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Monday, May 29, 2017

Why am I making a hobby out of capitalism?

Posted by steve on April 28, 2012

Well I am not going to be paid, that is for sure, there are so many experts out there that get down to the fine nitty gritty.

Look. I like theoretical stuff. When I worked for a large corporation I enjoyed working with the corporate management system, multi-project management methodology, aligning mission, strategy, goals and activities, finding ways to capture, document and follow up. In fact, creating an information cockpit so you could smoothly fly a nation’s activities would be something I would love to tthingk about.

But just now I am unemployed and the theoretical, analytic side of me needs to keep going. I need the intellectual stimulation like others need jigsaw puzzles. Oh, yes, the TV is broken too.

Some people collect stamps, others antiques, me I collect systemic ideas. Hey – it’s free country! And the Internet is free!

For me, I just want to understand the system I am living under. I never studied economics and I do not understand the newspapers. In fact, if you search the web you do not find a lot of high – level explanations and general discussions of the type I feel I need.

This is on my mind just now:

  • What is capitalism?
  • Why is it seen to be so good?
  • What about it is creating the “error” as the picture suggests?
  • Can it be fixed in parts or does it need a re-design? (Re-engineering the capitalist system sounds like a cool theoretical exercise and discussion)
  • Specifically I hope to understand where capitalism as a system or system of practice is causing society to behave counter-sustainably.
  • If I can find that, maybe we can start to apply some sensible fixes.

Maybe. Or at least I will have enjoyed myself.

Let me know if you enjoy following my journey and if you have any suggestions for where to find information and perspective.

Read the other articles in the series here.

My new hobby: capitalism

Posted by steve on April 27, 2012

Well, now I have turned sixty I thought I should get a hobby.

Looking around for something intellectually stimulating to work with, fun, something to have an argument about and possibly something useful – either to make me money or preferably help bring the world more sustainable.

Capitalism: I chose capitalism. I mean, a lot of people praise it as the answer to everything. Some people are calling for its revamping and some are calling it evil.

My initial analysis – not so deep – reveals to myself that I do not know what it is. So the first step of this hobby is to find out what capitalism is. When I have done that I can look into various aspects of it to see where in its dna, if anywhere, the evil code is written.

Sounds like a fantastic fantasy adventure, a bit like Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the evil capitalists.

This is going to be such fun!

I might start with Micheal Moore’s film; Capitalism a Love Story. Or not.

Flexible emission fees set new direction towards sustainable development

Posted by steve on April 17, 2012

A recent report from The Nordic Council of Ministers ( title: Flexible emission fees

An incentive for driving sustainable production and consumption) is optimistic that growth and environmental goals can be reconciled. If the conclusions of the report can be implemented, it could set a new direction towards sustainable development.

The starting point for the investigation that forms the basis of the report is an economic innovation from Swedish engine innovator, Anders Höglund, from the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation.

Höglund postulated that the principles of control engineering that he had applied to make diesel engines burn clean could be applied to the economy.

Control technology is the application of control devices to a process to ensure it performs to requirements. In the case of the engine, advanced micro-processor and sensing technology is applied to a rather “dirty” invention like the diesel engine. Fast feedback, computer control and some final stage cleaning ensure that the combustion in the engine is controlled precisely.

The height of control technology is possibly the modern fighter jet that is unstable without the help of the advanced computer control.

In the old days, the economy was paper-controlled; it could take a long time to obtain an accurate picture of the state of the economy as reports needed collecting and summing by hand.

This is not the case today. Stock prices, oil prices and sales figures are available almost in real-time. Höglund saw that this fast feedback of the economy could form the backbone of a system that forces the economy to “run clean”.

Especially the old criticism that emission fees hold economic growth back is negated when the money from fees is channeled back into the economy as a general tax rebate. And no physical money changes hands. The fees can be distributed electronically to tax payer’s accounts as a credit at digital speed.

The other bugbear of emissions fees is that they are not effective: polluters continue to pollute and producers are slow to introduce clean-tech. Höglund’s innovation solves this by raising the fee at regular intervals until market behavior complies with requirements. Höglund says that market behavior will change as the fees become sufficiently high. As the fees are channeled back into the economy there is an equivalent amount of money available to either purchase the “dirty” service at higher prices or alternatives at relatively lower prices.

