Chapter 7: ECONOMICS, Money and Value - Let's Prehend
Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

Chapter 7: ECONOMICS, Money and Value

"The men who do the work never get rich."
—Andrew Carnegie, U. S. Steel magnate (1835-1919)

Simple Solution

The solution to economic problems is simple, just internalize the external costs (IECs). Culture develops as capital is allocated, therefore, economic development might well include the external costs that are usually evaded. The need for Environmental Impact Reports is a tiny step in this direction, but current political systems are simply too primitive and undeveloped to handle IECs. Fortunately, current sciences, especially computer sciences and its global growth enables such ecopolitical development, should any system choose such progress.

Meanwhile, let's survey the field, then apply the Evaluation and Diagnosis charts to economic systems.

Dismal Science

Economics has been called "the dismal science" for good reason. In our modern world, economic systems grow increasingly complicated, more difficult to understand, almost impossible to predict - altogether baffling. Worse yet, academic and business economists often seem steeped in an outmoded rationalist-idealist, RIDs, tradition, as explained in Chapter 1. Academics try to make a science out of it, aided with computer modeling and CHAOS theory. But the greater the complexity, the looser the science. Business professionals usually take a narrower view as [ICERs, INTERNALIZATION OF THE CORPORATE ETHIC], loyal to their particular quasi-tribal corporations, as described in Chapter 4. No wonder economics seems obscure and morose, a murky mire of mind, a dismal science.

This most complex subject, is not easily clarified even with the best of intentions. Let's apply the Evaluation and Diagnosis charts as a frame of reference for thought and discussion. For those unfamiliar with common economics, E-101, ECONOMICS FOR THOSE WHO MISSED IT, might be helpful.

Separating economics from politics is like separating blood circulation from the body politic. It's a schizy split, like an out-of-body experience in psychology. Nevertheless, we are obliged to slice up reality in order to build or mental models. Let's bite them off separately, but then chew, digest and assimilate them together.

In economics the intellectual problems which plague every human endeavor are especially severe. Economic systems operate everywhere at once on the frontier of time, but because of our mind's False Focus, FF, (from Chapter 1) we must fragment and oversimplify, losing the forest for the tree farm. Economics also carries the burden of its history and its cliques, burdening our human minds with old data and older models - never here-and-now, always There-and-then, TT. Because we must make sense of things however DIMly (Demand for the Integrity of the Model, Chapter 3), we must sacrifice validity for simplification. The Rationalist Idealist, RIDs tradition distorts parameters into dichotomies. Compulsive Reductionism, CR, oversimplifies human life and culture. Denial Ideology, DI, narrows the field even further. Burdened with these problems, the ragged fabric of economic thought is presented by the mass media to a confused and intimidated audience as well as sharp and foxy traders.

Objectivist economics strives to describe what is going on, rather than how one subjectively feels about it or what one's loyalties happen to be. Do not hold an `opinion', rather join objectivist description, making it more or less accurate and complete. Since economics is part of our personal lives, an even more serious challenge is the conflict between what we think and how we live or who pays us.

The only way to work objectively is to Dissociate Ideas from Personal Life, to DIPL. We may enjoy chocolate without guilt regardless of the experiences of those who grow it or the disasters that have befallen their nations and cultures. We adjust to our omnicidal economy as best we can, perhaps trying to lessen our footprints to ease our underlying distress, no matter how useless, inefficient and pathetic.

Objectivist economics blasts through the usual economic nonsense and asserts a holistic approach. Al Gore, a respected amateur ecologist and politician, calls this broader approach "eco-nomics", call it ECON. He attempts to broaden the view of bean-counters, who usually neglect the broader significance of their own statistics and desperately deny external costs.

The essence of classical Adam Smith economics usually dissociates actions seeking economic gain from actions that enhance human value - as explained in HAND OF GOD, HOG. In contrast to the HOGs narrow business orientation of COmmon ecoNomics (the CON), objectivist economics, ECON, takes a broader, more anthropological view. Not merely the flow of dollars, but also the quality of life and culture deserves our attention. This broader view uses the tools of human ecology and culture design to improve the value, Ei, and health, Ai, of human economic life.

