Daily chart: Buy me a river | The Economist


The weekly magazine The Economist reports on a new index that  attempts to take stock of countries’ total wealth…

Daily chart: Buy me a river | The Economist.

I shared this with my beloved friend Alex Mosiak. Here is our interchange:

Me: What do you think of this?

Alex: In general, I would say that any and all experiments in diversifying GDP to incorporate education, human health, and the natural environment should be attempted, since GDP is the metric that controls our political economy and it’s dangerously myopic. 

However, in regards to this particular index what caught my eye was the contrast between Saudi Arabian and Brazilian “natural capital” per person. Brazil’s population is about 7 times that of Saudi Arabia’s, yet according to this index their natural capital is at least double that. What does this mean? They must be including Saudi Arabia’s oil – and looking at the “natural capital” of Canada, Australia, Venezuela, and Russia bears this out. 

So despite trying to develop an index that isn’t “fixated on short-term economic flows,” the UN has developed one that values the Ghawar oil field over the Amazon Rainforest. When it comes to long-term global wealth, this is nonsensical. And so the capitalist myopia returns, going beyond what I would say is the risky false equivalence between “produced capital” and “natural capital” implicitly embedded in all quantitative metrics such as this anyway. 

Me: I agree. And I want to start referring to capitalism as “globalized-corporate-capitalism”. I only say this because I think we need to start really hitting home that capitalism is not Adam Smith’s baby anymore. It is globalized corporate finance, a constantly modulating process. I would then go further and say that human beings are not standing reserve in the way Heidegger expected. Rather, they are standing-reserve-nodes whose primary function is detailed quite well here, that is, to be “derivative” channel’s for both “social wealth” and “natural wealth” to make their way into the networks of control. We should not underestimate what “derivative” means and will mean.

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