Saturday, October 30, 2010

"A meaningful prosperity": Changing the economic system

I found this 20 minute talk by Tim Jackson about the limits of growth in our economic system to be worthwhile. Essentially, it's a clear explanation of how we could handle a global population of nine billion people all wanting a 'good', 'Western' lifestyle.

The talk points out the intersection between economics and the desire for novelty, which leads to resources being used to create new, shiny consumer goods.(*)

(*) Like iPads, which I'm still restraining myself from buying.

When Jackson couples this observation with a discussion of the levels of consumer debt leading into the financial crisis, he comes up with this pithy summary:

This is a story about us, people being persuaded to spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about.

There's lots more to this talk, but the thing that really stuck out to me as relevant to the idea of developing our long range thinking is the observation that we're too busy taking care of the small-scale, day-to-day stuff to deal with the bigger picture or more intractable problems.

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