'We Are All Madoffs': David P. Barash writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education that the relationship of technological civilization to the natural world is that of a Ponzi scheme. Kim Stanley Robinson makes the same point in the interview we conducted with him for the upcoming Polygraph issue, which will eventually wind up on the website and likely also on this very blog:
KSR: ...I've been trying to use standard economic terms to describe the situation in ways capitalists might have to come to terms with, that might serve as entry-points to a larger discussion: that the implicit promise of capitalism was that a generation would work so hard in the working class that its children would be in the middle class, and that if extended this program would eventually lift everyone on Earth; but now, resource analysis makes it clear that for the three billion living on less than two dollars a day, this promise can never be fulfilled; so that capitalism is really nothing but a big Ponzi scheme, and would be illegal if run in a single state or community.More on the Polygraph issue soon. (via)
Then also, the pricing we put on things, carbon especially, does not include the environmental costs of making the thing, so that we are practicing systemic predatory dumping, and the competitors we are predating on are our own children and the generations to come. So we are predatory dumpers, out-competing non-existent people, which is easy enough; but they will suffer when they come into existence, and we are cheaters.