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Peter Joseph - The Big Question - TEDxOjai

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TEDx Ojai | x = Independently organized TED event The title of this presentation is 'The Big Question: Environmental Misalignment and the Value War'. Human society today has two diametrically opposed systems of economy. One is our traditionally imposed mode of monetary-market economics. The other is a physical-rule structure emerging from our growing scientific recognition of reality both environmentally and sociologically. The consequence is an ever-increasing level of social destabilization and an ongoing decline in public health. I've divided this into two brief sections. The first part is called 'System Clash: Market Efficiency vs. Technical Efficiency' Part two: 'Values Wars: Societal Potential, Collapse and Transition' (what we're capable of doing, what's in store for us if we don't how we can get out of this system, etc). Before I begin part one, what is economy? It's defined in Greek as the management of a household a definition that's often lost. To economize, what does that mean? It means to increase efficiency. Keep that in mind: reducing waste. That's what economy is supposed to be. Defining my terms, we'll use two terms throughout this presentation. The first is a theoretical notion of the 'Earth Economy' which I'll define as "Decisions made directly based upon scientific understandings as they relate to optimized habitat management and human health." Production and Distribution is regulated by the most technically efficient and sustainable approaches known compared to our currently existing 'market economy' defined [as] "Decisions are based on independent human actions through the vehicle of monetary exchange regulated by the pressures of Supply and Demand. Production and Distribution is enabled by the buying and selling of labor and material provisions, with the motivations of a person or group (the self- interest) as the defining attribute of unfolding. This is a chart of seven economic attributes. [There are] many more but this is what I wanted to focus on here. Basically they are intrinsic to each economy, in comparison. I'm focusing on the market economy and its relationship to a natural system what we're calling the 'earth economy.' The only caveat here with these asterisks are elements of our sociological development based on scientific integrity and ingenuity: the evolution of science and our knowledge of ourselves and the environment. That will be talked about as we touch upon each one of these. 1) Consumption In a market economy the entire thing is based on consumption. The only reason that you're wearing clothes, that you're eating or that you have a home is because someone somewhere is buying or giving a service, exchanging money in some form and consuming. That's what this system is. What does the natural world have to say about that? What does an 'earth economy' have to say? The Earth is a finite closed system. Preservation, not consumption, should be the ethos. If you lived on an island with a small group of people and you had a finite amount of resources with a natural generation of growth a very simplified society, would you decide to make an economic system that tried to use that up as fast as possible? No, and I'm afraid the Earth is an isolated island in a vast cosmic sea, and is a lot smaller than we think. 2) Obsolescence: The market system is driven explicitly by obsolescence. Two [types]: Intrinsic Obsolescence being the use of cost-efficiency meaning that every good produced has to be inferior the moment it's made because the corporate institutions must save money at the very beginning of production to remain competitive against everyone else competing [and] Planned Obsolescence, which is much more insidious a form of fraud (even though it's completely codified and formalized as a marketing tactic) basically designs goods to break down under the assumption of repeat purchases. It's truly amazing that this exists at all. What does Nature have to say about this? Building upon what we just stated: It's environmentally irresponsible to design goods to fail or allow them to fail unnecessarily. That is basically offensive. We need optimum design to have things last, survive. 3) Property The ownership metaphysic is a core premise allowing controlled restriction of resources and goods. I say metaphysic because property isn't real. There's not such thing as ownership in the broad scheme not either intellectual or physical goods. It's all transient. The idea of everyone owning one of everything for example. Does that make a lot of sense when we think about our natural economy? What about the use of goods? What about access? The natural environment demands access. Universal property is inefficient. Strategic access is more environmentally responsible as a model and more socially efficient. If you have a car that you drive maybe 40% of the time why not let the other 60% be used by somebody else? You create a system of access and use. That's environmentally responsible. 4) Growth, building on consumption once again The market economy requires near constant growth to maintain employment. This ties in a little bit with the growth of population as well. You always hear about this in the government: "We have growth. We need more growth, GDP. We're lacking growth." It's basically just absurd! We need a 'steady state' economy. The Earth is a finite system. Earth demands a 'balanced load' economy respecting dynamic equilibrium where things come together in balance, not the necessity to exhaust just to maintain labor. 