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Political Economy research notes (draft)

Less is More: How Degrowth will Save the World by Jason Hickel

(William Heinemann Publishing, 2020)

“Growth is the centrepiece of capitalism. Without growth, capitalism cannot exist. It has historically relied on “fixes” such as enclosures, colonization, the destruction of nature, neoliberalism and the exploitation of the global South. Developed Northern economies have a historical debt to Southern ones.

Degrowth will not make our living standards worse. Actually, it will make them better. By forcing us to refocus from growth to distribution, we will realize that it has not been growth that has given us higher living standards. In fact it has been capitalism that has created artificial shortages, to force us to partake.”

“Less is more” – by Jason Hickel Political Economy Podcast

Some takeaways:

A living system is not dependent only on growth but on sustainable distribution. This is what our current market economy has wrong. Our economy’s dependence on economic growth…and obsession with GDP as a success indicator although it was explicitly warned not to be used for determining welfare and living standards.

Despite economic growth and innovation being cited in our mainstream discourse as a driving force behind an increase in living standards around the globe. Meanwhile, life expectancy was largely due to distribution of public goods (ie – water systems, public education, universal healthcare – medicare/medicaid in USA).

Reciprocity in nature is based on not taking more than we are giving back to ensure sustainability in our living system.

Proposal: Global minimum wage and maximum wage based on multiplier.

From this podcast, I learned that decoupling capital from growth and instead rebalancing distribution will restructure the current economic paradigm into optimal health and a sustainable growth rate for the entire living system valued as a whole. We cant throw more money at the problem without realigning the incentives to maximize public interests for equitable utility distribution. This can be done without sole ownership by the state or solely by the private sector. In other words, it does not imply throwing out the private sector or market economy entirely, or private property rights. Likewise, it also does not mean throwing out the government, and public goods and services that more broad-based growth also depends on.

At the State level, the role of governance is financed through selling government bonds. This requires the government to grow to pay back on the private interest to those lenders or bond purchasers.

Does business or organizational governance have to adopt the same financing methods if competing with the current economic structure or is there a better way?

Neoliberalism – when the state agrees with the accumulative goals of capital. The purpose of the government is to boost exchange value and the growth of corporations.

Global North and South

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