Planning for a Zero-Growth Economy

conversation

The economy is sometimes referred to as an entity outside of human control – it isn’t. We control the economy through policies and practices in each nation. The last half century focussed on growing the economy at the expense of all else from social care to the environment. We’ve seen massive growth in inequality alongside easier access to consumer growth. Given the state of the planet we know this won’t work for much longer. Accordingly, it’s time to rethink what we do to support economic growth and what kind of world we want to live in.

Meanwhile we could begin to boost quality of life simply by tracking it more explicitly: instead of focusing government policy on boosting GDP (the total dollar value of all goods and services produced domestically), why not aim to increase Gross National Happiness — as measured by a selected group of social indicators?
These are ways to make economic shrinkage palatable; but how would policymakers actually go about putting the brakes on growth?
One tactic would be to implement a shorter workweek. If people are working less, the economy will slow down — and meanwhile, everyone will have more time for family, rest, and cultural activities.
We could also de-financialize the economy, discouraging wasteful speculation with a financial transaction tax and a 100 percent reserve requirement for banks.

Read more.

California Launches Improved Reverse Income Tax Scheme

work and smile

California’s welfare system (EITC) includes subsidies sent annually for people living without income and that’s about to change. Under new rules the money given to people who earn less than minimum wage will be sent monthly. This is really good since it provides a stable, reliable, and regular sum every month; in theory this will reduce stress for the recipients.

The plan is more like reverse income tax than it is universal basic income. Regardless, it’s good to see one the world’s largest economies delivering financial care in a more efficient manner.

“The typical pattern with the EITC is that you get deeper and deeper into debt over the course of a year,” Ruben says, “and then you use the big payment at tax time to try to pay everything off and break even.” Giving people the option to receive the credit on a monthly basis will help people plan their budgets on a more immediate basis. Benefits like food stamps are delivered monthly, so families receiving both will have a more accurate sense of their financial landscape. And in months when a household finds itself on more stable financial footing, they might be able to put some of the tax credit money aside in savings. “What we’re seeing is the idea of the importance of a steady drumbeat of financial security throughout the year,” Ruben says.

Newsom’s budget proposal aims to tackle these challenges. It will raise the household income threshold to over $30,000 (or what someone would take home working full-time at the projected $15 per hour minimum wage) to include more families. And the expanded funding will grant parents with children under six an additional $500 per year. That may not seem like a lot, Ruben says, but in focus groups run by the ESP over the past year, one woman said anyone who looks at that money and responds in that way “has never had to choose between paying rent and buying food.”



Read more.

Let’s Admit Intellectual Property is Nonsense

maps
Depending on your worldview Intellectual Property (IP) is either necessary or holds us back in terms of cultural (and economic ) development. IP applies to more than what you may think, it covers cartoons to medicine. What’s more, international trade has meant that the American approach to IP is spreading. This only favours the owners of existing IP while making it harder for new cultural works to exist. Thankfully this has been noticed by many thinkers and the conversation is changing.

The US Patent Act of 1870  and Copyright Act of 1976 treat patents and copyrights as kinds of property, therefore suggesting that intellectual property rights should be akin to tangible property rights: that is, ‘perpetual and exclusive’. But legal protections offered to intellectual property assets are utilitarian grants – they are neither perpetual nor exclusive. (Tangible property is said to be perpetual because it is yours till you dispose of it.) Their terms are limited and amenable to nonexclusive use. Patent law offers exceptions for experimental use, and prior-use rights for business methods; copyright law for fair use; trademark law for nominative use; trade secrets for reverse engineering and independent discovery.

Legal protections appropriate for tangible objects – as the drafters of the US Constitution were well aware – are a disaster in the realm of culture, which relies on a richly populated, open-for-borrowing-and-reuse public domain. It is here, where our culture is born and grows and is reproduced, that the term ‘intellectual property’ holds sway and does considerable mischief.



Read more.

Don’t Clean Your Plate

fruit store

Many of us were raised with mentality of “cleaning” our plate at the end of the meal; basically, it means finishing all the food on your plate. Some researchers wondered if this leads to unhealthy overconsumption of food, and indeed it does. There’s some simple things you can do to avoid eating too much like making smaller servings, not finishing everything just because it’s on your plate, and you can just use smaller plates.

“Many of us were raised with this ‘clean your plate’ mentality, stemming from a desire to ensure one is not being wasteful or their children are eating well; however, this can also lead to overconsumption,” Haws said. “So, one could argue that good advice for someone trying to manage their food intake would be not to clean their plate.”
Haws and her co-authors were interested in exploring how the clean-plate phenomenon, called “consumption closure,” affects our desire to keep eating more than we should or want to when there’s just a small amount left, “The questions we had were: Is there something special about having this small quantity left over, and what processes do people use when justifying continued consumption or deciding whether or not to continue consuming?”

Read more.

Sick Days are Worth it

Interview

Showing up to your workplace sick isn’t good for anyone, yet people do it anyway. Obviously, the sick person would rather stay home to heal and feel better (nobody plans on getting their peers ill). Why is it then that we all go to work when we should stay at home? A major factor in people’s thinking is based on corporate policy and workplace culture – both things we can change. Some companies already provide unlimited vacation days to address this. If you’re sick, try to stay home; and if you’re not sick try to change your corporate policies or practices.

Sometimes, of course, it’s due to a martyr complex—the feeling that work cannot possibly go on without them, or a notion that they’ll get points for dragging themselves into work while sick.

If you don’t want people coming to work sick, don’t financially penalize them for staying home. When it’s a choice between paying the rent or staying home when they’re ill, most people will come to work, contagious or not.


Read more.

Scroll To Top
%d bloggers like this: