The Great Transition and the Seven-Fold Way

21 Feb

Q. How do we get there from here?
A. One step at a time. And keep your eyes on the prize.

The New Economic Foundation is calling for and envisioning a new KIND of economy, one based on “stability, sustainability and equality.” Citizen-activists can guide and drive the Great Transition to this new world through a seven-fold way:

•    Great Revaluing
•    Great Redistribution
•    Great Rebalancing
•    Great Localisation
•    Great Reskilling
•    Great Economic Irrigation
•    Great Interdependence (aka InterdepenDANCE)

We start by making “social and environmental value . . . the central goal of policy making”: the Great Revaluing. Both private and public decision making must take full accounting of things we make: “We need to make ‘good’ things cheap and ‘bad’ things very expensive.”

In the Great Redistribution we can fund modest Citizens’ Endowments and Community Endowments through an increased inheritance tax. Working hours and tasks need to changed so as to “create a better balance between paid work and the vital ‘core economy’ of family, friends and community life.” And company shares can be gradually “transferred to employees in a resurgence of mutual and co-operative ownership forms.”

The market sphere “needs to be more tightly drawn and rebalanced alongside the public sphere and the ‘core economy’– our ability to care, teach, learn, empathize, protest and the social networks these capacities create”: the Great Rebalancing. A facilitating state will work with citizens to produce well-being in health and education.

The Great Localization would move decisions to as local a scale as possible, aka ‘subsidiarity.’ Real power must be moved from the center “to devolved democratic” bodies. In the private sector the production of goods and services must consider the “impact on the social fabric of cities, towns and rural areas.” What’s best produced locally, nationally, and at levels in-between?

Returning to the appropriate scale – the Great Reskilling – “means equipping ourselves with the means to do so.” In this we must recover lost skills in manufacturing, finance, and agriculture. And in the arts, the means by which we share our passions and aspirations in creating life-enhancing communities.

In the Great Economic Irrigation we would “shift from taxing ‘goods’ such as work, to taxing environmental and social ‘bads’ such as pollution, consumption and short-term speculation.” Variable consumption taxes can replace income tax. Large transportation and energy infrastructure projects can be financed through “national level environmental and ‘land’ taxes and the creation of public money where appropriate.” Credit creation should be linked to the “ability of borrowers to build social and environmental value.”

All these nation-level changes are projected to the international level through the Great Interdependence, in which a global ‘deal’ “addresses global inequalities from both a development and an environmental perspective.” We need to move toward more local production and regional trade. In short:

A global deal along the lines outlined here is essential for environmental reasons, but also to finally rid the world of the scourge of poverty and inequality. Business as usual has also failed in this regard. Just as within countries, trickle down approaches at global level have brought us to the brink of environmental disaster, while also increasing inequalities and entrenching grinding poverty in many parts of the world. Locally, nationally and globally we need to change direction quickly and radically. We need nothing short of a Great Transition – to collectively build a different future.


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