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Americans Who Tell the Truth

David Korten

Political and Social Activists

David Korten

Economist, Writer, Publisher (1937-  )

... our economic crisis is, at its core, a moral crisis. Our economic institutions and rules, even the indicators by which we measure economic performance, consistently place financial values ahead of life values. They are brilliantly effective at making money for rich people Our children, families, and communities, and natural systems of Earth have paid an intolerable price.


Additional Quotes by David Korten

And each of these perspectives comes to the same conclusion, which is that our global economy is out of control and performing contrary to basic principles of market economics.

As long as you have a system that is based on the rational that if you are making money you are thereby making a contribution to society, these financial rogue practices will continue.

But in the past, US companies have been able to increase their profits through downsizing in the US, through colonizing other people's resources, and through the increase of globalization.

But we can also take the radical view that the test of an economy has to do with the extent to which it is providing everybody with a decent means of living.

Capitalism and the market are presented as synonymous, but they are not. Capitalism is both the enemy of the market and democracy.

Capitalism is not about free competitive choices among people who are reasonably equal in their buying and selling of economic power, it is about concentrating capital, concentrating economic power in very few hands using that power to trash everyone who gets in their way.

Europeans say they are proud of their social fabric, of strong rights for workers and the weak in society.

Global competition is about winners and losers.

If I would need to make a prediction I still believe Kaplan's scenario is very plausible.

If you look at the US economy over the last 15-20 years wages have been stagnating or even declining.

If you look internationally over the last 50 years there have been improvements in the third world, but in the last 20 years the reverse has happened, with debt crises and increased poverty.

In the US, most progressives start to see the differences between internationalism and economic globalization.

It is interesting to note that the 200 richest people have more assets than the 2 billion poorest.

It will take some time before a politician will capture the imagination of the American people and have the vision and understanding to do what is necessary for a better future for the people of America and the world.

Money is a mechanism for control.

Money is not wealth. Money is a claim on wealth.

More and more surveys in the US are indicating a change in values taking place among consumers, who become more concerned about quality of life, food, health and the environment.

More humane societies are usually smaller, like the Scandinavian countries and Holland, where it is much easier to reach consensus and cooperation.



David Korten is a leading critic of corporate globalization and a visionary proponent of a planetary system of local living economies. His international best seller, When Corporations Rule the World (1995) helped frame the global resistance against corporate globalization. The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2006), illuminates thesignificance of this resistance by placing it in the historical context of 5,000 years of Empire and the organization of human relationships by dominator hierarchy. His latest book, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth (2009, 2nd ed., 2010), offers bold economic proposals that address the underlying cause of the current economic collapse, not just its symptoms.

David was born in Longview, Washington in 1937; during his 25-year establishment career, he became increasingly discouraged that the values he learned as a child and believed to be conservative—family, community, peace, justice, and nature were ignored or suffered terrible tolls as a result of policies and directives of the very institutions he served.

David acquired a variety of establishment credentials, including MBA and Ph.D. degrees from the Stanford Business School, service as a captain in the US Air Force, and five years as a Harvard Business School professor, a Ford Foundation project specialist, and Asia regional adviser on development management to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Thirty years working as a development professional in Asia, Africa, and Latin America eventually opened his eyes to the devastating consequences of an economic system designed to make rich people richer without regard to the human and environmental consequences. He became a defector from the foreign aid establishment and joined the global resistance against flawed development models.

While many people refer to David as an economist, he is by training and inclination a student of psychology and behavioral systems. From the time he began his graduate studies at Stanford in 1959, he has been seeking to deepen his understanding of how cultures and institutional structures shape human behavior and to search for ways by which we humans can do a better job of supporting one another in achieving the higher order potentials of our nature.

While at Stanford, David met and married his life partner, Fran Korten. Their marriage gives potent testimony to thepower of partnership as their careers developed in tandem, each making career choices that opened new opportunities forthe other. Fran was a Ford Foundation program officer for 20 years in the Philippines, Indonesia, and New York and is now publisher/executive director of YES! magazine.

David is co-founder and board chair of the Positive Futures Network, which publishes YES! magazine,founder and president of the People-Centered Development Forum, and founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. He is co-chair of the New Economy Working Group which aims to further frame the New Economy Agenda and build support for transformational change through grassroots and media outreach. He is also a founding associate of the International Forum on Globalization and a major contributor to its report on Alternatives to Economic Globalization.

David recently told a reporter, “The work that’s involved in creating a new economy and a new human civilization calls us to be our most creative and innovative, and it puts us in contact with the worlds most wonderful people. And it is awhole lot more fun and satisfying than allowing oneself to sink into the depths of despair and cynicism.”



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