Notes to Kate Raworth’ Doughnut Economics
– Seven ways to think like a 21st century economist –
“The most powerful tool in economics is not money, nor even algebra.
It’s a pencil. Because with a pencil you can redraw the world.”
While reading the book, digging into more sources, I made notes from the points, which stroke me, the most. Mostly added some questions and remarks to structure all the information in my mind and to integrate it in the thing I’m already knew, my thoughts and opinions; downsizing an information-intensive book to some pages. This is some kind of lifeline (for me) through whole the concept.
Hope, it will make you curious enough to also dig into the book, the videos at several channels and lots of other information, already available.
1. Who wants to become an economist?
Surely, it wasn’t my first wish! Became a veterinarian, first. Much later in my carrier I studied economics. Not because I love it that much, but because I realized that it influences ALL our decision making much more, then I liked. Too often, common sense and good arguments got waved away because of some economic phrase.
“World economy is in crisis because also economic teaching is in crisis!”
It’s quiet a responsibility, which schools and universities have: teaching young people economy in a way, that serves the next generation(s). Yet, schools often teach the old plan, 19th and 20th century models and principals, while on the other hand all discussion about sustainability and fighting poverty makes clear for certain: the old models don’t work (anymore). The planet is ripped apart by overshooting on resource use, misuse of value creation in developing countries on behave of the wealth of -mostly- an elite in western countries.
New models and theories – like the one from Kate Raworth – don’t make it into the classrooms (yet). Despite of the need.
Is it most old-school-education structure what’s obstructing necessary developments?
“At the heart of teaching stand a few powerful schemes, framing all they teach about economics.”
Nowadays, usually the basics for any economics education will be served to children, about 10 to 12 years old. Schoolbooks still provide old models and thinking, like ‘most profitable’ and ‘need for growth’… more then the planet can bear, as we know by now.
Nothing in nature grows forever, even cancer is – finally – consuming itself!
Is there anybody looking into schoolbooks for primary and secondary schools? Some economic institutions try to – al least – at some new thoughts to the teaching schemes. But what about prior schools? Is anyone paying attention to the damage, happing there? Still…Already…?
Where can we see, where can we find real innovation within economic education?
Basically, it is attached to – as already mentioned – sustainability theories and practices. Where the need for change is seen, it’s taken into account.
Just citing Gregory Bateson: “The solution of a problem lies not on the level where it is seen, but one level above.”
At this point, it’s like an endless loop: on one side the companies and policy makers strengthen each other in ‘endless growth’, on the other hand – as Rolf Winter called it – keepers of the earth: trying to keep resource use within boundaries in favour of people.
Certainly, there isn’t any balance between the two.
Calimero-wise, you might say, the big once sucking al the air and energy from the idle development of new forms and models.
But it might be wiser to asked, what’s needed to be able to restructure – for instance – a multinational, meeting 21th centuries economic models. Not to forget: within a world where tax structures based on 19thcenturies principles, applying in several different way across countries? With financial structures all meeting 20thcenturies values?
Restructuring frames and context in one country will not provide any salvation globally. Might it be possible to get more/all countries together on one page? While governments still go with ‘want to be as wanton as possible’ as home country for as much as possible multinationals? Seems difficult.
Back to economic education. How to break the main stream? How to – at least – add-on 21stcentury theories?
TED talk, digital education pages etc. picked it up a while ago, still not realy shifting to schools, colleges and universities, at least not for the usual curriculum.
What are Dutch – German – UK – policies on that? And what about teaching in BRICS?
Global problems need global solutions – How to implement a planetary household, with al neoliberal and populism and nationalism on the go?
Like on other themes – poverty, security, and climate – it occurs, that trying to solve issues on national level is no longer the way to go. And that includes al kinds of international podia; where countries and nations still act as such.
A planetary household can only been taking care of when nations act like a planetary family, not like more or less liked neighbours, really bearing the planetary health in mind, laying any own interests aside. You agree?
Leads to the question: Which goals serve borders these days, anyway? Who is kidding whom?Protection? Whom from what, exactly?
The rich from the poor? Which are poor because producing value for the rich?
The locals from other cultures? Do you remember the video from the supermarket in Hamburg?
The save ones from violence? Which they bring with their armies to others in the first place, anyway?
