The poor are no longer with us; These bills are long unpaid – Thoughts triggered by ‘Degrowth in the Americas’ conference

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No one’s poor any longer. Listen to politicians. They mourn the middle class which is shrinking as we watch in the mirror. The poor have been already into the oblivion pail of not to be spoken words. They are as lepers were treated once, to be shipped off to fortified islands of the mind to rot quietly. If poverty is a disease, quarantine its victims. If it’s a social problem imprison them behind high walls. Maybe its genetic: how often they catch easily preventable diseases. Feed them fast garbage and they’ll die before their care can cost you, of heart attacks, stroke. Provide cheap guns and they’ll kill each other well out of your sight. Ghettos are such dangerous places. Give them schools that teach them how stupid they are. But always pretend they don’t exist because they don’t buy enough, spend enough, and give you bribes or contributions. No ads target their feeble credit. They are not real people like corporations.

Capitalism is a form of colonialism. It has been a taboo subject in the United States. Among politicians, journalists, and academics—and in public conversation generally—the word has been avoided or else exclusively praised in over-the-top prose. Professional economists have used words like “perfect competition” and “optimal allocation of resources” and “efficiency” to teach their students and assure one another how absolutely wonderful capitalism was (and is) for everyone. Attending ‘Degrowth in the Americas’ conference (the title is very clear to give an idea about the topics held in the conference), I was very interested to watch two documentaries: GrowthBusters (a documentary done by Dave Gardner. It focuses a lot on overpopulation; therefore, promoting ‘Endangered Species Condom’ was one of Dave ideas to reduce population growth- the elephant in the room), and Surviving Progress (a documentary in which some of the world’s foremost thinkers, activists, bankers, and scientists challenge us to overcome “progress traps”, which destroyed past civilizations and lie treacherously embedded in our own). According to GrowthBusters, it is a cultural myth when we say/believe that growth equals prosperity. In addition, in Surviving Progress, the brilliant David Suzuki was mentioned. Suzuki said:”Economics is not a science.” He adds:” You see, as long as those trees are alive, they are taking carbon dioxide out of the air and putting oxygen back. Not a bad service for an animal like us who depend on it, you might think. But to an economist that is an externality. Not a bad service for an animal like us who depend on it, you might think. But to an economist that is an externality. Those trees are clinging to the soil so when it rains the soil does not erode into and destroy the salmon spawning beds. That is an externality. Those trees pump hundreds of gallons of water out of the soil, transpire it into the air to affect weather and climate. That is an externality. That tree provides habitat to countless bacteria, fungi, insects, mammals and birds. That is an externality. So in our crazy system that forest, as long as it is standing, performing all of those functions has no economic value. And this is nuts!”

“Green Economy” and “Sustainable Capitalism” are oxymorons as well as being two forms of greenwashing. Those who advocate sustainable capitalism are often challenged to spell out why sustainability adds value. Yet the question that should be asked instead is: “Why does an absence of sustainability not damage companies, investors and society at large?” From BP to Lehman Brothers, there is a long list of examples proving that it does.

Economics and ecology are words built on the same root – ‘eco’ – from the Greek word ‘oikos’ meaning home. Ecology is the study of home. Economics is the management of home. What ecologists try to do is to determine the conditions and principles that govern life’s ability to flourish and survive.

What if globalization is really meant to mean we are ALL connected rather than emphasizing on technologies, industries, free-market, and capitalism? What if globalization is really meant to mean that WE are ALL LOVE?

We notice that the price goes up every time history repeats itself. What about forgetting the payment of the debt, including the ecological debt, by developed countries to developing countries and starting a new era? A new era in which forgetting to apply the market rules to Nature is a necessity. A new era in which we ,humans, need is to forge a new system based on the principles of:

  • peace, harmony and balance among all and with all things;
  • complementarity, solidarity, equality and social and environmental justice;
  • collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all;
  • recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own;
  • elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism.

We cannot keep promoting such destructive model of development that does not acknowledge the planetary limits of economic growth. New technologies should not mean limitless, reckless economic growth propelled only by capitalist motives. Scientific advances, under some circumstances, can contribute to resolve certain problems of development but cannot ignore the natural limits of the Earth system.

Intellectual property rights over genes, microorganisms and other forms of life are a threat to food sovereignty, biodiversity, access to medicine and other elements that are essential for the survival of low-income populations. All forms of intellectual property over life should be abolished.

To predict disaster, to invoke treachery and malice, to spin tales of rotten luck to make it not happen: it doesn’t work. The wind is still rising with hail in its teeth. The waves are piling up then spilling back way, way baring bottom you’ve never seen. There’s ashes in  the wind, darling, a taste of ashes in our food ashes on our lips in bed eyes blinded with ash. There’s a mortgage on my spine I cannot pay. Somebody has bought my teeth and wants them out tomorrow for dice. There are real monsters under the bed, hungry for blood. They own the land this house stands on to stripmine for coal. Santa isn’t coming. The bounty hunter is. There’s a lien on your ass and the bank is itchy to fore close your future. If you’re going to stand get up. If you’re going to fight, get moving. Nothing comes to those who wait but hunger’s claws digging into the soft belly. If you value your blood, fight to keep it in your veins. You have nothing to lose but your life and it was sold to them decades ago by your parents’ parents. Their greed is endless. Your patience shouldn’t be.

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