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Alternative economic models for the future

How will our economy work in the future? Which technologies are upending our lives? "Option" in search of new models.

This bill does not work out: Who has one euro, can not spend two. What every child knows about pocket money does not work globally. Do you believe the platform? "Earth Overshoot Day", We consume about twice a year of what our planet can generate in resources. A fat minus so. This year we have at the 2. August used up our annual workload. And now?

Overshoot Day is just one of many indications that we humans are not managing planet earth optimally. We not only exploit him, but also each other. What has to change? Representatives of alternative economic models agree that the future must be green. Human well-being, societal values ​​and the reduction of inequality must take precedence over bare numbers like GDP growth. There are many ways to get there: circular economy, degrowth, post-growth, Buen Vivir - to name just a few.

Alternative economy of the future

The economist Friedrike Habermann represents this model, a pun on "Commons" and "Economy". Their credo: ownership instead of ownership, because property is based on exclusion. If you own something, you exclude others from using it, even if you do not need it right now. All goods should be a common good, and be possessed by someone during use only. Work ranks in the Ecommony as "alienated activity". People should act because they feel a desire to do something and see it as necessary, not because they have to earn money. Money and a pricing system are overridden in Ecommony, which sees itself as an alternative to capitalism.

Blue Economy
According to the idea of ​​the Belgian entrepreneur Gunter Pauli, companies are to gain resources largely from waste. A shift to this circular economy should create millions of jobs worldwide around the 100, which in turn could change the entire economic system.

Steady State Economy
The economy no longer grows physically, but continues to develop at an optimal, sustainable level of consumption. In this model, the economy is embedded in ecological systems whose limits have been reached. Further growth would lead to more exploitation. The prerequisite is a constant population, because so far, economic growth has been strongly linked to population growth.

Buen Vivir, Degrowth & Co all pursue similar approaches, namely to extend classical capitalism to the human component and not stubbornly work towards GDP growth.

Common good instead of GDP

The past of the future is the now. Although we can not change what has happened so far. But for learning from mistakes all the more. "Economic success is currently measured not by the goals, but by the means, specifically in money," says Christian Felber. He is one of the most prominent representatives of the common good economy (GWÖ) in Austria. The ultimate goal is prosperity, in Felber's theory this is called the "common good". It consists of the factors human dignity, ecological sustainability, social justice and participation. Money and capital are only legitimate means to an end and not measures of wealth.
But wait, is not Gross Domestic Product (GDP) serving as a credible indicator of wealth measurement? "No," says Felber, "because the financial can no reliable conclusions on social and environmental factors." If you take the annual financial statements of a company approach, then a high balance sheet does not show whether the company makes the company with the values ​​of GWÖ richer , The GWÖ sees itself not as an alternative model, but as an extension of the existing. Of course, conventional balance sheets should remain in place, but - according to representatives of this theory - they would have to be expanded to include the common good.

One method is sustainability reports. These are already available, but some rank in the category "Greenwashing". In order to introduce a uniform standard, the local GWÖ activists have come up with a matrix of 20 topics that, among other things, examine the influence of the company on suppliers, customers and employees.
And what does that do for the company? "Whoever promotes ethically better products should be rewarded with less tax burden, cheaper credit and priority in public procurement," says Felber. This in turn leads to cheaper production conditions and higher profit margins.

The common good concept

What about corporations from the "dirty" industry? The steel company Voest, for example, is responsible for half of Austria's electricity consumption and is also the largest CO2 issuer in the country. How can this company ever make a positive assessment under GWÖ conditions? This is only possible on a global scale. The GWÖ provides four points:

1. Global Resource Management: Distribution key is required for all resources worldwide, such as at UN level. Using the example of steel production, this would be a precise plan of how much steel is allowed to be produced worldwide at all. Surplus production - as is currently the case in China - which leads to dumping and exploitation would be counteracted.

2. Ecological tax reform: Steel or production-related emissions, such as carbon, are taxed at the same global level. That regulates the price.

3. Commonwealth balance sheet: Companies need to rethink and produce more ecologically through innovation. This results in higher profits due to lower taxes.

4. Ecological purchasing power: The resources of the planet are distributed to all people in the form of a point account per year. Every citizen has an annual ecological purchasing power, in addition to the money system. Prices of products and services are excellent in both "currencies". Each consumption eats ecopoints from the account, with particularly polluting products. If the account is exhausted, you can only buy more ecologically safe.

Cooperation instead of competition

The model of the common good economy sees itself not as an alternative to capitalism, but as a new game variant. Instead of prevailing competitive and competitive thinking, the economy should focus on cooperation.
Is the idea of ​​the post-growth society a utopia? Not at all. "Many sustainable companies are already slowly moving in this direction," observes Tristan Horx, trend researcher at Zukunftsinstitut, Responsible treatment of the environment and more social commitment are indications for this. In addition, the sharing economy is a step towards anti-growth.

Mayor of the world

Economy works globally, but we live in nation-states. "That's why politicians are often powerless against international corporations and their tax avoidance tricks," says Horx. His idea, which he has also published in the recently published "Generation Global" report, demands that the local and political economy must be made more global. Both systems must be anchored at all levels.
How should this work? An example is the "Global Parliament of Mayors". Since last year, the mayors of 61 metropolises the world once a year for two days to discuss, inter alia, on the economy, climate change and migration. This is a new interpretation of the word "glocal" because mayors have strong local influence and at the same time network globally.

Innovation is the key issue

What the farmer does not know, he does not eat. This has fatal consequences at a time when conditions are changing faster and faster. Technical innovations exceed the imagination of the older generation. "Do not be afraid of something new", says futurologist René Massatti as the social basis for a better functioning economic model. "The constant change must be anchored in the minds of the people". Only in this way will innovations be accepted and meaningfully applied. Social and digital inequality decrease. Likewise, Massatti appeals to the governments: "Innovations must be top priority and not in the hands of individual large corporations," said Massatti.

Influence factor key technologies

New technologies will change the economy and life. Here are three of the key technologies of the future.

Artificial intelligence
Although the date has been postponed time and again, but the Singularitätstheorie says that until 2045 man can create himself artificially. Say: Artificial intelligence (AI) can in turn create artificial intelligence (AI), man becomes "superfluous". From then on, the performance of the AI ​​will surpass the human, so at least the idea of ​​the US visionary Ray Kurzweil.
Such predictions should be treated with caution. What is certain, however, is that AI will have the greatest influence on our future. Systems will bring cognitive performance, so think for yourself and act independently. And what do we humans do then? Trend researcher Horx sees the meaning of technological progress in replacing boring jobs. "It is a mistake to think that we must be afraid of becoming unemployed because of this". One thing is certain, AI and Robotic will eliminate jobs. But "education must change so that people do tasks that machines can not do," countered futurologist René Massatti. The strength of man is the unpredictability of his activities, namely creativity. People will always need creative solutions and it is questionable whether they can actually be fully taken over by KI.

While digitization is currently sprouting corporations like Airbnb and Uber and causing billions of dollars within a few years, the blockchain could soon clean up. Theoretically, this technology will soon require no platform like Airbnb to bring free beds with tourists. "Blockchain is considered a potential disruptor of the disruptive," says Massatti. His epilogue: "This would be the further development of platform capitalism."

The human being will be able to optimize himself through bionengineering, for example to be able to lend supernatural powers or eternal life. Positive variety is the healing of paralysis, such as exoskeletons. Negative impact is a two-class society, because only rich can afford modifications to the body. Then there is the big ethical question of how much people can be artificially altered.

Photo / Video: Shutterstock.

Written by Stefan Tesch

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