1717. Need for systems thinking in economics and social thought

Project Syndicate Sunday had a hard hitting overview of the state of the world. You have probably read it. Here is part:

A World Besieged
From Aleppo and North Korea to the European Commission and the Federal Reserve, the global order’s fracture points continue to deepen. And everywhere, it seems, the political establishment is sitting on its hands.

… Almost everywhere around the globe, there is a nagging sense that, in the words of Hernando de Soto, the president of the Institute of Liberty and Democracy, “the post-World War II international order – which aimed, often successfully, to advance peace and prosperity through exchange and connection – could well collapse.” Indeed, for Nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller, it is the very “economic implications of the nation-state” that have become ripe for challenge.

But the perspectives that follow in that posting focus on the economy and growth. The issue of climate warming due to economic activity is not addressed. It seems to me we must find a way to legitimate a discussion that includes economy and climate and the future of employment (or income) in the same conversation and to delegitimate any approach that deals with one without the others.

Of course such an approach implies a sense of the future possibilities. Always iffy, with a high chance of ignoring what actually comes to be. It might be that what really is emerging is war, in which case the military industrial complex benefits, and those who chose West Point over Harvard will have fulsome careers. Many I suspect are actually counting on this dystopian future.

A corporate exec says (I may have quoted this before, I find it so powerful) “Doug, we can either continue as we are for fifteen years and then collapse, or we can try to change – and collapse now. Which do you prefer?”

But given all, should we not be working on a plausible future that looks for new ways to distribute income, looks for innovations that are truly green, that looks to financial institutions that wold spread wealth rather than concentrate it, that would help rather than marginalized those hurt by the very rough transitions to a world coping with the real issues? Schiller suggests looking at the nation state and redoing Westphalia. Big deal. Can we handle it?

How do we liberate the creativity to cope without amplifying the operation of the wealth concentrating economy?

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