The wealthy ones form climate change, including the human rights implications from it? (Won’t work!)
The well-nurtured ones from the hungry? Which export exotic food to the rich?
To keep the own people in? With the warning ‘it’s not safe outside’?
Just to have it all, not to have to share?
Borders basically are out of function. They restrict what’s not to keep. They don’t prevent what’s not wanted. People, these days, are usual bright enough to make their own choices. Why interfere? What’s to win with that? For whom?
Asking all these questions, surely, give a idea what might be a direction of development to think about.
Just dreaming away… imagine….
- just regional governance
- per theme a region decides to go with which neighbour
- regions tight together by norms, values, historic identity, respecting ethnical differences
- people choose the region, they identify with
- geographic regions have a profile of resources and possibilities, in relation to planet’s boundaries which refer to the planetary household
- the planetary household govern together, (digital) deep democracy makes it possible
“Economics is the mother tongue of public policy!”
Basically, this means, democracy in western countries [and they are spreading the word around!] is answering to money, not to people.
More and more, everything is put into monetary value: nature, ecosystems… except for unpaid work. The value created by volunteers and housekeepers still doesn’t count, mercurially.
‘The influence of the economist that mainly matters is an influence over laymen: politicians, journalists, civil servants and the public in general.’
This influence is one on daily base! Not once every 4 of so years, like elections. It steers daily politics via budget streams, forecasts based on 19th and 20th century economic models. Influencing everybody’s life, choice making… and struggle.
Your judgement is based on your references, on what you know and you’re told, no matter how out-dated that way of thinking is.
One very basic example: your personal image, your self-respect, probably, should rely on what you’re adding to the world. Yet, there is an ownership-frame created around this: how much you earn, what you call yours, what you can afford, seems to touch more to your image than your added value. As long as you feed humans hearts with greed, there will be desire for growth.
Makes one thing sure: striving for more (money) keeps your focus and your actions away from what matters, makes you ‘an easy citizen’. How does that feel?
Friedrich van Hayk (10 December 1974), The Nobel Foundation,
2. Changing the play
Striving for meeting everybody’s human rights within the means of our life-giving planet.
That means, leaving straight-line-singular-thinking towards a dynamic, inclusive, distributive one.
And, probably, here we have a huge admission!
A simple if-then approach will no longer apply. More causes combined lead to several more or less certain outcomes. Still, in some theories, like financial markets, we learned that a multi-causal approach is needed; yet, we’re still not able to predict what the outcome exactly might me. Just look at the crashes between 2008 and 2017!
In some ways, we put knowledge above instincts. Research has to provide repeatable results before they get accepted as ‘known’. Yet, a lot ancient wisdom does not rely on that principals, but is certainly no less certain in what it provides.
The story about de god Thot die de Egyptian king Thamus offers to learn people to read and write comes into my mind. Read this in “Memory Palace” a book from Joshua Foer.
Thamus refuses: after learning to read and write, people will stop to think, trusting what’s written.
Recognisable? Isn’t it?
What frightens me sometime, is the way how other cultures play along with western principles. Not sure, they do not assess enough, what the impact of this will be, or just playing along? As optimist, I go for the second one. In some fields, BRICS definitely playing a better game then old-school-western countries. We should start to notice!
In Bhutan, GDP got replaced by the national happiness score. One step away from the 20th century!
Looking at nature, at complex living structures like an ant state. You recognise some ‘human’ tracks, like being aggressive, going to war, but you also see: they are capable of easily solving complex matters: never having a cue in or out the state. Providing enough food, building material, cleaning as needed for the whole. With a little less arrogance, we can learn from that.
Anthropology states- by the way -, that aggression and war are not an basic human touch! Strong societies are able to solve differences on individual level, before they become a group issue. Just when it really becomes an group issue, they go on a bigger fight and on war.
What is that saying about neo-liberalistic societies, prolonging war everywhere in the world?
Solving complex issues, usually, needs two methods: dividing it in suitable portions, solving and resemble, combined with applying a simple pair of feedback loop to keep track on the results and the impact. Is not that difficult to apply, isn’t it?
In that way, you can conclude: inequity is a design failure. (Might come back on this later, with some nuances.)
What we need is development (that is more then the sum of economics) that makes us thrive! All together.
