Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monetizing the Meaning of Life

With the financial crisis gaining momentum -- I imagine it like a sandstorm that devours the jobs into its vortex while kicking dirt in our eyes -- there is that small silver lining at the edge of the storm; we have the great opportunity to remake our financial system into one that is holistic and ready for the challenges we face today. We can implement a financial philosophy that considers happiness in it's calculation like Bhutan, the first country to not only calculate GNP but GNH - gross national happiness into it's development activities. Taking this idea further we can build on penetrating works like "Small is beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered" and remember that we need an economics that "is not afraid to discuss spirit and conscience, moral purpose and the meaning of life, an economics that aims to educate and elevate people, not merely to measure their low-grade behavior." We also have the opportunity to account for the great value nature provides for us to live and be healthy on this planet, an idea that may finally be getting its due as "a range of international institutions, including the World Bank and the United Nations, are now in the process of designing ambitious new programmes" that take this idea into account.

On the flip side, the idea that we must figure out how to monetize the meaning of life or the value of a tree or a forest seems still a little off to me -- a step in the right direction for now, but still a little off. How do we quantify what bees do for us let alone figure out how to monetize some of our favorite services like facebook, youtube, google earth and twitter. (The smart CEO's of these companies have still not figured that out). People will only click on your ads:


so many times.

It makes me wonder if a second economy could flower next to the current one. Couldn't we, as Stephenie Meyer's alien's do in "The Host" exist without money? If everyone knew where true value lay, wouldn't we cease to need it anymore? I know this won't happen but I wonder if our financial crisis won't see the flower of trade and exchange working more vigorously along side our cool and distant plastic that we swipe which is tied to numbers that we get in exchange for our energy.

We'll see? Out of every dark period, there follows rebirth and new life. Lets craft, together, something beautiful.

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