The Economy for the Common Good - Christian Felber



hello everybody today and the honor to present you briefly a new economic model do we need a new economic model according to an opinion poll in Germany and Austria 88% of the people in Germany and even 90 percent of the people in Austria asked for a new economic order not reforms but a new economic system and the question is shall our economic system become more ecological shall it become more socially just shall it become more regional to a certain extent less globalized shall it become more solidary shift the focus from competition to cooperation solidary economy or shall human dignity become the center of the economic activity but not only as a moral call but also in the indicators of economic success and the answer of the common welfare economy is that we should have more of all these knives goals and values and the concept of common welfare is not a new one it has been used in history since the 13th century Thomas Vanek lean created the Latin word Boehm communal and it has been introduced into nearly all Constitution of Western democracies how did the common welfare economy concept develop it was a group of 15 Austrian companies who together with me will not satisfied with the present rules of the game of economy and legal rules of the game of economy and they said let's create a different game and the basic analysis is that the two fundamental rules of the game of the present economic system which are for profit orientation is the main goal of companies and competition of which is the the form in which we relate to each other in the so-called free market that these rules of the game enhance completely different behaviors and values then those values and behaviors that allow flourishing or into human and ecological relationships if you ask people wherever in the world which are the values and behaviors that allow flourish your relationships in the whole world there are several is the same people say this is trust building this is honesty this is respect cooperation solidarity caring and sharing this is these are the values that allow our relationships to to flourish and if we ask which behaviors and values are enhanced by for profit orientation and competition then in the whole world people say these values are it wisdom greed recklessness irresponsibility and even violent behaviors and this is a very strong contradiction and the proposal of the common welfare economy is thus to substitute these rules of the game by another tool which is the strife for the common welfare as the highest goal of all enterprises and cooperation and we calculate that if we change these legal rules of the game that human and ecologically sustainable and responsive responses will be Hey will flourish in the same manner as today egoism and greed are spreading but not due to human nature but due to the legal rules of the game and how do we want to change the rules of the game and what would it exactly mean to substitute for profit orientation and competition by the strive for the common welfare and cooperation the most important thing is to not only set a new goal for all enterprises which is to strive for the common welfare but also to define economic success with exactly this meaning today we measure economic success on two levels the the national economy and macroeconomic level and the micro economic level of our company here we measure economic success with the GDP the gross domestic product and on the level of company with the financial profit and both success indicators are monetary indicators but money has certain advantages but it has a very strong disadvantage which is that it is not able to measure or what is really valuable our basic needs the satisfaction of our basic needs life quality or fundamental values of a society I hope I can illustrate that with the question if a rising GDP tells us anything secure about the question if we live in peace or in war if we live in a democracy or in a dictatorship if we destroy our ecological environment or if we save it if it is to build just and everyone has enough to eat a livelihood or if some are poor and excluded from from the welfare and if in a society trust is rising or maybe mistrust and fear from a rising GDP we don't get any reliable information of the development of of one of those indicators those values that are the most important ones for our well-being and life quality and the proposal is to measure directly the goals of the economy and this means that we would on the macroeconomic level substitute the GDP by product of common welfare and the common welfare measures directly those 15 life quality indicators the satisfaction of basic needs and our fundamental social and cultural values and their fulfillment from health ecological stability satisfaction of basic needs relationship quality gender equality democracy co determination and welfare of time for instance so we will easily find the 10 or 20 factors of real life quality if we try to figure them out in participatory democratic processes and on the micro economic level of a single company we propose to repeat the same because a rising financial profit of company which is its today's most important indicator of success again does not tell us anything reliable about the contribution of the company to the social well-being if the company creates or destroys employment if the working conditions improve or get worse if women treated equally or just paid the half for the same work if the company cares about environment or doesn't if the company produces arms or biological foot we don't get any reliable information of the two days success indicator of a company and that's why we proposed to measure the contribution of a company to the common welfare which is the overall goal of the economy of a national economy with a new indicator of success which is the common welfare benefit and the Commonwealth our balance sheet measures the contribution of the company to the above-mentioned factors of life quality satisfaction of fundamental needs and our core values more concrete in the Commonwealth a balance sheet we measure how a company fulfills and lifts the five basic values which are already in our constitutions human dignity solidarity social justice ecological sustainability and democracy and the common welfare balance sheet measures how a company lives these values against all stakeholders of the company from the other companies where it buys its for products until the future generations the whole spectrum of stakeholders more concretely measure does the product or the service which is provided by the company really have a meaning how are the working conditions how is the distribution of the income are men and women treated equally how ecological is the product and the production process and do those who are doing the work also have a word in the decisions within the company these are six questions but the the present version of the common welfare balance sheet comprises 18 common welfare indicators and all companies no matter how small or big which branch or which legal form it has can achieve between zero and one thousand common welfare points and we could divide this possible common welfare balance sheet results in five steps and marked them with five colors and on every product like a book we're usually the barcode is you could you could color the barcode in 105 common welfare steps achieved and if you go with your handy or little apparatus above the barcode then on the display of the handy you have the whole common welfare balance sheet of the company on online and you can immediately check if you're a critical consumer if the