To put an end to the present financial crisis, world leaders are calling for some kind of global governance, which is another word for a world government. And as “a crisis like this should not go to waste,” they add that we should size this opportunity to also solve the environmental problem, that is to say, that people (especially in the Western civilization) should consume much less, in order not to deplete the earth’s limited resources. As they usually do, any crisis is a pretext for them to call for more power and centralization over the people.
But what these world leaders do not say is that we do not need a world government to solve the financial crisis, or save the environment. Besides, what they propose to get out of the crisis – spend more to create more jobs – goes exactly against protecting the environment. This is only one of the many contradictions of a flawed financial system.
If one examines the problem closely, one sees that it is the rule of the present financial system that causes such a useless degradation of the resources of the globe – especially the rule that binds the distribution of purchasing power to employment, thus creating situations like this one: ecologist groups would like to force a plant to stop polluting the environment, but the Government replies that it would cost too much and could even force it to close. So it is preferable to keep the jobs even at the expense of the environment.
Reality – the environment – is sacrificed for a symbol – money. And what about all the artificial needs created for the sole purpose of keeping people employed? What about all the paper work and red tape that requires the need for a lot of people, packed in office buildings? What about goods manufactured in order to be consumed as quickly as possible, with the goal of selling more of them? (This is also called, in technical terms, “planned obsolescence”.) Even though the product is still working or usable, publicity campaigns will convince you that it is now unfashionable, and that you need the latest stuff on the market. As long as people consume, everything is fine...
The basic cause of pollution in the environment and the waste of the resources of the globe is the chronic shortage of purchasing power, which is inherent in the present financial system: at any given moment the amount of money available to the community as purchasing power is never sufficient to buy back the total production made by industry.
In the present system, there should be, theoretically, a growing mountain of unsold goods. But if goods are sold all the same, it is because instead, we have a growing mountain of debt! Since people do not have enough money, retailers must encourage credit buying in order to sell their goods: buy now, pay later (or should we say more precisely, pay forever...) But this is not sufficient to fill the gap in the purchasing power.
So there is also a growing stress upon the necessity to create jobs that distribute wages without increasing the quantity of consumer goods for sale. So governments have recourse to what they call “infrastructure programs”: they will build bridges, roads, etc. But this is not sufficient either. Merely for the sake of distributing income, we must compulsively churn over the resources of the earth. The economy today is not driven by consumer demand, but the need to create unwanted production.
From there, you can imagine all the effects these disastrous economic policies have on the environment. For example, one always hear about the need for economic growth, the need for nations to be more competitive and always produce more. In reality, since the real purpose of economics is to satisfy human needs (at least the basic ones), a country should be able to increase, stabilize, or reduce its production, according to the needs of its population — and in many cases, a decrease in production would be more appropriate.
If, during two years, a nation was able to supply to every household a washing machine that could last twenty years, it would be totally insane for this country to continue to produce even more washing machines! Henry Ford once said that the goal of a good car manufacturer should be to build a family car that lasts a lifetime. This is technically feasible, but if such cars were to be produced, it would bring about economic chaos: what would we do with all these auto workers now unemployed? To talk about voluntary simplicity, consuming less, goes against the present financial system that links the income to employment.
What is needed is a financial system that guarantees each human being with an income not linked to employment, what we call a dividend, based on the doublefold heritage of natural resources and progress: in other words, economic democracy, where people do not need to get into debt to buy their own production.