In this thread, let's discuss different possible economic systems, their stengths and weaknesses, and how well they might achieve the kinds of outcomes that we would like.
All ideas on this are welcome!
Initially one must have a system which embraces the entire planet. The reason for this is so that you have an even playing field. For instance the US was made great due to their manufacturing ability during and at the end of the second World War. Currently anything the US manufactures can be done for a fraction of the cost in India, China or any third world country. What this creates is a boom for the third world country and it creates job loss in the US.
Price controls also would also need to be put into effect. So, a frying pan costs the same in China as it does in England. People are being paid at the same rate in India as they are in Ireland. People who play the Forex markets will hate this idea as they suddenly would not be able to make money for nothing.
The banking system would be more of a socialistic system in that it is not out to plunder but create viable economies. There would be one form of currency used worldwide that communicates exactly what it is whether American or Armenian. Loans would be readily available at a fixed minimal rate of about 1% per annum and they would be owned by all people of earth. Bank rates would be fixed so that people within the industry can make good money but it is based upon their ability to produce a valuable service to their customers.
The main thrust of this basic idea is to base the monetary system either upon a fixed gold standard or against the value of the planets resources. All income would be based upon ones production of a product or service that has value to others. Again this would be controlled as to a set standard. The basic idea is to reward those who are contributing greatly to their profession, trade, company, partnership and those who are not productive would still survive but not nearly as well. This creates a system whereby those who are the skilled managers, riveters, artists, seamstresses or what have you will be paid according to their ability. This rules out things like nepotism where the president's idiot son gets the corner office when he is still trying to figure out how to lick a stamp.
The individual can excel and is not limited in his ability to excel in any field that he so desires. Those individuals who want to do the bare minimum can still survive but they will be the ones who are just making it. The reason for this is so that each individual is wholly responsible for his own condition.
This is a very basic layout but what is required is a system that works unlike the current system.
Hello, great thread! Thanks, Monica, for creating the group.
John has produced many good ideas. I certainly agree that the current economic system must be changed dramatically. I hesitate between a system in which countries would aim at "self sufficiency", and one where a certain division of labour would be drawn world-wide. The world would also have to decide on how much technology it really needs. Could we not encourage manual labour in agricultural fields, for example, creating employment and encouraging self-reliance.
You can't restrain any group, country, or planet from growing in a mode of survival that is for the betterment of all. If you have any group or individual that is trying to progress to the detriment of the world then that is a group that must be stopped. Look at a big pharmaceutical company. They create a drug that kills or disables people and yet expect to grow. How sane is that? Kill off your customers so that your company can grow?
Each area has different needs. In an arid environment there are certain needs and in a rain forest there are far different needs. However, all of humanity has certain needs that can be created locally. They may need some help to get started but there is no type of structure that cannot be self-sustaining that is actually needed and wanted.
Hi everyone I have read with great interest the posts on this subject. I just wanted to share my experience of using the business model I have adopted and found to work (most of the time). I think the individual and their personal choices of how to use their own money has immense power to influence economics from a local to global perspective. I started out over 2 years ago as a freelance environmental trainer delivering practical training opportunities. In this job I work with everyone from kids at risk of exclusion from school, young offenders, supported families and even large corporations looking for staff development on community challenges.
I decided from the outset that 'added value', in other words additional positive outcomes should arise from every £1.00 I am paid. I wanted my business to punch above its weight in terms of sustainable development. My first decision was to only use small family firms for my materials (large quantities of timber. fixings etc.) thus contributing to the local economy and helping hard working folks to pay their mortgages and keep money in the local economy. This was not always convenient but with a little thought I ended up with loyal suppliers being supported rather than national chains of timber merchants. It was also easy to choose products on the basis of where produced/environmental impact. This has worked really well and has not been to the detriment of my business. I am paid to deliver training in carpentry skills/food growing so whatever is made with the funding I receive is donated to charities or to support wildlife projects with donations of bird boxes, bee homes etc. Sometimes we build community gardens for disadvantaged groups. Through this approach I have been able to at least match every £1 I receive as a business with 'added value' to the individuals, communities and environment in which I work. Nobody loses! I get paid to deliver training, young people get trained so we might as well add value wherever possible and make positive impacts, sometimes the cash value of the work we do is way beyond what I get paid.
I firmly believe that my individual approach can easily be replicated by private individuals carefully choosing how and where they spend their money or large companies pursuing 'corporate responsibility' objectives. The downside is that it requires will and a desire to think beyond purely the 'bottom line'. Sometimes it costs more to buy ethically sources materials or services that give greater benefits to those delivering them and this can be a hard choice in a system driven by always finding the cheapest and asking questions afterwards.
I am not blowing my own trumpet here, I've not made myself rich but I pay my mortgage, bills etc. and firmly believe that what I do as an individual is a microcosim of what larger concerns could do if such a culture of thinking could be created. I agree with John that great contribution to skills and services should be rewarded but regrettably have no answer as to the huge gulf between the cost of goods in countries with low labour costs and those produced in long established industrial nations. The 'added value' business model I talk about is for a high value skilled service, luckily for me this cannot be outsourced! Hope there's something in this post that adds something useful, cheers Alan
Interesting, your concept appears to be simply a standard business model with the exception that you support local suppliers rather than where you can get the best price. This is fine for a single individual. If that is what you want to accomplish for yourself and your family and your immediate community then that is very well done.
