SANE VIEWS Vol. 7, No. 7, 25 April 2007


Margaret Legum

This proposes that the SANE Network should transform into the Institute for Intentional Economics. The purpose is to reflect more accurately its aims and aspirations, without losing its current identity as SANE.

The TINA (There Is No Alternative) school of economics has run its course. It is clear that humanity can define value-based objectives for its political economy, and then create systems to reach them. We are not at the mercy of ‘economic forces’.

Mainstream economics – essentially promoting the global competitive market – limits thinking about the political economy. It tends to assume that governments have no alternative but to pursue current policies, whatever the cost. It suggests that economics is a value-free science, inevitable, predictive and not amenable to political purposes.

There were always alternatives. Economics was never value-free; always connected to political power and political objectives. But different schools of thinking about the political economy were silenced during the TINA years. That phase of global capitalism was an outcome of specific conditions in the 1970s.

Today it is clear that the current global economic dispensation is unsustainable.

1.      The global competitive economy relies on perpetual growth, which threatens the eco-systems of the planet. It is already creating dangerous climate change; energy from fossil fuels in running out faster than alternatives; while pollution of air, water and soil is growing exponentially.

2.      It also systemically concentrates incomes at the top, spreads and deepens poverty at the bottom, undermines middle-class incomes, and thus sharpens inequality of incomes globally. It is unsustainable even in its own terms, because purchasing power is systematically insufficient to buy the products of the system. Income is drawn into the financial sector where it is largely neutralised.

3.      That results in political and social alienation, class warfare, anger and resentment, crime, delinquency, the need for high levels of policing that are experiences as repressive. So it is politically unsustainable.

The survival of humanity, and perhaps also the planet, depends therefore on developing policies that are based on evidence as well as values, rather than on obsolete theory. The Institute will be based on the values of SANE. It will continue to research and advocate policies that set out deliberately, continuously and effectively:

·        systematically to spread incomes to enable all people to have access to at least minimum standards for a decent life, education and health;

·        therefore to promote greater equality of incomes and reduce the alienation that accompanies great wealth alongside poverty;

·        to diminish, and then eliminate, the effects of pollutants on the climate and the health of humans and all other living systems, and to develop new, renewable and benign sources of energy and growth;

·        to re-enable communities to connect people in effective economies that work.

The planet has the resources and the technology to enable all these objectives: that is not disputed. Only the intention and the prioritised will are lacking to devise systems to achieve those objectives. The Institute for Intentional Economics will join with others in this new phase in the history of humanity on planet Earth.

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