The Big Shift: Rethinking Money, Tax, Welfare and Governance for the Next Economic System
by Deirdre Kent
This book was launched at the Living Economies EXPO, 31st March – 2nd April, in Lyttelton. Many of the topics in it were discussed during the three days of inspiring presentations, panels, Open Space discussions and free-time chats.
It’s a very short book, 93 pages, and can easily be read in one morning if you don’t follow up on the many footnotes indicating useful backup information in books (some in LIFT) and online links.
Most of it will be easily understood by the common reader with no background in economics, because it is full of real examples of failures and successes of various methods of managing economic systems.
Unlike most books on the topic, the author presents on p.5 a summary of the book’s proposed new system, so you don’t have to plough through the background to reach the conclusions. Then you get the detailed proposals, with examples of past and present failures that cause the need for change, and successes proving the value of the suggestions. Climate change is one of the big risks the world faces, especially with the fossil fuel issue, bringing the need for action now in the economic world, if we want to successfully adapt to the next economic collapse. Buckminster Fuller is quoted: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” This book’s new model will include a money system, a tax-and-dividend system and a partnership model of governance.
“1. From bank-created money to a consciously designed and publicly created and controlled currency.
2. From ‘ownership’ of land and resources to sharing the values of the commons.
3. From domination to partnership.”
Why should a reader who is not an economist read this book?
“Though banks and oil giants have size going for them and ‘corporations rule the world’, their size is also their weakness……Smaller groups can be more nimble.” Think of the effectiveness in NZ of the waves of small-group action in the anti-smoking movement, and the Nuclear-Free groups. “If small communities reassert their right to govern and reclaim some major functions, the corporations won’t know who to sue first.”
And here in Lyttelton and greater Christchurch we already are stepping along the way of transition, for example with worker cooperatives, social enterprises, savings pools (and hopefully Christchurch dollars); in other parts of New Zealand other initiatives have been set up – land value rating (local tax) systems in Wellington and Napier, and a community land trust for Kotare village; and public banks rather than private have been hugely successful in the BRIC countries.
The book concludes with 20 brief statements of the positive results of this “BIG SHIFT”. My favourite is “No.2 - New life in industry, and a sea change in horticultural and agriculture methods.” But I applaud all of them!