THE ECONOMY; Two page critical summary.
Conventional economic principles are in light type, to left.
Alternative principles are indented in bold.
Produce what makes most profit.
Produce what is most needed.
Let free markets determine what is to be produced and what industries are to be developed.
Free markets will produce for and distribute to richer people, because this is more profitable. A satisfactory economy must be under sufficient social control or regulation to make sure that the important things are done. This does not mean there can not be a place for markets or privately owned firms. Nor does it mean control by the state; most of the important decisions in the new local economies should be made by town assemblies.
The rich become richer, but the claim is that wealth will in time “trickle down” to eventually enrich all -- just generate more wealth and in time everyone will benefit.
Inequality increases and not much trickles down. Even if it did, the process is a grossly inefficient way to improve the conditions for the poor majority; they would be far better served if allowed to apply existing productive capacity to producing to meet their own needs, not producing what will maximise profits for the few who own most of the capital.
Allow a very few to own most of the capital. (Half the world's capital, shares, factories and mines is now probably owned by about 1% of the world’s people.)
Make sure society as a whole owns or controls at least the major productive capacities, such as the big steel works, railway networks, and banks. Many of these should be public property, run for the benefit of all, not run to maximise profits. This could set difficult problems of efficiency and government, but these should be tacked via very open and participatory local procedures (not state bureaucracies.)
Only take money costs and benefits into account; ignore social environmental costs. Define efficiency only in terms of maximising profits in relation to monetary costs, and take this as the major concern.
Monetary costs and benefits are a minor concern. Focusing on them alone enables many real and important costs to be ignored, such as noise and stress. In a sensible society questions of justice, morality, and social and ecological welfare would be the main considerations, and would override what is most dollar-profitable. Conventional economics is appallingly inefficient in meeting the needs of people, the environment or society.
The more business turnover, sales, production, exports, investment, consumption and growth of GDP the better. The more GDP, the more wealth is being created and the higher living standards are.
The evidence is that the more the GDP rises in rich countries the lower the quality of life becomes, and the more ecological damage is caused. To increase GDP is not to increase "wealth"; it is just to increase sales, business turnover, resource depletion, and social and ecological damage.
Consumer society is good. It provides high “living standards”.
Consumer society is grossly unsustainable. Affluent “living standards” involve levels of production and consumption that are far beyond those that all could rise to or that can be kept up for long.
Growth is not just good; it is the supremely important goal. This economy must have growth or serious problems arise.
Growth is an absurd goal. Economic growth is not solving problems or raising the quality of life. Most importantly it is totally incompatible with ecological survival. Current world output is grossly unsustainable; it must be dramatically reduced, yet all governments seek endless increases in output. This mindless commitment to growth is of course what those who own capital want.
Globalisation is good…one big, centralised, unified global economy everyone is as free as possible to trade in.
Globalisation is having devastating impacts on most people, especially in the Third World, but it is great for the rich few whose corporations are getting greater access to the world's wealth. The ideal is many very small localised and highly self-sufficient economies, under local control, with relatively little international trade, capital flows, foreign investment or debt.
Conventional economic theory and practice are developing the Third World.
Conventional economics is only developing the Third World into the form that suits the rich countries, their corporations and the Third World's elites…that is, a form which allows the rich to take most of the wealth. It is producing development that is grossly inappropriate for most Third World people. The development taking placed is actually a form of plunder; it has geared the Third World’s productive capacity to the benefit of distant others.
This economy makes us work hard and compete hard; it has powerful incentives for initiative and effort.
This economy mostly requires bad values, especially competition, individualism, selfishness, indifference and predation towards others, lack of concern with the public good...and above all greed. We don't need to work and produce anywhere near as much as we do now. If we lived more simply and cooperatively we could produce very satisfactory lifestyles with far less work, stress and resource use.
There is no alternative to an economy driven by competition, profit maximisation, market forces and growth.
A consumer-capitalist economy only one form of economic system that could be chosen, and it is now obviously undesirable; it inevitably becomes more and more unsustainable and unjust. It cannot be reformed; it must be replaced by a radically different kind of economy, which will allow productive capacity to be geared to meeting the needs of people, ecosystems and society. An economy driven by profit and the market and growth cannot do this.
For the detailed discussion see the following parts of the general critiqueof the economy;