What is wrong with today’s global economic order?

Today, even while you are reading this, our world is faced with pressing global issues that are being ignored by those who could do most to alleviate or eliminate them — hunger, poverty, illiteracy, oppression, and wars for re-colonization.

In a world where more than one billion people still live on less than $1 a day, three million people die annually from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, leaving tens of millions of children orphaned.

In Africa alone, 4.8 million children die annually before reaching the age of five — that’s nine per minute, every day of the year. Africa is the only region in the world where the mortality rate among children is rising.

Hurricane Katrina painfully revealed that in the United States –” still considered the world’s super-power — more than 25 percent of New Orleans citizens live in poverty, and of them, 84 percent are African-Americans.

Katrina’s victim-profile is but one example that shows how enormously social injustice has increased in "rich" Western countries like the U.S. over the past 20 years, regardless of the party in power. And the trend of eroding away social services continues apace; in recent weeks, President George W. Bush proposed $178 million in Medicare cuts.

Meanwhile, America clings to its super-power delusions by equating an oppressive neo-colonial and environmental footprint with genuine influence. Presidential hopeful John McCain said, "We have been in Japan for more than 60 years, Korea 50 years, and what’s wrong if we stay in Iraq to control these Islamic extremists for more than a hundred years?" Bumper stickers on American cars even read, "Our oil is under their soil."

At the same time, ideals of social justice and true equality of opportunity – both at home and abroad — have been subverted, replaced by avoidance mantras like "actuating personal responsibility," which are little more than governmental excuses for doing nothing.

The tide of enrichment flowing to the few continues at the expense of the many, while ever-harsher demands are imposed on the poor and vulnerable.

Dr. Brian Barry, Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics and Political Science, asks in his latest book, "Why Social Justice Matters": "But why produce a theory of social justice? In the poorest countries, people do not need a theory to tell them that there is something wrong with a world in which their children are dying from malnutrition, or diseases that could be prevented by relatively inexpensive public health measures."

He continues; "Even in the richest country in the world, just north of the academic enclave in New York centered on Columbia University, lies Harlem, where it has been estimated that a black male born and brought up in some areas has less chance of reaching the age of 65 than a child born and brought up in rural Bangladesh."

The prominent Canadian expert, Prof. John McMurtry of the University of Guelph, observes that today’s neoclassical economics are based on the premise that market growth produces more happiness as more commodities are bought. But then he cites Robert Lane’s study, "The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies," that shows human satisfaction actually declines as income and commodity consumption rise beyond basic needs.

Prof. McMurtry aptly calls the current global market model "life-blind," because it falsely equates consumption with happiness, encouraging some to enjoy more and more of what they have at the expense of others; perpetuating a system that produces many times more waste than any economic order in history; and promoting the depredation of the most basic means of human life – breathable air, clean water, and food that does not cause diseases.

This system, he argues, does not differentiate between commodities that cause disease to millions, from goods that enable millions more to live.

During the past 25 years of corporate-driven market deregulation, for example, diseases like cancer have markedly increased. The more global markets are deregulated, the greater the cumulative destruction of both human and ecological systems.

The root of our current global market crisis is driven by private capital, money which competitively seeks to do one thing and one thing only — maximize returns to its owners. But this is money that grows by consuming human and natural resources as part of its voracious feeding cycle. The "life-capital" of society is relentlessly eroded as private capital accumulates and public welfare is sacrificed to more and more "global market competition."

Neoclassical economists maintain that "the invisible hand of competition ensures the social optimum." But reality is proving just the opposite: humanity is confronted by unprecedented global climate destabilization and fossil-fuel exhaustion.

In our current system, McMurtry explains, private money capital is equated to real capital, or wealth that produces more wealth. Every form of human, natural and social capital is sacrificed to the growth of money-capital, resulting in a disproportionate concentration of money in the hands of about two per cent of the world’s population, who have and consume more resources than the remaining 98 per cent.