So we have this situation where the whole world is run on the assumption that economic growth is the major goal and all other aims like human happiness, humans having enough to eat and rare species being allowed to exist, that sort of thing, are secondary to that. We have this situation where we have the resources and the technology to feed, clothe, educate and house everybody without degrading/damaging the planet we call home. But in this situation, that doesn’t happen because although it’d be great for the 99%, it would make the 1% quite a bit poorer. Still rich enough to have everything they need and many of the things they want, just not anything they want. God, that wouldn’t do, would it.
Okay okay enough of that- my inner cynic was getting a bit ahead of herself. What I’ve been wondering is what a solution to this mess would be. I don’t mean solutions to one of the myriad symptoms- that’d be like curbside composting, fair trade schemes, eco schools etc etc etc. Solutions to individual spin offs are fantastic and completely needed, but right here I want to talk about a solution to the root of the problem. We’re running the game we call global society on duff rules.
What I mean is, affluence is generally how we measure success. It’s a reward for doing well. But, as we all know, good deeds often don’t get financial rewards and bad ones often do. I know what you’re thinking: money can’t buy happiness, learn to appreciate the things that really matter, blah blah blah. I do on some levels agree, but try telling that to the people who call the shots. I mean ideally, I’d like to live in a gift economy where people share resources and skills freely without even needing a means of exchange… But having a vague idea of the world outside my own head, I know this is not a likely scenario in the near future. We need a couple of stepping stones to get to something as civilized as that I think. So I’ve come up with these two ideas and I want to know what you think would work better. Just out of interest.
- The Duo: In this scenario people decide money is a helpful tool but it doesn’t measure everything that matters, so something else is brought in along side it: Something called Citizen Credits or something along those lines. Basically the idea is that you get awarded Citizen Credits for being a good citizen… For doing things that benefit your community. Volunteering, helping out neighbors, shopping at local independent stores and markets, recycling, holding events… Things that are positive but either aren’t paid, or aren’t paid their real worth in money. These Credits would show up on an online account or something, and instead of being spent, they’d continue to accumulate your whole life. You’d get bonuses of some kind when you went over milestones and luxurious items would have not just a monetary price-tag but also an amount of Citizen Credits required. (Like buying a car, for example). In terms of businesses, when buying supplies the individual doing the buying would need enough Credits – so basically do-gooders would be much more employable for this reason.
- The Clean Money: Or the other way of doing it, is too make it so that it’s profitable to be good. As in, damaging activities are heavily taxed and fined, human and animal welfare laws are tightened up, ecocide is made illegal, wealth is spread more evenly, and a combination of laws, fines, taxes, subsidies, investments and media support create a system where businesses make more money if they treat their employees well, produce good quality goods/services and get their materials from sustainable sources. In this way, money a company makes will on the most part be clean money and properly deserved.
So what do you think makes most sense?