Our economic system is profoundly broken. To anyone paying attention, that much is clear. But what’s less clear is this: Our approach to fixing the economy is broken as well. The whole notion of “fighting corporate power” arises from an underlying belief that there is no alternative to capitalism as we know it. Starting from the insight that capitalism has become virtually a universal economy, we conclude that our best hope is to regulate corporations and work for countervailing powers like unions. But then we’ve lost before we begin. We’ve defined ourselves as marginal and powerless.
There is another approach. It’s bubbling up all around us in the form of economic alternatives like cooperatives, employee-owned firms, social enterprises, and community land trusts. Continue reading…
For many American cities, the budget process is basically fiscal hell, and the politics of plugging potholes and funding schools akin to legislative purgatory. But a tiny miracle just arrived in New York City. Communities are experimenting with Participatory Budgeting, a system for giving local people a say in planning their budget priorities. While it’s no magic bullet, the program marks a small step toward economic democracy in Gotham. Continue reading…
As Greece wonders whether its debt crisis will eventually spell its exit from the euro, one town in the centre of the country, Volos, has formed an alternative local currency.
It works through a bartering system or exchange of goods.
The BBC’s Mark Lowen reports. BBC News – Greek town develops bartering system without euro
Greeks are pulling together and forging innovative new social and economic models to help those hit hardest by the debt crisis. Continue reading…
Indeed, economies of scale work well in periods of energy “ascent”, when the supply of energy increases, but work less well in periods of energy “descent”. In these circumstances, economies of scope are needed. These types of economies are exactly what peer production (which encompasses open knowledge, free culture, free software, open and shared designs, open hardware and distributed manufacturing) is all about. Continue reading…
The current so-called “knowledge economy” is a sham and a pipe dream – because abundant goods do not fare well in a market economy. For the sake of the world’s workers, who live in an increasingly precarious situation, is there a way out of this conundrum? Can we restore the broken feedback loop?
Strangely enough, the answer may be found in the recent political movement that is Occupy, because along with “peer producing their political commons”, they also exemplified new business and value practices. These practices were, in fact, remarkably similar to the institutional ecology that is already practiced in producing free software and open hardware communities. This is not a coincidence. Continue reading…
Imagine a comprehensive set of reforms that can bring:
widespread grassroots democracy;
overnight freedom from debt for virtually every family;
a nearly debt free federal government;
increased rewards for innovation, ingenuity and hard work;
an end to the abuses of concentrated corporate power running rampant throughout our economy and inevitably corrupting our governments;
conditions for lower taxes, more governmental services, and yet with balanced budgets at every level of government;
better stewardship and management of our precious natural resources, and
solvency to not only Social Security, but also our struggling employer-based defined benefit pension plans and the other private pension mechanisms too. Read more…