First, an apology to Jonathon Porritt, then a link to anti-cuts campaigners.
In my book I discuss JP’s book “Capitalism as if the World Matters”
and also the Stern Report
Incidentally, I owe the same apology to Sir Nicholas Stern.
In contrast to most others worried about humans overreaching the Earth’s physical limits, these two authorities suggest that Capitalism could adapt to a sustainable modus vivendi. After expressing the view that they had each made a credible case for the possibility, I wrote:
“But to allow a dependence on growth, even on the terms suggested by Porritt, to continue to be the basis of the world economy is a serious psychological mistake.”
Jonathon and Sir Nicholas could reasonably infer from my precise words that I thought they were making a serious mistake. That was not my intention. The theme of my book is the mistake being made by our growth based culture, the world view of people generally. Porritt and Stern are high profile respected figures whose opinions ought to carry considerable weight with those who at present pose the most serious threat to the biosphere. But their message must be one to which the Capitalists will listen, and not switch off. There may be inventors and entrepreneurs who can prolong growth as currently measured without eroding what Porritt calls ‘natural capital’. For their target audience his and Sir Nicholas’s approach is right.
But my aim is to facilitate a culture shift, to begin with in developed nations, but ultimately world wide. To that end, I suggest the Citizens’ Income as making it possible for all individuals to feel secure whether or not economic growth occurs. In future posts I shall discuss just how meaningful the current measures of growth are. Can buying more cars, or spending more in shopping malls really be the means to re-open all the libraries, fire stations and old people’s homes sacrificed on the altar of austerity? If the economy really has grown 50 times bigger than it was in the 1940s, why cannot we afford these luxuries anyway?
But although I must keep giving reminders of the links with wider issues, at the outset the Citizens’ Income can be focussed purely on the poverty trap. Alan Wheatley has given me what looks like a promising link
giving hair raising detail on just how far short Ian Duncan Smith’s ‘Universal Credit’ plan is falling from the problem it is intended to solve as set out in the first part of Dynamic Benefits (2009).
And from that link (johnnyvoid) I found
Zac Goldsmith has not responded to last week’s post. I know he received it.
At some stage in future blogs I need to have a dialogue with Natalie and Will. A blog is necessary because political leaders, even Green leaders, cannot address vital issues until the public has a better understanding of them. But that inevitably will mean that sometimes I could look to them like a loose cannon. As with Jonathon, that is not my intention.
Other topics emerging include a storyline in ‘The Archers’, of a farming family not making ends meet, and the behaviour of ‘Amazon’. I hope that readers can begin to see the connection. (Clue: For Amazon, read the ‘Tragedy’ post on 9th Nov).
There will be a Green Economics event on 14th December at the International Solidarity Centre, Reading featuring my book and discussing the subject of this blog. Full details available shortly from the GEI website
There are two items in this morning’s news to which the Citizens’ Income is relevant: the Energy Bill, and the EU budget. George Osborne is complacent on long term gas supplies. Quite apart from climate change increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, energy prices will rise relative to other costs. It should, to incentivise governments, entrepreneurs as well as the public to innovate and change behaviour. There may be a better idea, but until somebody thinks of it, the CI will be an important part of the strategy to cope with this without distress and unrest.
A major EU budget sticking point is between Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands, who say the budget should be cut, and the southern European countries who are protecting their farmers. I could explain, but I hope by now that readers can start working out how the CI principle applies.
Breaking news: Tata steel works closures. The Tragedy again. The first need is for a mass thought experiment which recognizes these connections.