Center for World Indigenous Studies
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FW Economy Dead End

Published: January 22, 2015, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

Fourth World peoples throughout the world generally do not benefit from state economies that measure their economic future using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP – production minus cost) and productivity. However, the population growth rate among Fourth World peoples is likely to shift the benefits of global wealth to their nations over the next fifty years. The most “growth oriented” states in the world according to Nick Timiraos writing in the Wall Street Journal will experience major economic decline in the next fifty years. Japan, Russia, Germany, China and Italy will, according to Timiraos experience “outright decline in employment” while Turkey, Argentina and South Africa will see employment increases. By this measure Fourth World nations in Africa, most of Asia, Melanesia and South America stand to become the new economic powerhouse for the world with their populations growing at a rate of 2.9% and greater (compared to the projected US population growth rate of 0.9%). African states like Nigeria and South Africa are predominantly Fourth World peoples and they are growing steadily raising the 2014 population of sub-Saharan Africa from 926 million people to about 2.2 billion people. The states with declining populations are also expected to experience significant declines in their economies.

The states’ emphasis on accumulated earnings value (currency) essentially ignores the more significant long-term measures of wealth (the health and productivity of the natural environment [including wildlife, plants, land, water, minerals, air] and the health, education and creativity of people) The working assumption of conventional economists the world over is that the greater your accumulated financial income the better standard of living for beneficiaries. The problem with this idea is that it assumes that the natural environment and human beings are essentially free for the taking. The financial accumulator tries to minimize the cost of extracting natural resources and providing health, education and social well-being for the human beings to maximize financial accumulation. But, there are several huge problems with what is in fact an unsustainable emphasis on growth aimed at producing more financial accumulation: 1. Human labor and creativity isn’t free but just exploitable and its depletion constitutes a net loss of global wealth, 2. the natural environment isn’t free since the depletion and contamination of the natural world [consumed] constitutes a net loss of natural wealth that supports global life. Growth, therefore has its limits and those limits are being reached by the world’s 20 most “growth oriented” states in the world. What will constrain and even reverse “growth” by these states? Population Decline.

The Growing Fourth World must avoid the model of economic exploitation and growth practiced by the “advanced economies” since it is clear that their approach has a dead end. The approach that comes from the Fourth World experience predating the “modern state system” clearly offers lessons about sustainability and the problems with unsustainable growth build on exploiting the natural environment and human beings. Now would be a good time for Fourth World nations to rethink their attraction to economic growth and the Gross Domestic Product. Remembering that the loss of natural environment and people are in reality losses in wealth. To truly achieve prosperity the lesson is clear: nurture and use only what you need and do not deplete natural wealth beyond the capacity of nature to reproduce.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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