From the tragic story of adjunct professor Margaret Mary Vojtko’s death to my own adventures in job insecurity, everything I’ve read and experienced has convinced me that we need a pro-life economy.
Not in the traditional anti-abortion sense (ugh), but in the sense of putting human lives first, and profit second. And since our lives are inextricably tied to the health of our planet, we need to prioritize that too.
We need jobs. Green jobs, well-paid jobs, jobs with benefits (or government systems to provide those benefits).
We need an end to the ideology of infinite growth–which, in a world of finite resources, is quite literally unsustainable–and a focus on human health and happiness.
We need an end to the casual cruelty of corporate capitalism–the callous profit-seeking that allowed an adjunct professor to die penniless, near-homeless, and uninsured while the university’s president received a $700,000 salary.
Bill McKibben succinctly summed up what’s wrong with our economic system in his 2007 book Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future:
Alongside the exhilaration of the flattening earth celebrated by Thomas Friedman, the planet (and our country) in fact contains increasing numbers of flattened people, flattened by the very forces that are making a few others wildly rich.
His observation is even more true now than when he first made it, back in the less-shitty days before the Great Financial Crisis.