Abstract: America’s present system of political economy is failing across a broad front — economic, social, political, and environmental.
The prioritization of economic growth and economic values is at the root of the systemic failures and resulting crises that America is now experiencing. But an expanding body of evidence is now telling us to think again. Before it is too late, America should begin to move to a post-growth society where working life, the natural environment, our communities, and the public sector are no longer sacrificed for the sake of mere GDP growth, and where the illusory promises of continuous growth no longer provide an excuse for neglecting to deal generously with compelling social needs.
Of particular importance for the new economy are government policies that will temper growth while simultaneously improving social and environmental well-being, policies such as shorter work weeks and longer vacations, with more time for children and families, greater labor protections, job security, and benefits, including generous parental leaves, guarantees to part-time workers, restrictions on advertising, a new design for the twenty-first century corporation, incentives for local production and consumption, rigorous environmental, health, and consumer protection, greater economic and social equality, heavy spending on public services and initiatives to address population growth at home and abroad.
The best hope for a new political dynamic is a fusion of those concerned about environment, social justice, and political democracy into one progressive force. A unified agenda would embrace a profound commitment to social justice and environmental protection, a sustained challenge to consumerism and commercialism and the lifestyles they offer, a healthy skepticism of growth-mania and a new look at what society should be striving to grow, a challenge to corporate dominance and a redefinition of the corporation and its goals, and a commitment to an array of major pro-democracy reforms.
Ecological Economics, Volume 84, December 2012, Pages 181–186, The Economics of Degrowth