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By Anna

When humanity’s relationship with the environment is compared to Bernie Madoff and his clients’ relationship, the argument of human superiority doesn’t work anymore.

In the Jan/Feb issue of The Utne Reader David P. Barash said we are all Bernie Madoff’s when it comes to the environment because our economies make us so. The article was originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and compares Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to “modern civilization’s exploitation of the environment.”

Ponzi Scheme a.k.a. Pyramid Scheme:

Barash’s environment Ponzi Scheme:

“Nearly all economic models of ‘development’ rely upon an unsustainable assumption: that the discovery of new resources … will always come to our rescue, enabling us to postpone, indefinitely, any final audit … Under capitalism, it has been said, man exploits man, whereas under communism, it’s the reverse. Either way, the environment is the loser.”
He attacks Capitalism and Communism, but shies away from attacking socialism. Though we will never convince our parents of the need for a socialist economy, the independent experts agree it would help the situation we find ourselves in, that of recession and joblessness and environmental damage. As Barash said, “A strong economy is possible when the environment on which it depends is healthy and strong.”

No longer can we excuse our Ponzi Scheme with the environment because, like Madoff, there are bigger forces that will imprison us eventually.