Enlightened Economics

Economics for an Enlightened Age

• The Social Progress Index Seeks To Redefine Economic Success Measures

Posted by Ron Robins on April 30, 2015

“According to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (Deloitte Global) Chairman, Steve Almond, the world is overly obsessed by GDP statistics as a defining measure of national progress or local progress.  And while the research behind the  Social Progress Index  has shown that there is a very strong correlation between growth in GDP per capita and enhancement in social progress at an early stage along the development line, the further you look at the richer a country gets, the greater there are diversions between GDP growth and social progress.”
The Social Progress Index Seeks To Redefine Economic Success Measures, by Bruce Rogers, April 28, 2015, Forbes, U.S.A.

Commentary: Ron Robins
The diversions in growth between GDP and alternative social progress measures are present in most developed countries. In part, it is due to greatly increased goods and service volumes in developed countries with a corresponding decrease in, most particularly, costs associated with environmental degradation, resource depletion and climate change. Furthermore, there comes a point — such as in public health where once good basic sanitation and clean water are universally available, only incremental gains in health might be had even with greatly increased public expenditures related to sanitation and water. Thus, significant gains in GDP may have only small benefits in many areas of society and perhaps benefiting a relative few.

However, as inferred in the Forbes article, public health measures focused on such issues as obesity and poor lifestyles that lead to considerable human suffering and hugely increased health care costs, could be very cost effective. And this is where indices such as the Social Progress Index are of tremendous value. They re-focus society’s attention on social, environmental and other areas where cost benefit gains can be huge, measurable — while greatly improving our quality of life. Furthermore, such measures help define our progress towards an enlightened era and economy.

Posted in Economic Measurement, Economics, Environment, GDP Alternatives, News, Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

• Weekend read: The trouble with growth

Posted by Ron Robins on April 12, 2015

“A theme of particular interest is understanding what might be possible in advanced economies in the absence of economic growth and reductions in throughput.

Would these economies collapse without growth? Would mass unemployment result? Could the existing institutions — in particular, financial institutions — survive without growth, and if not, what sort of changes might be required? What would be the implications for economic growth of strict limits on throughput?”
Weekend read: The trouble with growth, by Peter A. Victor and Tim Jackson, April 11, 2015, GreenBiz, U.S.A.

Commentary: Ron Robins
There’s no doubt — barring the economic extraction of resources from other heavenly bodies — that Earth’s resources are limited and that for economic growth to continue indefinitely is impossible unless Earth’s resources are used far more efficiently. If we’re to avoid wars and famines where countries and peoples plunder each others resources, there has to be a marked change in consumer behavior. How can this happen? Will scare stories and killer climate events cause the change in consciousness? Perhaps so, but a more humane way is best.

And the nature of that humane response is for governments, educational institutions, and companies encourage changes in individual and collective consciousness the like of which I’ve written about in many of my posts that include: The Missing Ingredient In Economics — Consciousness!Cultural Creatives to Dominate in the Age of Enlightened Economics; and ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ Brings Higher Consciousness into Economics.

Posted in Consciousness/Psychology, Economics, Environment, GDP Alternatives, News, Commentary, Spiritual | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

• Jeffrey Sachs: ‘By separating nature from economics, we have walked blindly into tragedy’

Posted by Ron Robins on March 10, 2015

“We need a new way of thinking, one that tightly links the human-made world of economics and politics with the natural world of climate and biodiversity and with the designed world of 21st century technology. Consider my own home field of study, economics. Sometime in the 19th century, economics largely dropped its traditional attention to land, water and food, as industry replaced agriculture as the leading economic sector. Economists decided, by and large, that they could ignore nature – take it “as given” – and instead focus on market-based finance, saving, and business investment. Mainstream economists derided the claims of “limits to growth.”
— 
‘By separating nature from economics, we have walked blindly into tragedy’, by Jeffrey Sachs, March 10, 2015, The Guardian, U.K.

Commentary: Ron Robins
One main point from the above is how to economically and financially account for natural resources which have been taken “as given.” I read sometime ago of a libertarian economist who advocated that all such natural resources should go back into private hands and then markets would price them appropriately with most owners pricing in the cost of resource depletion, replenishment and so forth. I rather like this concept but it’s probably completely impractical and might well be unfair for most of the population. (Think the Russian “oligarchs!”)

What I would propose, as mentioned in my post of February 28, 2015, is the creation in each country of a sovereign wealth fund that would not only own stocks, bonds, etc., but also all those natural resources that are presently owned by governments. The fund would have a major goal of long-term resource guardianship and management. The fund would then allow bids from private or other public bodies for the use of those resources, and prices would be struck that might approximate a genuine market rate that also allows for the real costing of resource depletion and environmental degradation.

Many governments today already hold or auction off various natural assets or resources — from water to wireless frequencies — but too often without regard to their long-term economic and financial consequences. Also, the proceeds usually only go to help offset the government’s current year cash outlays. From the perspective of  fully accounting for the costs of resource depletion and degradation, this is wholly unsatisfactory.

Hence, I add the idea to my prior post that the sovereign wealth fund described there should now also hold the nation’s public resource assets. This would add to the financial ability of the fund to support the future incomes of the poor (as I wrote in my commentary for that post).

Thus, this proposal might solve both the issues of pricing in the full costing of resource depletion and degradation from an environmental/climate change perspective while eventually narrowing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor. Call this enlightened economics.

Posted in Economics, Environment, News, Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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