Saturday, May 2, 2009

Can we afford to cure cancer?

I read an op-ed some 20 years ago that really changed my vision.  The author was discussing how the bottom line consideration for so many policies and actions was jobs.  Jobs, jobs, jobs. 

With all this importance placed on the need for more jobs, she wondered whether our society could handle putting an end to crime as millions of jobs in enforcement, prosecution, defense, prison construction and operation, probation, security, etc., would be lost.  The cure for cancer would also eliminate millions of jobs in research, treatment, pharmaceuticals, insurance, etc.  What would happen to our economy if everyone gave up smoking? 

The author also highlighted our preoccupation with the phenomena by pointing out that Native Americans didn’t even have a word for job. 

While everyone and every being has to make a living, and I believe that most people appreciate meaningful work, are jobs the ultimate reason for our being?

I realize unemployment is really high yet I proposed a systems changing solution that would immediately solve the unemployment problem as well as slow our ecological catastrophe. 

I believe we need to slow down our economic engine to solve our ecological and human social problems.  How might we increase happiness, joy and fulfillment without consuming more of the Earth’s overly burdened resources?  This really isn’t too hard to imagine.

The Brundtland report first articulated the concept of sustainable development as the sweet spot between the three E’s of Economy, Environment, and Equity.

However, the economy and society are really subsets of, and dependent on the environment.  A better graphic looks like this.

I'll let you think abou that and remind you that nature bats last and of course, there are no jobs on a dead planet.

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