16 June 2009

The Problem of Harmful Economic Activity

[updated 6/17/09:]

Harmful economic activity abounds these days. It ought to be a goal of humanity to eliminate harmful economic activities. Some economic activities are unacceptable. Activities like slavery, or like imperialism - the pursuit of global (economic) hegemony (dominance, conquest, omnipotence, etc..) But some harmful activities are probably less harmful than others. Some harmful economic activities may be part and parcel of human existence. This conversation begs clarification - to clarify what constitutes harmful activities, and what harmful activities might be consensually allowable.

There are different categories of harmful economic activity. All are undesirable, but some are worse than others. There is a hierarchy of harmfulness. But that's not actually the conversation I was pointing at here. What I really want to ask about is who (supposedly) benefits from harmful activities.

What I really want to ask about is how we distribute the products (or "benefits") of harmful economic activities.

What I want to ask is the question of whether or not it is right to reap personal, or private, gain from harmful economic activities. In a society that is largely built around private wealth, where people own and control great swaths of land, where people own and control empires of business and industry, is it right for only a few (privileged people) to gain from socially and environmentally corrosive activities?

What makes more sense is to distribute equitably - amongst all people - the "benefits" resulting from harmful economic activities.

Environmental degradation hurts us all. In an effort to remediate those harms, the economic gain ought to be equitably distributed.

In peace,

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