Simple Living - Economics

Economics

A new economics movement has been building since the UN conference on the environment in 1972, and the publication that year of Only One Earth, The Limits to Growth, and Blueprint For Survival, followed in 1973 by Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.

Recently, David Wann has introduced the idea of “simple prosperity” as it applies to a sustainable lifestyle. From his point of view, and as a point of departure for what he calls real sustainability, “it is important to ask ourselves three fundamental questions: what is the point of all our commuting and consuming? What is the economy for? And, finally, why do we seem to be unhappier now than when we began our initial pursuit for rich abundance?” In this context, simple living is the opposite of our modern quest for affluence and, as a result, it becomes less preoccupied with quantity and more concerned about the preservation of cities, traditions and nature.

A reference point for this new economics can be found in James Robertson's A New Economics of Sustainable Development, and the work of thinkers and activists, who participate in his Working for a Sane Alternative network and program. According to Robertson, the shift to sustainability is likely to require a widespread shift of emphasis from raising incomes to reducing costs.

The principles of the new economics, as set out by Robertson, are the following:

  • systematic empowerment of people (as opposed to making and keeping them dependent), as the basis for people-centred development
  • systematic conservation of resources and the environment, as the basis for environmentally sustainable development
  • evolution from a “wealth of nations” model of economic life to a one-world model, and from today's inter-national economy to an ecologically sustainable, decentralising, multi-level one-world economic system
  • restoration of political and ethical factors to a central place in economic life and thought
  • respect for qualitative values, not just quantitative values

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