Sustainability and economics
What we see nowadays is a lot of talk about sustainability, taking a lot space on agenda’s, without much results.
Usually, the econmic discussion, based on 19th and 20th century models, is taking the lead in decision-making.
Imagine, the agenda is changed: clearing the playing field for 21th century economic models, which – automatically – answer to sustainability matters.
Imagine, democracy will lead to much more smart choices at ‘high level’? What kind of democracy would be needed to do so?
What type of governance would be able to play the right role for that?
How much more valued would al the scientific knowledge and also ancient wisdoms be?
Working all together on the same page?
20th centuries models do not indicate how created wealth is actually distributed between households, and certainly not across borders. No indication, that those whom contributed the most will catch a descent share.
In that, another dividing principal shows: For now, putting no attention to all lobby and its influence, politics and elections might have a democratic base (except, when coalitions – basically – throw outcomes of elections directly into the trash bin). Thus, when people vote and – rational as emotional as well – choosing what they [the most] believe in, one might assume, that voting gives direction to the elected politicians. Assume, that might be true.
Still, the governmental system, civil servants, stand in what already is created, know what already was avoided, keeping a save playing field to themselves. Some, definitely, are devoted to the people, a lot, definitely, have the best in mind. Others just choose safe jobs: not too much to change, not too much ripples, not too much innovation and development.
What are the effects and impacts of the interaction between politics, governmental bodies, standing laws and also international relations? Fit they smartly into the 21th century?
This is the moment to talk about ethics, immoral and amoral decisions, arguments, policies and the moral vacation they seem to have.
Nowadays, we put more attention to animal welfare then to human ones. Human welfare still is translated to wealth accumulation, what just is not the right way to look and act. It does not include human fundamental needs as participation, creativity and sense of belonging – besides surviving. Amartyra Sen calls is ‘richness of human life instead of richness of economy’.
This will lead to re-defining goals and understanding.
Look around! With untouched tribes, we see more equity, more equilibrium, respect to nature.
Definitely, that is something else then the source-intensive lifestyle of high-income countries and a globally growing middleclass.
Thought about regional implications of global limits I’ll postpone for now. It’s worth an own paper.
Pan metron ariston – all things in good measure
It’s a known thing: The human being by now is demolishing its own living environment, threatening its own development and existence. Who to blame, when all goes wrong? Makes blaming sense at all? Not doing anything, definitely, is a crime against humanity.
3. How to sketch your own doughnut?
Own doughnut? Of course, it is needed! Breaking down the global picture to portions, recognisable in our surroundings. We need this type of guidance to be able to translate this model to conclusions for our own life and work, learning about the consequences of our actions (in all complexity, not just straight-line economic graphs), though we are able to see AND USE the chances we have.
Need a first impression? Dive into Oxfam: National Doughnut reports!
The neo-liberal script
Since the 1980’ies developing, expanding, (amorphous) changes; and economic needs – at least in the Western countries – follow neo-liberal idea. This is definitely something else than human needs.
Misinterpretation of human needs and behaviour and translating this to economical, highly influential theories (maybe better: assumptions) ignore different social complex actions people are capable of.
“POOR ECONOMICS” (Banerjee and Duflo) show: price and income is NOT predicting everything!
And people highly underestimate the growing role of water, energy and data for economics AND life itself.
Power of grassroots organisation
The right and capacity of citizens to engage in public debate have found a new way to participate. Foundations, initiatives, social enterprises… there are a lot of types and names people already try to find new ways to start and support development which serve humanity and the planet. With growing impact! Sometime, still ignored by neo-liberal minds.
Core of development
Sustaining family and social life – as core of the economy, (and humanity).
Often unpaid, but the very basic of every existence, is not even recognised in 20th century models, does not appear in GDP etc.
In 2014, in the US a survey was taken. Calculating what stay-home-mums/dads would earn, when they were paid the usual hourly rate (house keeper, day care teacher, driver, cleaner…), they should earn $120.000/year. Working mums/dads would put about $70.000/year on their income the same way… just to clarify, where we are talking about… still left out of any statistics.
And just in a side note… the so-called free markets are free within all legal and tax and other restrictions. Thus, not free at all, but carefully cherished to do where they were build for: channelling wealth to a few.
