Arguing for something beyond economic growth
An outstandingly well produced paper on how we can redesign our ways of living based on something other than economic growth and all its attendant troubles.
It takes the best parts from work by the UK new economics foundation, the UK Conservative Party’s “Quality of Life Challenge” (!), the Stiglitz commission, the Story of Stuff, Bill McKibben, the Stern Report and puts it into a compelling argument for a new approach across 8 broad areas – see below.
For Australia, the critical economic challenge is no longer how to increase the production of goods and services. Many of the things that Australians desire – leisure time, vibrant communities, a thriving natural environment, a sense of purpose and wellness in our lives – will not flow automatically from a growing economy. We need a new approach: not one framed in opposition to economic growth, but one that is actively better than growth.
Better progress – improving quality of life, not quantity of wealth
- emphasising measurements of social and individual wellbeing, and ecological health, will give us better results than focusing on narrow economic measurements such as gdp.
Better work – balancing paid and non-paid work, family and leisure time
- while some australians are unemployed, many more are overemployed
- we’d be better off reducing average working hours and increasing time available for leisure, family, community and our democracy.
Better production – making cradle-to-cradle manufacturing a reality
- rather than producing disposable goods that are destined for the tip, we should reorient design and manufacturing toward completely reusable products.
Better consumption – stepping off the consumer treadmill
- overconsumption is at the root of many social and environmental challenges. government can support people to become smart consumers; to consume less and consume smarter.
Better markets – aligning prices with social and environmental impacts
- ensuring that the full environmental and social costs are included in the price tag of goods and services will stimulate a cleaner economy.
Better business – matching private incentives with long-term public goals
- Businesses that focus too much on short-term profits are unlikely to be part of a long-term transition to a more sustainable economy
- supporting non-profit business models and ensuring that executive compensation rewards long-term performance are needed.
Better taxation – rewarding work, not waste
- shifting taxes away from productive activity such as income generation and towards pollution and resource use would create jobs while improving environmental performance throughout the economy.
Better regulation – fixing cost-beneft analysis
- much government analysis depends on cost-benefit calculations which are based on faulty assumptions and exclude the full value of the natural environment
- we should insist that cost-benefit analysis include all aspects of wellbeing.
“Fortunately, many of the solutions are staring us in the face. As William Gibson said, “The future is here, it’s just not widely distributed yet.” In each of this report’s sections, we outline some of the best thinking from around the world on what is needed to transform to a better-than-growth economy. All of these ideas and specific policy recommendations are already being implemented or seriously considered somewhere around the globe.”
A publication that’s gorgeous enough for any (fairtrade) coffee table.