AGAINST an economic paradigm shift
1. GROWTH IS GOOD FOR YOU
Despite the trauma of boom and bust, there’s nothing like capitalism for generating wealth and well-being for the greatest possible number of people. North Korea was reckoned to be richer than the south when the country split, now its estimated GDP per capita is just $1,800, compared to over $20,000 in the capitalist south. The average northerner lives to 68, southerners to 80. The conclusion is clear: capitalism works.
2. THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE AIN’T FREE
The world wants the joys of consumerism. Millions in Asia, Africa and Latin America are aspiring to own iPads, air-conditioning and flat-screen TVs. Can patronizing tree-huggers call time on growth just as the long-suffering citizens of emerging economies are poised to enjoy benefits that Westerners have long taken for granted? In China the embrace of the market saw over half-a-billion pulled from poverty from 1981 to 2007. De-growth would mean the poor stay poor.
3. WE WERE BORN THIS WAY
“Capitalism is what people do if you leave them alone,” said Australian political scientist Kenneth Minogue. As a shark must keep moving, it’s in mankind’s nature to strive for betterment. That means making money. Take away the drive to replace the Mini with a Merc, and you’re going against human nature.
4. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst way to run an economy, apart from all the others. Frankly, nothing else works. Any effort to impose a system that goes against man’s natural proclivity for greed is either naïve idealism or a step on the way to tyranny. Remember the victims of Pol Pot’s dream for the simple agrarian life?
FOR an economic paradigm change
1. CAPITALISM HAS FAILED
The Western model of capitalism has failed. Shadowy financial institutions are allowed to run amok, beyond the control of democratic governments. In their wake, families and governments are trapped in a downward spiral of debt, austerity and recession. For all the talk of emerging markets, half the world lives on less than $2 a day. Meanwhile traders shuffle $700 trillion around derivative markets that create no social benefit. A fundamental shift in thinking is needed to share out the world’s riches and end unsustainable inequalities.
2. DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
GDP growth figures measure money, not happiness. By GDP-per-head the United States outranks all EU nations, bar Luxembourg. Toss other factors into the standard-of-living mix – leisure time, longevity, security – and the US slides down the table, coming second bottom in a survey of 14 OECD nations. We should drop consumerism and find real happiness from fun, families, friends. Laid back Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Jamaica top the Happy Planet index. The US comes 114th out of 143.
3. SAVE THE PLANET
The current growth model is not sustainable. We need to slow the economy to save the planet. De-growth is the only way to stop global warming and the exhaustion of the world’s resources. An economic growth rate of 3 – 4 percent a year means a doubling of human consumption every 20 years. Some estimate we’ll need two-and-a-half Earths to keep us going by 2050.
4. GREED IS IMORAL
Greed is morally wrong. It’s time to remember that giving is more rewarding than taking. With a focus on spiritual rather than material wellbeing we can all live better, sharing the world’s resources and reducing inequality. Humankind freed from the disease of “affluenza” would have less stress, less guilt, less fatigue. A global downshift to would allow us to leave the rat race and focus on the things that really matter.
See what the different political parties think
ALDE Guy Verhofstadt speech on the debate on Economic governance
EPP More Europe is the answer: Economy and environment