Three hacks that could put capitalism back into its box

My recent article on how come capitalism is an extractive practice, and the later explainer of how it degrades real capital got, for me at least, a lot of interest. Very few, however, asked what could be done about it. Let’s do just that. We have described the problem, now we can get on and solve it. There are three ways to limit the destructive power of the capitalist form of production and its toxic side kick, free markets .They are surprisingly simple. Read on!

Continue reading “Three hacks that could put capitalism back into its box”

Why are we not at zero carbon emissions already?

In the west we live in a world of bold ideas. One dominating idea is that firms can take care of most things. When there is poor societal performance – high unemployment for example – this is seen as a failure of the market and politicians rush to do something about it.

This powerpoint presentation explains a bit about how market based instruments – a favourite tool of left and right politicians for “nudging” markets to do the right thing – can be applied to the circular economy.

[Link to download the presentation.]

Video Lessons: Sustainability Models and systemic analysis tools

These video lessons take you through a systemic approach to sustainability using as an example the challenge of nitrogen cycle destabilisation and the systems analysis tool KUMU. You should be able to carry out your own analyses after this.

Continue reading “Video Lessons: Sustainability Models and systemic analysis tools”

New E-Book – addressing the market failures arising from the structure of the firm

We are in a time of transition. The world no longer seems to present vast frontiers of new forests to fell, mineral wealth under our feet to extract, or of new soils to plough. Instead the Earth has become more like a garden which we realise we need to steward carefully to keep it productive.

We also see another transition, from societies where everyone more or less had the basics to massive inequalities where for instance in the UK, one in 200 is homeless.

At least from a European perspective, where the state is seen as the protector of people and resources, and firms are partners in providing what people need, we can see this a massive market failure.

Continue reading “New E-Book – addressing the market failures arising from the structure of the firm”

Why the doughnut needs the bathtub – economic models for real change

Kate Raworth’s Doughnut model of the way an economy should perform is excellent. But it needs an idea of how to control that economy so it performs to requirements. Enter the bath tub.

Kate Raworth has a wonderfully clear and simple concept – that we should arrange the way we run society on the principle that we do not exceed planetary boundaries – in our relation to nature – on one hand, and that we set things up to avoid people suffering and that everyone’s basic needs get fulfilled – the human dimension – on the other.  She draws it like a doughnut.

In her excellent book, Doughnut Economics, Kate shows how this task is essentially one for the economy and a question for economics. Doughnut economics gives us a very clear set of requirements for how an economy should work. That immediately brings one to think of money, investments, taxes, banks businesses etc. And that is where the model needs a little help .

Continue reading “Why the doughnut needs the bathtub – economic models for real change”

Shop your way to fossil freedom

Sixteen-year old Greta Thunberg is asking good questions like “why are we doing nothing about climate change?” She tells it like it is as we stand unmoving – no group wanting to give anything away. Unions rightly take the stance that workers should not pay with lowered standards. Some want to play with small tax adjustments to see the poor OK.

The New Green Deal says “never mind the economics of it – we’ll just invest in the planet we want.” That is good, but you need to make sure people have the money to pay for those new high speed rail services and electric buses.

So. No easy solution? Perhaps there is.

Continue reading “Shop your way to fossil freedom”

Putting a price on phosphorus: links and publications

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  1. Phosphorus is mined and processed into fertilizer along with other nutrients like potassium and nitrogen.
  2. Applied to the fields, it is incorporated into vegetables and sold direct or as animal feed.
  3. Phosphorus leaks from agriculture into waterways and is exported to shops as food.
  4. Consumers purchase food for consumption.
  5. Phosphorus leaves the body mainly as urine.
  6. Sewage is processed at water purification plants.
  7. Some phosphorus is dumped as waste from purification, some ends up in waterways.
  8. Eventually phosphorus travels to the sea.
  9. Some phosphorus can be recovered from the sea-bed, most remains in the sea. New technology is being tested to restore seabeds and recover nutrients. Continue reading “Putting a price on phosphorus: links and publications”

Monetary theory and a safe house for humanity

Could it be so that it is a badly-constructed monetary system that is holding humanity back? Money theoretician Marc Gauvin offers some interesting angles on money as a system. He suggests that the money system itself impacts peace negatively, but the system could be adapted to be a peace-promoting tool for humanity. We’ll lay out the ideas here and look forward to hearing your comments in the comments box below.

Could it be so that it is a badly-constructed monetary system that is holding humanity back in its shared project of peace on Earth? Or at least this miss-construction is not doing us any good? Marc Gauvin, money theoretician and author of two websites Money Transparency and  Bibo Currency offers some interesting angles on money as a system. In recent correspondence, he suggested that the money system itself impacts peace negatively, but the system could be adapted to be a peace-promoting tool for humanity. We’ll lay out the ideas here and look forward to hearing your comments in the comments box below. Continue reading “Monetary theory and a safe house for humanity”

OPINION: upgrade the monetary system and pay people to do the right thing

Stephen Hinton 2016, photo Maj-Lis Koivisto

 

Money and markets are powerful tools in developing our world, most would agree. However,  the negative effects, some might say unintended results of their application are painfully apparent. These include environmental degradation, unequal distribution and crowded, unhealthy cities. To achieve a sustainable future, and the Sustainable Development Goals in particular, all options for changing the economic system should be on the table.   Should we abandon industrial capitalism and our present monetary system altogether? Should we introduce a form of sustainable five-year planning regime? Continue reading “OPINION: upgrade the monetary system and pay people to do the right thing”

The economics of the circular economy

Economic Fiscal Reform calls for the economic system to align with the twin purposes of preserving and  indeed restoring the environment whilst providing a standard of living for citizens. Up to now, these purposes have not been central to the way economics has been practiced. We are, however, facing a pressing situation: soil degradation, atmospheric warming and mineral depletion are forcing us to rethink. The idea of the circular economy – where biological and mineral material circulate in the economy without being deposited – is gaining ground. Continue reading “The economics of the circular economy”