Jurich: Vision of a new economyWritten by Stacy Jurich | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pretend our current economy and the structure of society has crashed and burned (surprise!). We need to rebuild it. It would not make sense to create something similar to what we lost, knowing it would again sink. The New Economy Working Group says “the Empire model of dominator hierarchy” creates an uneven division between the elite and those in service and thus perpetuates violence, competition, materialism and isolated individualism. This is evident all around us with global unrest, war, environmental destruction and those in power taking away more and more of the people’s rights.
We can do better than that. It is said that “psychologically and morally, mature humans are naturally generous, caring, nonviolent and capable of extraordinary acts of cooperative self-organization in the service of a larger common good.” So instead of wishing and hoping for those at the top to make changes for the greater good, let us start a new story and consider an economic system created from the bottom up, where power and resources are people and are rooted in our community and shared equally by all. The NEWGroup online forum proposes that “societies that share wealth and work equitably among all their members enjoy greater physical and emotional health, stronger families and communities, less violence, and healthier natural environments … are more democratic and more resilient in the face of crisis.”
This is the beginning of a somewhat loosely structured series of columns I will write on components of the New Economy, what some call a “local living economy,” and what that could look like for Toledo. The New Economy values people versus money, shared prosperity versus individual or private profit, and a sustainable community and vibrant ecosystem versus destructive and limiting processes. The components include but are not limited to:
- Locally owned, independent businesses: More reliable, more accountable, with a higher economic multiplier and more stable than national or international companies.
- Sustainable local food system: Increase demand for local food production, genetic diversity, non-GMO foods, healthy soil and healthy community. Includes community supported agriculture, farmers markets, farm to restaurant, community meals, community kitchens.
- Renewable Energy: End senseless pollution and life-threatening industrial practices. Renewables create jobs and are long-term safe alternatives. Also includes zero-waste manufacturing and green building and transportation.
- Public Services: Health and emergency care, education, transportation, independent media, access to healthy water, air, food and shelter.
- New Currency: An exchange and/or giving system based on equal value of people’s time and skills instead of a piece of paper and an invisible banking system backed by debt, the equivalent of absolutely nothing.
- Shared Prosperity: All people, regardless of race, nationality, gender and financial means have a voice in the system (political and economic, local, national and international scale). Money is equally distributed from systems of corrupt
- hierarchical patriarchal corporations (governments) to all people.
- Art and Culture: Inspires creativity and appreciates artistic intelligence. A unifying identity, spirituality and connection to place.
- Ecological Balance: Reduce consumption and pollution while consciously allowing nature’s systems to regenerate. Focus locally on threats facing Maumee River, Lake Erie, the Western Lake Erie Watershed and greater Oak Openings region.
A local living economy places an emphasis on local and regional community self-reliance, a more sustainable and dependable model for long-term well-being and happiness of the community at large. In the New Economy, happiness and success are measured by indicators other than job creation, changes in Gross Domestic Product and Wall Street number games. Real wealth can be measured by Gross National Happiness (GNH) like the country of Bhutan. The four pillars of GNH are: promotion of equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development; preservation and promotion of cultural values; conservation of the natural environment; and establishment of good governance.
This may sound utopian and far-fetched, but as David Korten, co-founder of the New Economy Working Group, points out, “Ultimately, it comes down to a question of the values we believe the economy should serve. Should it give priority to money, or to life? To the fortunes of the few, or the well-being of all?”
The shift to a values-based life-generating economy requires a shift in mental models, a new way of thinking. A shift has already begun and momentum is under way. Especially in Toledo, where the economy could use a make-over and the people are equipped with talent. Revolutions may not happen overnight, but life-changing decisions can be made in an instant, at every moment.