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article imageOp-Ed: Occupy Movements — Saving our planet requires Economics re-write

By Raymond Samuels     May 5, 2012 in World
On 1 May 2012, Occupy movements in several cities used the workers' holiday to relaunch their campaigns. A CBC radio documentary which aired several weeks ago emphasized the "Occupy Vision" to replace capitalism with economic democracy.
Have you ever wondered what is the root cause of today's problems of environmental degradation and social injustices? You may have considered this simply to be the result of corrupt politicians, or, more specifically, a lack of political will in the face of systemic greed; or a variety of other reasons. However, the root cause of the problem lies in how economics is taught.
Teachers of economics have sought to present their discipline as "neutral science". However, as humans, we can see that the practice of today's economics does not produce neutral results.
The prevailing context of 'economics' is constructed around a highly political and crypto-fascistic system. It operates much like a crooked casino with predestined selected "winners" but many more losers. The teachers of economics are the architects and legitimators of a highly sophisticated "Pyramid Scheme".
The implicit social Darwinian context of capitalism that Milton Friedman outlined in Capitalism and Freedom (1962) serves the elites who have power at the expense of the disenfranchised masses.
Isn't it time that we, as humanity, considered the importance of teaching a "new economics" inspired from such potentially rejuvenating disciplinary areas as social ecology and deep ecology?
The Occupy Movements have focussed on 'government' and 'corporations'. But, don't the schools of economics have a role to play?
Western industrial civilization has basically bought into the models of "economic prosperity", which have been taught in economics classrooms. These classrooms largely pivot around the reactionary teachings of the University of Chicago School of Economics. The prevailing models of economics, which emphasize the virtues of "market growth", irrespective of social and environmental costs, were, for the most part, developed in the nineteenth century.
Today's economics were developed in the era of Adam Smith, and by other great scholars of the time. In the post World War II societal milieu, these economics theories were further engineered to serve the interests of large corporate enterprises (by implicitly giving the 'rights of individuals' to the entities). The 'Chicago School', which embraced the exploitative economic doctrine of "Human Capital", was at the forefront of the corporate oriented manipulation of economics.
Global Warming and various other environmental problems in the world today, will, in all likelihood, only persist for so long as the academic discipline of economics continues to support human self-destruction. The prevailing economics is permeated with indifference under the greed-driven agenda of the corporate "selves".
Protecting human quality-of-survival on our planet Earth requires the replacement of the current model of "market"-biased economics with a revitalized people-driven economics. In this context, social and environmental considerations would not be an afterthought but in rejuvenated "New Economics", these factors would be at the core of all societal decision-making processes, as well as implemented public policies.
The Occupy Movement has sought to explore a more inclusive form of society. Arguably, institutional social change will require "teachers" to adopt an 'economics for all' approach, one which respects Mother Earth.
It is essential that humanity considers the vital importance of exploring a rejuvenated context of economics and 'development', a new approach which embraces the spirit of participatory democracy and environmental protection and which is a necessary affirmation of our human rights.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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