Consider the term ECON as `ecology', a broader objectivist view; then use the term CON, as `eCONconomy' as the narrower view. Some economists turn it backwards, accepting the narrow world of CON economics on faith, then considering ECON ecology as a nuisance, a trivial concern for owls and trees. Objectivist economics is part of human ecology - concern for the great system of humankind and its LIFE ON EARTH.

The active, growing, and crucial field of ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS attends to the serious work of objective description as completely and accurately as possible. [ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS, the monthly "Transdisciplinary Journal of the International Society for Ecological Economics", presents excellent high-level discussions of crucial issues by scholars from all over the world.] From Shumaker's SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL, to McKibben's DEEP ECONOMY, attention is gradually deepening from natural ecology to human ecology.

Economics considers only a small segment of ecology, often distorting and denying broader measures such as `externalities'. In that sense, economics is a pathology of ecology, a cancerous subsystem.

E Chart of Economics

Let's first look at economic process on the E chart. Imagine a simple but general chart of economic growth: i might represent the intensity as measured by an index of bread, batteries and bouquets - or simply money. E can measure the extent, such as the number of people, nation states, eco-subsystems, etc. Economic evolution moves up and to the right, as more people, E, get wealthier, i. This Fig. 6-1 chart below resembles the chart of biological evolution, Fig. 2-2. The growth of the economic organism drives itself upward i by technology, and to the right E by population.

Imagine the economics as evolving from primitive homo-sapiens, to barter, the creation and refinement of currency, money, then credit, complex ownership, and on to modern derivatives - all is an evolution of complexity, Ei.

The quantity of food, clothing, shelter, information, travel, etc., are increasing at an ever faster rate, a great increase in prosperity made possible by advancing technology. Like systems in general, economic systems evolve in value and increase in complexity, V = Ei. But we need a broader and deeper analysis than common economics to relate this to the quality of life.

In the E CHART OF ECONOMIC EVOLUTION below, let i be money, the simplest measure of economic intensity, the average income per person. Let E be the number of economic units - in this case, people. Notice that since the number of people increases with time, this curve would resemble world economic history, with the upward slope increasing with world population, but with a few bumps for plagues and wars and cycles.


Fig. 7-1  E CHART OF ECONOMIC EVOLUTION
  $ ^
i  i ³                              / upward and 
n    ³                            _/   onward!
t    ³                          __/
e    ³                        ___/
n    ³                    ___/
s    ³                ___/
i    ³          _____/
t    ³____ ----- 
y    ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ> E,
                         Extent = People ->

Economic evolution is not so simple. Sketching a serious chart of the history of economic growth is formidable task. For practice, sketch a chart of economic evolution some subsystem, such as your own firm, or even your family's wealth, or the stock market. Charting the evolution of IBM or Microsoft is easy if one counts only the stock price or the gross income. The simpler the system, the easier to chart.

Economic Wealth and Human Value

Money isn't everything, but it usually helps. Wealth makes the unhappiness of decaying cultural support easier to bear. Poverty usually makes life stressful and short. Economist explain that poverty is caused by the lack of wealth!

However, a 1999 study of `happiness' in booming Silicon Valley indicates that the boom distresses the wealthy almost as much as the poor. They often suffer overwork, family breakup, stress related health problems, drug and family abuse problems, and an all 'round shallow life. Other studies suggest that `happiness' improves up to about $40,000 /yr, but more money doesn't help. [See COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT - Health and Quality of Life in San Mateo County, California at www.plsinfo.org/healthysmc/201 Also see Information about the Healthy Community - Healthy Economy Initiative at www.jointventure.org]

GDP, Gross Domestic Product, is the most common measure of a nation's wealth, but newer measures such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, ISEW, moves from `corporate' toward human values. GDP may closely match human welfare in early economic development measures of food, health care and education. But in more advanced economies, factors such as pollution and crime related to income distribution, as well as the long term depletion of resources resulting from higher GDP actually degrade ISEW economic welfare. Castaneda points out that before about 1970, ISEW quality of life' followed GDP wealth - increasing wealth meant increasing welfare. But in recent decades the charts diverge for the six nations in this study: Netherlands comes out best, but even though the GDP is rising, their ISEW is dropping, Sweden is holding its own, but US, UK, Germany, and Australia are loosing out as ISEW quality of life drops even when GDP is rising.

