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  • 6 Relocalization (46)
    Scaling down globalization, and bringing back local economies. Modified:
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    • 6 Local credit unions in the San Francisco Bay Area (5) Get your money out of crime and into your neighborhood. Think globally, bank locally.
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      • 6 What We Must Do » (18) Rachel's Democracy News. February, 2009.
        • 1. Learn to live within limits   To puny humans, the Earth has always looked immense but just recently we discovered the truth: sometime during the 1970s, the human economy grew so large that it outgrew planet Earth. To avoid the crash we humans must reduce our footprint by reducing our numbers or by reducing our individual demands upon the ecosystem, or both. Running ever faster won't help.
        • 2. Make a serious commitment to the Precautionary Principle   We must (a) shift the burden of proof and start assuming that all activities, large and small, that impact the Earth are likely to be harmful and (b) therefore always search for (and adopt) the least-harmful way to proceed; and (c) constantly examine the consequences of our actions and be prepared to alter course, which means we should (d) favor decisions and courses of action that are reversible, avoiding irretrievable commitments.
        • 3. Limit the Means of Violence   Because our economy must perpetually grow, and civilians don't reliably create sufficient demand (in truth, there's already plenty of stuff to go around), we now rely on Enemy to absorb our surplus effort. Enemy is the ultimate consumer, the flywheel of our economy. We have no national industrial policy (because that would smack of "central planning") but we have the Pentagon. Because our economy exists in only two states -- growing or collapsing -- prolonged peace would produce severe economic hardship across this great land.
        • 4. Shift into a Steady-State Economy   Both the problem of ecological destruction, and the problem of excessive militarization could be reduced to manageable proportions if we developed an economy that could grow but didn't have to grow. If economic growth were optional, then nations that have so much they don't know what to do with it could choose to limit growth, or even choose to shrink. This would make space for the large part of the world that desperately needs economic growth -- roads, ports, power plants, hospitals, schools -- yet could hold the total size of the human footprint within Earth's ecological limits.
        • 5. Aim for a Global Culture of Fairness   Humans defined what fairness means in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration says, among other things, that everyone has a right to a livelihood: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
        • 6. To Promote Cooperation, a Policy of Full Employment   A successful full employment policy would name government as the employer of last resort, admittedly not an entirely desirable state of affairs. Still, as a source of social stability, full employment would no doubt have a major dampening effect on crime and violence by giving everyone who wanted to work an opportunity to do so, thus preserving the all-important sense of individual dignity and worth by allowing full participation in the great shared enterprise, the economy.
        • 7. Show Everyone the Lifeboats   As we try to step back from the brink of irreversible ecological decay and collapse, we need to demonstrate real, workable alternatives. "Even though people might realize they are on the Titanic and the iceberg is just ahead, they still need to see the lifeboat in order to jump ship."
        • 8. Acknowledge self-deception and denial   Humans do not accommodate change well. We resist it. We seem wired (as we age) to deceive ourselves and deny reality; we look for scapegoats to blame and punish. This means successful change will be thoughtfully managed (to the extent we can and still retain a commitment to individual liberty), not thrust upon us cold and unprepared.
        • 9. Recast the environmental movement as a democracy movement   The "environmental movement," I believe, should really view itself (and become) a "democracy movement" with heavy emphasis on "fairness." We are a democracy movement, dedicated to global (and local) fairness as a strategy for reducing the total size of the human footprint across the planet while promoting local and regional economic growth wherever it is needed.
        • 10. Build and Maintain an Infrastructure for the Movement   But to move into its next phase, this incipient democracy movement desperately needs its own infrastructure, intentionally planned and built. Our neo adversaries -- neo-conservatives and neo-liberals -- built such an infrastructure starting about 1970 and it allowed them to prevail for almost three decades after 1980.
        • 11. The right of free association, to form and join a union...   To preserve the dream of U.S. democracy and move us along toward sustainability, it is important to support and strengthen the labor movement -- specifically by giving workers an explicit and strongly- guaranteed right to form and join labor unions, bargain collectively and, if all else fails, strike. (Of course ecological decline is already creating strong pressure to shift to a steady- state economy, which very well might be based on worker-owned cooperatives -- a form of business organization already widely-used within the U.S. today. In such an economy, unions would no longer have any role to play.)
        • 12. Fully Embrace the Three Environments   The natural environment, the built environment, and the social environment. We in the "environment and health" movement could appeal to a much wider segment of the public if we adopted the all-important "social determinants of health" as a centerpiece of our strategy.
        • 13. Zero Waste and Clean Production   This is such a radical departure from current industrial practice that it is hard to grasp -- which is why I identify it as a key part of the "lifeboat" that we need to help people see, so they can jump ship and declare allegiance to a zero-waste future.
        • 14. Local Living Economies   Look at all the things your local economy is importing (thus sending money out of town), and see what can be produced locally or regionally. Instead of using local economic development funds to try to attract the next Japanese automobile assembly plant -- use those funds to find ways to support creation of local or regional businesses, to keep as much money as possible close to home where it can recirculate and thus do the most good locally.
        • 15. Get Private Money Out of Our Elections   It seems clear that problems of public health and environmental destruction are the result of choices being made by a tiny elite (who number roughly 50,000 individuals) -- those powerful few who sit on multiple boards of directors of large corporations. How small is this corporate super-elite? All of them together would fit easily into the new Yankee Stadium with its capacity of 53,000. These are the masters of our nation, if not the universe. Their billions powerfully influence all the big decisions we face. This is the most fundamental problem facing our representative democracy: the corrupting influence of private money in our elections. This is the critical place where the Masters of Our Nation -- the New Monarchs -- assert control. The basis of our democracy is one person, one vote, not one dollar one vote. With the advent of TV, elections have become more expensive year by year. This has created almost unbeatable advantages for office holders with access to mountains of cash. Unless candidates are wealthy themselves, they must beg the wealthy to put them in office; after they win an election they are beholden to the people who bundled up the tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars required to get into the race.
        • 4 16. Rein in the Corporation (1) The modern corporation defines our world today in the same way the church defined the world of Europe in the 15th century. Yes, the invention of the modern corporate form has allowed us to become the wealthiest people in all of human history. It has also allowed us -- in just over 100 years of modern industrial enterprise -- to march to the brink of collapse, rapidly destroying the planet as a place suitable for human habitation. Today, when the top 2 percent of us hold as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, it is an open question whether our democratic form of government can survive in any meaningful way. Here again, corporations and the elites who profit most from them, are key. How to control the behavior of corporations, to steer them onto paths of sustainability, accountability, and democratic governance, has become a central question we must all address.
        • 17. Energy Choices   Human use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) is contributing to global warming and to the acidification of the oceans. Either of these problems, unchecked, will not terminate the human race, but could eliminate 90% (or more) of the human population. It is hard to imagine civilization surviving such a cataclysm. This leaves us with only one path to choose: renewable sources of energy -- solar (in all its forms, such as wind, hydro, heat, and photovoltaics) plus geothermal and tidal.
      • Thoughts on Urban Survival »  
      • Economy--Sustainable communities »  
      • Building Strong local living economies »  
      • Local economies »  
    • 6 Local food (1)