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America’s Deficit Attention Disorder by David Korten

Read the full article in YES! Magazine by David Korten

Money is the least of our problems. It’s time to pay attention to the real deficits that are killing us.  …

So long as money frames the debate, money is the winner and life is the loser. To score a political victory for life, the debate must be reframed around a narrative based on an understanding of the true sources of human well-being and happiness and a shift from money to life as the defining value.

A promising new frame is emerging from controversies surrounding the recent United Nation’s Rio+20 environmental conference. Wall Street interests argued that the best way to save Earth’s biosystems is to put a price on them and sell them to wealthy global investors to manage for a private return. Rather than concede the underlying frame to Wall Street and debate the price and terms of the sale, indigenous leaders and environmental groups drew on the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples to challenge the underlying frame. They declared that as the source of life, Earth’s living systems are sacred and beyond price. They issued a global call to recognize the rights of nature.

Thus framed, the Rio+20 debate highlights a foundational and inherent conflict between the rights of nature, human rights, property rights, and corporate rights.

In current practice, based on the same financial logic that leads us to treat financial deficits as more important than social and environmental deficits, we give corporate rights precedence over the property rights of individuals. We give property rights precedence over the human rights of those without property.  And we give human rights precedence over the rights of nature.

We will continue to pay a terrible price for so long as we allow the deeply flawed logic of pure finance to define our values and frame the political debate.

Read the full article in YES! Magazine by David Korten

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