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Economic Sharing & Alternatives

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New Economy Working Group
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A coalition of organisations and prominent thinkers put forward a bold vision and implementing strategy for a New Economy that works for all of Earth’s people and the living systems on which their well-being depends. By The New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup).

3rd September 2012 - Published by The New Economy Working Group

An Overview

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), YES! Magazine, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), the Living Economies Forum, and the Democracy Collaborative, plus individual memners Stacy Mitchell, and Gus Speth have joined together to launch the New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup) to put forward a bold vision and implementing strategy for a New Economy that works for all of Earth’s people and the living systems on which their well-being depends.

Illuminating a Defining Choice

As a nation and a species, we face a defining choice between the phantom wealth casino economy we now have and the real wealth living economies on which a viable human future depends. Fourfold Failure

The failure of the phantom wealth casino economy is evident in a fourfold economic, social, environmental, and political crisis.

  • The economic crisis of the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street financial excesses has stripped tens of millions of middle class Americans of their jobs, homes, and retirement assets and plunged many into poverty and despair.
  • A social crisis of extreme and growing inequality is unraveling America’s social fabric. A tiny minority of executives and financiers have experienced soaring incomes and accumulated grand fortunes as wages for working people have stagnated despite rising productivity gains, and poverty has risen to a near thirty-year high. Social mobility has declined, record numbers of people lack health insurance, schools are failing, prison populations are swelling, employment security is a thing of the past, and Americans workers put in more hours than workers in any other high income country at the expense of family and community life.
  • An environmental crisis caused by excessive human consumption and waste is disrupting Earth’s climate patterns, reducing Earth's capacity to support life, and creating large-scale human displacement that further fuels social breakdown.
  • A political crisis created by big money, a failed market fundamentalist ideology, and the glorification of greed and extreme individualism has reduced democracy to a weak, shallow, and corrupt charade and stripped government of the capacity to provide effective corrective leadership.  

These economic, social, environmental, and political crises all point to the profound failure of an economic system designed and managed by Wall Street institutions to maximize short-term financial returns to their most powerful players.

Yet the current policy debate is largely confined to a search for measures to restore this failed economic system to its 2007 pre-Wall Street meltdown function. The major contending parties differ mainly in the extent to which they see a constructive role for government in setting rules to moderate the worst Wall Street excesses.

Repairing a system designed to serve the wrong values and priorities is a reckless waste of precious time and resources. At best it can provide only a temporary fix. A real solution requires a thorough system redesign to give priority to serving the real needs of people, community, and Earth's living systems.

Reframing the Debate

Widespread public outrage creates an opening to reframe the public debate on economic policy choices and the assumptions underlying those choices about values, the proper purpose of our economic institutions, and the potentials of our human nature.

The basic design elements of the real wealth living economies we humans must now create are largely known. Indeed, millions of people are already engaged in local initiatives that are bringing the needed new economies into being. It remains, however, to weave together the known elements into a holistic, coherent, and compelling vision of the possibilities at hand, translate that vision into a coherent policy agenda, and build public support through popular education and media outreach. This is the work we are undertaking as NEWGroup.

Our approach is values based, but non-ideological. We recognize that markets, government, and civil society all have essential and mutually supportive roles in the living economies on which our future depends.

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New Economy Story

The Framing Meta-Story: Equitable Living Economies

For some thirty years we have been engaged as a nation and a species in a reckless social engineering experiment to test the claims of an extremist economic ideology known as market fundamentalism that advocates laissez-faire market freedom.

According to this ideology society is nothing more than a collection of individuals and the public good is nothing more than the aggregation of their individual desires as best expressed through their market choices and their pursuit of the financial means to support those choices. The public interest is therefore best served when we each seek to maximize our individual financial gain in markets unrestrained by regulation and all assets are for sale to the highest bidder. [See What's Your Story?]

Advocates of this ideology have rewritten the rules of commerce to remove constraints to the unlimited concentration and abuse of corporate power in the pursuit of private profit in disregard of consequences for people and planet. The results of this failed experiment include financial meltdown, a disappearing middle class, stagnant wages in the face of escalating food and energy prices, billion dollar pay packages for hedge fund managers, loss of millions of family wage American jobs, heavy consumer debt, futile wars of occupation, massive trade deficits, a multi-trillion dollar bailout for Wall Street, and the spreading collapse of Earth’s environmental systems.

The Choice Now Before Us

Those of us who came of age in the United States during the latter part of the twentieth century were taught that we were limited to a choice between two economic models: Wall Street capitalism and Soviet communism. We chose Wall Street capitalism based on its claim to being the natural champion of democracy and market choice. Now we see the reality that Wall Street capitalism seeks to limit our political choices to politicians who serve Wall Street interests and our market choices to those that maximize Wall Street profits.

Real Markets and Real Democracy

Our choices are not limited to rule by global financiers or socialist bureaucrats. The current system of economic rules and institutions centralizes decision-making power in narrowly focused global financial institutions that operate beyond the reach of democratic accountability to serve purely financial interests. [See Real Markets and Real Democracy]

In Our Nature

This vision of economic possibility is based on the premise that human nature is not limited to competitive, individualistic, and materialistic drives, but includes equally natural tendencies to be cooperative, caring, and respectful. This premise is supported by our daily experience as well as by scientific findings that our brains are wired for life in community and that societies that feature greater equity and community enjoy greater health and happiness than more unequal and individualistic societies.

We find hope in the realization that the economic transformation we must now navigate to secure a viable human future is consistent with our nature and holds the possibility of a better life for all.

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Nine Action Clusters

  • New Economy Story
  • Living Wealth Indicators
  • Living Wealth Money System
  • Real Democracy
  • Shared Prosperity
  • Living Enterprises
  • Local Living Economies
  • Global Rules
  • Peace Economy

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