As for ecological values, Dan Esty from Yale presented to the World Economic Forum, WEF, at a Davos tycoon's conference, an Environmental Sustainability Index, ESI, based on ecological biodiversities, stresses, human security, institutional support, and general stewardship. Scandinavia ranks high with other wealthy countries, with the most degraded such as Haiti and Nigeria ranking last. [ENHANCEMENT OF INVESTMENT]

Many economist in addition to Castaneda work to measure quality of life: Nordhaus and Tobin in 1973 use the Measure of Economic Welfare, MEW, but does not include `natural capital' or depreciation of resources. El Serafy in 1989 uses Net National Product, NNP, to include depreciation of non-renewables. The United Nations developed a satellite System of Environments and Economics Accounts, SEEA by Bartelmus in 1994.

Income Distribution

Income distribution is a crucial measure for humanity's welfare and health. The `income disparity' between rich and poor roughly measures the degree to tension within the society. Now that most of the world's poor have seen DALLAS and BAYWATCH on TV. [DALLAS was a `soap opera' about a wealthy but nasty Texas oil family. BAYWATCH is a costume drama about loyalty and love on Southern California beaches.] How much richer the rich are than the poor are poorer is measured in many ways. A common measure among economists is the GINI coefficient, with perfect equality as zero and perfect inequality as one. Think of GINI as Gross INcome Inequality. [For a discussion of GINI in detail, see Capitalist Globalism in Crisis - Boom and Bust, By Robin Hahnel, a three part series starting in the December 1998 issue of Z MAGAZINE.] But a simple walk around town, or even a tourist view on TV gives one a rough image of GINI.

In this GINI chart, i is the wealth per person, and E is the number of people at that particular level. Notice how common charts of income distribution resemble the basic E chart.


Fig. 7-2 E CHART OF WORLD WEALTH DISTRIBUTION

$ ÿ
i ³³  
  ³³  
  ³ÀÄ¿
  ³  ³
  ³  ÀÄÄÄ¿
  ³      ÀÄÄÄÄÄ¿                  
  ³            ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿                
  ³                         ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ
  ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ>E
 10^1000^100,000^ 0,000,000^1,000,000,000^E people

Notice on the left side, very few people have billions of dollars. On the next step down, a larger number of wealthy people have only millions. At the middle level, millions of E are in the `middle class'. And toward the right side, billions of people have little or nothing. Notice that common charts of income distribution are E charts, as if we always knew. This E chart in an abstracts of common economic charts of wealth, consumption, income and other economic parameters. Details of the distribution of wealth and poverty are readily available from the UN, World Watch Institute, and many other sources. Doug Henwood writes: "For years the US has the smallest middle class and the highest poverty rate among the countries for with good data existed. Russia is now included and has that distinction." Russia has transformed from the lowest GINI flattest income distributions to the highest in their 1990's transition from communism to cleptocracy. And China seems be following this pattern. Figures from the LUXEMBOURG INCOME STUDY indicate that Scandinavia and Northern Europe have the most equitable income distributions, and the highest `happiness' rating.

D Chart of Economics

In economics, as in any complex system, the Dissociation of the Minor System, DMS, operates (from Chapter 2). The controlling minor system, MS, tends to take over, to intensify itself, pressuring its supporting subsystems, even undermining the greater system. The greater the disparity of wealth between the minor system and its supporting sub systems, the greater the stress. So to survive and thrive, the MS must decrease the Dissociation and increase the Accord toward maximum health. Individuals, firms and nations manage this problem in their myriad modes.

Imagine this MS problem in an individual, firm or nation. Between individuals, wealth disparity is most extreme between master and slave, less between employer and employee, least between co-workers. In a firm, management MS manages personnel to maximize production and minimize conflict. In nations and neighborhoods, economic disparity often matches political and social distress.

To derive the D CHARTS from the E CHARTS, let's consider income distribution charts from two nations, Brazil and Belgium.

These charts resemble Fig. 2-6 and 2-7. Brazil has one of the steepest income distribution curves, with very few rich and very many poor. In a 2007 study Belgians are not only more egalitarian, they also measure the greatest `happiness'.


E CHARTS OF WEALTH DISTRIBUTION, to derive the D charts.