The only place where you would ever run into trouble is if there were others who wanted
to operate under the same type of business model but were willing to go for the cheaper price then they could undercut you and inhibit your self, your family and your community and potentially put you out of business.
I've not had a problem with competittion although there is a lot of it. The people buying my services are looking at the overall best value on a range of levels not just who is the cheapest. I suppose when I described what I do I was trying to get at saying there is or should be a calculation of other wider values connected to a service mixed in with the purely what's the bottom line. This includes social, economic and environmental. There is not much of an appetite to do this when someone has a choice between an almost identical product made in an emerging economy where labour rates are low (sometimes at exploitation levels).
Thanks for clarifying Alan. It seems like you have a very good idea and it is needed and wanted in your area. As you mention in other economies, you could not compete price wise. This is the area where I want to raise awareness is that there is no reason to have all these separate economies. If you can build a house for $2000 in China you should be able to do the same in India, England, Germany or the US. This essentially puts countries in opposition to each other when they could cooperate for the mutual benefit of all. The idea is to have good ideas like yours be able to infiltrate in other communities/countries and benefit more people and have people contributing towards each other rather than just a few bankers who have rigged the system by fraud.
Hi John, I am also very interested in the idea of a 'level playing field' between seperate economies. At the moment economies where wages are very low, standards of living in a western sense of the word are low, the environment is not a concern etc. can drastically undercut the long established industrialised economies. I tend to approach things from an environmental ethics viewpoint and remeber a prominent writer called Barbara Ward who in the 1970's in her book 'The Home of Man' wrote about the potentially disastrous concequences of the majority of the world's poor raising their levels of consumption to something even vaguely resembling that of the UK or US. Do you think everyone might have to redefine what they think of as an appropriate standard of living? This is bearing in mind the amount of waste we generate etc. I do agree that the banking sector has been a friend only to itself, whether by default or downright dishonesty.
There does have to be a realignment of an appropriate standard of living however, there is no reason why a street peddler in Bangkok can not have the same standard of living as an assembly line worker in Detroit. It is merely a matter of setting a standard world wide of the value of objects and production.
You see, what is important is the individual's ability to care for himself, his family, his community and other groups with which he is a member, mankind, the environment and his own spiritual and religious ideologies. Any person working along this line should not be inhibited in his ability to produce and be reimbursed for it. Lord Keynes had this idea that only the richest wanted to drive around in solid gold Rolls Royces. Well, the guy selling shoes would like to do that also. They only reason that not everyone on the planet can do that is that there is not enough gold around to make that many Rolls.
Money itself is merely an exchange medium. That is its only purpose. It does not have any real value but it has been given an artificial value and so it is horded. The only thing wrong with the current fiat system of money is that there are only a few who benefit from it. Those few produce nothing and yet get all the reward. If anyone tries to do a similar operation to them they are arrested for counterfeiting.
We live on a planet where hundreds of thousands die from starvation while farmers in the US are being paid to not grow crops. The bottom line is that no one makes a buck if you feed those who are starving.
The real worth of any individual is what one is able to produce and exchange with other individuals. This is the real bottom line do you have a product or service that others need or want. If you do you succeed and if you don't you fail. After that it is merely producing that product or service in sufficient quantity to prosper. This may seem too simple but that is all it really is. If you make and sell buggy whips in an area where there are people who have a need for this product you do well and if no wants them you starve. This is one of the real beefs that people have with governments is that they deliver no real product or service in exchange for all the tax dollars they collect. The second leg of this is to produce in sufficient volume and quality. If you make 1 buggy whip a day and it falls apart within a week people are not going to want your product. If you make one a day and it is of good quality at a reasonable price and one has a need or want for such a product you make a living. If you can make five a day and they are a good quality you survive well. If you can make 30 a day of superior quality at the same price you survive very very well. So, one has 4 different levels of exchange that one can do with any product or service. With an increase in demand for products or services there will be people who are bright enough to find the need or want and produce the desired product or service.
I think that was a brilliant post by John, very thought provoking. I don't feel I can add anything at the moment other than to ask what can we as individuals practically do to help realise a more equitable way of trading across economies? Can we support ethically based trade? There are some models of good practice around, what do people think? I think I've posted enough for now so will see what anyone else thinks before I post again. Best wishes Alan
In order to shift to a sustainable economy, we need to rethink the capitalist/free market economic system. When there is a major technological breakthrough to be brought from a tinkerer's garage workshop or a university laboratory to market as a commercial product, the capitalist/free market economic system does a good job of that and can keep going for some time on working out further ramifications of the breakthrough. But a capitalist/free market economy is able to keep its balance only when it is moving forward at a good speed. When it must slow down due to any sort of constraints on resources, it stalls like a small airplane or falls over like a bicycle and rider.
Also forcing a sovereign government able to monetize debt to reduce its debt also contracts the money supply of that nation causing a deflationary depression--because the national debt is the monetary base of such a nation.
I wish there were a good way to persuade our corporate leaders to convert the economy to sustainable energy--wind turbines, solar power, etc. with batteries for storage and a smart grid for everything that can just as well run on electricity and bio-diesel from something that would still be sustainable even at the scale required for those uses, mostly heavy duty transportation (18-wheeler trucks on highways and air travel where surface transportation won't do) that really need a liquid fuel.