Can our economic problems be solved with belief and faith? If yes we should all increase our attendance at church or mosque or temple. If no we may need to challenge some basic economic theology and those whose interests are supported by current economic beliefs.
I figure the basic economic problem is with energy and mineral resources. We have used up the most easily accessible. While there may be lots left in the earth’s crust their extraction is difficult and requires lots of energy. This means there is less energy available for all the other things we are used to having and standards of living are falling, at least for some people.
Many of us find it difficult to accept that this is a problem. We want to believe that economic growth can continue forever. We have been indoctrinated with the work ethic and believe that our happiness depends upon having a job and earning our keep. Unemployment causes a great deal of hardship
If the above theory is correct, then the problem is not one of returning to economic growth but one of adapting to a different situation. This means questioning a lot of what we believe about economics.
At this point I should distinguish between what I would like to see happen and what I expect to happen.
I believe we should have a collective responsibility to ensure everyone has the opportunity for the same standard of living as most other people. Some ideas about how to accomplish this are outlined in the essay “LETS go to market: Dealing with the economic crisis” on this weblog.
What I expect to see is a return to the type of social order which existed before the industrial revolution where most people lived at a subsistence level and worked to support a very few in obscene luxury.
In the meantime the debate of austerity as opposed to stimulus continues. Austerity is probably necessary but the way it is being carried out is taking us to a feudal type of society. Stimulus will use up even more of the available resources and bring us even quicker to a feudal society. Hyperinflation is also a possibility.
When I read various reasons for the economic crisis and the few suggestions for dealing with it I think of people drowning in the middle of the ocean and thrashing about hopelessly.