The Economy is Bankrupt Because the Planet is Bankrupt

They hover around glowing flatscreens with the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. Numbers and readouts declare the prognosis grim. Blips and beeps, numbers blinking indicate things could get worse before they get better. Then again, the situation could even be terminal. Watchers wonder if life support is the last chance.

Are "they" doctors and nurses worrying about a patient in intensive care? Relatives watching heart monitors and respirators as a loved one struggles? No. The scene describes stock analysts, broadcasters and most of the rest of America watching CNN and FNN as the stock market heads downward. It’s not a human being they are worried about. Instead, it is the very real sickness that afflicts our economy.

Instead of EKGs and blood pressures, pundits watch GNPs, budget deficits, projected earnings, employment statistics and consumer confidence numbers showing a steady decline in our economic well-being. The Fed tried cash flow CPR and other cajolery. It doesn’t work anymore.

Railing against corporate greed or runaway spending, legislators ignore the actual cause of the economic collapse: A healthy economy starts with a healthy planet and we’re far from that.

No more bucks in the forest. It's not coincidence that the words “economy” and “ecology” share the first three letters. Forged from the same Greek root “oikos”, meaning “house,” they allude to the idea of living under one roof. The health of the Earth has every thing to do with the health of the economy. The sooner we address that, the more likely we will save our slipping patient. We live under the same roof.

Humans have adopted the notion that our species is one thing, the planet Earth and all its denizens, another. In reality it is impossible to think of individual health without considering the larger organism we embody.

Self-interest blurs the big picture. That’s ironic, because seeing the big picture so obviously is in our best interest. Anything unhealthy that shows up in the big picture is an indication of something unhealthy in us.

Runnin’ on empty It is astonishing that so few people connect the state of the planet with the state of the economy. The economy has been running on smoke and mirrors for years. Virtual reality leads to virtual profit. Both are unreal.

Since time immemorial, the economic system has been based on the salt of the earth — literally. In Roman times, soldiers were even paid with rations of salt. The Latin word for salt is sal and hence the word we use today, salary. Resources and commodities from the Earth have always been the cornerstone of commerce. Wealth, and now the lack thereof, has always been based on what a generous planet has offered us.

In the earliest times, goods were simply traded. Harvested berries or some fish were traded for a chunk of meat or a fur. In China, tea was the medium of monetary exchange. Shells and leather became “wampum” in the tales of the Old West. For centuries, gold was the ultimate basis for economic balance. Oil drove the economy of the 20th century. But always, if there were no goods, there was no deal.

Today wealth is exchanged as electrons. Funds are transferred account-to-account without any basis in reality. With the old gold standard, wealth was actually related to a chunk of the precious metal. When I gave you a piece of paper called a “dollar”, it meant you had a marker that entitled you to a tiny bit of gold that the federal government held for you in Ft. Knox. Even though that is no longer the case, we have lost sight of the fact that our economy is still based on what we can dig, harvest or pluck from the Earth.

You don’t miss your water. A study by National Academy of Science confirmed the planet is in deficit spending mode. We are using resources faster than the planet can replace them. The study shows it takes 1.2 years for the planet to replace what humans use in one year. We’re digging a hole we may not be able to escape.

For the penultimate markers of prosperity, the well has run dry. With the exception of renewable resources (which we somehow refuse to manage to renew) we have run out. The bottom line? The planet is running out of goods. The planet is bankrupt. Our forests can’t meet our needs for wood, our oceans are running out of fish, the oil supply is near an end and we dumped the gold standard 80 years ago. Even the soil is barren and cannot support life without adding artificial chemicals to it. We have plundered a planet.

If we applied the germ theory of infection to what the Earth is suffering right now, we wouldn’t look so good. The human species would be considered the most deadly organism the planet has known. The Earth is a giant living thing and we can see how mankind has infected it much like pathogenic bacteria affect the human body. We can no longer afford to ignore that the economy is a holistic function and connected to planetary wellness.

The switch to a new economy will require relinquishing the old. The planet gets raped because man wants to own. Now that there is little left to own, value must be relocated. When we shepherd what the Earth has to offer, we will stop exploiting the Earth and each other.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at http://www.HeartlandHealing.com

posted at 06:22 pm
on Monday, August 08th, 2011

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