Can inequality within and between societies be explained in terms of merit and intelligence, or are the most important determinants of inequality beyond individual control? Both economist Henry George and geographer Jared Diamond essentially asked this same question, examining the fundamental forces that have shaped human history. They come to startlingly similar conclusions. These similarities have not, until now, been connected and compared so directly.
Walter Stahel, architect and industrial analyst, argues that the circular economy should be considered a framework: as a generic notion, the circular economy draws on several more specific approaches that gravitate around a set of basic principles.
Introductory summary and selected excerpts from a key read by Vincent Moreau, Marlyne Sahakian, Pascal van Griethuysen, and François Vuille, appearing in the Journal of Industrial Ecology dated 28 April 2017. We can strongly recommend the full contents of the Special Issue of that date: “Exploring the Circular Economy”.
In light of the environmental consequences of linear production and consumption processes, the circular economy (CE) is gaining momentum as a concept and practice, promoting closed material cycles by focusing on multiple strategies from material recycling to product reuse, as well as rethinking production and consumption chains toward increased resource efficiency.
Yet, by considering mainly cost-effective opportunities within the realm of economic competitiveness, it stops short of grappling with the institutional and social predispositions necessary for societal transitions to a CE.
Although the entropy law remains intransigent, institutional conditions and societal values can be challenged and transformed through political processes, in order to usher in a more equitable and circular economy.
To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Gentlemen:
You are on the right track. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic market for domestic industry.
We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for your — what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice — your practice without theory and without principle.
For some time a small group of ecological economists has been suggesting that we switch the tax base from income (value added to natural resources by labor and capital), and on to natural resources themselves. Value added to resources is something we want more of, so don’t tax it (either at each stage of production as in Europe, or at the final stage as income as in the U.S.). Continue reading