Video: Rethinking the economy @ Sustainable West Seattle forum

September 20, 2011 at 11:22 am | In Sustainable West Seattle, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

The economy and its troubles affect us all. Will it get fixed? Or should it be radically reinvented? Two hours of wide-ranging discussion comprised last night’s Sustainable West Seattle community forum, titled “Sustainable Alternatives to Growth Economics,” and in case you weren’t able to go, we got it all on video. (That’s SWS’s past president Bill Reiswig with the introduction, as the video begins. Background info is here.)

P.S. Next up for SWS, another round of teaching you to tackle Tox-Ick, this Saturday, with prizes! Details here.

8 Comments

  1. This was a very interesting discussion, in an economic-geek way. I enjoyed hearing different ideas about how to take the economy from a consumption/growth at all costs to a more sane approach. Worth watching the video for those who couldn’t make it. Also check out the websites of the participating speakers.

    Comment by Kate K — 5:34 pm September 20, 2011 #

  2. A business is in the business of making money if it is not it is not a business. If I were to open a business and work to make no profit or to better what I did the last year then I have failed at the fundamental reasoning of owning and operating a business.

    Comment by Scott — 7:32 pm September 20, 2011 #

  3. Scott,

    A for-profit business does exist in part to generate a profit, but does it not also exist to provide a needed product/service, much needed employment, and create a positive impact in its community? If those are not considered valuable to a business, then I say it has failed utterly more so than if it doesn’t make an infinitely increasing profit.

    For profit businesses that see their existence as only being to make more and more profit will not be around much longer – not in a world of peak oil, climate change and finite resources. The profit motive is useful, but when it dominates every decision it becomes destructive (recent history should be example enough).

    And in a steady state, post-growth economy profit will still exists, but growing your profit yearly on into eternity is a pipe dream in any reality. Post growth economics will consist of us realize our sustainable scale – on a macro level – recognizing when we reach a point of “enough.”

    Part of that will be more non-profit business, without a doubt, but also for-profit businesses that are happy to make a certain amount of profit yearly. These business will expand and shrink within the macro-economy, but on the whole the entire global economy is constrained by the finite limits of our planet and so it will remain relatively constant.

    Cheers,
    Joshua Nelson
    Co-Founder, Post Growth Institute

    Comment by Joshua — 2:54 pm September 21, 2011 #

  4. A business does not need to create a positive impact in its community to be considered valuable. Also if you are not in the business of making a profit then you have failed utterly. They other things you mentioned are extra to me having be business there. I dont have to hire people in the area of my business and I dont have to sell or provide a service in that community. Thus what is left if profit.

    Comment by Scott — 7:13 pm September 21, 2011 #

  5. Scott,

    You’re entirely missing the point. Corporations and business that do not provide a positive impact in society are failures. Otherwise, what’s the point? What’s the point of profit if it comes at an impact to our ability to improve our lives? Money does not equal happiness, money is not the point of life, and money is not the entire reason of business.

    Business that are not providing a positive impact on society are creating a negative one – there is no such thing as a neutral impact.

    Besides all this is a moot point. We can no longer grow our economy on this planet, we’re already using 1.5times it’s resources – Which means we’re eating into our savings, not living off the interest. The growth since the 2008 crash has all been false (debt, both monetary and ecological) growth. We are physically unable to grow, we’ve maxed out.

    Between that, climate change, and peak oil we are being forced into entirely new territory here – and we will have to drastically re-shape the way we live, do business and exist on our planet. The good news is that it will largely improve our lives. Business that only exists for profit is one of the main forces eroding our social well-being, sense of community and connection with community. Focusing on monetary growth over everything else has destroyed our environment and disconnected ourselves from what truly matters in life.

    Adjusting to live within the scale of our planet, focusing on well-being, happiness, and a healthy environment for humanity will bring about new ways of doing business that are more human-scaled and human-focused.

    Cheers,
    Joshua

    Comment by Joshua — 9:05 am September 22, 2011 #

  6. So your saying we need to move to Communism.

    Comment by Scott — 10:32 am September 22, 2011 #

  7. @Scott, I can only assume that the Communism comment was a troll so I won’t address it.

    When I look at the realities of the small town business communities that I exist in, most are happy to maintain the same level of service or product from year to year. They grow when the market allows and when their business starts to wane, they try to find other ways of maintaining their income. Keeping their customers happy, keeping their books in the black, maintaining a productive and engaged staff. These are all part of doing business in a small town.

    So while making a profit is one priority, it is not the only one, and owners who focus on this to the exclusion of all others will be burning all their bridges on the way to the poor house.

    I think part of what Joshua is saying, is that we need a fundamental shift in business values to reflect the realities of the small towns that built our culture. Just because the scale is larger, it doesn’t mean we have less responsibility to the people around us.

    Comment by Glenn Toddun — 7:02 am September 25, 2011 #

  8. What small town do you think we live in “Seattle”. I stand by the committ no troll.

    Comment by Scott — 3:03 pm September 25, 2011 #

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