'For the Common Good - Redirecting the economy towards community, the environment and a sustainable future'
by Herman Daly and John Cobb
(published by Green Print, 10 Malden Road, London NW5 3HR, 1990, L9-99).
- The authors quote Thomas Jefferson: 'The article nearest to my heart is the
division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics,
the aim of all of which taken together composes the State, and will make of the
whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that nearest
and dearest concern, ... admitting personal transactions by the people.'
- 'We call for rethinking economics on the basis of a new concept of Homo economicus as person-in-community. ... The goal of an economics for community is as much to provide meaningful and personally satisfying work as to provide adequate goods and services.'
- 'If India had adopted Gandhian (village-based) economics, there would be
far less heavy industry there, but there would also be far fewer urban slums and
far healthier rural life. The prosperous middle class would be smaller, but the
desperately poor would also be far less numerous.'
- 'A national economy for community will be a relatively self-sufficient economy. This does not preclude trade, but it does preclude dependence on trade, especially where the nation cannot participate in determining the terms of trade.'
- About free trade they write: 'US workers are invited by US capitalists to share their wages with the hungry of the world in the name of 'world community'. The majority of the nation is invited to lower its standard of living so 'we' can be more 'efficient'. But who is 'we', and efficient at what? Certainly not efficient at providing a decent living standard for the majority of our citizens! And while we are about the business of lowering wages in the interests of efficiency, let us not forget to lengthen the working day, lower the minimum legal age to work, cut back retirement and sick leave, and so on. Equilibrium with the world labour market will not permit such benefits.
'In sum, we believe it is folly to sacrifice existing institutions of community at the national level in the supposed service of non-existent institutions of community at the world level.'
- 'The very concept of an optimal scale for the entire economy, relative to the supporting ecosystem, just does not exist in current economic theory: ... how many persons simultaneously living at what level of per capita resource use is best for community, where community includes concern for the future and non-human species as well as presently living humans?'
- The authors take up the Institute's argument that the superpowers need to talk as much in terms of multi-lateral dismemberment of their centralised empires as in terms of multi-lateral disarmament. 'The future danger that the Ukraine might launch a war against the United States is much less than the past danger of the Soviet Union attacking the United States. Similarly the Ukraine would have little to fear from an independent New York.' The United States of America could again become a federation of states (Ed: bbetter still a loose commonwealth) 'with each state bearing some responsibility for its own defence, although it would be protected in part by its federation with the others.'
- They report various projects in the States for reducing reliance on distant
trade: 'Buying locally grown agricultural products makes sense. The average food
item travels 1,300 miles from where it is grown to where it is consumed ... Yet
Hendrix College in Arkansas managed to increase its purchases of food within the
state from 9% to 40% within one year.'
- 'We reaffirm community with all peoples, with other animals, with all living things and with the whole earth.'
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