product is only regional or also biological or if it is only regional and biological but women are not getting the same pay as Maine so you finally have in the first time of history a very comprehensive information for a critical consumers decision this is by the way one of the fundamental promises of the market economy in theory and the Camilleri economy in this case provides this promise of the theoretical market economy in the second step we need another instrument because even if consumers know how ethical product or service is the price today is usually higher than the price of products that are not as responsible ethical fairly produced and traded and ecological and this is an expression that it wisdom and irresponsibility in today's economic model is even rewarded irresponsibility and egoism leads to success due to this price relation of unfair and fair products and the cause for this are these two fundamental rules of the game for profit orientation and competition and our calculation is that if we change the fundamental rules of the game by these other two then the price relation will change here and when the fair products and the ethical products are only a little bit more economic to consumers than or not fair ones then everybody will buy the fair and ethical and responsible products and the means by which we suggest to achieve this result is that the better a companies by common welfare by a balance sheet is the lower are the texas the companies bias and the higher architects with a company paced if if the results are bad the lower are the tariffs in international trade and the higher auditors the better are the loan conditions with the democratic banks we're also building a democratic bank at the moment in austria and in the public procurement cities and states first take a look at the common welfare balance sheet and the second look they take in the price and all altogether these measures and other measures which have not in enumerated now will have the effect that the ethical products will be cheaper than the non ethical product and that the most responsible companies will stay in the market bearers and the most interest expense of a companies will vanish we also proposed to limit the use of financial superrabbit of the of the of the companies we would like to still allow the use of financial profits for investment of course for the payment of the purchase of course for the repayment of bank loans of course and for some other useful uses but we propose to not allow any longer to use financial profits to eat up another company to invest those financial surpluses on the financial markets to give the money out of the company to people who do not work in the company and to give donations to political parties with these four limitations to the use of financial profits of companies we hope to overcome some core elements of capitalism which are harmful to the common welfare at the moment third we proposed to limit inequalities for instance in income today we have no limitation of the inequality of income which has the result that some people work for a couple of euros or pounds or dollars per hour and others gain as it is the case in the United States States three hundred and fifty thousand times more for the same hours worked the highest income in these days in a year is today five billion dollars and this is too much and we proposed to make a democratic process and to ask people do you want to limit income inequality if people say no we don't want to limit well then people should have their say and we even we would not like to limit it because it's a democratic decision but if people say we want to limit inequality to a certain measure that we deem as just then we make a law out of this proportion maybe it will be 10 times more maybe it will be 20 times more maybe it will be seven times more we don't know although actually I have made a survey in my speeches in six countries more than 300 times with nearly 50,000 people and the result in nine of ten cases is always the same if people could could take the decision they would determine that the highest income in the national economy or in the European Union or in whichever whichever area should not be higher than ten times the legal minimum wage for the same working time and this is already an indication how we how we want to make the strategy how we propose to implement the model we just give some inspirational input but we don't say the 20 elements of which the common welfare economy is comprised it's not 20 elements alternative economic order shall not be implemented as we propose them no that's not the way we propose our proposal is to just post the questions in constitutional assemblies in the first in a first steak on the communal level of the small towns and cities and villages and in on this in this on this first level people will make the experience that they are able to determine the 10 or 20 or 15 fundamental rules of the game of economy the legal rules of the game of the economy which would be the economic constitute the economic part of the constitutions and on the basis of this consciousness rising and awareness rising that we are free people and we can freely determine the rules of the game of economy which is not a natural law it's a it's a totally artificial product of a democratic society and in a democracy we are able to deny to determine all legal decisions and even the economic constitutional part that basis we would like to repeat the same procedure on the national level or maybe even on the level of the European Union and then we would have for the first time in history an economic order that has been created in a democratic process by the people how realistic do we deem this proposal we started not even one and a half years ago in Vienna we made the first call to especially the companies in Austria and immediately one hundred people came to the West to the to the first very small meeting and on the same day it was October 6th in 2010 a real social movement broke out the social movement has reached eight countries in three continents at the moment Europe Africa and Latin America and more than 550 companies support the initiative 200 companies from eight countries will implement the common welfare balance sheet voluntarily and so-called energy fields which are local groups of support of the model are also creating in more and more countries from Austria Germany Italy Switzerland to Spain and even Argentine at the moment and maybe the last thing I tell about the model is that we have provided very easy tools for every person to participate you can create in your town in your village a common welfare energy field for all companies you can immediately implement the common welfare balance sheet and for all communities in your community you can organize the economic convention or assembly to figure out which are the 15 most important life quality indicators and which are the 15 most fundamental rules of the game of economy and you can turn your community into a common welfare community so I hope I I have not only presented a concrete alternative to both to capitalist market society and centrally planned economy but also have been able to describe that it has already become a social movement and that everyone can and is normally welcome to join this movement you can get further information so far in books that has been published in German and French for the moment but in this year the book will be published also in Spain in Spanish and in it in Italy and it and hopefully also soon in English for the moment you can take a look at the website which is common – welfare – economy dot org see you there




