Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The economy

I heard Greens co-leader Russel Norman on the radio the
other day saying that a reduction in the use of plastic bags
would be ‘good for the environment.’ It crystallized some
thoughts I’d been having about the way we think and talk
about ‘the economy,’ which is generally confined within
fairly narrow parameters, most of them numerical:
interest rates, share prices, percentages, growth figures
etc. The economy, global or national, is much, more than
that, of course, but you wouldn’t know it from the public
discourse that passes as economic analysis and debate.
It’s not just the exchange or movement of money and
commodities, it’s the way we live and what we do in order
to survive and how the planet copes as well. Here lies the
danger in talking about ‘the environment’ as if it were
something discrete and separately definable, like, say,
‘industry’ or 'education.’ Actually, the environment is the
economy is the environment; it’s all one. The Greens
should talk less about ‘the environment’ and more about
'the economy,’ not only because it’s more realistic but
because it'll keep them from being partitioned off in the
public mind as people concerned only with nature and
trees and wildlife, and from thereby being politically
diminished as a sectional interest group. I know they
understand this: they just need to say it more clearly.
Reducing the use of plastic bags is good for the economy
full stop. Every time you find yourself about to say ‘the
environment,’ pause and say ‘the economy' instead. It
will take you interesting places in your mind.

No comments: