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A Better World is Possible

By:Bruce Nixon
Date: Sun,08 Jan 2012
Submitter:Wendy Stokes
Views:27527

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Bruce Nixon - Free PDF book download available - please share!

The Economics of Wellbeing: The purpose of an economy should be the wellbeing of all. We’re all interdependent, humans and other life on the planet. People everywhere share the same need for love, happiness, security, good work, freedom, community and involvement in decisions affecting them. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Today, this is far from being the case.

The Western economic model is dysfunctional. By fuelling climate change and damaging the ecosystem, it threatens our very existence - we may have less than five years before climate change is out of control. Continuous economic growth defies common sense when we’re already consuming 30% more than the earth can sustain and population is set to rise from 7bn to 9bn by the end of the century. Economies based on continually increasing consumption and the desire for more, bigger, faster, cheaper and constant innovation spread discontent. Yet political leaders still use GDP to measure progress (though some are beginning to talk of a wellbeing index). Preoccupied with financial crises, they are not acting to prevent environmental catastrophe, by far the most urgent priority. Both crises need tackling together.

This model systematically transfers wealth from those who create it to the richest and most powerful. Banking and big business are not serving society. The gap between the rich and the rest of us is widening steadily. In USA and UK large numbers of people live in poverty and our level of wellbeing is among the lowest in the West. Low wellbeing prevails wherever free market capitalism is given free rein. In India impoverished people are driven from the countryside into huge city slums. In 2010, 7.6 million children under five died, 70% in developing countries. Two-thirds of these deaths are preventable. Injustice and lack of opportunity ultimately lead to violence. In places like Tottenham, near the City of London, where the recent riots began, young people see few opportunities. Unemployment is at the highest level in 17 years and almost one million young people are unemployed. UK now has the highest prison population in decades, alongside USA, one of the highest.

The vast majority of people, over 90% in USA, want a more equal society. More equal societies work better; people are happier and healthier. Less money is needed to deal with the consequences of inequality; higher taxation is not necessarily required.

Human beings have survived throughout history by learning and adapting. We are enormously creative. Also we are capable of rapid mobilisation, as World War 2 showed. However current political and business leaders are slow to act decisively. The big issue is: will they act quickly enough before climate chaos and ecological catastrophe overwhelm us? We need to demand decisive action.

More and more people realise that the prevailing economic model isn’t working. There is an alternative. We know what needs to be done. It’s total system change. Prosperity - without growth (explored by Tim Jackson in his book of that title) is a win; win. It can resolve both the environmental and economic crises at the same time. A Great Transition (proposed by the New Economics Foundation) offers new work opportunities, a better balance of work and leisure and better health for all. The vision of a better way inspires and brings hope. It can be achieved through substantial funds for green investment; fairer, sustainable taxation; tackling tax avoidance and evasion; and shifting subsidies from industries that accelerate climate change, damage the ecological system and harm lives to those that are sustainable. Big business has to accept that they gain enormously from public investment funded by the state. We need a completely new form of auditing that takes account of past investment in infrastructure. Comprehensive monetary reform is needed. Banks make huge profits by creating 95 % of our money through debt. Only National Reserve Banks should have the right to issue money. A Citizen’s income, partly funded by land value taxation, can reduce the humiliation and the cost of administering complex benefits. Governments and global institutions must control excessive power and regulate financial markets. Principled foreign policies and conflict resolution can save lives and release vast sums spent on war.

The means are available. Sun, wind and wave can meet our power needs without harming people or planet. We can feed ourselves if we waste less and work with nature. All over the world, good things are happening. There are plenty of models for better businesses and government at every level, local and global.

We need to believe that fundamental change is possible and not accept “It can’t be done”. We need to put the wellbeing of all before individual affluence. It will mean changes in our lifestyles, giving up some things, choosing instead what truly matters. Apart from saving our lives and those of future generations, this will lead to far greater wellbeing.

Such a transformation requires bold political leadership, courage and integrity. Individual actions count. But national and international action is needed. If we are to prevent disaster, collaboration, not competition, is required. A new national consensus must be articulated. All of us have to accept responsibility. We can’t afford to be bystanders. We need to inform ourselves, lead, collaborate, lobby, educate politicians and demand they do what’s needed.

There is growing revulsion at the current form of capitalism. Global protests have spread from Wall Street and St Paul’s Cathedral to over 900 cities in 81 countries. Now 100 leading economists and Compass have put forward radical proposals in a Plan B, urging UK Chancellor George Osborne to step back from his disastrous policy of cuts, and implement a strategy to avert environmental catastrophe.

A BETTER WORLD IS POSSIBLE: We are in a situation we have never been in before – an environmental crisis that threatens our very existence. Essentially, it results from our failure to live in harmony with the earth on which all life depends and each other. With another global economic crisis now unfolding, it is frightening.

It is a time of breakdown but the good news is that breakdowns lead to breakthroughs. We have survived thorough history by learning and adapting. Human beings are enormously creative. We are capable of rapid mobilisation, as World War 2 showed.

The trouble is that political and corporate leaders appear wedded to ideologies that have not worked and they don’t see that whole system change is needed. Continuous growth defies common sense when we’re already consuming 30% more than the earth can provide and population may rise from 7bn to 10bn by the end of the century. They also think short term and fight with each other rather than collaborating.

We know what needs to be done. We need total system change. A vision of a better way of life will inspire and bring hope to everyone. We need a Great Transition (as proposed by the New Economics Foundation). We need to find a new Prosperity - without growth (explored by Tim Jackson in his book of that title). Such a transition offers massive work opportunities, a better balance of work and leisure and better health for all. It can be achieved through fairer, sustainable taxation; tackling corporate tax evasion; principled foreign policies; investment in conflict resolution to save lives and release the vast sums spent on war; providing funds for green investment; and shifting subsidies from industries that accelerate climate change and harm lives to those that are sustainable. Comprehensive monetary reform is needed giving reserve banks the sole right to issue money. A citizen’s income, partly funded by land value taxation, can reduce the humiliation and cost of administering complex benefits.

The means are available. Sun, wind and wave can meet our power needs without harming people or planet. We can feed ourselves if we waste less, learn from each other and work with nature. All over the world, these things are being done. There are good models for better businesses and government at every level from local to global.

We need to believe that fundamental change is possible. We need to put the wellbeing of all, all forms of life, before individual affluence. It will mean a change of lifestyles, giving up some things, choosing instead what truly matters. Apart from saving our lives and those of future generations, this will lead to far greater happiness. To bring about such changes we need to reform our democracy, introduce fairer voting and address the causes of widespread cynicism about politicians and politics.

The big question is: will we act in time? Some estimates are that we may have only five years before climate change becomes out of control and irreversible.

Individual actions can bring about much of the change but government action is needed to enable it. Governments need to learn from the past and regulate to control excessive power and financial markets.


All of us need to accept personal responsibility. People power is needed. The brave people in North Africa and the Middle East are showing us the way. We need to inform ourselves, lead, collaborate, lobby, educate politicians and demand they do what’s needed.

So that is why I have written A Better World is Possible, a handbook for people who want to get engaged and not be bystanders. My approach is to give hope and encourage people empower themselves. I say we need whole system change. The first step is to make sense of the system. The first part of the book sets out to do just that. The second part sets out a practical vision of a better world; describes the best proposals and the many existing models that are transforming the situation for the better. I suggest the actions people can take in their own lives, how they can influence their communities and workplaces, equally important, what they can do as activists to influence politicians and demand that governments do what is needed. I list key campaigns to support.

A Better World is Possible – what needs to be done and how we can make it happen is your handbook. Available as a free PDF http://www.brucenixon.com/betterworld.html Paperback and E-Book is published by O-Books ISBN 978-1-84694-514-4.
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