The Nordic Council investigation engaged a researcher to review economic literature. The idea of flexible control fees seems to have been sparsely investigated. A workshop involving some of Sweden’s leading sustainability experts and authorities focused on finding ways to drive sustainability into the economy utilizing market forces.  The workshop looked at two emission problem areas: carbon dioxide and phosphorous. Most participants were positive to the idea of testing flexible fees in a limited area.

Karl-Henrik Robért, founder of the Natural Step, said:

– Hence, flexible fees offers an elegant pragmatic means for policy-making to support strategic sustainable development.

To download the report visit the Nordic Council’s website.

For more information on the workshop see the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation’s website.

Transition in Sweden supported by Environmental Minister

Posted by steve on April 11, 2012

The spread of Transition Towns in Sweden got a big push forward recently from the Swedish Minister for the Environment, Lena Ek.

Speaking at a meeting with Hela Sverige Skall Leva, the Swedish folk movement that hosts Transition in Sweden, she said:

(Our translation from Swedish) “It was so great to get back to Stockholm after the UN climate negotiations to discover all these Transition initiatives. This is exactly what I hoped would start in  Sweden, as transition must begin locally.

We will cooperate to  connect the local and global”

Visibly pleased, she continued:

” That is why I am so happy to be attending the Rural Parliament in September, to present the Swedish Government’s work with our plan to take us to 2050. “

She especially expressed her support for the work of Transition intitatives in the County of Östergötland who are now cooperating with the County Board.

“That’s a good initiative that I hope spreads further”.

For information in Swedish, see the newsletter from Hela Sverige Skall Leva.

We need Capitalism 3:0 for the planet that has reached its limits to growth

Posted by steve on April 6, 2012

Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s,The Limits to Growth.

Calling the circle training

Posted by steve on

No matter if you work with neighbors, in a cooperative, in a Transition Initiative or among volunteers, good relations and social cohesion are critical not only just to success, but maintaining good feelings and energy in the community.

We’ve taken the best of what is available and put together an introductory training that prepares you to introduce or develop the circle meeting form in your community or organization.

This course is for you who are active in a group or eco-village and want to experience circle way potential and learn how to get started with it.

If you would like to have one of these sessions in your community, town or country, please contact one of our social entrepreneurs who will help you arrange it or contact Stephen Hinton directly.

Click on the picture on the left or here CircleCall_ENGLISH_DATASHEET.pdf to download the factsheet.

At Last! Dirt the movie…

Posted by steve on

Anyone intereted in understanding the complexities of sustainable  world food and water situation should watch this film. It carefull goes over the importance of theat which we give a negative namen to – dirt that may well be the most important piece of technology we have available to us!

Follow this link here for a fuller explanation

Accounting for a crowded but sustainable planet

Posted by steve on April 4, 2012

We need to change the way we account for things as we hit the resource wall. We cannot continue to regard, from an accounting point of view, resources as infinate.
Her’s an attempt to form a sustainable approach:
In my last post I argued that:
Technology is a collection of inventions and capabilities to solve a problem or need.
Work is the application of technology to deliver a solution to the problem or need.
Sustainable technology is a collection of inventions and capabilities to solve problems in a way that preserves financial, natural and mineral capital. Sustainable work applies sustainable technology to delivering the services required to live.
Let us take a group of people and for sake of argument let us take a village of 100 houses with 300 residents, some under age. High up on the list of required services would be  – not in any order  – access to 1) housing 2) food 3) security, 4) clothing.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

A philosophical exploration of what “sustainable” and “technology” are

Posted by steve on

What we call technology is actually a narrow practice including mechanics, electronics and computer science. This confusion is hampering human development, especially when the expectation is on not developing financial and social technology but demanding mechanical solutions when simple agreements could suffice. Modern technology is failing, we are not addressing the challenges in front of us. For some reason, our very use of language is holding us back and preventing us from thinking clearly. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

The answer is the circle. The question is going to get thrown at you any time soon.

Posted by steve on April 1, 2012

Photo: Meridith_farmer on Flickr

In the conference room, standing barefoot in a circle, holding hands together we wait for Medicine Story to speak:

“In the old ways, the tribe does everything in a circle.”

“The circle is what keeps us together, and in keeping together we survive.”

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »