Monthly Archives: December 2016

A realistic, grounded alternative politico-economic vision – 1

In a letter to the FT, Richard Urwin extols ‘the vibrancy of the debate already under way’, as ‘coherent critiques of the orthodox view’ are being articulated by Nobel laureates such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman and economist Martin Wolf. He adds, “Even the establishment has demonstrated some capacity to adapt: Mark Carney’s recent ruminations on globalisation would have been unlikely a decade ago”.

colin-hines-7Colin Hines, convenor of the Green New Deal group (finance, tax, energy and environmental experts), is advocating “controls on the free movement of capital, goods and services to allow the rebuilding of national economies, and to bring an end to the damaging deification of open markets, which has bought us Trump and Brexit and maybe next year a President Le Pen”.

Colin was the co-ordinator of Greenpeace International’s Economics Unit having worked for the organisation for 10 years. Earlier he worked in the environmental movement on the issues of population, food, new technology and unemployment, nuclear proliferation. More recently he has focused on the adverse environmental and social effects of international trade and the need to solve these problems by replacing globalisation with localization.

localisation-book-2His widely cited book Localization- A Global Manifesto, is unique in setting out the international political agreement, trade treaties and regulations needed to foster and protect local self-sufficiency.

Localization, he believes, would ensure that all goods, finance and services that can reasonably be provided locally should be. Depending on the context, the ‘local’ is predominantly defined as part of the nation state, although it could refer to the nation state itself or a regional grouping of nation states.

In his forthcoming ‘Progressive Protectionism’ Hines details why ever more open borders are increasing inequality, reducing economic activity and threatening the environment. It explains how countries could rebuild and rediversify their economies by limiting what finance, goods and people they allow to enter their borders, and in the process wean themselves off export dependence. Domestic businesses and funding sources would then meet the needs of the majority in society in all countries. The prospect of such increasing economic security for the majority could gain widespread political support ranging from those on the left, the centre, the greens through to small ‘c’ conservatives.

Next post: Shaun Chamberlin, of the Fleming Policy Centre, Chelsea Green’s UK/Europe commissioning editor, responds to Hines by emailing: ‘Amen . . .’

 

 

Theresa May, please note the shift in Sweden’s government focus on reducing carbon emissions

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Currently Sweden incinerates about 50% of its waste to make heat and energy – emitting carbon dioxide – some years even importing a large amount of trash from other countries. Its current government admits that this is not really recycling and that it takes less energy to actually recycle and reuse than it does to burn and manufacture a replacement from scratch.

We now read that Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition is to submit proposals to parliament to slash the VAT rate on repairs to bicycles, clothes and shoes from 25% to 12%.

Take for example France, which, in 2015 passed a law outlawing planned obsolescence and requiring manufacturers to offer consumers free repairs or replacement parts on appliances up to two years after the date of purchase. Like the proposals in Sweden, the French law — Germany and Norway have similar laws on the books, as well — aims to curb the amount of waste entering landfills, keep money in the pockets of hand wringing-prone consumers and generate jobs in the appliance repair sector.

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MNN notes that the Swedish coalition will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.

The hope is that the tax break on appliances will spur the creation of a new home-repairs service industry, providing much-needed jobs for new immigrants who lack formal education.

Sweden has cut its annual emissions of carbon dioxide by 23% since 1990 and already generates more than half of its electricity from renewable sources. But emissions linked to consumption have continued to rise.

Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and one of six Green party cabinet members says that the new policies tie in with international trends around reduced consumption and crafts, such as the “maker movement” and the sharing economy, both of which have strong followings in Sweden, “There is an increased knowledge that we need to make our things last longer in order to reduce materials’ consumption,” he said.

The proposals will be presented in parliament as part of the government’s budget proposals and, if voted through in December, will become law from 1 January 2017.