Comments
  1. Something of this nature is necessary to save our planet and economy. It is not socialism nor capitalism it is another -ism entirely that respects human beings and our planet.

  2. Endlich eine kurze und gute Zusammenfassung. Der Inhalt ist perfekt, es fehlt aber noch ein anständiges Video das alles besser veranschaulicht, und es wäre besser in Muttersprache Englisch (sowie in anderen Sprachen), dann denke ich könnte das viral werden! 🙂 

  3. Last week, Economy for the Common Good (ECG) appeared for the first time in an important UK newspaper, "The Guardian". Hopefully this 2014 ECG will spread in UK and USA!
    http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/values-led-business-morals-economy-common-good

  4. Italian politicians are getting 30 times the basic Italian worker income,and we are trying to make them reduce it and have never succeeded so far…These days there are some active protest especially to reduce taxes and leave some oxygen for people who work only to maintain these pigs….Just how we can progress towards this wonderful new models?

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  6. Yes this looks to be a positive and workable way forward towards what we, in Australia, espouse as a core value, viz. a "fairgo" for all.
    It also seems to accord with the ancient wisdom of Confucius …"The wise person organises society so that, like a plant, all parts cooperate together for the benefit of the whole. I want to offer my support in any way I can assist the Common Welfare Economy. Forward Ho! Cheers

  7. Can we create a fairer economy? We would love you to share this crowdfunding documentary project on the Economy for the Common Good
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    WEB: ecg-documentary . com
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  8. Mr. Felber, I have done a lot of similar thinking but would like to give you important feedback. I have also written a 30 page paper that I can send you with a very different approach. Specifically, mine deals with near-term fixes for the current recession. I feel your thinking, like mine on this topic, is more realistically a mid-long term goal. And current political-economic structure I think would block your goals. Please contact me to discuss. [email protected]

  9. Present at the Zermatt Summit, he questioned Manfred Max-Neef (Father of barefoot Economics) in a video on YouTube, asking very pertinent questions…wonderful synthesis!

  10. not all the arguments make sense to me – but i like the logic – unfortunately your lectures at viennas economics university are not accessible for economic students but just for students of business admin – that is a pity

  11. Inspiring…caring and well balanced thinking which may fill the cognitive gap present when one looks for a fundamental reorganization of the manner of doing business today. l will look into it as an economic template for my upcoming wellness clinic project in Cleveland Ohio. Great work Christian!

  12. OH Finally! I have been expecting this video for ages!! THANK YOU sincerely 🙂
    Regards from Occupy Spain

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