The Folly of Financial Worship

Humans need clean drinking water, food and energy to survive. These things used to be public goods but we decided, somewhere along the road, to make them private goods. This means that an individual have to make, or inherit, money so she/he can purchase these basic necessities. Those who don’t have money get “weeded out”. This is the human created system that has replaced natural selection. Nowadays it doesn't matter if you are clever, healthy, kind or cooperative as long as you have money. 

Actually money is the wrong term, what a person needs is capital. There are many types of capital but we humans have decided that financial capital is the most important, compared to e.g. social or ecological capital. Again this is because with financial capital we can get other types of capital that we need for our survival and wellbeing. So we accumulate financial capital, as much as we can get, at the cost of degrading other capital bases. We degrade and destroy ecosystems that generate a stable climate, clean water, food and fuel so that over time these resources start to deplete and the cost rises. 

The cost keep rising but the world doesn't pay attention since it’s the most vulnerable that are hit first. It is not until poverty results in death or degradation results in extinction that we start wondering “what is going on?”. We sympathize but feel safe as long as it's happening somewhere else or we have a pile of financial capital to turn to. But what happens if lots of people start deciding that it’s easier to just “move” when rivers dry up, trust breaks down or conflict over remaining resources break out? Syria being a case in point.

Or what happens if the economy takes a beating, perhaps even a sudden crash, that wipes out all your financial capital and/or source of income, what will you do? In some places people can rely on the government, receiving benefits to cover minimum expenses. But what if the crash is so bad that everyone needs benefits at the same time? A healthy government could perhaps manage it. But what if all the government gets in trouble and yours can’t fund the entitlement programs anymore? Now you don’t have a job so you can’t earn money to buy basic goods and the government can’t help you out, you will have to rely on friends and family (community). If that doesn't work perhaps you will move. Greece comes to mind.

The end conclusion is that a growing number of people will have to move as a form of adaptation to rapidly changing socioeconomic or ecological conditions. This, in turn, will create hostility between the “haves” and the “have nots” since there is a limited amount of resources left. The majority are among those who have little since the overall resource pie is shrinking but the minority have more power within the current system since resources are becoming more expensive. This situation will grow worse over time until the majority have had enough. And the a major clash is unavoidable. 

At this point, perhaps, the system that we humans created can be replaced. But some of the social and ecological damage can never be reversed. Whatever happens, we have to be prepared for some very turbulent times.


Out of the ashes into the fire

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