We humans are living beings on a living Earth. Healthy economies function as healthy living systems. To secure the human future it is necessary to navigate a transition to a global system of local-rooted, self-organizing, real-wealth living economies that mimic the structure and dynamics of Earth’s biosphere.
Desired System Outcomes
The healthy planetary system of local living economies we seek will self-organize toward four system conditions:
- Financial Stability, which is a natural condition of a financial system devoted to sound productive investment, in contrast to the inherent instability of a phantom-wealth financial system devoted to predatory lending and speculation on financial bubbles. It requires creating a living-wealth money system dedicated to providing financial services responsive to community needs and opportunities.
- Earth Balance between aggregate human consumption and the regenerative capacity of Earth’s biosphere to secure the long-term health of people and planet. The central challenge here is to reduce aggregate material consumption while investing in the restoration of environmental health. This requires dealing with defects in the current system structure that create an imperative for growth and wasteful forms of consumption.
- Shared Prosperity through the equitable distribution of work and material benefits to secure access for everyone to a healthy, fulfilling means of livelihood through a combination of jobs, household production, entrepreneurship, public services, and gifting. The central challenge here is to allocate sustainably available material resources with optimal efficiency to meet the needs of all. This requires dealing with defects in the system structure that deprive a majority of the world’s people of access to an adequate and dignified means of living.
- Living Democracy through the active and equitable engagement of every person in making the political and economic decisions that bear on their health and happiness. The central challenge here is to restore the caring relationships of family and community while breaking up unaccountable concentrations of economic and political power. This requires dealing with defects in the system structure that drive this concentration.
The New New Economy
The May 30, 1983 issue of Time magazine featured a cover story on “The New Economy”that highlighted the transition from an economy based on traditional manufacturing industries to an economy based on information technologies.
Following the September 2008 financial crash, YES! Magazine featured a story by David Korten titled “Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy”with a call to “replace the failed money-serving institutions of our present economy with the institutions of a new economy dedicated to serving life.
”YES!followed up with a special issue on “The New Economy” in Summer 2009.
New Economy is now a term of choice among progressive citizen groups working for an economy supportive of economic justice, environmental sustainability, peace, and democracy. The New Economy Coalition brings together more than 100 organizations dedicated to actualizing a shared vision of an economy that is just, sustainable, and democratic.
In this usage, the terms New Economy, living economy, real-wealth economy, and Main Street economy are largely interchangeably.
Tests for Prospective Action
Will the proposed action support the emergence of a new economic system that shifts the economy’s:
- Defining value from money to life
- Locus of power from global financial markets to local communities of place,
- Favored dynamic from competition to cooperation,
- Defining ethic from reckless externalization of costs to responsible internalization, and
- Pri mary purpose from growing the financial fortunes of the few to assuring the health and well-being of everyone.
Each contemplated intervention is properly evaluated for its contribution to advancing one or more of these essential shifts. Does it serve life, localize power, foster cooperation, internalize costs, and contribute to the health and well-being of all?
Three Strategic Interventions
The Forum supports these outcomes through cooperation with our lead organizational partners on three strategic interventions:
- Change the cultural stories that shape our beliefs about the nature of wealth, the purpose of the economy, and our human possibility. The Forum’s lead organizational partner here is YES! Magazine.
- Create a new economic reality from the bottom up through the restoration of local food systems and other building blocks of our local economies. The Forum’s lead organizational partner here is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).
- Change the rules to shift the power advantage from global financial markets to local communities. The Forum’s lead organizational partner here is the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
These three types of interventions also appropriately applied in framing strategies for addressing each of Seven Critical System Action Points.