Jan 11, 2011

The Economics of Happiness

The room was packed. In spite of storm warnings – and the oh –so Seattle fear of snow – Several dozed people stood in the street hoping to get in until finally the doorkeeper gave in and let them in. This made the room totally packed. The screening of The Economics of Happiness was something to see.

Who was there? Friends of Yes Magazine, 350.0rg, Compassionate Action Network, Transition Towns, SCALLOPS, Ecopraxis, Seattle Good Business Network (formerly BALLE), the international Society for Ecology and Culture and, of course, Sustainable Seattle.

They came to watch the film The Economics of Happiness. It told a story of the transformation of a happy town that knew no hunger, knew no poverty, and knew no material excess (they don’t have that problem of trying to keep the cupboards tidy when there is soooo much stuff and it keeps coming). The transition? Globalization. Then changes in taste - a taste for excess. Changes in values – greed becomes good. Changes in culture – MacDonald’s, Coach and Ipods are expressions of self and love.

Where are we headed? A globe industrialized. A climate changed. Depletion of natural resources on the earths surface and under it. Waste abounding. A GINI growing index ( the Gini index measure the inequality of wealth distribution, 0 is total equality and 1 is maximum inequality. )

The solution? The Economics of Happiness tells us the solution is a local based economy. Lose globalization. Lose the large corporations Lose an economic system that encourages consumerism. Localize the economy. Governmental regulation, taxation and subsidy programs focused on a local economy not global economy

A local economy is an important step but frankly, it’s not just the economy- stupid. Sustainable Seattle takes a holistic view of sustainability. It is important to look at all the pieces in the whole. The economy is an important piece, but not the only piece and if we don’t understand how everything works together, we will end up in the same but different place. Yes to a local economy. And yes to other goals to focus on.

Let’s take the Gross National happiness Index, which we are using for our 5th set of sustainability indicators. With that, we focus on 9 interdependent domains:


Do we have the capacity to focus on more than one thing? Isn’t it easier to just focus on a local economy, after all, people can’t really handle more than one thing at a time can they? John de Graaf spoke along side David Korten, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Robert L. Jeffrey Sr.

We humans are smarter than we often give ourselves credit for. This sustainability revolution that has so many organizations, so many initiatives, and so many people is asking people to take a holistic view – to look at solutions that consider all the pieces so we don’t end up in the same but different place.

Yes to a local economy, and yes to a lot more than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment