Points of Progress

I’m going to start a new serious in this blog, “Points Of Progress,” a once-monthly report of things happening in our world, policies, articles, and practices in-line with the steady state economy, that are worth some time to read about –  the good news, the promising results. This stems from the many articles I have been scoping through on google reader (a great RSS feed tool, for those of you interested in getting updates via rss).

Through the 50-100 posts I receive daily, I manage to pick out a handful of good ones and post on twitter (follow me), but some of these deserve some recognition on this blog. This monthly report is for the exciting things happening I just don’t have time to post about in-depth. Here are some cool things happening in the world:

Maryland’s New Alternative Metric: The GPI

Herman Daly‘s home state has just instituted their version of the Genuine Progress Indicator. This alternative to the grossly inadequate GDP takes into account 26 factors, from incorporating the costs of crime to the costs of ozone depletion. The state is using the GPI as a tool to education the public and policymakers on the balance between costs and benefits of decisions regarding resource use.

As Governor O’Malley said, “The GPI will help us ensure that our economic growth will not come at the cost of our natural resources, and that they both support our progress toward a sustainable future and a better qualify of life for all Maryland families.”

21 Hours: Work Less, Live More

Part of the many policies of a steady state economy, adjusting the work hours for increases in efficiency is a policy that could revolutionize our society. Not only does this policy fight unemployment head-on by making more work available, it frees up time in our weeks to do something really important – live.

The new economics foundation’s new report, 21 Hours: Why a shorter working week can help us all to flourish in the 21st century outlines how the average time worked in Britian, 21 hours, should  be the new standard. As nef explains, “A ‘normal’ working week of 21 hours could help to address a range of urgent, interlinked problems: The average overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.”

The IMF Rethinks Macroeconomics

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has not only recently acknowledged that macroeconomic policy may have “exacerbated the recent financial crisis,” but also has begun to rethink those policies.

Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, published a paper, “Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy” (pdf), stating that better economic policies might include increased government involvement, higher inflation, and help for the poor. The IMF’s typical policy of telling governments that less intervention and low inflation were powerless to prevent the “Great Recession.” Great news for those of us hoping for changes in the IMF and World Bank.

Consuming Our Way To Prosperity

First off let me say that I have had a crazy couple of weeks between holidays and family and then getting my wisdom teeth pulled. As such, I haven’t had much time to read, let alone write, so the blog will be a little slow for the next week or so. But feat not! In just two weeks I will be on my way to the Capital City to attend the New Green Economy Conference. There I will be keeping you all up to date on the daily workshops, volunteer activities, and events!

While reading an article I was reminded of a topic I have been trying to formulate words on: measuring progress. As George Monbiot puts it,

“In our hearts most of us know it is true, but we live as if it isn’t. Progress is measured by the speed at which we destroy the conditions which sustain life. Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.

“Though we know they aren’t the same, we can’t help conflating growth and well-being… GDP is a measure of economic activity, not standard of living.”

Read through Prosperity Without Growth and the new economics foundation‘s publications and you will find tons of information about prosperity, progress and the measuring of it. In fact, there are numerous metrics out there to choose from. I just wrote a post for new project I am working on with some fellow steady staters on the subject of measuring progress, read it here.

Blueprint For A Better World

New Scientist Sets Out To Make The World a Better Place
New Scientist Sets Out To Make The World a Better Place

New Scientist‘s next three issues will follow up on what this week’s issue started: defining world problems and finding solutions. I have been continually impressed with New Scientist, from their articles on economic growth, endorsing the steady state economy, and their article about the nature of greed. I am one of the few Americans I have met that actually subscribes to this great weekly UK periodical, though I hope more will follow my lead.

Their ambitious premise on this four-part serious entitled “Blueprint For A Better World” is to “explore diverse ideas for making the world a better place, and the evidence backing them.” [emphasis added] It is one thing to talk the talk, but now it’s time for decisive action. We can no longer wait around for the change to self-manifest, we have to deliver it ourselves.

Continue reading “Blueprint For A Better World”

Happy Planet Index 2.0

A Happy Planet Makes For Happy People
A Happy Planet Makes For Happy People

The Gross Domestic Product is a tally of all the goods and services made in the country. It does not take into account the well-being of citizens, the success or failure of our government, or the quality of anything really – it is purely a tally of numbers. Somehow this number has been accepted as measure of the quality of our society.

The economy is a tool which we use to facilitate our happiness, well being, and develop our society. However, our metric for determining our success in this arena takes none of these things into account. GDP is a poor measurement of our well-being, our happiness, or our development – it’s just a number.

That is why there are other scales in existence now. The New Economics Foundation puts together the Happy Planet Index and just recently they released a updated report: the Happy Planet Index 2.0. In this comprehensive report 143 countries (99% of the world’s population) were examined for three separate indicators: ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life expectancy.

Continue reading “Happy Planet Index 2.0”

Addressing Global Climate Change

Cut The Emission Before They Cut Us
Cut The Emission Before They Cut Us

It is no longer a matter of saving the planet, but a matter of saving the human race. We are just a blink in the eye of a spec of a bit of dust in the history of our planet. When we are long gone, it will remain. The ecosystems on our planet have evolved to support our life. We have evolved the ability to destroy those ecosystems. Problem? Only if you want food, water, and oxygen. Without the support of our environment we will die.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Since the industrialization of our society we have begun to cause irreversible damage to this system that sustains our life. We cannot destroy the earth, but we can destroy it’s ability to sustain our own lives. If we continue to destroy the environment causing our extinction, the planet will eventually regenerate – without us. So are we really saving the planet, or saving ourselves?

Continue reading “Addressing Global Climate Change”