Building the New American Economy:
Smart, Fair and Sustainable
Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University Press
New York, 2017
The SIMPOL Solution
John Bunzl and Nick Duffell
Peter Owen Publishers, London 23017
By Hazel Henderson © 2017
These two books separately offer strategies for the ongoing global transition from the early fossil-fueled industrial era to the cleaner, greener knowledge-richer future. These strategies are clearly convergent. Yet the three authors seem not to have communicated—even though both books cite US Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and his 2016 election campaign. Author Sachs has transcended his earlier advocacy of economic orthodoxy in the “shock treatment” policies that shifted post-communist countries to capitalism after the fall of the Soviet Union. These policies led to auctioning off many public assets and resources to a new generation of robber barons, such as today’s Russian oligarchs and to the kleptocracies in former Soviet dominated countries.
Sachs overcame his reliance on these top-down textbook macroeconomic recipes for capitalist market-driven, GDP-measured “growth”. After assuming the leadership of the Earth Institute funded by critics, Sachs also opposed this model of globalization: deregulation, privatization and “free” trade promised in the 1980’s by President Reagan in the USA and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Britain . The Earth Institute, now folded into the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, expanded Sachs earlier economic view by embracing global issues of inequality, poverty and environmental destruction—often worsened by the orthodox economics fraternity. Their GDP-measured growth and financial models proved unsustainable and today’s accountants espouse the IIRC and SASB model of six forms of capital: finance, built, intellectual, social, human and natural assets. They measure corporate performance by the extent to which companies enhance or degrade all six forms of wealth. www.cimaglobal.com
The evolution of Jeffrey Sachs thinking led to his “The Price of Civilization” (2012) and “The Age of Sustainable Development” (2015). With this latest book Building the New American Economy, with its Forward by Bernie Sanders, Sachs conversion beyond economics is complete. Like many of his former brethren, Sachs now openly criticizes the illusionary macroeconomics-driven globalization and embraces the critiques of other disciplines and the evidence of its victims. Predictable populist revolts upended politics in Brexit, Trump’s USA and influence the coming elections in Europe in 2017 and 2018. Sachs masterfully critiques all the errors of market-led globalization and it’s textbook financial models that led to the excesses of speculation, securitization, derivatives, high-frequency trading and their collapse in 2008. Sachs follows my similar critiques in “Paradigms In Progress” (1991) and “”Building a Win-Win World” (1996).
Solutions Sachs outlines in this latest volume follow closely the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate accords in Paris at COP 21— all now ratified by 195 nations since 2015. These global goals set out the new model of human development beyond economics and its fiat currency-denominated GDP growth model. This obsolete model is driving global climate change and ever greater disruption of ecosystems and devastating floods, droughts and violent weather patterns. Sachs advocates phasing out fossil fuel use and accelerating the technological shift to solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and ocean power. These are already well developed and ripe for major additional investment shifts and driving over $81 billion in 2016 and another $21 billion so far in 2017of green bonds for new green infrastructure. Private sector investments in green sectors globally since 2007 top $1.7 trillion (www.greentransitionscoreboard.com).
Similar plans in “Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age” (2014) are based on the shift from theory-induced blindness of economics to Earth Systems Science and real-time data on planetary conditions provided by today’s 120 Earth observing satellites of NASA, the European Space Agency and others collaborating in the GEO global consortium. Thus Sachs is in full agreement with all those advocating this new form of green “glocalization” now occurring in the indicated National Development Plans (NDPs) submitted by most of the UN’s195 member nations and ratified by their grassroots, NGO and scientific networks in the final SDGs.
In the “SIMPOL Solution” authors Bunzl and Duffell agree with all this new thinking—yet do not mention the SDGs and indicated National Development Plans since COP21 and COP22 in 2016. For full disclosure, I have been a supporter of SIMPOL ever since Bunzl and our mutual friend James Robertson co-authored “Monetary Reform: Making It Happen” (2003). Seemingly, Sachs and Bernie Sanders, as well as Bunzl and Duffell are pushing on an open door! The simultaneous policy approach: pressure from citizens in all countries and grassroots globalists supporting this new form of green, inclusive globalization I described in “Beyond Globalization” (2000) may now be achievable! Through social media, crowdfunding, and organizing, millions of empowered planetary citizens are coordinating their domestic campaigns internationally with global campaigners for social justice and ecological sanity as we report daily on www.ethicalmarkets.com. All voters at the local, state, national and global levels, in fact, can now focus simultaneously on politicians to comply and sign pledges for global agreements and further cooperation. These voters have grassroots and NGO supporters of this new form of green, equitable inclusive globalization which can be achieved by coordinating their domestic campaigns internationally with global campaigners for social justice and focus simultaneously on politicians to comply.
So authors, Sachs, Bunzl and Duffell basically agree on the new “green” glocalization” model—calling for citizen action and mobilization such as in Bernie Sanders US campaign and the 3 million voters who supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. The simultaneous women-led marches around the world on January 21st, 2017 are powerful, visionary global messages. Most of these peaceful demonstrators were rejecting the rearview mirror return to the 19th & 20th century restoration of fossilized economies, whether by Breitbart News, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, Brexiters and other nativist-economic nationalists Nigel Lafarge, Marine LePen, Gert Wilders and others.
SIMPOL rests on four principles:
Simultaneous implementation of the new model and policies in every country—so none can take competitive advantage—all can win and the Destructive Global Competition (DGC) win-lose vicious circle is broken.
A win-win, multi-issue framework—now achievable with the UN’s SDGs and the intended NDPs of all member countries, committed since 2015 to phase out fossil fuels and shift to cleaner more equitable, inclusive, knowledge-rich green economies.
Aligning the voters in all countries to drive politicians toward these now shared and ratified global goals. Campaigning simultaneously at home and by global social media to illuminate the fact that win-win cooperation is superior to win-lose global competition on the small endangered planet we share with all and other life forms.
SIMPOL is based on a deep dive into behavioral science by co-author Nick Duffell, citing many pioneering studies.
I would add a deeper focus on the role of mass media and advertising shaping our culture, beliefs, brands and memes, still mis-educating millions into consumerist, competitive values. The EthicMark®Awards for advertising raises the bar, rewarding globally responsible ad campaigns (www.ethicmark.org). We all live in mediocracies under whatever form of government or corporate regime! We also need an updated 21st century version of Britain’s Habeas Corpus (ownership of one’s own body) enacted in 1215 to protect the integrity of individuals. Today an Information Habeas Corpus can assure ownership of one’s mind and all personal information produced. I outlined this in the “The Idiocy of Things Requires a New Information Habeas Corpus”.
All three authors acknowledge the roadblocks of special interests in fossilized sectors; money in politics and human cognitive biases, different levels of maturity, tribalism and short-sighted views. All focus on the need for access to widespread education (now free on MOOC’s worldwide); as well as universal health care. They all recognize theory-induced blindness in academia and think tanks, as well as politicians still denying climate science and even Darwin’s theory of evolution, and how these rearview policies still subsidize obsolete sectors, practices and technologies.
I hope this review will introduce these three authors, Sachs, Bunzl and Duffell to each other! SIMPOL can now proceed by acknowledging the UN’s many global agreements and norm-setting cooperative work and the growing ranks of “Planetary Citizens” (2004) supporting the UN SDGs and the NDCs in COP 21 & 22!