The human population, currently over seven billion strong, is a formidable force. The global economic engine based predominantly on capitalism pushes for producing and selling the largest volume of products for the most profit by asking for the highest price and/or incurring the lowest cost. The capitalist system presupposes infinite growth and infinite resources to fuel that perpetual growth. The extensive indiscriminate production of the most products has promoted resource depletion and environmental pollutions. The aggressive selling of the most products has promoted overzealous, conspicuous and superfluous consumption and materialism. The insistent pursuance of the most profit has promoted greed and exploitation, perpetrated by selfish capital owners. The constant hiking of prices has promoted inflation, which exacerbates consumer debt and affordability of basic goods and services, particularly for the poor. The consistent lowering of cost has promoted low wages for labor which may not support a basic living standard, the race to the bottom for price competition, especially for cheap labor and squeezing, and weakening of the supply chains or the middlemen. The list goes on and we all know too well that these scenarios are evident in too many parts of the world today.
Some may argue that this is a one-sided presentation of the global economy and it has always been and is constantly in a state of flux, with periods of booms and busts and ups and downs. After all, we must be doing something right since we have been able to raise our living standards generation after generation. Besides, there is no one perfect system and there will always be winners and losers. The conventional wisdom is that the rising tide will lift all boats overall. In addition, governments can be counted on as the ultimate referees to control and mitigate its ill effects.
These may be valid points, but we are experiencing many stresses that may be ripping at the seams of this patched up economic world view. It is hard to argue that we cannot sustainably continue with the current model much longer, not to mention forever. Most importantly, the omnipresent result has seen the dramatic increase of income inequality in all countries around the world, especially in the U.S., the ultimate capitalist champion, as the fruits of the economic success go disproportionately to the top. This does not bode well for the working class majority and we are starting to feel the pressure building inside a dormant volcano. In the U.S., we are witnessing the hollowing out of the middle class, once the steady prosperity poster child and foundation of the rise of the postwar American superpower status. They are now ready to revolt against the political establishment.
Even though income inequality has always been around, life for normal people has been going on by mostly ignoring it and we collectively have been accepting it as a byproduct of our modern society. However, we realize lately that our global economy has also indirectly created a Trojan horse that is called climate change. That, we cannot ignore, as much as we want to and wish to. With the unpredictable climate cataclysms looming, it imposes an urgency as well as an impetus to explore alternatives. Instead of letting this current capitalist experiment to continue and bear out in its natural progression, now is the time to transform and evolve, both out of necessity and contingency. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
At the same time, we can also take this opportunity to address all the current adverse economic effects that have exacted enormous human and environmental tolls around the world besides climate change. What we are curious about is to see if we can effectively improve and change, if necessary, our current system to transition human economies and societies to the next level of civilization that is more benevolent for everyone and everything on Earth.
Let us imagine what if…