Response to Cant anybody here play this game
Response to “Can’t anybody here play this game” Greg Gerritt 5/24/08
Ian Donnis has accurately captured the mood, the despair most Rhode Islanders feel about the economy and the state budget in his article “Cant anybody here play this game”. He also presents us some of the history of this despair, beginning with the deindustrialization of Rhode Island, progressing to the latest studies, papers, and plans of the eminent professors, and the EDC spin doctors. Donnis also captures the general consensus that the “experts” have of high tech knowledge based economy that they want implemented in Rhode Island, but that never seems to arrive.
What Donnis leaves out of this equation, is the possibility is that all these experts are wrong about what it might take to bring a general prosperity to Rhode Island, and that their wrong headedness is the result of some very serious and fundamental misunderstandings of what is bringing economic woes to Rhode Island and what new approaches are needed to move us forward.
Everything the EDC, the professors, the economists, the bureaucrats propose for the Rhode Island economy is still based on the idea that the economy can grow forever, and that in some way we shall be able to fuel it all with cheap energy. Saying that there are limits to growth is written off as some sort of Malthusian dystopia, as in the past the corporate order has been able to kill enough people to take over their forests, minerals, and farmlands, and incorporate the rest of the newly exploited population as cheap labor, but there are no new forests to exploit, no new farmlands to bring into production, and we have reached peak oil. In other words there are fundamental changes, but the models we are saddled with are still based on the past.
We hear more and more about sustainability, about Green jobs programs, but even here, it is words without understanding the implications. People are already using resources at unsustainable rates, have run out of places to put the garbage (and I do not only mean Johnston) and global climate change threatens civilization. What is sustainable about depleting resources and polluting ourselves to death, and why would anyone think that such a program, with a high tech spin, is actually going to benefit our community? Eventually we are going to come to the realization that for people to be able to live in peace on planet earth, for Rhode Island and every other community on the planet to prosper, we are going to have to shrink the American economy, and massively redirect it towards sharing better with the rest of the world. We are going to have to quit squandering the wealth of the planet on the war machine and live with much more localized economies. James Hansen of NASA says we have about 5 years to make the transition to a carbon free economy if we want civilization to survive. Until the EDC understands that, until the legislature understands that, until the governor understands that, and all of the implications for their fantasies of growing our way out of hard times, the only people who will profit from all of the studies and pronouncements about the Rhode Island economy and what to do, are the scam artists and con men who get paid big bucks to conduct all of these useless studies and spin the publicity about them.
I challenge the Phoenix and all of the “experts” to open their eyes and their minds to the world around them and start to plan for an economy based on using less and sharing more.