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Global economy – noticing there’s an elephant in the room

Hazel Ashton writes:

Many are now feeling the impact of the global recession. It is bringing home the reality of our global interdependence.

Many involved in local community development, academia and policy have regarded the global economy as  ‘the elephant in the living room.’ It is there, but felt to be too big, or too difficult to acknowledge.

I’m hoping increasing awareness will stimulate appreciation of the nature of the challenges. I see this knowledge as a necessary prerequisite for effective transition to a more sustainable future.

There are some short, easy to understand, enjoyable videos about the global economic situation. I recommend following three:

The first video involves Bryan Dawe asking quiz contestant John Clarke the million dollar questions about the European Debt Crisis. It manages to treat very serious issues in insightful and very funny ways. This video was first broadcast on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) 7.30 Report, May 20, 2010. See transcript

John Clarke is a New Zealander who many will remember as Fred Dagg, a rural character, in the pre-neo liberal era. He has since joined the brain-drain to Australia, which now seems to claim him as it own.

A second video with humorous and helpful insights features John Bird and John Fortune on the British South Bank Show. This video is about the subprime banking mess. This amazingly prescient video was first recorded in 2007.

The third video I would like to recommend is produced by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). It is called capitalism explained in a way we can understand. It is narrated by academic David Harvey and is accompanied by impressive and engaging animation.

David Harvey is a Marxist. Although not a Marxist myself, I do recall learning about Karl Marx’s emphasis on the economic substructure as the major driving force of historical changes and transitions.

I think Harvey argues lucidly for the Marxist case about the excessive power of unbridled capital, (including the reckless generation of massive debt bubbles).

The failure of professional economists to predict or adequately explain the causes of the recession appears to have generated huge interest in Harvey’s explanation of Marx’s work. Harvey sees himself as providing explanation of the problem and helping to provide a basis for debate and discussion. However, he does not provide solutions.

Finally in this section, I’d like to refer to economist Paul Krugman’s latest Blog America Goes Dark in the New York Times.

It is a very serious and disturbing account of the impacts of the recession in the United States. Saving money by “turning off streetlights,” and “breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel” and laying off teachers.

I would be interested in your views – especially on new thinking needed to move on from the current economic models (especially how not to depend on high levels of debt); to futures in which the inhabitants of villages can meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations.

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