September 15, 2011

Plentitude Economy?

I saw this headline this morning and proceeded to be really confused: Why Masturbation is an Economic Act.

Um. Well. Tell me, TreeHugger, why exactly is masturbation an economic act?

I'm glad you asked, said TreeHugger. It's an economic act because EVERYTHING is an economic act, and we just wanted to shock you into reading about economics!

Ah, clever, I responded, since I'll gladly admit that I usually don't spend much time reading about economics. TreeHugger proceeded to explain using Gross Domestic Product as a primary indicator of our well-being (economic or otherwise) isn't necessarily effective because it leaves out a lot of variables. "Economy" includes all wealth and resources, not just those traded by big banks. So, for example, when we grow our own food, we're replacing commercial farming - that'd look like a loss in the GPD, but it's not a loss of resources. And certain, um, extracurricular activities might replace the entertainment industry in some ways, but the entertainment value remains. So when they say "OMG the markets are down!", that doesn't necessarily mean everything's gone to hell - using less products or services doesn't necessarily mean a loss of wealth, resources, or happiness.

I thought that was a kind of cool idea, but there's a problem - if the market going down means you've lost your job, then yes, it does mean a loss of wealth, resources and/or happiness. Our economy and our way of living is set up around this particular idea of what consumption means, and it has very real-world consequences outside floaty happy thoughts of abundance and collaboration and gardening.

The blog post offered a solution in the form of a video by the Center for a New American Dream called the "Plentitude Economy." It has a few small suggestions for how to reconsider the economy, like having everyone work only 4 days instead of 5 (more jobs, less stress (and thus less health problems), more time to participate in the economy in other ways) and encouraging DIY and neighborhood-based activity. It's a cute little video, check it out:

New Dream Mini-Views: Visualizing a Plenitude Economy from Center for a New American Dream on Vimeo.

What do you think? Is that a useful/realistic way to understand the economy? I think I kinda like it, but I must admit I'm still a bit confused.

1 comment:

Gin said...

Really LOVE the idea of a the "Plentitude Economy"!