Fig. 7-3                   Fig. 7-4

  i ³                         i ³Ä¿ 
   $ÿ                         $³ ÀÄ¿  BELGIUM 
    ³À¿     BRAZIL              ³   ÀÄÄÄÄ¿  
    ³ À¿                        ³        ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
    ³  ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ         ³                    ÀÄ
    ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ>         ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ>
             People   E                     People     E

Reviewing the derivation of the D chart, in Chapter 2, consider the simple wealth distribution curve on the E charts above. Let i measure a person's net worth, or perhaps their income or consumption level - all somewhat related. Let E measure the number of people at that income level. According to common UN data, Third World, `developing nations' like Brazil have a very steep income distribution curve - very few rich and very many poor. This contrasts with nations like Belgium and Cuba with a more level income distribution curves, lower GINI. We pick Belgium because it is the nation most poorly endowed with material resources, yet one of the most prosperous. We pick Brazil because it is copiously endowed by nature, but most wretched. Simply put, the productive wealth of the poor country is sent to the prosperous owners in the rich country, where it `trickles down'.

The `abstract' or `dissociated' condition of the left E chart above is represented by the left side of the D chart below. Similarly, the `organic' or `Accord' condition of the right chart above is represented on the right side of the D chart below.


Fig. 7-5  D CHART OF WEALTH DISTRIBUTION

     i  ^     #4                          #1
        ³       BRAZIL <--------> BELGIUM
        ³     #3                          #2             
        ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ>
        Dissociation  <--------->  ACCORD, A

The wealth of nations like Belgium comes from productive investments in nations like Brazil. (Actually, Belgium's best investments are in central Africa, but the details are top secret and not available to uncleared readers.) The bounty of the Third World of `DEVELOPING' nations supports the Wealth of the First World of `DEVELOPED' nations, as detailed in ENHANCEMENT OF INVESTMENT. A similar chart could express this relationship with E being nations with i being national wealth. First World on the left, Third World on the right.

Keep in mind the latest economic theory suggesting that "poverty is caused by lack of wealth". Property rights keep it stable.

This D chart of income distribution provides a simple framework to compare the political economies of various nation states. Dissociation in one system enhances dissociation in its subsystems, as well as in related systems, the greater system, all humankind. Stress gets passed down, and up.


Fig. 7-6  D CHART OF NATIONAL ECONOMIES

 i  ^     #4 Rich and powerful    Rich and harmonious  #1
    ³          U. S. ?                    ?
    ³
    ³          Uganda ?                  Cuba ?
    ³     #3 Poor and brutal      Poor and harmonious #2
    ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ>
    (high iD, <-------------------->  low iD)     A, ACCORD

For practice, add other national economies to this chart. Please be DIPL discrete so as not to offend. Let's acknowledge that nothing quite fits. These comparisons are not `ideal types' as RIDs would demand, but charting tools. These are not dichotomies, but parameters. Keep in mind also that the ISEW of U. S. is dropping. Unemployment in Japan is rising. Ugandan Tutsi US financed armies conquered Rwanda and Burundi and invaded Congo. China is struggling between its Communist Party guidance and the KMT market forces with money from Taiwan, Hong Kong, US and elsewhere in the Free World, as explained in GLOBAL ECONOMY, GE.

To alleviate the mind's predisposition towards static words rather than dynamic systems, let's review the generalized D chart, Fig 2-9, applied above in 7-6. The dynamic of health is up-right, as the system develops more Accord, A, plus more action, i, or down-left as it breaks down into chaos and depression. The up-left #4 position at 1,9 corresponds to the very intense but very adversarial processes such as cutthroat competition in a dynamic economy.

Systems oscillate up and down the E chart's isovalue line, the diagonal from up-left to down-right, Fig. 2-4 and Fig. 2-9, as the economic cycles boom and bust, the Contraction Expansion Dynamic, CED.

