We are on the throes of another global financial crisis. Currencies are being battered, stock prices are down and inequality is growing very fast. This happens every decade and we never learn and each crisis gets worse.
Usually, the rich elites get bailed out and everyone else has to suffer the consequences. Money, a token created by humanity to help facilitate daily life, trade and social progress, has instead turned against humanity. Could this be a revenge of the environment after years of exploitation and abuse? Is this an ‘economic’ climate change moment?
Unfortunately, humanity has lost all sense of what is lasting and important and what is fake and unsustainable. The pandemic exposed the critical importance of key workers like nurses and teachers and public transport workers but they remain some of the hardest working and least paid. Nature continues to be a resource and dumping ground. A picture of any bank trading room will expose the power, gaming and aggression which lie at the epicentre of finance. Bankers are the highest paid but least responsible to society or nature. Economics continues to drive a chainsaw into nature and society and recent events are yet more evidence of how complex and unruly our global financial system has become. We humans have lost control of something we created.
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My research calls for a renewed localism and ethical focus on money, where faith and community should be seen as important ecosystems of trust, responsibility and mutual interdependence. There is much that happens in communities where money plays no part, and the influence of finance is limited. In Dharmic cultures, the constant sharing of food at festivals and community events is one such example. Somehow, neither the donations nor the food ever runs out, and joy and trust spread like ripples at such gatherings. Trade used to be a win-win personal activity and a place where new friendships and relationships were built, and lawyers were nowhere to be seen. Communities ought to be the new focus for sustainable economic science. We urgently need to rebuild our understanding of the fundamental principles of accounting, finance and economics from the ground up.
Property should be for use and occupation, not speculation and rent extraction through exploitation of vulnerable people. Food should be for health and nourishment and not a manufacturing commodity for factory farming and profit maximisation. Transport and healthcare should be accessible and affordable by everyone, not just the rich classes. Loans and credit should be extended to the needy to meet their basic requirements instead of charging exploitative interest rates. Investment ought to be purposeful and sustainable.
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We will then have happy families and communities which are the bedrock of any peaceful society. Money must be made our servant never our master.