Fixing the Heart of Our Economies

Our economy, the world’s economy, while providing us with the neccessities of modern civilisation, is beset by two crucial problems. Firstly, despite an increase in supposed wealth, actual human prosperity and freedom seems to be retreating. Secondly, rather than serving human values it seems in an increasing number of instances, to be crushing them. Neither laissez-faire capitalism nor communism have offered real solutions to these issues. Despite their obvious differences they both suffer from environmental ruin and failure to translate economic success on paper into human wellbeing. Perhaps our failure is to expect too much from the minds of the 19th century – neither Karl Marx nor Adam Smith had witnessed global environmental problems, or Stalin’s terror, or Wall-Street corruption. And while economics is a complex affair, it is still possible for us to begin by approaching the problem rationally, informed by the events of the modern age. Let us first clearly identify the problems:

The ten factors holding-back a rational, ethical economy for humanity (short articles explaining each are a WIP)
-Ethics are being hollowed out because of the slow death of community
-The new economy, where perception matters more than substance, is making rationality expendable
-Externalities like the environment and social issues aren’t rationally factored into decision-making
-Short-term thinking, hedonism (drug abuse, decadence), crime and non-participation (dependence) undermines prosperity
-Financial rewards are often either disproportional or entirely unrelated to merit
-Authority is often not obtained on merit, but on a combination of charisma and the conversion of financial rewards into power
-Big business and big government have too much power compared with communities and startups, discouraging potential innovations and entrenching interest groups
-Corruption, nepotism and conflict of interest are commonplace
-Zero-sum activity (or worse) is rewarded and is commonplace
-There is a disconnect between actual productive activity and our broken economic measures (eg. GDP)

These ten discrete problems become ten clear goals:

The ten ways to achieve a rational, ethical economy for humanity
-Restore the centrality of community and actively teach ethics
-Actively promote logic and reason, especially in education, as a foundation of a strong economy. Teach long-term thinking.
-Rationally factor social externalities and environmental factors into decision making
-Aim for 100% economic participation, while altering participation to value family, community and personal balance
-Assign rewards proportionally to merit
-Host entrepreneurialism and innovation in a moral, community environment
-Assign authority based on merit, and prevent rewards from being converted into power
-Create mechanisms against corruption nepotism and conflict of interest
-Eliminate zero-sum economic activity
-Ignore GDP and other broken measurements, and instead focus on productivity, education, knowledge, health and living standards

Practical action for people looking to promote sustainable human prosperity

Economic change usually requires reforms in government, which is ultimately a political task. Democratic political action is better than nothing, however at best most democratic systems are weighted heavily in favour a combination of vested interests and apathetic populism. The stale old ideologies of either business or government solving all our problems are embedded in what space remains. No matter how good your ideas, they will be either seen as an inconvenience, or they will be highjacked by established players to assist with their own agenda. Good people from left and right end up fighting each-other rather than corruption and immorality. Even discounting all this, it is very difficult to convince a large population of the need for deliberate change – many good people become burnt-out because of a lack of apparent progress.

A better strategy is to change one’s own life as a starting point – to lead by example. Then, progress is evident and principles can be safely refined without risking the chaos of revolution or creating a social structure that can be highjacked by a power-hungry opportunist. However, as individual social animals in an interdependent economy, lone action is very emotionally difficult and often self-defeating. Human instinct is to be like others. Additionally, individuals that go against the grain of society, even for quite benign personal reasons, are disliked and punished by people who have a deep evolutionary instinct promoting fear of change and the unknown. There will also always be deep suspicion of new political or economic ideas by established power blocks in society – indeed in politics the suspicion is justified because small players often become, willingly or unwillingly, the tools of the bigger players.

A small group of people with similar goals can achieve much more than an individual trying to achieve change alone. They can support each-other and are better prepared to deal with problems. They can remind eachother of their original purpose when times are difficult. It is also a more sensible scale in which to experiment with new solutions – established powers need not look on it with the same suspicion and empirical evidence can be used to refine the techniques safely.

So, fixing the economy is a matter of applying the above principles of sustainable human prosperity through cooperation as a small group – for example in a business or community. Of course, both these structures have failings. Business exists in an environment that punishes morality, while community is often inefficient and ill-suited to the economic prosperity required for citizens to be independent.

Instead, we must must combine small business and community – fusing them into a structure that creates a space in which meritocracy, prosperity, friendship, egalitarianism, freedom, and morality can thrive. We carefully take the best from both and produce something greater than either.

This is the purpose of Community Business. Community Business is designed to implement the ten principles of a rational and ethical economy for humanity. What follows is an introduction to the community business model.

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