The poet and the economist would seem to be at odds. Poets often take pride in being detached from the mechanics of the material world, and economists often take pride in being detached 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 story about storytelling, not a story about what is lived.
The mechanical treatment of economics gives dangerous leeway to bad actors who would use the logic of a purely arithmetical vision of human experience to extract, abuse and ignore what is most significant about the human experience. It is the poetry of what happens at the human scale that matters, in every case, and no economic judgment can escape the rigor of that standard. In other words, economics without a sense of the poetical is degrading to what is human in each of us.
My work as poet and my work on economic policy are not the same work, 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. We can build a political economy of virtuous abundance, if we focus on what matters at the human scale. And we can fail, monumentally and tragically, if we give in to the twisted mythology of infinite growth with 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.
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
Poetry is people, and that consideration above all — not ideology, abstract theory, or politics — should determine how we go about building our economic future.