Commons are defined as shareable resources of nature or society used and govern via self-organisation. More and more, these commons are claimed by governments and multinational, even (or foremost?) in region, where ‘ownership’ as such is not known or quite differently then the western definition, non-written; treasured for generations.
At least, touchable once: water, forest, grazing land, heritage.
It becomes a bit different with untouchables, like language, rituals, myth, music, traditional knowledge and practice. Collectively agreed rules, sometime, includes in those commons, sometimes are written down separately, creating a different dynamic.
Digital commons start another gain, based on minimum running costs. Leading towards much more co-creation, across any boundaries.
Which also means: the states role – govern the commons in some way – needs re-thinking.
What is needed to create a role, that unleashes the creativity and capacity of the commons, regional, national and global?
How will such public leadership be defined?
Avoiding the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the market alike?
Finance as a destabilising factor
- Growing liabilities, also within the banks
- Failing investments
- Savings are not save anymore
- Balancing economic fluctuations is not working
- The productive economy is suffering under financial pressure
Money should be a mean for indirect trade, nothing more, nothing less.
Business and trade
Shareholder value creation is not at all an inspiring issue. Seen the global problems, there is much more to discover and go for: building win-win(-win) solutions.
Next level is cross-border development, chances, leaning at the background of history, respecting cultures, creating value, and collaborating.
We will shape, what we believe. We believe, what we are told.
When we start THINKING and give empathy a place, our view of humanity will shift, again.
Humans, in the first place, are social; until they are told about interest and getting (more) selfish. At several university, economy students in the first year shown to have more empathy then the once in the third year, already fed with 19th/20th century economic models.
Schwartz’s value circumplex, which shows the ten basic personal values that are common across cultures.
Choice of formulating goals leads to a specific dynamic. Say, creating citizens wealth would mean to shape a save, educational, social etc. environment. Replacing citizen by consumer shifts the focus completely to the market space.
Thus, reading policy documents and following the news: be careful about the choice of words.
Human beings are rather interdependent, have fluid values, being social. They assume rather then calculate, try to be fair and depend on nature’s wealth. Other then – claimed with neo-liberal frames – being selfish, fixed, isolated deciding based on known preferences.
Only look at the diversity of cultures and societies! Reclaiming the true character of human kind should shift the way of acting, framing and, not at last, a more moral policy making.
Values behave a bit like muscles: the more often they are used, the stronger they get. Simple to make clear, that values are fluid in some way.
Nevertheless, the social network has much more impact on behaviour then any (relative) price setting: tax rules miss their goal because of values within those networks, shared norms and expectations.
We usually argues in a way which meets our existing frames to underpin our decision. Not to forget the rule of thumb, we constantly apply.
In both together, our survival skills rely. Yet becoming risk-savvy citizens.
Thus, without shifting values and frames, behaviour will not shift.
Nudging becomes more and more popular: based on human’s decision-making frames, temptation will be brought to ‘eye level’.
Slowly, we learn to understand nature. Far from mastering it. Yet our behaviour is influencing nature, our biosphere a great deal.
Urban children often don’t even have a clue, what our biosphere actually is. The term eco-literacy occurs. It’s not an asset on human’s balance sheet!
Maybe, it is our most valuable relationship; living with nature, cherish the planet.
Money is not eatable, as Indians say.
Money is not an intrinsic motivation to accomplish something. It’s just a mean of trade. But it has the capacity to erode social norms and lift any social contract.
Consumer versus citizens, remember? We are citizens in our biosphere, consuming it partly and, hopefully, preserving it, too.
Digital technology makes smart nudging easier and cheaper, with the possibility to create even bigger network effects. Point to pay attention to is: are the right values activated that way?
One way could be to raise street level success to bigger impact.
When the market organismis an organism, treed it like an organism! With dynamic approaches, flexible frames and goals meeting human’s and biosphere’s needs.
For your wisdom, go back to ancient sayings, leaf 20th century’s single-line thinking out. We are past simplifying assumptions as early mathematics needed as the supply and demand frame. Life and also economy do not work in (almost) straight lines. People do not act in if-then mode. In any decision, much more influences get involved, leaving the 2-dimensional scheme far behind. Thinking in space, taking a fourth or fifth dimension into account still does not meat the network-assembling of decision factors, it needs to find the way from disordered complexity to an ordered ones…in other words bring complexity to solvable pieces without simplifying the matter, like complexity science does.
