Our economic system is unfair, unsustainable, and unstable. How Could it be different? and what bottom-up steps can we take towards those changes?
Talk and discussion lead by Gill Westcott, Transition Exeter Economics Group. Click here for a report of the meeting.
Gill Westcott studied ecomomics at Cambridge and Oxford, editing a magazine critical of orthodox economics; then as a smallholder's wife and mother ran a market veg stall before teaching sustainability in schools. She facilitates workshops, writes and gives talks on economics for Quakers and others. Call 01647 24789 for more information.
Working for a Fair and Sustainable Economy
A report from our open meeting on 26th June 2014
We need an economy which is under democratic control and which aims for a healthy Great Economy (the biosphere), for wellbeing and more equality (including jobs).
GDP is a ragbag measure; it’s inventors would be shocked to find it at the heart of economic policy. Rather, we need an economy which can stop growing without collapsing and having a depression. This means money would have to be created not by banks (as debt, with interest) but spent into being for socially useful purposes, as the Positive Money campaign suggests. Interest payments transfer money from poor to rich, so less debt would help equality.
Democratic enterprises (co-ops and social enterprises) are increasing, and legislation could require greater accountability for joint stock companies. Markets can be emotional and shortsighted, just like people; sometimes democratic collective decisions should take precedence, eg to plan greening the economy, just as the production of spitfires was planned during the war. A carbon tax was discussed – and how to avoid fuel poverty if energy prices rise.
Nudges to change the system can come from our individual choices, and better still from local groups working together.
Communicating a vision: how would an economy look that doesn’t have to grow, supports greater equality and the biosphere, and puts well-being ahead of GDP? Support Positive Money (www.positivemoney.org), Tax Justice (www.taxjustice.net), living wage campaigns etc.
Voting with our feet -Withdrawing from a harmful system – eg move money out of high street banks to avoid speculation and fossil fuels; persuade pension funds, councils, churches , the University to divest from fossil fuels; avoid supermarkets, Amazon, Starbucks etc; and
Create and nurture alternatives – buy from co-ops and social enterprises wherever possible, support local independent businesses. Grow the Gift economy, and the economy that involves relationships: LETs, farmers markets etc.
One way to do this: Be a volunteer with Transition Exeter, support development of ECoE, the community-owned renewable energy company, and of the Exeter Pound; or help fund our work. (To Rosie Baines, 35 St Annes Rd, Exeter EX1 2QD, or gift by standing order would be wonderful. The mandate will soon be on the website)