The high standard of living in many industrial countries is only possible, because their societies are living beyond their means: economically, ecologically, and socially, with global consequences.
The guideline of sustainability seeks to create a balance between the needs of current generations and those to come. However, the guideline is often limited to ecological aspects, or perhaps supplemented by social themes. In particular, economical components are excluded. Escalating national debt, financial loopholes in the mandatory provision for old age, questions concerning currency- and monetary policy, and global economical interrelations are of elemental significance for long-term sustainable behavior. At the same time, they have an elemental influence upon the ecological damages.
Additionally, there is another point: policy and administration intervene in a variety of systems (i.e. pension, transportation, agricultural, and ecological systems), supposedly to regulate, when they do not even fully know their behavior. In this manner as well, the difficulties continue to increase, and the self-regulation of systems is prevented.
The short-sighted, short-term, and unmethodical manner of dealing with systems and problems is intensifying the situation resulting from society’s living beyond its means, because it leads to the wasting of ecological and economical goods. One of the causes for this lies in the lack of cost transparency and real value of systems, products, and services: “We know the price of everything, and the value of nothing” (quote from Werner Schenkel). Through diverse subsidies, the cost and value of, for instance, social security, health care, transportation, energy production, and from foodstuffs are veiled. At the same time, the cost of government purchases and transfers is lacking in transparency. And finally, there is no place in cost accounting for the use of ecological resources and the destruction of ecological systems. Due to the fact that prices do not reflect true costs, structural problems remain in effect, and many absurdities development.
The negative pinnacle of non-systemic thinking is the idea of being able to solve economical problems through permanent growth. Such a strategy must lead unerringly into crisis, due to exponential growth. Permanent economical growth, the endless multiplication of money through interest in present form, the enormous expansion of the national debt, the constant redistribution of capital from workers to owners and the principal of provision for old age - they are all based upon exponential development or are subject to it. And they are not possible long-term. It is necessary to discuss and define social goals that give policy a clear direction and help to avoid operations without any clear and sustainable overall direction. These goals must support behavior which guarantees the stability of the ecological, economical, and social systems, while enhancing the needs of current and future generations.
- living at the expense of particular groups of society;
- national debt;
- the problems of social security;
- living at the expense of other countries and their populations;
- ecological indebtedness.
- the stability of systems and their viability;
- national economy;
- social work;
- culture and education;
- generative global conditions.
Based upon the findings of the analysis, and taking the basic rules for sustainable behavior into consideration, an integral conceptual outline is elaborated, which follows the following premises:
- a fair balance within generations;
- a fair balance between generations;
- fair international relationships;
- the stability and controllability of systems;
- the efficient use of economical and ecological resources;
- the protection of the environment.
For a variety of themes, the book demonstrates within a total concept, how society can develop in the direction of sustainability, and which measures are necessary. Keywords are, for instance:
- economic policy;
- financial policy;
- tax and revenue systems;
- comprehension and organization of the state;
- labor market;
- social system;
- international trade;
- the role of the citizen;
organization of policy.
current structures and measures are revealed as illusion by the book;
holistic suggestions are placed in opposition to them.
Together with the introductory analysis of the current situation, the conceptual outline developed in the book shows clearly that today’s structures and current behavior cannot solve the pressing problems. A decisive revision is therefore necessary - a new beginning.
Andreas Becker, Studienbuero Jetzt
„Zukunftsfähige Politik: Volkswirtschaftliche, ökologische und soziale Aspekte vernetzt“.*
München: ökom verlag, 2001. 212 pages.
ISBN 3-928-24472-8, Euro 17,00. Out of print.