Build Alternatives II

Section
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems
Page
9.7

As well as Varoufakis, there are others – individuals and organisations – who refuse to be crushed and bullied by capitalism and are prepared, nay impelled, to think beyond the current straight-jacket.

As so often in T10, Higgs1 serves as an excellent starting point with her Appendix ‘Selected Critics of Growth’ in ‘Collision Course’, (starting at page 285), listing numerous books, groups, websites, and so forth, that are prepared not only to criticise the current system, but to propose alternatives.

Three groups with different approaches and emphases, but similar desires for a new, better economy, serve as good examples of this most urgent work:

1. The Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy – CASSE Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

“Our Strategy

Conventional economists tend to overlook the principles of ecology when considering the effects of economic growth. These economists—along with politicians, business leaders, and the media—don’t see the big picture when it comes to growth. That’s where CASSE steps in. Our role is to help people understand that growth is causing more problems than it solves at this point in history. To promote the steady state economy as the sustainable alternative, CASSE engages volunteers around the world, from regional directors to collaborators on outreach. CASSE also works closely with economists and scientists to build a foundation of support for the transition to a steady state economy by helping professional societies adopt their own positions on economic growth. In addition, CASSE develops and distributes a variety of information resources on concepts related to the steady state economy.”

CASSE, with such well-known economists and environmentalists as Herman Daly and Brian Czech on the board, is well placed to urge and inform a transition to an ‘environmentally-informed’ economy. Their 15-point plan to achieve this is as follows:

“CASSE’s Top 15 Policies for Achieving a Steady State Economy

  1. Formally adopt the steady state economy as the overarching economic goal. In the USA, for example, this should be specified in legislation, namely a Full and Sustainable Employment Act (1).
  2. Maintain a network of conservation areas sufficient in size and diversity to ensure the long-term provision of vital ecosystem services. (6)
  3. Stabilize population, and aim for a long-term population size that enables a high standard of living for everyone without undermining ecological systems and the life-support services they provide. (4)
  4. Gradually reset existing fiscal, monetary, and trade policy levers from growth toward a steady state. For example, manage the money supply and redevelop the tax code with the new macroeconomic policy goal as a guide. (1,2)
  5. Limit the range of inequality in income and wealth, including both a minimum and maximum allowable income. Implement tax reforms to tax “bads” (e.g., pollution and depletion of natural resources) rather than goods (e.g., income from wages). (1,4)
  6. Employ cap-auction-trade systems in the commons sector for allocating basic resources. Set caps based on biophysical limits. Use auctions to distribute rights to extract resources. Equitably redistribute auction payments through public trusts. Implement a trading system for extraction rights to achieve efficient allocation of resources to those uses with the highest demand. (4)
  7. Establish a more flexible working day, week, and year to provide more opportunities for people to decide how to use their own time and to alleviate employment pressures. (4)
  8. Overhaul banking regulations, starting with gradual elimination of fractional reserve banking, such that the monetary system moves away from a debt structure that requires continuous economic growth. (3)
(Guariglia, J./Britannica. 2021. New York Stock Exchange. A porthole into an extraordinary alternative ‘reality’).

9. Adjust zoning policies to limit sprawl and promote energy conservation.

10. Continue to monitor GDP, but interpret it as a measure of the size of the economy and an indicator of environmental impact. Use other indices to measure economic welfare and social progress, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator. (1,3)

11. Prevent unconstrained capital mobility so that financial resources are more directly tied to the real assets they represent. (4)

12. Work toward full internalization of costs in prices (e.g., costs associated with environmental protection and fair labor laws), and adopt compensating tariffs to protect efficient national policies of cost internalization from standards-lowering competition from other countries. (4)

13. Institute policies that move away from globalization and toward localization to conserve energy resources, provide high-quality local jobs, and maintain local decision-making authority. (3,4)

14. Limit the scope of advertising to prevent unnecessary demand stimulation and wasteful consumption.

15. Establish a Bureau of Population and Consumption to replace the Council of Economic Advisers and to report on sustainability criteria. (1)”

The 15 points reflect some of Daly’s 10-point plan published in 20082 – ‘Towards A Steady State Economy’: 1. Cap-auction-trade systems for basic resources; 2. Ecological tax reform; 3. Limit the range of inequality in income distribution; 4. Free up the length of the working day, week, and year; 5. Re-regulate international commerce; 6. Downgrade the IMF-WB-WTO; 7. Move to 100% reserve requirements instead of fractional reserve banking; 8. Enclose the remaining commons of rival natural capital in public trusts; 9. Stabilize population; 10. Reform national accounts—separate GDP into a cost account and a benefits account. (In addition, he’d like to tax advertising as a public nuisance – what a splendid idea!).

