The COP25 UN climate negotiations, which concluded on Sunday in Madrid, were the longest in the history of the process. This makes sense, because some of the most logistically complicated elements of a cooperative plan to upgrade economic activity everywhere were on the table. We see the COP25 as having generated important breakthroughs, though also … Continue reading COP25 — The Hard Work of Redefining Prosperity
The ACCESS to GOOD Project is an open, collaborative, ongoing reporting process, aiming to identify observable levers of action for adding value, momentum, and scope to investments in climate action and resilient human development.
ACCESS is a framework for analyzing the level of progress on comprehensive climate action. The axis standard aims to measure six qualifications of public policy, investment prioritization and business action:
GOOD is a framework for analyzing the generative tendencies, inclucing community-building reinforcements and local value added of day to day economic activity, at the human scale. This analysis operates on the premise that all economic behavior has at its roots a basic and specific demand for generative optimizing capabilities operating organically through routine human behavior.
[ The Note for October 2014 ]
For most of the history of our species, we were hunter-gatherers. We could not store large stocks of resources. Social groups were small, defined by the range individuals within that small group were able to cover, in search of sustenance. We formed microcultures that left little in the way of permanent record. Knowledge expanded slowly. Scarcity remained the rule for human societies, even as agriculture took over, and cities grew, and urban civilization spread across the world. The few that were able to control the structures that establish and reinforce what we call society have been able to enjoy abundance, without allowing everyone else into that enjoyment. Perpetual scarcity, then, appeared to be an organizing principle, though it was more an illusion than a fact of life on Earth.
Report from the World Bank / IMF Civil Society Forum
In the years I have been attending and contributing to the World Bank / IMF Civil Society Policy Forum, I have witnessed a distinct and ongoing evolution. Multilateral institutions like the World Bank and IMF, which are funded by and directed by governments, and which do business with governments, have direct impacts on elements of society that are not in the room when decisions are made. So civil society organizations have an important role to play in highlighting and reducing major risk areas, and in shaping policies that lead to better outcomes.
Distortions built into the global economy threaten long-term stability LONDON, 2005 — The global economy in its present form is not only full of and forced to deal with problematic distortions; it has come to depend perilously on the inflationary effect of certain miscalculations and manipulations. Assumptions built into weak threads in the economic web … Continue reading Economy of Errors: How Abundance May Bring Scarcity
“We’ve gone from a lunar world, where we measured everything in terms of days, weeks and months, to a transactional world, where every single transaction has to be part of your decision-making process.” — Colin Powell, December 14 2008
Each information transaction, sometimes as exemplary, sometimes as single element added to a sweeping aggregate of historical sway, is a precedent, which can motivate, influence or redirect the push of future happenstance. And, we must take note, every transaction involving matter or energy contains information, traces of a history of its coming into being, and generates a “footprint”, a trace of its appearance and its transition into something beyond the transactional moment.
The information age gives us a vast wealth of knowledge, or of a kind of knowledge, what we take to be knowledge, about the world, hints which are also indicators, though not predictors, indicators because they play a role in expressing current interest, embedded in human activity, and so in framing future expressions of human interest.
There is a narrow ideological segment of the American political spectrum that obsessively pushes “competition” as the sole standard by which to measure the quality of our economic landscape. The problem here is that the word is too often used to promote the idea that to be “competitive” we need to drastically reduce wages and roll back rights most Americans take for granted. This vision of competition is not conservatism; it’s feudalism.
The idea that ordinary people should have less opportunity, less access to prosperity, less personal freedom and fewer labor rights, is not American; it is not in line with the Constitutional order of American democracy. It is the privileging of arbitrary power over the basic rights of real people. This vision of prosperity bound to regressive institutions does not appeal to independents who demand of their public servants both principle and pragmatism.
Is capitalism legalized greed or an organic model of resource allocation?
Capitalism is “survival of the fittest”… capitalism is rooted in the idea of merit; everyone should be compensated according to his or her contribution (to the common good?)… capitalism is about the movement of capital; the more it moves, the richer everyone gets… capitalism is an upgraded feudalism, where the capitalist is an overseer of an abstract terrain made up of investments, not of arable lands… capitalism is democracy; the free spirit of an open society requires capitalism to support the liberties of individual citizens, and protect against government overreach… capitalism is virtue… or, capitalism is the absence of virtue…
These are just a few commonly held ideas, not all compatible with one another or with reality as we know it. Depending on point of view, we find ourselves favoring or opposing some aspect of something we call capitalism, with sometimes radical swings in the underlying reasoning of our political philosophy — we being Americans, generally. And across the world, the same questions come up time and again: one nation’s democratic marketplace, rising tide that lifts all boats, is seen from a poorer nation as an upgraded feudalism, a new age of empire.
America’s banks have, over the last decade, entered into a dangerous fictional world of projected automatic wealth in which they expect that all payments they might receive will without fail materialize, regardless of circumstance. They treat the human beings with whom they have major financial relationships as if they were nothing more than endless fonts … Continue reading The Fiction of Automatic Wealth is Bankrupting the U.S.
Carbon offsets allow the use of carbon-emitting processes to help fund and develop clean alternatives, which can then compete with and possibly replace the offending carbon-emitters. But there are also ways in which carbon offsetting can be used to combat poverty around the world. If offsets are focused on reducing bad habits, resulting from those engaging in those habits having either no alternative or no training to find alternatives, people living in the poorest conditions can find themselves benefitting from the clean energy revolution.
The group CarbonAided, which helps inform, and provide guidance for implementing carbon offsets, is now seeking to establish means by which carbon offsetting can produce real-world benefits for marginalized and poor communities in developing countries. Breaking the cycle of bad carbon practice the world over requires this step be taken, and the logic of doing it through carbon offsetting is that developing countries can be brought up to speed on emissions reductions by the same process that helps developed industrial countries break their bad habits.