Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Ecological Economics
SECTION TITLE: ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS
SECTION SUBTITLE: A more humane and sustainable economics
OUR POSITION: Greens will change our systems of production and commerce to make them sustainable.
As our environmental crisis deepens, we must adopt new ways of doing business to improve our quality of life, health and prosperity. We can reshape our economy to respect the diverse, delicate ecosystems of our planet.
Greens support small business and broad and diverse forms of economic cooperation. Economic diversity is far more responsive than big business to the needs of life on our planet.
We will change corporate law so that corporations have a legally-enforceable contract for social and environmental responsibility -– in effect, a fiduciary duty.
We insist upon an economics in which we do not serve the economy, but rather the economy serves us and our planet.
For example, our current principal measure of economic heath -- the gross domestic product -- is fatally flawed and must be replaced.
Mainstream economics is premised on the notion that as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase, society becomes richer and better.
Greens do not accept that ‘more’ necessarily means ‘better’. We know that unlimited growth is not possible on a finite planet. GDP is a proficient measurement of magnitude of the economy, but it does not count as negative most of the negative effects of economic activity, like pollution. Instead it counts ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ equally, sending distorted and misleading signals.
Social and environmental ills such as oil spills, the dumping of toxic waste, automobile crashes, divorce, obesity, stress and misery all increase GDP, because they impel the purchase of more goods and services. They are indicators of a lesser, not higher, quality of life.
GDP also does not give a sense of how equitably distributed a country’s wealth is; a country could theoretically have both the world’s highest GDP and the world’s highest poverty rate simultaneously. At the same time, GDP fails to account for the value of leisure time, or parts of the “informal economy” like parents’ unpaid care for their own children that have value but not necessarily measured by the marketplace. GDP fails to reflect the depletion of scarce natural resources or the deterioration of ecosystems.
We must set our nation on the right economic and environmental track. That means we will need new indicators to gauge our progress.
1. Support an economic system that includes a combination of well-regulated private businesses, decentralized co-operatives, publicly-owned enterprises, and alternative economic structures. Collectively, this system puts human and ecological needs alongside profits to measure success, and maintains accountability to communities.
2. Endorse community-based economics as an alternative to both corporate capitalism and state socialism.
3. Advocate for more local, co-operative and egalitarian economic relations which are in balance with our planet. Our perspective is antithetical to both Big Business and Big Government.
4. Endorse true cost pricing, which internalizes the costs of environmental externalities, such as climate change.
5. Require production methods that eliminate waste and restore ecological balance.
6. Support economic diversity, including the self-employed, small business and worker-owned cooperative enterprises.
7. End the use of the Gross Domestic Product as the principal measure of the health of the U.S. economy.
8. Support new indicators of social and economic progress, such as the Index of Social Health Indicators, the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, and the Genuine Progress Indicator, that take into account our quality of life, and indicators of social, economic and environmental health, as well as the value of non-monetary goods and services.
2004 PLATFORM ON ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS
To create an enduring society we must devise a system of production and commerce where every act is sustainable and restoraable. We believe that all business has a social contract with society and the environment – in effect a fiduciary responsibility – and that the concepts of socially responsible business and shareholder democracy can be models for prospering, successful business.
1. We call for an economic system that is based on a combination of private businesses, decentralized democratic cooperatives, publicly owned enterprises, and alternative economic structures. Collectively, this system puts human and ecological needs alongside profits to measure success, and maintains accountability to communities.
2. Community-based economics constitutes an alternative to both corporate capitalism and state socialism. It values diversity and decentralization.
Recognition of limits is central to this system. The drive to accumulate power and wealth is a pernicious characteristic of a civilization headed in a pathological direction. Greens advocate that economic relations become more direct, more cooperative, and more egalitarian.
Humanizing economic relations is just one aspect of our broader objective: to shift toward a different way of life characterized by sustainability, regionalization, more harmonious balance between the natural ecosphere and the human-made technosphere, and revival of community life. Our perspective is antithetical to both Big Business and Big Government.
3. Greens support a major redesign of commerce. We endorse true-cost pricing. [See section E.1. True Cost Pricing on page 62 in this chapter] We support production methods that eliminates waste. In natural systems, everything is a meal for something else. Everything recycles, there is no waste. We need to mimic natural systems in the way we manufacture and produce things. Consumables need to be designed to be thrown into a compost heap and/or eaten. Durable goods would be designed in closed-loop systems, ultimately to be disassembled and reassembled. Toxics would be safeguarded, minimally produced, secured, and would ideally have markers identifying them in perpetuity with their makers.
4. Sustaining our quality of life, economic prosperity, environmental health, and long-term survival demands that we adopt new ways of doing business. We need to remake commerce to encourage diversity and variety, responding to the enormous complexity of global and local conditions. Big business is not about appropriateness and adaptability, but about power and market control. Greens support small business, responsible stakeholder capitalism, and broad and diverse forms of economic cooperation. We argue that economic diversity is more responsive than big business to the needs of diverse human populations.
5. Greens view the economy as a part of the ecosystem, not as an isolated subset in which nothing but resources come in and products and waste go out. There is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. There is an absolute limit to economic growth based on laws of thermodynamics and principles of ecology. Long before that limit is reached, an optimum size of the economy is reached which maximizes human welfare in an holistic sense.
6. We support a Superfund for Workers program as envisioned by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union in 1991. Such a program would guarantee full income and benefits for all workers displaced by ecological conversion until they find new jobs with comparable income and benefits.
7. The Green Party supports methods, such as the Index of Social Health Indicators, the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, and the Genuine Progress Indicator, that take into account statistics on housing, income, and nutrition.