The website contains a first-class reading list. There are briefing papers, videos, policies, suggested actions, membership and donation options, and more. CASSE is based in the USA.

 

2. Decroissance (Degrowth) Degrowth

Emerging in France, Decroissance is particularly strong in Europe. It summarises its approach as:

“Degrowth is an idea that critiques the global capitalist system which pursues growth at all costs, causing human exploitation and environmental destruction. The degrowth movement of activists and researchers advocates for societies that prioritize social and ecological well-being instead of corporate profits, over-production and excess consumption. This requires radical redistribution, reduction in the material size of the global economy, and a shift in common values towards care, solidarity and autonomy. Degrowth means transforming societies to ensure environmental justice and a good life for all within planetary boundaries.

Essential for degrowth is:

  • Striving for a self-determined life in dignity for all. This includes deceleration, time welfare and conviviality.
  • An economy and a society that sustain the natural basis of life.
  • A reduction of production and consumption in the global North and liberation from the one-sided Western paradigm of development. This could allow for a self-determined path of social organization in the global South.
  • An extension of democratic decision-making to allow for real political participation.
  • Social changes and an orientation towards sufficiency, instead of purely technological changes and improvements in efficiency, in order to solve ecological problems. We believe that it has historically been proven that decoupling economic growth from resource use is not possible.
  • The creation of open, connected and localized economies.”
(Decroissance groups and activities in Europe)

They run events and conferences and have a library with over 3,000 entries. There is a map and contacts for groups and activities to join, e.g. see European map.

(Decroissance is perhaps most active presently in Germany, and Degrowth UK has some excellent resources – see https://degrowthuk.org/ ).

 

 

3. Attac (originally standing for the Assoc. for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens) also started in France and is the hub or network for various ‘post-growth’ movements.

Very much activist-oriented, it offers courses, materials, events, alliances and campaigns.

Attac lists its demands as:

“Attac sees the domination of financial markets on society as the main obstacle to the shift to a new mode of development that would be social, ecological, democratic, and relying on solidarity. In order to bring this domination to an end we demand:

  • limits to capital flow and regulations such as a tax on financial transactions so as to drastically reduce all speculative moves
  • the socialization of the banking sector so that the banks’ investment policies will be governed by social and ecological imperatives, and not by short-term profits
  • the prohibition of any capital transit via tax havens to put an end to occult financial activities and to tax evasion
  • restrictions to TNCs through international regulations
  • the cancellation of the public debt of developing countries
  • an increase in taxes on financial incomes and on private estates;
  • a fair organization of international trade that is favourable to developing countries, wage earners, and the environment
  • access to common goods of humankind (water, education, healthcare…) so that human rights are adhered to
  • global taxes to finance access to common goods, namely taxes on TNC profits, polluting activities (carbon tax), on financial transactions, on large private estates
  • a social and ecological agriculture without GM, respectful of the principle of food sovereignty and making it possible for peasants to earn a decent living, both in the North and in the South
  • ways of solving conflicts peacefully (Attac favours non violence in its actions).

Attac also fights any extension of commodification, whether through privatization of public services, the development of pension funds, the privatization of social security, or speculation on the right to pollute through a carbon market.”

 

 1 Higgs, K. 2014. Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet. The MIT Press, Cambridge, U.S.

2 Daly, H. 2008. Towards a Steady State Economy. April 24th, UK Sustainable Development Commission, London. < 3_Daly_2008_Towards_a_Steady_State_Economy.pdf (muni.cz) >

Explore Other Economic System

9.1 Introduction

Just as with the previous section – ‘Energy’ – which is, inescapably, all about fossil fuels so pre-eminent and extraordinary has been their dominance and transformation of the world in the last 200 years, so too is this section – ‘Economy’ – real...

