Monday, February 02, 2009

Homo Economicus Must Die

So, there's a depression setting in, not just a recession going on. It seems that the news media, business people, economists and everyone reading what they have said are stuck in the same trap. They think money is the problem and money is the solution.

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it" -Einstein

I'm sure that someone else said it before, but he's the one that got the quote. And the way he says it is kinda quippy.

The problem with the recession and all the talk about economics is that it is one-sided. The underlying assumption is that growth is good and so is employment. That may be true, but what industries grow, and what are people employed doing? We know that there are many many problems with out economy. We are losing our manufacturing base, the biggest employer in America is a temp agency! So even if people get put back to work, that's only important in so far as they can buy more stuff. Sure, there's lots of considerations such as food, electricity and clothing. But the assumption of the American isn't just providing himself or herself and their family with basic needs. The assumption of the American is that they'll go out and half-recklessly buy things they really don't need (cable, larger flatscreens, new furniture, trips to hawaii instead of the museum . . )

That's the level of consciousness we're in. We want to employ people, but only so they buy things, not so that they have a sense of purpose in life. We employ them so they spend. We employ them "for the love of money." There's no talk about human development, purpose, usefulness, contribution and the like.

What happened to the Pursuit of Happiness over the Pursuit of Luxury? The media has succumbed to the paradoxical seduction of statistics and talks about development only in economic terms.

We need something else. The green movement hints at this. Their elevation of near aseticism through being energy efficient and low carbon footprint will eventually call into question mass consumerism itself. We will have to ask what will replace shopping and displaying our financial conquests as a national pastime?

I don't know. I figure it would have to be something new, different. Perhaps the old pastime of conversation. You could say that American culture was built in the time between work, when parents talked with and schooled their kids. Where neighbors would have each other over for dinner. Perhaps the death of Homo Economicus will give way to Homo Sapiens.

I'm not saying i have the answer. I'm just looking ahead and seeing something cloudy, trying to convey to you that at sometime the beast Homo Economicus will be slayed and humanity will have a new expression/master. I'd just like to know what it is.

Perhaps for once we will have a conversation about the actual quality of our lives, not just in terms of physical things, but our intellectual, social, moral and spiritual lives. Sounds good to me.
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