Systems fluctuate on the D chart's isohealth line in the interplay of competition and cooperation. A move up left on the isohealth line, intensifies profit and power but decreases harmony and equality. Examples of DMS (Dissociation of the Minor System) include the increase in poverty amidst plenty, the institutionalized greed of economic institutions, the strengthening of bureaucracies and their military support. DMS also results in job insecurity, increase in crime, degradation of the ecosystem, etc. Strong MS, Minor System, corporate leadership enhances competition, but too much dissociation brings down the wrath of competitors, government agencies, and workers. So MS management must re-integrate down the i scale, iI, for maximum cooperative high A support. (Google GROVE) This fluctuation is the general Contraction-Expansion Dynamic, CED, a game well played by the very competent corporation, financial and government managers.

Economic Pathologies, EPs

While the E chart shows the complexity and evolution of economic systems, the D chart illustrates their dissociations or pathologies. E chart as economic evolution is important, but D chart analysis of pathologies is crucial and takes most of our attention. Let's assert that as science and technology progress, the quality of life for humankind can increase, supported by a sustainable ecology as detailed in SUSTAINABLE LUXURY, and SUSTAIN. Human ecology measures and evaluates these systems. Culture design protects and nurtures healthy evolutions.

Value as Adequacy

Does the economic system support human values? The essence of a free market system is to avoid these `external' values and assign them to the public relations department. Feudal capitalist such as Bill Gates and George Soros may revert to noblesse obligue occasionally, but the lobbied legislature struggles to evade and avoid externalities. Notice that wealthy economies are in a better position to deal with public demands for clean water and air than the `colonies' where most wealth is produced. But the basic issues of personal, social, cultural and political health are left unattended.

Funny Money

Several economists have pointed out that the accumulation of wealth supports an increase in financial activity, and that these global financial funds are not `real' wealth. The old gold bugs warned that dissociating the dollar from gold would lead to disaster. President Nixon did it when the French wanted gold from Fort Knox instead of just paper.

In Harpers Magazine, 2/08, the increasing `instability' resulting from increasing liquidity, wealth, results in bubble cycles. Though cycles are inherent in such complex systems, certainly in the history of the U. S. economy, increasing control by the upper levels of the ecopolitical system alleviates them, in some ways if not other ways. In "The Next Bubble, Priming the markets for tomorrow's big crash" Eric Janszen iTulip, Inc ... , currently, Trident Capital writes: " ... such high-value, finished goods-producing industries as steel and automobiles were no longer dominant. The new economy belonged to Finance, Insurance and Real Estate -- FIRE. Bubbles: high tech 2000, Housing 2007, Alternative Energy and Infrastructure 2013... . Perhaps the reader can help describe this phenomenon in terms of the E and D charts.

Tasks

Two terrible pathologies on the world scene are the threat of total war and the threat of ecological degradation. Nuclear war would be a move up left then down, a brief intense bang followed by terrible despair for those surviving. Ecological degradation would be a line slowly up left as the last of the fossil fuel is used up, then a jagged line down on the left, as the world ends "not with a bank but a whimper". Read of these scenarios in TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, PROSPECTS AND PROBABILITIES.

If economic growth were organic, one would expect world culture to become richer and more varied. Instead we observe the trend toward Modern Abstract Culture, MAC. This MAC pathology rapidly extends worldwide. Call it BigMAC, BM. The worldwide distribution of Coca Cola and Pepsi are trivial but symbolic examples of BigMAC, but a closer look exposes a much more serious manifestations such as food control, military proliferation, etc.

The objectivist approach expands economics into psychology and culture. How does it happen that people make themselves and their culture increasingly fragile and vulnerable, as discussed in Chapter 8, CULTURE? Does more and more information and education seem to make people less aware of what's really going on, as discussed in the Chapter 9, EDUCATION and JELLY AND JAM? How and why does history seem to follow the post-Darwinian rule of the survival of the barbarians as discussed in OOPS and HUGS? How is the system maintained as if by a faceless bureaucracy, as in the section on IDEOLOGY and CGM? How can the world's work be analyzed objectively, not just by its salary or status, but by its contribution to the culture, as in essay, WORK.

