Enough is Enough
Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill (2014)
Free PDF download at steadystate.org/
Enough is Enough is the report of the world’s first Steady State Economy Conference in June 2010. The concept derives from Herman Daly’s 1977 book Steady State Economy, published five years after the Club of Rome’s infamous Limits to Growth.
The 2010 conference was organized around two basic premises: 1) that the drive for unlimited economic growth is making the planet uninhabitable and 2) that transformation to a steady state economy is essential if we’re to have any hope of preserving the human species.
Enough is Enough begins by outlining why unlimited growth is impossible on a finite planet with finite resources. It goes on to define a steady state economy as having four key features: it’s sustainable, it provides for fair distribution of resources, it provides for efficient allocation of resources (i.e. it doesn’t rely solely on the free market in situations where the market can’t allocate resources efficiently) and it provides a high quality of life for everyone.
The authors focus on four basic steps essential in the transformation from a growth-based to a steady state economy:
1. An agreement to limit resource use – renewable resources (eg forests, fisheries) are harvested no faster than they can regenerated and non-renewable resources (eg fossil fuels) are consumed no faster than the wastes they produce can be recycled. There are a number of possible policy tools for making this happen: an outright ban (similar to current fishing bans), ecological taxation (eg carbon taxes or oil extraction taxes similar to Alaska’s petroleum tax), cap and trade (sets an overall cap and auctions off permits to pollute or mine up to that cap) and cap and share (sets an overall cap and distributes free permits to pollute or mine among all citizens).
2. Population stabilization – through non-coercive population policies that balance immigration and emigration and provide incentives to reduce family size. Examples include increasing access to birth control and education and full equality for women.
3. Inequality is reduced through policies that encourage worker cooperatives, employee ownership, shareholder participation, gender balance in positions of power, a Universal Basic Income (see The Case for Unconditional Basic Income), a cap on pay differentials between workers and management and progressive taxation schemes.
4. Monetary reform – in addition to prohibiting banks from creating money out of thin air and transferring the power to create money to a public authority, there needs to be more promotion of local currencies to stimulate local economies.
5. New progress indicators – substituting something similar to the Human Progress Indicator (HPI), which measures environmental and human well being, for Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which merely measures money.
6. Commitment to full employment – we need to use automation to eliminate onerous and unemployment work, rather than eliminating jobs, as well as shortening the work week (in conjunction with a UBI) to enable more people to have jobs.
7. New attitudes towards business and production – we need to incentivize businesses to achieve “right” sized profits that are large enough to guarantee a company’s economy viability but not so large they exceed its ecological allowance.
8. Global cooperation over resource use – we need to agree all trading partners wind down growth simultaneously. Otherwise steady state economies could experience significant trade disadvantages.
9. New consumer behavior – we need to promote new values that emphasize the positive aspects of a steady state economy (community connectedness, friendship and creativity) over the competitive individualism, hedonism, status and achievement that are emphasized in a growth economy.
10. Engaging politicians and the media (which will be the hardest) – by doing more research and analysis of the steady state model, creating forums to engage the public, politicians, policy makers and academics and to working for small changes at the local community level.
Rob Dietz is the European director of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE). More information about CASSE at http://steadystate.org/
In the video below O’Neill talks about their book.