We humans face an epic choice between the certain outcome of continuing business as usual and the possible future it is within our means to create through conscious collective action.
The transition to a living Earth economy presents a daunting challenge. Because everything must change, there are many essential points of policy intervention that powerful institutions will resist at every step of the way. The challenge is daunting. The barriers, however, are solely the product of human choices. We can, if we so choose, make different choices–if we have he wisdom and the will.
Effective action will shift the economic system’s defining value from money to life, its locus of decision making from global to local, its favored dynamic from competition to cooperation, its defining ethic from externalizing costs to embracing responsibility, and its primary purpose from growing individual financial fortunes for a few to building living community wealth to enhance the health and well-being of everyone.
Success depends on citizen movements involving millions of people working simultaneously on diverse but mutually reinforcing policy initiatives advancing a shared vision of the world of peace and prosperity for all that can be.
The following outlines eight action clusters foundational to a new economy policy agenda.
- Living Wealth Indicators: Replace financial indicators like GDP and Wall Street market indicators with indicators of human- and natural-systems health as the basis for evaluating economic performance. The goal is to shift economic priorities from growing financial assets to meeting real needs.
- Living Wealth Money System: Decentralize and democratize the system by which money is created and allocated by rebuilding the system of community banks, mutual savings and loans, and credit unions we once had. The goal is to stop the flow of new money to destructive Wall Street speculation and redirect it to productive Main Street investment in productive businesses, housing, beneficial infrastructure, and environmental restoration.
- Equitable Distribution: Redistribute income and ownership to achieve an equitable distribution of power and real wealth. Equitable societies are healthier, happier, more democratic, less violent and less prone to anti-social acts of desperation and displays of extravagance.
- Living Enterprises: Subordinate business interests to community interests by limiting the size of individual enterpirses and favoring locally rooted ownership of businesses by real persons who have a direct stake in the social and environmental consequences of the firm’s decisions for the communities in which they live. This means regulating monopolies, prohibiting absentee ownership, and favoring human scale cooperative, worker, and community owned enterprises.
- Living Democracy: Free both the market and democracy from corporate domination. Break up concentrations of corporate power. Prohibit one corporation from owning another. Limit political participation to real people. Prohibit absentee ownership. Declare all corporations public corporations required to manage their assets in the public interest and operate transparently with records subject to public inspection.
- Bioregional Self-Reliance: Build diversified, self-reliant, energy efficient, democratically self-organizing local economies comprised of living-enterprises devoted to serving local needs functioning as subsystems of their regional ecosystems. The goal is to support local control and decision making to achieve and maintain balance between local consumption and local biocapacity.
- Peace: Here we turn for specifics to our partner institution the Institute for Policy Studies and their work on Peace Transitions. Key elements include working through the United Nations to eliminate war as an instrument of public policy and through domestic programs to decommission military forces, demilitarize police forces, minimize incarceration, and transfer the resources thus freed to creating healthy communities that secure the material and psychological well-being of all through their own means. The goal is to shift resources from life destructive uses to life serving uses.
- Global Rules: Restructure global rules and institutions to support all of the above.