9.2 Capitalism: Benefits and Beneficiaries

“Capitalism can be defined as the deliberate and systematic societal encouragement of the accumulation of growth capital through the use of money and debt, the enforcement of private ownership rights (especially of land and natural resources), and...

9.3 Capitalism: Problems for the Environment

In 9.2 we looked at some of the key planks of capitalism and the benefits they have brought, at least to part of, humanity. Now we turn to the problems they pose, particularly environmental problems, and because of their scale and ubiquity, this i...

9.4 Responses: 1. Re-design the Capitalist System

Just as with the previous section, ‘Energy’, there are basically two responses to the problems identified: 1. Re-design/improve the existing system to account for these problems, or 2. Build a whole new system; here we look at the first approach. ...

9.5 Fatal Flaws

Despite the almost heroic efforts of Pearce and others to improve the capitalist system, to make it properly account for the environment, and to separate its destructive ways from its standard operation, there remains an irredeemable futility at t...

9.6 Build Alternatives I

Heinberg points out in his book ‘Power’1 (see Section 8.8) that critics of the current system are good at pointing out faults, but weak at mapping transitions, let alone constructing alternatives; this is certainly so for alternative ec...

9.7 Build Alternatives II

As well as Varoufakis, there are others – individuals and organisations – who refuse to be crushed and bullied by capitalism and are prepared, nay impelled, to think beyond the current straight-jacket. As so often in T10, Higgs1 serv...

9.8 Directing Money to the Environment I

We have already aired arguments as to whether the environment can be, or should be, better accounted for within the modern capitalist economy, but one thing not up for debate is that it is currently almost entirely outside this economy. As such, i...

9.9 Directing Money to the Environment II

While webpage 9.8 addressed indirect funding to the environment via pension funds or similar, 9.9 will examine direct application of whatever discretionary funds one may have available. At first glance this seems relatively straightforward, but...

Explore Other Sections

1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship 1.1 Articles 1.2 Art Installations 1.3 Books 1.4 Buildings 1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts 1.6 Music 1.7 Paintings 1.8 Photographs 1.9 Poems 1.10 Spiritual Responses
1/11

1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship

This section is designed to foster appreciation and insight that will – hopefully – lead to novel ways to build a better relationship between human beings and Nature. This section is also atypical ...
2. Reduce Consumption
2. Reduce Consumption

2. Reduce Consumption

I hope Reneé Descartes would forgive us for saying that, at least for the modern world, he was wrong.  When, in 1637, he said: “I think, therefore I am”, he could not have anticipated that the majo...
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

In a supposedly secular age there has arisen a global religion and god like never before, a religion whose reach and power makes every other belief system before it seem pitiful and insignificant: ...
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

What we do in our day-to-day lives can have great impact. Section Four divides up these actions into three groups – Work (4.2 & 4.3), Volunteering (4.4), and Action, e.g. voting, protesting, et...
5. Reduce Population
5. Reduce Population

5. Reduce Population

Even on top of Mt. Everest, in one of the remotest, most difficult places on earth, there is a great traffic-jam of people jostling for position. And yet, ever more vociferously, we deny that overp...
6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context
6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context

6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context

The media is one of the three, great ‘poles’ of power in the world (alongside political and corporate power) and how they frame and present ‘the environment’ has a profound effect on how we respond...
7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species
7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species

7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species

New York is an exciting, mesmerising place. Human culture is extraordinary and often wonderful. Our powers of transformation of the natural world seem limitless. The trouble is, we don’t seem to be...
8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition
8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition

8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition

Our current energy largesse is an extraordinary ‘gift’, an unprecedented gift of the ages; millions of years to produce and from millions of years ago. Coal, oil and gas, forming...
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems

9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems

Just as with the previous section – ‘Energy’ – which is, inescapably, all about fossil fuels so pre-eminent and extraordinary has been their dominance and transformation of the world in the last 20...
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation

10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation

Section 10 will attempt to organise this enormous topic by addressing the context and status of pollution in 10.2, before focussing in on air pollution; particularly greenhouse gas pollution and cl...