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Nature has a full employment economy – The U.S. economy — eliminating livable-wage jobs by the millons

February 21, 2010

The theme of this blog is learning from nature. Ecosystems (free from human onslaught) are basically resilient, full employment economies; they have many mechanisms which prevent the loss of resources including soil and nutrients. Roots hold the soil. The decomposition of fallen leaves releases organic matter and nutrients into the soil where they help nourish the plants in the forest and the animals and microorganisms which depend on plants for their food. The biosphere run entirely on solar power meets the basic needs of an amazingly diverse biota.

In sharp contrast, it becomes clearer and clearer that the dominant global economies including the U.S. are failing to provide for the basic needs of their people. Consider this quote from an excellent article in Today’s NY Times by Peter Goodman, “The New Poor: Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs.”

A New Scarcity of Jobs

“Some labor experts say the basic functioning of the American economy has changed in ways that make jobs scarce…Large companies are increasingly owned by institutional investors who crave swift profits, a feat often achieved by cutting payroll. The declining influence of unions has made it easier for employers to shift work to part-time and temporary employees. Factory work and even white-collar jobs have moved in recent years to low-cost countries in Asia and Latin America. Automation has helped manufacturing cut 5.6 million jobs since 2000 — the sort of jobs that once provided lower-skilled workers with middle-class paychecks.

“American business is about maximizing shareholder value,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist at the research firm Decision Economics. “You basically don’t want workers. You hire less, and you try to find capital equipment to replace them.” Graph from NY Times, Feb. 21, 2010.

But the same drive for profit without regards to consequence is also displacing traditional peoples and their economies in many poor nations.
Consider the following:
“Indigenous people are being pushed off their lands to make way for an expansion of bio-fuel crops around the world, threatening to destroy their cultures by forcing them into big cities.” The  clearing of forests to make room for these new crops is jeopardizing the survival of the 60 million indigenous people who depend on these forests. “ -Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

One might be tempted to say that bio-fuels as a renewable resource will reduce carbon emissions and global warming. However,bio-fuels will require heavy inputs of fertilizer, and its hard to imagine that they will over the long-term match the ability of a forest to absorb carbon. In fact bio-fuels will drastically reduce bio-diversity and the resilience of forests.

But, it get’s worse. Agribusiness (e.g Monsanto et al.) pushing to expand cash crop monocultures, another trend that marginalizes and displaces large numbers of people. Without major structural change the globally dominant financial system these trends will continue to create needless poverty and suffering — so that a small minority with untold wealth can continue their binge.
Whereas natural economies are restorative, the G-economies are based on massive extraction and disruption. 

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