By David Korten
Our economic system has failed on every dimension: environmental, social, and financial. The fact that the Wall Street financial collapse has preceded the terminal collapse of our social and environmental systems is a blessing, because it demonstrates that the economic system has failed even on its own terms.
Financial collapse is only about money and can be fixed over a few years with relative ease. Social collapse is about the loss of relationships of trust and caring that are the essential fabric of functioning community. These relationships can take generations, even centuries, to restore on a national or global scale. Environmental collapse is about Earth’s life support system. This can take millions of years to restore—if ever.
Spending trillions of dollars in an effort to restore Wall Street to its original condition is a reckless waste of time and resources. The more intelligent course is to declare our independence from the predatory institutions of Wall Street and put in place a new policy framework favoring Main Street businesses and workers engaged in the socially and environmentally responsible production of goods and services that improve the lives of all.
The following publications outline the argument and a bold policy agenda to put the needed framework in place.
- David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth. Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009. Will launch at the historic Trinity Church in the heart of Wall Street January 23, 2009.
- David Korten, “Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy,” YES!, Winter 2009 outlines an essential five-part policy framework to facilitate the work of responsible businesses, investors, civic organizations, and local governments engaged in growing a 21st century economy from the bottom up. PDF.
- David Korten, ”After the Meltdown: Economic Redesign for the 21st Century,” Tikkun, November-December 2008 is explicitly addressed to President-elect Obama and includes my high dream for the economic address to the nation I hope he might deliver soon after his inauguration. PDF.
See also the new YES! magazine web page featuring a number of YES! articles on the New Economy. YES! magazine is planning to devote its Summer 2009 issue to the New Economy theme.
I cochair with John Cavanagh, executive director of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., a New Economy Working Group formed at the end of 2008 to further develop and advance New Economy policies. IPS, which works in partnership with progressive members of Congress and many national groups involved in economic education and policy advocacy, serves as the secretariat of the Working Group. YES! Magazine, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and the Great Turning Initiative are initial partners in the New Economy Working Group
Korten Tikkun Meltdown