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For Who and at what cost?

The truth that is never told, else the whole lot comes tumbling down.

I was always told that we need to buy more to support economic growth. But a green economist told me to follow the money. If economic growth is the holy grail that will get us out of our mess, then always ask the question, for whom and at what cost.

I credit, and take and the following text mainly from Helena Norberg-Hodge’s book Local is our Future, because she says it better than I can.

I stress that this isn’t necessarily political but it is so damaging to our society and environment that it needs saying, particularly now as economic growth is banded around so frequently as the panacea to our ills.

I truly think that the astronomical wealth created by the globalisation of the economy could save our earth if it was shared equally.

This touches the farmer I spoke to the other day complaining about cheap imports of pork to the supermarkets, undermining his high welfare standards and the cheap imports from those trade deals which likewise undercut all our local producers even though the haulage of those goods is a massive carbon footprint, which no-one pays for!

We won’t clean our River Wye until we can hold to account one of the biggest corporations in the world ‘Cargill’. They own Avarra, who dump chicken poo containing phosphates from the millions of birds in their intensive poultry units, on farmland in the river catchment; and as they leach into the Wye they cause toxic conditions and almost all life dies. But no government is going to challenge them because they are too big. And so the situation worsens and we lose our salmon and we can’t stop it.

Globalisation is an economic transformation, and for the rich or poor nations the fundamental process is the same: deregulation, centralisation and privatisation of business, finance and politics. This process adds to the bottom line of the multi-national corporations and the banks, but has a profoundly negative impact on society”. And none of the big parties talk about this, as if economic growth is the only thing that counts, else the whole lie collapses about them.

Although heightened job insecurity is a consequence of globalisation, the remedy offered by policy makers never involves reversing corporate deregulation. Instead, more economic growth, fewer environmental regulations, fewer taxes and more government support for hi-tech is prescribed.” Sound familiar?

Because most people don’t understand the impact of the current economic system, they embrace the false narratives that blame immigrants or minorities – people who are themselves victimised even more profoundly by the global economic system.

And because almost no political leader is willing to point to the corporate-led economy as the root cause of so many problems, voices reflecting a right-wing, anti-government and xenophobic perspective fill the gap.”

Political insecurity

Deregulation is making global corporations and banks richer, [obscenely so], but it is impoverishing governments. Their treasuries have been drained by the heavy subsidies and tax breaks handed out to attract big business, and further eroded by offshoring and the ability of multi-nationals to hide profits in countries with lower tax rates.

Meanwhile, governments are left to cover all the externalities – the social and environmental problems that are the inevitable by-products of global growth.

Increasingly distanced from the institutions that effect their lives and growing ever more insecure about their economic livelihoods, many people have become frustrated, angry and disillusioned with the entire political system. Ignorant about the role of the global economy in the downward spiral of their communities, many people blame individual politicians or political parties – only to be disappointed when a change in the party in power makes no difference for their community or their personal lives.”

Others vote for candidates who promise that further freeing big business by cutting ‘red tape’ will boost economic growth and create secure jobs. Because they don’t see the bigger picture, they become increasingly susceptible to false claims and extremist views.” Local is our Future by Helena Norberg-Hodge

I want to shout this from the roof tops as it is so important that we realise that the globalisation of the economic system is accelerating climate change, the destruction of nature and the anger and frustration of the people as the fabric of our society is torn asunder.

But for now, when those questions on the economy come in at the hustings as they generally do, and the leaflets all call for a boost to the economy (not further regulation of the multi-national corporations and banks) then ask yourself that question...for who, and at what cost? (The numbers are truly staggerring)

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