The Ecology/Economy Interface In 2013

Had a very interesting morning, reading about the next economy and walking in the woods along the Seekonk.

The reading was a mixed bag.  Some articles in the book “The Coming Transformation” edited by Kellart and Speth, an editorial in the Projo based on its long  series of articles on the economy (continuing its prescription that will not fly), and my weekly dose of ecoRI news, with reports on the Green economy and smart growth.

The trip to the river was excellent.  The mix of sun and clouds as the sun rose in the east, an eagle and a set of coyote tracks going along the same trail I was using.  In the three days since the snow the lone coyote track was the only thing on that trail.  It occurred to me that it might be nice for someone else to see the coyote trail so I tried not to step on it, but it was difficult. The trail, which I know quite well, is relatively broad, but it only has one good track for traveling the side hill.  The coyote was in that one track, so if I wanted to avoid the footprints, I had to walk off the real track, and it was clearly noticeable, I was just a bit off balance the whole time.

The eagle needs comment only because this year you see one nearly every day along the Seekonk, whereas when I moved to town 16 years ago I did not see any in this spot for several years.  Over the last 15 years they have become more and more common along the Seekonk, with at least 3 seen regularly this winter.

Getting back to following the trail, the coyote and I both followed a trail that was shaped by the contours of the hill (as modified by the trail maker).  The economic trail the Projo offers us ignores the contours of the land, offering us a vision of what the 1% would have us do to enrich them.  The environment, poverty, people, irrelevant.  We shall replace the people of RI with some mythological ready for business automatons that shall lets us pollute and steal to our hearts content.  They never explain how this benefits anyone other than the 1%.  They have been saying the same thing for at least 50 years, low taxes, bust unions and all will be right with the world.  If it worked so good, everyone would have been there years ago. There is no vast left wing conspiracy in the US with enough power to undermine the capitalists if they had anything of value to offer.  The Projo needs to understand that only economies with economic equality as a goal and practice can go forward successfully in the 21st Century.  As long as we try to enrich the rich, the RI economy is going to stay dormant.

Strike two for the Projo, and for all of the other commentators I read, is the continued expectation of economic growth.  If all the growth is pumped up funny money based on treating workers like dirt, financial shenanigans like looting pension funds and tax breaks for the rich, and the destruction of the global forest, can it really be called growth if more and more Rhode Islanders struggle to make ends meet? And the planetary systems are more and more damaged and less and less productive. 93% of the growth in income in the US over the last 5 years has gone to 1% of the population.  Do the math, If the second through the 10th percentiles did just a little better over that time, the other 90% actually lost income.  The economy being offered by the Projo, and the smart growth advocates is guaranteed to fail the community and the planet.  The fiscal cliff is just the latest farce in this tragedy.  There has to be a better way, and there is.

My goal for 2013 is to make sure that in Rhode Island the economic alternative to the global capitalist order that is eating the planet and poisoning the poor gets noticed and becomes more integrated into how we think about the economy and what we do to improve it.  Towards that end there will a conference on October 12 2013 Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice:  Creating prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island.  You should all put that in your calendar and make plans to attend.

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Greg Gerritt is a long time activist on the ecology/economy interface and is associated with Friends of the Moshassuck, the Green Party, and ProsperityForRI.com

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