Saturday, December 27, 2008

How Many Of The World's Goods Are Measured In Birds' Nests? How Many Should Be?

Talking to Carolyn Raffensperger, Derrick Jensen asks: Wouldn't the precautionary principle then destroy competitive advantage?

Raffensperger answers: I want to turn that sentence around and suggest that competitive advantage destroys. The idea that we can outcompete, that we can compete by lowering dollar costs destroys. The idea that we measure goods in dollars destroys. How many of the world's goods are measured in U.S. dollars and not, for example, in the number of bird's nests? If we measured all of our economy in the number of hatchlings of migratory birds, we would figure competitive advantage in an entirely different way. But competitive advantage drives lower and lower dollar costs on things, and increases the probability that we're going to externalize costs.

Janine Benyus has pointed out, nature favors cooperation over competition. And that sense of mutualism and reciprocity is undermined with competitive advantage.

The whole question of competitive advantage leads to some absurdities. There are some things that are just plain stupid to trade. Why are we moving water around the planet using fossil fuels? Why does France have a competitive advantage with Perrier over some other bottled water in the United States, or over drinking your tap water? That is not rational.

So to worry that the precautionary principle is going to destroy competitive advantage is to worry about precisely the wrong thing.

~Picture found here.

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