How Do We Build A Different Economy?

By Roy L Hales

Last week I began a two-part interview with Guy Dauncey, founder of the BC Sustainable Energy association and the author of Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. This week Dauncey tackles the question “How do we build a different economy?”

How Do We Build A Different Economy?

Journey To The Future
Journey To The Future

How does cooperative behaviour fit into an economic system built around corporate profit?

Is it possible to build a world in which social and environmental gains are just as important?

In the podcast above, Dauncey argues the change has already begun. Most small town shop keepers already know that if they do not treat their customers, suppliers and local relationships well everything will fall apart.

Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is one of Dauncey’s models.

“All the private businesses cooperate together to share contracts. They each put o.4% of their annual sales into a fund that will, for a small business, arrange training and product development and joint contracting and sophisticated stuff like that which a small business with three or four employees could never do,” says Dauncey.

“As a result of that high level of cooperation, with in the private and corporate sector, they have built one of Italy’s most successful economies, with one of the lowest employment rates and the highest rates of citizen satisfaction. They have major exports all around the world. They haven’t integrated the environmental dimension yet, but they are showing that cooperating gives you a dam sight better result than the dog eat dog primate thing.”

What Will the World Look Like in 2040?

Guy Dauncey in the kitchen of his home near Ladysmith, B.C.
Guy Dauncey in the kitchen of his home near Ladysmith, B.C.- Roy L Hales photo

Dauncey foresees a future where the gap between rich and poor is less and housing is affordable for everyone.

“We have to reunify ourselves as one country, without the division between rich and poor. In addition to that, every business and bank will be operating on manifestly clear goals of social benefit and environmental benefit, as well as financial benefit.

Every business will be operating on 100% renewable energy. All transport will be on 100% renewable energy; all electricity; all buildings (will be on 100% renewable energy).

“There won’t be any fossil fuels used at all, except for very specialized situations like the folks who want to race their noisy cars – they can get an exemption.”

There will be factories operating 24/7 without a single person in them.

The employment problems this creates will be solved by establishing a basic income. We would set a goal of zero unemployment, which in practise means about 2% because people are changing jobs. It may be normal for people to take 6 months to a year off between jobs to do something interesting.

The Mondragon Corporation

An example of how this is the Mondragon Corporation, in Spain, which is owned by its’ 75,000 workers. The wage differential between the people running the company and workers is 1 to 9; as opposed to 1 to 900 (in North America). There are no layoffs when times get tough, everyone simply works for less hours or less money.

“There are many more intelligent ways of dealing with the ups and downs of the economy than just firing half the workers and saying sort yourselves out. You are on unemployment benefits.”

You Can Make A Difference

Guy holding the dog you hear barking at one point in the podcast
Guy holding the dog you hear barking at one point in the podcast- Roy L Hales photo

Dauncey believes that every one of us is important and, working together, we can make a difference.

“Nothing stands in the way of our making a difference. You can set out at the beginning of the day and say I am going to say nice things to five people today. I’m going to thank the person on the bus. I’m going to go out of my way when someone gives me a boring telemarketing thing, if it went well I’m going to say thank-you. You did a very good job. It felt good. Little things like that build a world of kindness, instead of a world of selfish greed.”

“The goal is not happiness. You can never achieve happiness by seeking it as a goal. Happiness comes when you act with kindness and generosity. It comes and sits on your shoulder.”

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