The phrase “poet economist” is allegorical.
I am not a formally trained economist. My background in economic analysis comes from the practice of reporting on the politics of economic decision-making, on climate-related and ecological economics, and on the ways in which macrocritical forces (which don’t carry prices on the shelf but do shape the overall potential of an economy) affect human wellbeing and planetary health.
My background is in philosophy, literature, and language. I have published and edited poetry, in English and Spanish, and over time became aware of important connections between the poetic space (where we expand our languages, our thinking, and our expression) and the insight challenge of assessing value, impact, and meaning, through economics.
- Poets are expected to seek an intuitive detachment from the mechanics of the material world, preferring to focus on catalytic insights hidden in between the details.
- Economists are expected to seek an arithmetical detachment from the blush of human experience, preferring to focus on what are believed to be the mechanics of material exchange.
But the truth is:
- Economics without ecological insight—economics without a focus on the dynamics of mutual thriving—is an incomplete science, a useful story about storytelling, but not a story about what is lived. It is the poetry of what happens at the human scale that matters, if numbers and theories are to affect the world for the better. No economic judgment can escape the rigor of that standard.
- In other words: Economics without some implicit sense of the poetical risks degrading what is human in each of us—because we are not simply resources and statistics. To discount the human or ecological is to miss a critical piece of the overall math.
These two ways of exploring what is knowable, or discoverable, differ in almost every way, but they are both part of a fabric of consciousness which looks for the sacred in human experience, and looks for ways to cultivate, propagate and defend what is sacred.
I don’t mean that money is sacred, or that it should be treated as such. I mean that what economics really looks for is the way in which measurable interactions between people express what is valuable about the human experience. Economics at its best reveals to what what degree everyday activities empower actual people to achieve health-building outcomes, shared security and prosperity.
We can build a political economy of virtuous abundance, if we focus on what matters at the human scale. We can also fail, monumentally and tragically, if we give in to the twisted mythology of infinite growth driven by the false assumption that efficient exploitation will have no corrosive impact.
A sense of the poet’s duty is required to illustrate that all true economics is nonlinear, dynamic, compounding, and onto-phenomenological—meaning: the question of what we live and so of how we perceive the meaning of our experience, is tied up in it.
Poetry is a way of creating new space for revealing what is human about our experience. That way of working should shape our approach to building a healthy economic future.
Why ‘Poet Economist’?
Because everything matters.
Some basic ideas for crafting humane solutions:
- Generative economics
- Environment is consequence: moving from negative externalities to mutual empowerment
- Fee and dividend: give economic power to citizens
- We need to transcend corrosive growth models
- Respect for complexity makes democracy possible
- Transparency to dissuade “get-away-with-it” finance
- Stakeholder interest (focus on human scale policy outcomes)
- Humane infrastructure makes life at the human scale better
- Costly pollutants can be replaced with clean, renewables
- The sustainable green economy is the future