financial Collapse.
Larry Summers (3,023 votes): As US Secretary of the Treasury (formerly an economist at Harvard and the World Bank), Summers worked successfully for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which since the Great Crash of 1929 had kept deposit banking separate from casino banking. He also helped Greenspan and Wall Street torpedo efforts to regulate derivatives.
One might wonder how there could be such a disconnect between the theories employed by these economists and the real world. But, to those of us in the profession, it comes as no surprise. Some of us have been worried to death about it for years.”…