5) Competition: This inches into our new sociological developments that aren't talked about enough. [A] Market Economy [is] based upon personal and corporate competition in the open market: selling your labor, competing for market share. That's a completely metaphysical notion based on an early tribalistic form of scarcity, this notion that we can't possibly get along or can't be enough to go around so we have to fight for everything and everyone is out for themselves. What we've come to find is that human collaboration actually is at the core of all invention. It's called 'usufruct'. Psychological studies now show long term distortion with the competitive view. The great amount of distortion, corruption, crime all you hear in the headlines: white-collar, blue-collar all comes from this primitive notion of a competitive environment and nothing is held as sacred. 6) Labor for Income Human survival is contingent upon one's ability to obtain employment and enable sales. That's your right to life. If you can't get labor, you might as well die because you don't serve a economically efficient role. What does this mean to our development in science and technology? Mechanization is incredible! The advent of automation is making human employment more scarce at a minimum and possibly obsolete entirely. Mechanization is also more productive and efficient than human labor which means it's socially irresponsible for us not to mechanize and enjoy the fruits of the abundance, ease and safety it can create. 7) Scarcity and Imbalance: Contrary to what most think money and the movement of money that generates consumption economy is explicitly based on imbalance and inefficiency. It's really an inefficiency economy, an anti-economy. The poverty you see and the imbalance is not just some by-product or result of some greed, institution, etc. that is inherent to the system. The system wouldn't work if it was efficient and there was a balance in any element of human survival. Why would we want that? Abundance, equality! New sociological studies have found that equality is much more positive to public health. If you compare the US (a highly stratified society with deep imbalance) to Norway and Sweden that have much less levels of stratification, the public health in those less stratified societies blow us out of the water. Why not work to create an abundance through all these mechanisms of efficiency that technology now enables to meet human needs reduce crime, all sorts of other obvious sociological phenomena. 'Spectrum of Social Disorder' and there it is! You have a macro-socioeconomic system, a macroeconomic element that is basically funneling out this distortion from childhood all the way through every level of sociological exhibition. Everything you see is coming from this very sick distortion premise of 'economy.' My interest, ultimately [is] the relationship of macroeconomics to sociology. Part Two (change!) 'Values Wars: Societal Potential, Collapse and Transition' Over here are a series of social problems that you would see in the newspapers: poverty, unemployment, destabilization, debt collapse, pollution, waste all of which are completely, technically obsolete. None of them have to exist at all. At a minimum they could be reduced to a very core degree though a little more subjective. Removing the environmental and sociological inefficiency inherent to the 'market' and simply applying modern scientific understandings resolves or greatly reduces all of these issues. That is our potential. Since we don't maximize that potential unfortunately (because of this framework we're in) we are faced with a unique form of collapse that many are not talking about enough. There's three nails in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. Unemployment: Based on the way things are going you won't see % employment levels that you've ever seen in the past for the human population. It's over. Energy costs: only going to rise, we live within a hydrocarbon economy. There's absolutely no investment or true intention of the government or corporate institutions to move forward with any type of renewables that'd replace the current massive infrastructure we have created and far too much more money will be made as the system fails because of the scarcity of this thing. Debt Failure: Am I the only one laughing at the fact that there's this fictional notion of 'debt' that's like dominoes knocking down countries one by one? Transition: Here is the value war. When I speak with people about these issues they tend to understand it but they have these value associations that hold on to old artifacts of the prior system. It's a value war. How do we get from one to the other? What can we do to inspire change and create social reform? And that is the big question: What will you do? What kind of form? What kind of social awareness? What kind of role do you think you can play? Will you maximize your own self-interest? Or will you realize that your self-interest is only as good as the integrity of society as a whole where self-interest must become social interest in order for us to survive? That is the new equation and that is the big question. Thank you very much.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 24 seconds
Year: 2012
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: TED
Director: TED
Views: 718
Posted by: ltiofficial on Mar 11, 2012

In this talk, Peter Joseph examines todays economy and reflects our environmental misalignment and the value war.
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