Tuesday, 16 October 2012

What does De-Growth Mean for You and Me?

You and I are ordinary wage takers.

What does De Growth mean for us? Dropping out?

No: it does mean dropping off the expectation curve though.

The core to sustainability and human centred life style is the mantra of the enviornmental lobby too. This should be no surprise. What we do to the environment is linked inextricably from value creation.

But de-growth is not about the destruction of value creation, all economic systems or societal structures.

The key mantra is :


 1) Reduction.

We should reduce what we consume : we should do this in clever ways. This may mean investing more in our material goods such that they last longer. This is an issue you can see with HTC mobile telephone handsets: they are so good that they cover our desires and exceed them in fact, and also they last and people do not swap them out often enough. We should have infact, paid more for our quality phones.

Also reduction will be a necessity: by market forces. Prices of food and fuel/power are set to increase dramatically. This will mean in particular that meat and long-travelled-foods will become more expensive, while local-short-travelled "farmers market" foods will become more attractive. In order to have some degree of spending power above the necessities of life, we will adjust our consumerist trinket spend first downwards, while food spend goes upwards. As consumers we will become more involved with food and its quality and nutrition value per Euro/Dollar/pound.

Reduction is also a more fundamental view point in de-growth. Resizing your economic and materialistic aspirations. Less people will be able to afford the premium high price, high margin products the west has depended on for growth. Less people will see them as desirable because values of family and community become stronger.

Reduction in travel and relocation: the internet and home office, or local business incubator / office will become more and more attractive as the cyber generation begin to demand this option from employers. We will continue to interact with global employers, but the old structures and percieved necessity for presentieism will evapourate. Far more of us will turn temporary contract employment into opportunity for self employment and more self determination, using the time we wasted in meaningless adminstration and ineffective meetings to hunt for new customers and more local opportunities. City property will remain over valued for some time to come and may collapse in some areas of cities.

Reduction will mean that the numbers of corporate clones and people who compromise family for money will reduce. Already the income-balance of life equation is skewed for many and people are either marginalised in where they stand and will stand on income versus life, or find if they are better off, that they re becoming marginalised by the fluctuations in the economy which they cannot react to.

Reduction is then also a reduction in our economic activity which is directed towards value flowing up into the international capital system. It will mean many more of us are more conscious of life-work trade offs: working less hours to spend more time with our family and working to help people in our communities.  So the final point on reduction is that it is a reduction in economic expectations and aspirations to right-size our lives to our values.

2) Replacement

I have touched of course on this above with replacing our out-dated corporate office cultures with new work-life-style paradigms. We will reduce relocation and travel accordingly.

We will go much further than this.

We will also replace our ideas about what the market mechanism of the economy means to us. We will there after adjust ourselves to new perceptions of life values. We will replace our old work-oriented life styles with more focus on family and community.

We will also replace our pay-back perceptions of what work gives us: an increasing part of the population will no longer seek status symbols. They will seek personal fulfillment. This means for many like me, reducing their expectations but replacing their perception of happiness with one which is more satisfying than materialism.

It means replacement of the nuclear family life with parents working for ever more money but spending less time with their children and grand patents with the concepts of not needing to consume and not needing to conspicuously consume especially.

Down Sizing will be a net summation from the two above. It does not mean that people drop out of the economic system, it is just that they will move to other work styles, other skills and other values which are based more on the local community and family. It means for example down sizing key capital possessions: selling a house to down size and free up money to pay for other restructuring or life goals. Many houses and higher value possessions will probably never be worth more than they are now in the west. It is time to accept they will grow no more and cash in chips if they have  been made already.

3) recylcing:
This means that you fix things, buy second hand and give or gain some economic value in their next useage when you are finished with them rather than land-fill or often burning.

But it also means that you recycle values to make them more relevant: what you enjoyed doing when you were young and poor, when your kids were small, when you spent more time with your extended family. You recylce all the energy you put into one job, into several economic opportunities or ventures, into time with your family, into time doing things for yourself instead of hiring expensive trades people,  and into your involvement with the community around you.

It means recycling your knowledge into the community for both structural gains in social welfare and charitable organisation, but also into helping new businesses establish themselves locally and grow to become significant local employment sources.

Further to this you recycle your skills and economic activities: you find new ways of utilising skills you used which match a more local economic activity set, or are of value to cyber community and remote working. You take people skills and move them into new sectors. You take skills from work into your volunteer work in your local community. Conversly you take abilities, acchievments and skills from your home and hobby life out into society for economic or community value activities.

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