Capitalism - at least in its current form - appears to be on a path to self-destruction. The drive for ever-increasing profits is destroying the planet with surplus goods while driving an insatiable demand for energy. The result is certain catastrophe:
To put it another way: The primacy of economics has prevailed. It no longer seems to matter how we're supposed to get through the rest of this century if the world grows warmer by three, four or five degrees Celsius. National economies require an ever-growing dose of energy if their business models are to continue functioning, and, in the face of this logic, all scientific objections to the contrary are just as powerless as the climate protest movements, which are, in any case, marginal.
Is there an alternative system that slow or even reverse this unsustainable system?
A couple of years ago an Austrian activist - Christian Felber - wrote a book outlining his vistion for a different type of economy: DIe Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie ("The Common Good Economy), which has spawned a movement.
Imagine, for example, what might happen if a large number of businesses make the improvement of the common good -- instead of an increase in their profits -- the goal of their commercial efforts.
There are in fact already more than 1,400 companies, if small ones, in German-speaking countries that have made a commitment to the concept of the "economy for the common good," Around one third of these companies have annual balance statements to show it.
In the medium term, the "economy for the common good" movement aims to make such accounting legally binding. The principle is that the more common-good "points" a business achieves, the more legal benefits it should enjoy. For example, companies with a positive common-good balance could benefit from lower taxes, obtain loans from national banks at lower interest rates and be given priority in public purchasing and the awarding of contracts. This reversal of the existing incentive system would serve to make products and services that are produced and traded fairly, and are environmentally sustainable, cheaper than ethically problematic products and nondurable, disposable items.
The Web site for Die Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie outlines the componente of the Common Good Balance Sheet:
The Economy for the Common Good places human beings and all living entities at the center of economic activity. It translates standards for human relationships as well as constitutional values into an economic context and rewards economic stakeholders for behaving and organizing themselves in a humane, cooperative, ecological and democratic way. The key instrument for this behavioral guidance is the Common Good Balance Sheet.
At least one bank - the Sparda Bank in Munich has adopted the principles of the Common Good Economy and published its Common Good Balance Sheet.
Hopefully, the Common Good Economy movement will make its way toe the epicenter of global capitalism - the United States.