If you’ve been following the blog, you might have noticed, that I’ve started to pay attention as to how the world economy actually works, and it’s scared me a bit. It’s not because we personally are in trouble, or if we are we haven’t noticed; after all we’ve just gone a bought a car. it’s because once you see any of this information you can’t but fail to see how the global economy appears to be built on a fundamentally flawed ideal, that we will never run out of stuff.
Well today I’ve fulled my paranoia even more, I’ve been reading New Scientist, and their special report on how our economy is killing the earth. so of the articles are available on line, but it you’ve got access to it, I recommend you read the New Scientist this week.
for those of you with no time/inclination/regard for the fate of the world, here is my summary.
and here’s my more detailed, thoughts;
We’re all doomed, because the way the entire planet works is based on the fact we are never expecting to run out of resources. Just to make that clear, when we run out of oil, or fish, or water, or coal – the free market will collapse, because it’s all driven by the fact that it needs to grow to feed itself.
Saving the planet while the economy is like it is, is a waste of time, because we need to reduce our carbon emissions world wide by a factor of 5 by 2050.. if you neglect the effect of a growth based economy, if the economy meats it’s target growths over the next 25 years then we need to reduce carbon emissions to 0.2% of the current levels. in short we need to make the economy sustainable, or we can’t save the planet. 1
some of the ideas to solve these problems are a bit Utopian, but we do need to do something, persuading people to forgo material riches, and start placing values on society isn’t going to be an easy thing. I’m not even sure there are any real individual things you can do today (short of starting a revolution) to change this. everyone in any position of power has so much vested in the system they’re not going to change easily.
so I’m all depressed now. I’m considering my options
move to a croft in Scotland, and stock up
start a political party and overthrow the world
moan about it for a bit, then bury my head in the sand, hope if goes away
in the UK there is only about £20bn of cash in circulation, that’s actual notes and coins.
the bank of England only has 400 tonnes of gold – in today’s market that’s £6.6bn – selling that much gold would be done by auction and probably sell for less.
UK National (i.e government) debt is currently £650bn
personal debt in the UK is £1,448bn (1.4trillion) – £232bn of that is unsecured debt [credit action]
in the UK we pay £259m in interest each day.
The housing stock in the UK is currently worth around £4trillion
It really is a massive house of cards – It’s all a bit scarry.
You can join a LETS or Timebank scheme which are time exchange schemes. To be honest I’m a bit put of by the “everyone’s time is equal” i know it sounds egocentric – but i don’t see how this encourages people to learn/research/innovate which is a key part of society.
Maybe traditional bartering is the way togo. How many pints of milk do you think a website is worth?
It can’t have escaped your notice, but there are quite a few large banks in a bit of bother at the moment, and quite a lot of headless chickens running around shouting, “Don’t panic!” I have moments where I just think they should let them fall; after all, it’s the capitalist economy everyone is so fond of – if things don’t work, they should be left to fail. But then I’m not actually one for believing in capitalism. Maybe that’s for another post.
What does interest me, is looking at who is playing Old Man Potter.
If you haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life go watch it now, I’ll wait; Old Man Potter is a local businessman who is motivated by money and a desire to run Bedford Falls. When there is a run on the bank, and on the Buildings and Loan Company, it’s Old Man Potter who starts buying while everyone else is selling, thus giving him huge sway over everything when it calms down.
The credit crunch is much like the run on the bank, and just like It’s a Wonderful Life, there are people selling while Mr Potter’s buying. At the moment I think it’s Barclays who are doing the best impression of Potter, buying just the nice bits of Lehman Brothers, and not making too much of a fuss about it. Lloyds (The Stupid Bank) are running a close second, merging with HBOS.
I think when the dust settles, there will be a nice big Barclays while the rest pick over the scraps that not everyone is sure they want. Not that I understand economics, or think this is any way to run a planet, but it’s a bit interesting, for now.