Spiritually Rethinking the Economy

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With the economy in crisis, right now seems like a good time to rethink the economic fundamentals of American life. The latest issue of Tikkun has three articles questioning some of the basic assumptions inherent in today’s economy, trying to move people toward a more collective and spiritual future.

“Our current economic policies and institutions are all based on the stupid idea that the faster we convert useful resources to toxic garbage, the richer we are,” according to author David Korten. With that model failing, society needs to redefine wealth, human nature, and God to create a “live-serving economy.”

People also need to rethink knowledge, according to Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daily writing in the issue. They write:

We are trained to view success as an individualistic process of some people achieving more than other because they work harder or are smarter. But if much of what we have comes to us as the free gift of many generations of historical contribution, there is a profound question as to how much can reasonably said to be ‘earned’ by one person, now or in the future.

Alperovitz and Dialy suggest economic models that could move the economy toward a more collective understanding of knowledge and wealth. They write about employee-owned firms and “capital stake” programs that would give $80,000 to all adult citizens for any purpose, preferably education.

Questioning the necessity of capitalism in general, author Allen D. Kanner calls on people to discard some of the assumptions about human nature that he calls “cynical.” The idea that people are inherently self-interested is not only false, according to Kanner, it promotes selfish and spiritually unfulfilling materialism. If people aren’t inherently selfish, Kanner writes that “capitalism unravels at the seams.” And that, to him, is a good thing.

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