How many of you, on reading this MEN headline, were suddenly praying he’d get knocked out of Wimbledon in his next match? No, I didn’t think so, and it’s good to know that economic policy over the last few decades hasn’t obliterated people’s souls so much that we see everything, even our own existence, in terms of its contribution to The Economy.
In fact, the article was about people throwing sickies, which obviously can’t be condoned, and no doubt the headline was deliberately inflammatory, but it is a sign of the times that these days there are forces that will try to account for every last drop of happiness, every breath of nature, in order to bow down before the forces of The Economy. In fact, the logical conclusion to the sentiment expressed in the article isn’t that we should properly book annual leave to watch Andy Murray, but that we should all stop watching Wimbledon whatever, and get our noses back to the grindstone; after all, we have GDP growth to achieve!
This is one of the themes that Steady State Manchester introduced at Transition New Mills’ recent post AGM talk. Why is it that we are in a situation where the economy appears to rule us, instead of making it work for us, facilitating the things people want and need from life, which make them happy – such as a meaningful job, clean air and water, stable climate, safe communities, quality time with their friends and family?
The mantra of everlasting economic growth is very deeply embedded in us after decades of repetition and consolidation. Until relatively recently I wasn’t aware anyone out there was proposing an alternative. But they are, and how it is needed, as the present system is clearly not working even by its own terms – we have unprecedented man-made environmental degradation, growing unfairness and worse prospects for prosperity and happiness for future generations. By ditching the pretence that we can go on doubling the size of the economy every 27 years, for ever, whilst still occupying 1 planet, we could move to a system where the millstone of needing growth is removed; where the economy is made to work in favour of society and the environment. Steady State Manchester call this the Viable Economy, and it is described in their pamphlet, available to download on their website. Alternatively, Transition New Mills have a couple of copies we can loan out.
It’s interesting stuff, and an essential yet short read. The Transition Reading Group will be discussing it in due course.