It brings another point o our attention.
Governments structured along a very simplified line: in columns, neatly working on 1 theme or group of issues belonging to each other. This simplified structure is not able to actually solve complex issues, like nowadays problems. To be able to really develop for the future, we need new structures, based on new organisation principles.
In the context of global problems, regional identity and solving power, three basic problems can be found:
- Mistaken democracy
- Market approach to social matters
- Linear organisation structure within civil services and also enterprises
Think about starling flocks flying together. Quite another picture.
An adaptive system needs attention, feedbacks, balancing, recognising trends of chances that already occurred within the system. The universal frame is one of diversity, not of uniformity. According to Donella Meadow, that is what the world makes interesting, beautiful and work.
We need government systems that meet that pulse!
A mother does not make her children grow, but creates the conditions they can thrive.
Like any other phenomena, democracy should be –is- developing. Context changes, people are more educated, frameworks get updated, thus does democracy.
Globally interconnected society and economics call for another playground for democracy. Social-ecological questions are much more on the agenda, again. Unfortunately, still being seen as combat for economic development, national protection … where-if it should be on the same page.
Self-organisation and resilience, maybe foremost at regional level and with a healthy hierarchy on global level, are leaving al the noise in between out. Both levels are able of find the simplicity and complexity, as it is necessary, and like any self-organising organism is able to do. This creates also the diversity needed for future adaptation.
The Hippocratic oath of a 21th century economist
- Act in service to human kind
- Respect autonomy of communities and supporting their engagement in developments
- Be careful in any policy making
- Be humble by naming your assumptions, and therefore the shortcomings of your models
In this way, step by step, local economies can be transformed, creating a new global ones, distributive and regenerative by design.
5. Wealth distribution
Current policies choose to rise inequity, channelling wealth to a happy few. In that, they also harness the power of the commons.
Poverty is spread al over the planet: everybody expects it in developing countries, but 3/4 of the most poor live in mid-income-countries, and not to forget the growing inequity in so-called developed countries. In The Netherlands, 1 out of 9 lives below the poverty line.
According to neo-liberal believes, income is spread between labour, landlords and capitalists, which means, it is not related to actual value creation for society.
An additional issue is the process from rural to urban migration. By urban-oriented policies, rural income – other then actually value creation – is under even more pressure.
The challenge is to achieve development without growing inequity – the step from who earns versus who owns. Democracy is striving further then some social meritocratic patterns, it might develop to an all-including society-model.
The acceptable degree of social inequity became a matter of public discussion, partly because of it’s damaging effects, partly because of not fulfilled promises.
More equal societies – rich or poor – seem to be healthier and happier.
Democracy itself becomes jeopardized by inequity, when lobbyists claim their political impacts.
Inequity and poverty also result in (more) ecological degradation. Might it be more then the damage from ruthless producers? Certainly, when you take the social impact into account: loosing trust and eroding norms and values. Maybe a bit surprising: inequity also shows in decreasing biodiversity in those countries and regions.
An already well-known matter is the waste of creative and intellectual potential by inequity.
Solving inequity is more likely to solve more global issues then economic growth ever will be able to.
Leave the line
Networks – by bypasses and other way to balance – are more likely to create stable surroundings then any single-line-thinking model will be able to do.
Smaller fractals, more vital, more flexible, more divers, with more connections is more effective and resilient. Too heavy nodes in the network and too much efficiency make the network vulnerable.
Downsizing inequity is possible by
- Limiting the highest income on 20-50x the lowest once
- Guarantying access to work
- Paying a basic income unconditionally
- Property ownership might be re-defined
- Re-defining currency, turning a monetary mono-culture in a financial ecosystem;
- Replacing money with morals (where high-income countries broken their promise of financial redistribution, migrants started to send money back home… the largest source of external finance in low-income countries; making migration the most effective way of reducing global inequity.
- Re-defining the value of [un]paid labour
- Prevent commons to be claimed and patented, including traditional knowledge, which has to shared openly
- (Global) taxes on destabilising and damaging industries, directly to use in rebuilding environments
Innovative entrepreneurs make the move to broadening economic power and creating social benefits. Some are as powerful as states, thus also creating a development outside the regular democracy and policy.
