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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.

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Archives 2002:
Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003:
Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life
Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004:
Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All

Archives 2005:
Vol. 4, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Standing up for Humanity
Unity in Diversity

Thought and Imagination
Imagination and Healing
Lessons of Katrina
Intelligent Design or Evolution

Archives 2006:
Vol. 5, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-Violent Political Change
Sustainable Development
Legalizing Torture
Living Without an Enemy
"Fast Food" is really "Slow Food"


Featured Articles about Responsibility, the Future and Consciousness:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Conflict, Harmony and Integrity
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-violent Political Change
Living Without an Enemy
Protecting Children: Words and Deeds




March, 2008
7, Number 3

This Month's Article

The Imaginary Economy — Part I

The imaginary economy started when gold, something with no intrinsic value, became a widespread standard of exchange. Bags of grain, a slab of salt, livestock, animal skins, a basket of vegetables, the day’s catch previously drove an economy that was material and unambiguous. Now our economy is mainly based on numbers moving electronically through cyberspace.

In my thirty-five years of working I have never been paid in cash or other material goods. Every month numbers appear in my bank account, and they are moved around as bills are paid. I rarely touch money in paying for anything either. I insert or slide my credit card and take my groceries, clothes, or gas. If a bill needed to be paid I would write the appropriate numbers on a check causing another movement of numbers from bank to bank.  Now, I seldom even write checks. Insurance, utilities, services and many purchases are paid either on websites, or by automatic withdrawals. My wealth has always been based on trust, underwritten by mutual agreement, a sum of numbers translated into savings, goods and services.

Economic booms and busts seem in my simplistic concept of economics as so many emotional ups and downs -- crises of faith or the euphoria of confidence or wishful thinking. Even the value of something is often not inherent in the object itself but rather based on emotional responses. Hence, people will create higher values based upon image and advertising hype causing them to willingly spend money on things they don’t even need. The economy is even a mirror of the emotional state of people in the society. Hopelessness and fear breed recession while hope and confidence is an economic stimulus even inflating prices.

Given that our economy is based on the trust of numbers, how are the numbers allocated? Economists still use the Gross National Product (GNP) as a measure of a robust economy. However, people’s wealth and worth in the imaginary economy are seldom measured by productivity. Invariably, the CEO of a corporation earns more than its most productive worker. People involved in intellectual professions, entertainment, and sports earn the highest salaries and are thus “worth more.” Their worth is based on imaginary value rather than material value. My first realization of the imaginary versus the material value of labor was when I lived in a bush village in the Ivory Coast as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I realized that I would not be able to survive in their traditional agrarian economy even with my university education!

As a huge population approaches retirement age they are fast becoming dependant on pension funds and investments where they have parked sums of money in the purse of the drag queen of the imaginary economy, the stock market. That imaginary economy allows people to buy equities for sums far grater than their actual material worth, or even invest in the presumed value of some future worth for material commodities. The ups and downs of this imaginary economy strongly reflect the bipolar moods of the market, based on either confidence or fear.

The imaginary economy demonstrates the evolution of science, labor and the psychological consequences of non-material productivity. The changing concept of value in this economy is based on an increased speed of communication and an interdependent technological world consuming products of agrarian or industrial worlds. At the same time it challenges us to deal with the fundamental, underlying principles of those economies — trust, value, innovation, labor, justice and equilibrium. There is an historical gulf between the populations living in this imaginary economy and the populations living in economies where their daily labor produces the tangible basis for survival.

There is something inherently non-materialistic in the imaginary economy that could develop into a spiritual understanding of sharing and trust as the basis of economic health and justice. At the same time humanity must tap the wisdom of sustainable and respectful systems of material productivity to understand how we can live harmoniously in a material economy that meets the needs of human life while protecting the natural environment. Future world peace, justice and survival demand that those living in the imaginary economy come to terms with the material contributions and needs of the rest of humanity. If the bubble of the imaginary economy should burst many people would find the foundation of their life’s work and its resulting wealth would evaporate. However, the fact that so many are dependent on and participants in the imaginary economy makes it have a life of its own that sustains it.

Next month: What models ought we use for future economic development? How would sustainable living impact the economy? What will become the basis for personal value and worth? >> read article

© 2008 Richard V. Sidy

Read Related Articles

Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival

Sustainable Development is Nature's Way

Fast Food is Really Slow Food

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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

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