Drive to Survive, DS

Ecological sustenance, both natural and human, is the immediate and the long range task of the human species. The recent obsession with `economic growth' is a simplistic distortion, a temporary pathology, another component of modern abstract culture, MAC. The objectivist task is to broaden and deepen this concern toward `ecological sustenance'. Unfortunately, people adjusted to MAC are obliged by the compulsion to the abstract life, CAL to rip off whatever and whomever they can. GOLDEN MEAN Each person faces this conflict between human and market values, but objectivists handle it with grace by their DIPL and OL. [INTERNALIZATION OF THE CORPORATE ETHIC, ICE]

Given the high level of adversarial competition, survival means struggle and conflict rather than conformity and cooperation. Let's acknowledge that the world works mostly by cooperation, not competition. W. Edwards Deming made most crucial contribution to understanding and improving such systems.

D Scale of Ecopathologies

Use the D chart analysis to compare on the scale of Power vs. Harmony, PH. The PH parameter is another label for Dissociation vs. Accord, DIS. Quantifying these words may helps to shift the RIDs mind from fixed verbal conception toward a more dynamic quantitative image so important for objectivism.


Fig. 7-7   TABLE OF ECOPATHOLOGIES

    DISSOCIATIONS           ACCORDS
  competition             cooperation
  rich vs. poor           egalitarianism
  warriors                producers
  anxiety motivation      participation
  explicit rewards        implicit rewards
  fire in the belly       fire in the heart
  deprivation             gratitude
  work alienation         absorption  

Quality of Life

In Common ecONomics, CON, "Quality of life" usually means more money, maybe more status, maybe better golf scores, as detailed in essay, ELBY, ETHICS OF THE LUMPEN BOURGEOISIE. Let's review the distinction between subjective and objective: Each person has an individual subjective approach to the quality of life that derives from her own psychohistory and culture. But the objectivist approach, called `zoo theory' considers what makes people expansive, Ei and healthy, Ai. Objectively, humans need a secure and developed ego, socially supported by a quasi-extended family and tribal network, and enriched by participation in a developing culture. Lack of or deviation from such systems measures the lack of value, Ei and pathological dissociation, Ai, of the individual, society and culture.

RIDLYs may project their inherent authoritarianism into this approach. Objectivist culture design to the contrary, attends to improving life, not just pushing it around.

It's nice to be rich, but it is quite possible to be economically healthy without conspicuous consumption, as explained in SUSTAINABLE LUXURY. It is technically possible to live a rich and luxurious life without degrading the ecosystem. PROGRESSIVE STAGNATION takes this argument to its extreme: as the economy collapses, the quality of life improves! As religious leaders point out, wealth without stewardship alienates the ego from the greater self, and from others - the `Eye of the Needle Syndrome, ENS'. Economic ill health usually includes financial insecurity, job pressures and normative contradictions (selling yourself for the buck). Riches may alleviate these problems, but may also make them worse.

Riches for the few only seem to require poverty for the many. Such a degenerate ZERO SUM GAME is quite unnecessary. This bad game is an unfortunate historical accident, or perhaps a mystical challenge. Investment of First World capital to buy the labor and resources of the Third World leads to mass disease and starvation, political corruption, the destruction of the ecosystem, and the degeneration of both cultures in an adversarial frenzy. The operating rules of this all too popular and powerful position are summarized in essay, ENHANCEMENT OF INVESTMENT. Fortunately, the solution is readily available to the objectivist.

As the famous liberal US Presidential Candidate Adlai Stevenson said, "We must look forward to great tomorrows." Since the human mind began intervening in the natural world several million years ago, the pace of progress increases ever faster. Science and technology has long since made it possible for all people to live in SUSTAINABLE LUXURY. Yet human and natural resources are wasted making rich people shallow, middle levels overworked, and poor people miserable. [See the eloquent description of minimum wage living in Nickel-and-Dimed, On (not) getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich.] The task of human ecology and culture design is to set it right. NEW ECONOMIC POLICY, NEP, suggests a scenario to accomplish the task of making all humans healthy, happy, and culturally rich.

Ecology

The main task of the reconstruction of organic political life, ROPL, after preventing the holocaust of war, and alleviating the wars against the Third World, is taking responsibility for the ecological degradation of planet Earth. Fortunately much excellent work has been available and is being done continually. Managing Planet Earth, a special issue of Scientific American, September 1989, summarized the task and surveyed the various subjects in detail. It even lays out the costs in ordinary dollars. Not only is it superbly presented so that anyone can understand it, but the issue includes references and sources for further study.