Income and work will not longer be connected. Work and value creation might even not be the same. Value creation and income are detached for quite a periode.
Robots will de-link production and jobs, which puts income on the agenda, again. And: should technological development be controlled? And as yes, by which means?
And how to operate with matters which are collectively developed?
- Open source design
- Decentralised knowledge
- Maximum return to public investments(science, health, education) for the better of all
- Social entrepreneurship
- Funded research = public knowledge
- Minimize corporate intellectual property
- Local/regional development/production centres/hubs for innovators and experiment
- Interconnected cooperative societies
6. Clean up now, and develop as well
Being regenerative by design avoids the question either to grow or to clean, you will catch both at the same time: development and a proper environment.
National scrutiny – concerning the environment – won’t stop at the borders, thus watch your neighbours carefully.
Look out for the right signs:
- More equity
- Higher literacy
- More respect to civil rights
result in applied people’s power to preservation of the environment.
Outsourcing pollution does not solve the global issue. Nor will environmental taxation. It just leaves the wrong people with a somehow clean conscience. And the right people with wrong problems.
Who is procrastinating real solutions?
- Doing nothing, just wait
- Doing what pays / what cut a relevant portion of costs
- Doing what they call their fair share, answering to nationally-determined pledges
Still, from an ethical point of view, there is no ‘right to pollute’!
The better ones take another approach:
- do no harm (mission zero); or even better:
- be generous – their core business helps to re-connect nature’s cycles
Janine Benyus ” We still acting like toddlers, expecting Mother Nature is cleaning up after us.”
…while we should learn from her models and systems.
“Like with real butterflies, the brilliance lies in the wings.”
Working with two nutrient cycles (biological and technical), each cycle has its own way of regenerative design.
1860 John Ruskin: “There is no wealth but life”
Wealth persists through time, and that is the regenerative power of life.
- Human-made assets (tools to houses)
- Embedded in people (skills to trust)
- Thriving biosphere (forest to oceans)
- Knowledge (Wikipedia to genomes)
Regenerative industrial design needs a regenerative economic design!
(Redefining the purpose of business and the functions of finance to invest long term in multiple kinds of value – human, social, ecological, cultural, physical)
The current economic system is the cause for the actual ecological crisis.
The finance system needs to shrink, simplify, diversify and deleverage.
States role is to restructure law and regulations to make those changes possible.
But would they? Defying the lobby, the elections financiers?
Empowering the common (not harness it?)
Real time data are fun
- See dynamic trends
- Gain community interest
- Living metrics for business
- Turning questions into ambitions
Rethinking starts with sense checking
Policy makers have to promote technological, cultural, economic and political developments, which make the way into the boundaries of the doughnut possible.
Our youngest must start directly with an education, which supports 21th century thinking, but also helps to understand 20th centuries model and choices.
Innovators, collaborative commons need space to experiment and develop, to diversifydevelopment and economics as social life as well.
Ethical discussions need to support search for development of democracy, politics and policy making.
7. Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Use visual framing in a good way.
Great thinkers in the 19th century already stated, that behind GDP growth – when its reaches its stationary state – human improvement and mental development, moral and social progress still will not know any limitations.
This, you also can find in a speech of Kennedy!
Keynes (1945):“The day is not far, when economic problems will take the back seat where it belongs, and arena of the heart and the head will be (re)occupied by our real problems of life and human relations, of creation, behaviour and religion.”
Developing points are commonly known, setting new goals for our future, leaving GDP for what it is:
- Use of mining, oil, gas has to change
- Industrial livestock production also
- Forest cuts and landfills has to be made undone
- Speculative finance has to be forbidden
- Long term investments in renewables
- Public transport
- Common based circular manufacturing
- Reusable (material for) buildings
- Investments in creating real value, whether it’s monetised ore not.
This will lead to rebalance the roles of the commons, the state and the market.We should live in an economy that makes us thrive, whether or not it is growing.
Nature, by definition eliminates what not (able to) evolve. By focusing on an all-time growing GDP, humans don’t thrive, won’t evolve, thus making themselves disposal for nature.
