Accidental Economist
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Permission Granted Accidental Economist
 

Tax Shifting -
published in Alternatives Journal

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an Ode to Robert Owen

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the Accidental Economist
The economic system we have created and use to employ and sustain us is embedded as a component of human culture when in fact all wealth comes from nature and the economy should be viewed as a subset of the ecosystem, not the other way round.
 

I used to think that 'everything was political', that if we just got government right, it would look after its citizens, the environment, the whole ecology thing. But after years of working with, in and against 'the government' system, I fear that politicians, and the bureaucrats that run the system, are not up to the task. This is not a slam against those people, many of whom work long hours and for all the right reasons - but it's the system that binds them to an achingly slow and tortureous process that operates on a limited timeframe with the main objective to get elected (and stay elected) and try to incrementally change things for the better.

Instead, I discover that the system that really (can) fosters change is the transnational, global economic system (Capitalism). If there is any hope of surviving climate change, global warming or whatever you want to call humanity's impact on the environment (ecology) then you and I must understand the economic beast and use it to satisfy our 'sustainable' goals and learn to live within the natural system, not fight against it.

I do not come naturally to economics. In fact, I avoided it for most of my life. I read the business section of newspapers, invested in a few stocks and bought mutual funds, but never really understood what all the fuss was about, like most people I suspect. However, as I learned more, and read up on a range of economic concepts, and specifically ecological-economics, by people such as Herman Daly, Robert Costanza, D.H. & D.L. Meadows, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Paul Erlich, and others, I came to the conclusion that its not the system that is necessarily wrong - it's how we use it to satisfy our short-term, environmentally insensitive and ultimately destructive approach to living on this planet.

So with that in mind, I have become 'the Accidental Economist' and will keep on learning how we can use the economic models we have constructed, and adapted, to become more sustainable and protect the world's natural resources for future generations. Wish me luck and feel free to send comments or suggestions.

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