Change the system

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Letter to the Editor

John E. Gibson, Blooming Prairie

Our hyper-capitalistic system is like a runaway train. If the train runs out of fuel before crashing, we will not survive needing the fuel for heating our homes and cooking our food. The only way to delay the crash is by fighting resource wars — wars that consume huge quantities of the needed resources.

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Defenders of the system argue that other economies will overtake ours and hoard the resources. Potential rivals recognize the problem but unless we stop intimidating them, they will continue beating their plowshares into swords, a new form of mutually assured destruction. Isn’t it time to consider jumping off the train?

Humanity must develop institutions that allocate resources among developing nations’ needs instead of developed nations’ toys. Our labor must shift toward socially shared goods instead of private consumption as we learn to live more lightly on the land. Domestic production must focus on function instead of fashion. These changes will dignify both capital and labor but will be painful as they are in direct opposition to the policies of our political parties and broadly ingrained public attitudes.

Dismissing these ideas as utopian socialism will not relieve us of our responsibility to take corrective action. The ideas of social and economic justice are enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and in the teachings of the world’s religions. Believers and humanists must unite to change the system instead of allowing our better angels to exhaust themselves fighting culture wars.