Rostow’s Five stages of growth been updated once, but might need another update:
- The traditional society
- The preconditions for take-off
- Take off
- The drive to maturity
- The age of high mass consumptions
Preparing for landing
- ArrivalTouch down
- Search for new horizons (new goals for development), like kite surfing
The feedback loop for those changes might lie in the carrying capacity of the living world.
What could it be, when politics and governments cut loose the chase of all-growing GDP? Stop loosing energy, considerations and value on this lost matter? They could thrive on developing a stable environment for everybody – people, business, and biosphere alike.
The Dutch government, in an attempt to make GDP more meaningful, added the “monitor wide prosperity”. Again, bringing quality matters back to numbers en graphs, partly even for items, we already find in the economic reports. It’s still a long way, to thrive in making thriving visible.
350 BC, Aristoteles about the accumulation of wealth: “Money was not …to increase interest… of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.”
The new religion of the 19th century – creating gain – spread very fast. It put an exponential equation on a closed system planet, without any banker ever thinking about a mature state or roof.
Evergreen Direct Investing (EDI) is a new model, already put in place and working. “EDI allows enterprises behave like a tree… once mature it stops to grow – and the fruit are just as valuable as the growth was.”
Ever heard of demurrage? A small fee to hold money? Silvio Gesell introduced it more than 100 years ago. Inhere relies the chance to make money again, where it is made for: being a mean of exchange rather then a commodity. Demurrage has been used in relation to local currencies, giving regional development a boost, changing the game from searching for gain into maintain value.
It will have implications for all kind of financial structure, for instance like pension funds. But looking just a little bit back in history, there are also solutions. Take East Germany. Pension funds there didn’t gamble with there intakes. They invested in social housing, with rents always filling the pockets to pay the pensions on the list. Probably not understanding by west-German financiers, they raped it apart and destroyed a very healthy way of working with pension money. Again, it was a mature system, taking the fruits of the tree (instead of ever demanding growth).
Leaving the G20 photo
Cutting loose of the GDP-growth addiction, politicians might have to step down from the elite G20 group.
Even with focus on tax-justice and public investment in (inter)national development, creating a healthy state and the circumstances for people to thrive might kick politicians out of the sees as powerful ones.
Also the questions arises: can one country go on its own? When it would be for the right reasons, might GB get those chances after the Brexit?
How to work with tax heavens?
What about democrating public income? Assume, people have to give about 1/3 of their life-spending every month to what they find important? Like schools, hospitals, environmental research… with each of those giving, say, 2% of there income to a national public level, creating a bottum up financial flow, leaving a sick tax system for what it is?
Employment is a changing phenomenon. Development, human wealth, work and income should no longer be lined op in a straight line. Shorter working days, basic income, value creation outside paid jobs, all together call for change of the matter. Worker-owned cooperatives already have a adaptive employment structure. The shift from taxing labour to taxing resource use would be generally supportive to this and also a regenerative design: repair, reuse, remake…
Not measuring money, but human wealth should gather the family photo of the powerful, like based on the Human Development Index (UN).
C40 (the 80 biggest cities, 550 mln people, 25% of world’s GDP) is another example to lead towards smart actions in relation to climate change.
Leave the consumerism addiction
(Digital) advertisement and its income flows are just one side of a psychological drama we have to face in the 21th century. A new belief is needed for those who got persuade by the message that the next buy would bring the happiness, they are looking for.
The mantra consumerism – steady growth – less inequity is a strong one sold in the 20th century.
By now, we know it’s not true, but still can’t get it out of textbooks, policies and our minds.
Well-being is (proven) promoted by:
- Connecting to people around us
- Being active in our bodies
- Taking notice of the world
- Learning new skills
- Giving to others
and will lead to moral and social progress.
Amartyra Sen: development as freedom, 1999
Frank, Gilovich, Regan: Does study economics inhibit cooperation? 1993
Donella Meadow: Thinking in systems, a primer.2008
Donella Meadow: Limit to growth, 1972
Ellen McArthur Foundation: towards the circular economy 2012 <link>
open source circular economy movement
oberlin’s environmental dashboard website
JM Keynes: First Annual report of arts council 1945
J.Fullerton: Regenerative Capitalism <link> 2012
S.Gesell: The natural economic order, 1906
J Aked: 5 ways of well being: the evidence 2008