Saturday, April 19, 2008

Strip Mining

There is something wrong with our economy when it rewards something like coal strip mining. That this is considered more economically efficient and profitable to society. How do you get the economy to recognize that blowing 300ft off of a mountaintop to get at 2 feet of coal is neither truly efficient nor economical? Are the ultimate costs far greater then any other method – ecologically, socially? Is it just a matter of externalities not being included in the cost of production? If you included the externalities would it make this method too costly? Yet, how do you include the loss of something like a mountain top –how can you place a price on something like a mountain, a forest a cleanly flowing river. These things have values that are priceless – their value is infinite in its nature and there is no way to truly place a price on this.

Therefore we are faced with the recognition that a pricing system that is based on ideas of scarcity cannot fully account for what needs to be recognized by the economy. This leads us to the need to create an economic system that in someway can account for things of infinite value. That infinite value is always part of the equation and that ignoring that which holds infinite value results in the environment and social horrors that we see capitalist economics imposing on our society and earth.

How then do you include this value, how do you create a system that recognizes things of infinite value? What needs to be changed in an economy? Is capitalism inherently unable to include that which holds infinite value? What happens if we focus the economy on the concept of abundance instead of scarcity? What if the economy pays attention to abundance and the pricing system is based on a concept of abundance?

In today’s world abundance is actually more prevalent then in any other time. Money is more abundant then at any other time, food is more abundant then at any time, there are more commodities above the earth then below the earth. There are more homes, more people; there is more of everything then at any other time in history. Yet, our economy is still driven by concepts of scarcity. Decisions and prices are still focused on scarcity.

What would an economy look like that focused on abundance? How would you create a pricing mechanism that paid attention to abundance? Can you create such a system? Does the system have to be something completely different that doesn’t even use a pricing mechanism? Doesn’t use money? A gift economy? This is where the juicy questions arise. This is where one truly has to delve into theories and explore what is contained within this train of thought.

I am constantly thinking and exploring these questions. From my basic research, and asking some big time economists. No one has answered this question of infinite value in capitalist pricing mechanism. It is a void in the thinking of a pricing system and is something that needs to be answered. I am committing myself to exploring this idea further and trying to see if I can’t come up with a theoretical understanding that is able to include that which holds infinite value.

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