A: The same ones that crashed it.
What are the primary values of our current economy? The following beliefs make up the core set of values or assumptions upon which the majority of our current economic policies are built:
- Scarcity is natural. There are limits, so be sure to get yours.
- Greed is good. A survivalist, me-first attitude is the best motivator.
- Competition creates quality. Nobody wants to be a loser.
- People are independent from one another. What happens to the losers only effects the losers.
- The economy is a level playing field. If it’s neutral, it must be fair.
- People get what they deserve. No need to intervene in the outcome.
The first three – scarcity, competition and greed – govern our current economy’s approach to the world and human nature; the last three – independence, level playing field and deservedness – justify the outcomes.
Why Values Matter
Systems are built on values and assumptions about behavior, and our economic system is no exception. Wheneconomists analyze trends or predict growth, they usually have to be clear about the assumptions behind their analysis (even if they aren’t forthcoming about what they are). For example, when predicting the future financial viability of Social Security, economists make assumptions about the rates of economic growth, the size of the working population, wages, tax revenues, and a host of other variables. Changing any of these factors might generate a whole different set of economic predictions and, consequently, change how we think about the issue and choose to act.
The same strategy works when looking at economics from the perspective of values. The assumptions we make about how the world works, what motivates people and who deserves what create the foundation for our economic system. When we change these assumptions, it is possible to create a different economy built on a different set of values.
What values would you want the economy to promote?