Nothing less than a world program to produce sustainable energy by limiting global warming, dealing with most pollution including nuclear waste will be effective in combatting the impending ecological disasters. Any money spent now will replace ten or a hundred times the future costs, not to mention human suffering and cultural degradation. Billions now wasted on lobbied boondoggle projects, such as corn ethanol, could be spent converting to a sustainable ecopolitical system. SUSTAIN.

Sustainable: The Problem as Technical, Economic, and Political

Solutions to the ecological problems are technologically easy. Present technology offers the possibility of sustainable luxury for all mankind. Future technology will make it even easier. The educational system has prepared most people to understand little of how their life is sustained. Many of the educated cannot set the timer on their VCRs, shift their multi-speed bikes, or relight their water heaters. Seemingly literate people seem unusually reluctant to read their appliance manuals. Nor do they understand who raises their food, where their wealth comes from, or the rudiments to economic or ecological life beyond the narrow rules and cliches of the day, as explained in ELBY.

Solutions to the ecological problems are economically more difficult, but in the broader view of ecological costs, they are very profitable for humanity in the long run. Let's put raw economics in perspective: Military expenditures are largely useless, even for the stated purposes such as national defense. They do satisfy unstated, nefarious and pathological functions, such as embellishing the bureaucracy, scaring everybody, and keeping the Third World enslaved. We expect the present Global leaders, the National Security Agency, etc., will turn things around any day now.

Even though the actual quality of life will greatly improve, not just psychologically and socially but also materially, the so-called `per capita income' will look much less. For example: food, clothing and shelter will be superior; home appliances and machinery will be cheaper; technical information and cultural enrichment will be more widespread and almost free.

Presently most money goes for unhealthy and overpriced food, anti-community housing, unnecessary transportation, and a variety of disservices. Most of these economic goods, which waste energy and resources and contribute little to a high quality life, will be replaced by inherently inexpensive and healthier products and services. The quality of life will improve as the economy decreases. Note that this economic evolution is analogous to natural evolution: as the sun cools by the second law of thermodynamics, life forms proliferate, V = Ei. As the economy cools down, the quality of life evolves.

Politically the problem seems hopeless. Fortunately, objectivists are rarely distracted by hope and hopelessness, but simply proceed with the task. As the context is created, the organic flow of life itself proceeds, each person, each group growing in organic fashion. Each leader will internalize the new context, each institution manifest new programs, each media clarify value and health, each technology shift toward the ecological, each worker enjoy his participation, each citizen heal and enrich her life. Hindsight may explain how it happened, but foresight cannot predict it!

Reconstruction of Organic Economic Life, ROEL

Let's consider the various political systems operating in the world today. Evaluated and diagnosed in terms of preventing the impending ecological disaster, none of them are doing very well. All national governments, all economic systems, are contributing to the demise of the ecosystem. Steps toward a sustainable society are barely beginning. All are mouthing cliches about ecology and cleanup, but with little sane intervention.

Nor can we blame it on certain malicious people, classes or conspiracies. Humans adjust to the system, and the system has a life of its own, with its evolution and pathologies. Surely, training death squads or selling cigarettes brings out the worst in people. But anyone can be rehired to do a benign job as easily as a malignant one. As the system now operates, any CEO or Commissar who shifted in the ecological direction `on his own' would be quickly replaced by someone else willing to support the omnicide. No one seems to be in charge, and to personalize the blame is an idealist projection.

As in every organic system, everything is happening at once, and all contribute in their own way. Likewise, change will come from everyone, each in his own way at his own pace, turning in the ecological direction. The role of leadership is to lead, the role of image makers is to make images, the role of media people is to mass communicate, the role of Rosa Parks was to sit down. [Rosa Parks was the heroic lady who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, US, December 1955. Her defiance of bus segregation began the famous `bus boycott', followed by Civil Rights reforms and legislations. "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.", she said.]

Each person contributes to the new "context", as it develops. Let each person turn in his own way, alleviate his own corrupting contribution to the omnicide. Let each family, agency, firm, and government alleviate and eventually reverse the present absurd direction. Human ecology and culture design are tools for the analysis and intervention in these complex systems. What the future forms will be cannot be predetermined, what they will be called cannot be known, how they will operate is unpredictable.

Let a hundred flowers bloom.

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