Welcome to a new way to network – Every Tuesday morning.
Every Tuesday we explore business issues, reports and feature ethical businesses to help us find the best products and services. It is open to Rotarians and non Rotarians alike.
When we asked eRotarian Simon Carter to introduce his business concept he was clear that at this moment he was still working on it. “It is very different from anything I have ever been involved in before as it will be grounded in what is increasingly being described as the ‘new economy'” he said. Simon shares his story here.
The new economy is still below the radar. It focuses on what is increasingly described as the triple bottom line, namely people, planet & profit, ideally in that order. Interestingly I had only recently heard it described as the quadruple bottom line, with a fourth p added of ‘power of place’. Are Rotarians on to something when we say ‘We’re for Communities’?
Transition started as a consequence of a concern about peak oil & climate change. Peak oil basically says that we have found all the cheap accessible sources of fossil fuel & are becoming increasingly desperate in our search for more, hence fracking, tar sands, & drilling in extreme environments at the bottom of the ocean or at the poles. You can question climate change science but not environmental devastation. Meanwhile we make little or no effort to wean ourselves off our dependency on oil in the West whilst the rest of the world frantically seeks to ‘achieve’ our life style. This is not simply manifest in our transportation system, but pretty much every industry, not least of all industrial scale agriculture, petro chemical & pharmaceutical. There is short four minute video REconomy Project Website.
Transition/REconomy is fascinating because it refuses to be anything other than positive about the future, but it does not advocate drum beating. Rather it encourages individual often spontaneous projects which set about creating a post-industrial age economy. Such projects are community orientated and designed to achieve sustainability & resilience largely in the areas of food and energy self-reliance. We know how fragile these fundamental needs are within the context of our economic system. We’ve all experienced panic within days when truckers cannot supply our local supermarket or our local petrol forecourt.
Another major area of concern to Transition is our monetary system. Our money is what is called fiat. It is not simply a benign medium of exchange. It has value purely based upon our faith in it and only as long as that continues, which is by no means guaranteed. It is created from nothing, almost exclusively by private banks when they make interest-bearing loans. The bank lends a tenner that it doesn’t have and expects interest on it that doesn’t exist. By definition there is less money in circulation than money plus interest. The only way to repay the interest is to make more loans (more debt) in order to create more money. Colloquially this is known as a Ponzi scheme and all Ponzi schemes ultimately collapse. This was avoided in 2008 by creating massive amounts of new debt, which basically means we kicked the can down the road.
This monetary system worked very well during a sustained period of economic growth where the trajectory was ultimately upwards, despite boom & bust along the way but it has no where to go if economic growth does not return. The only other option is austerity.
Sooner or later we must find an alternative to the economics of the mad house where some benefit at the expense of the many. Especially when the some become fewer & benefit more than ever, whilst the many grow and benefit less than ever. That is manifest in increasing economic disparity between rich & poor. Increasingly we have to run to stand still & even those in employment are having increasingly to turn to charity such as food banks.
It is against this backdrop that my own business continues to take shape. It has particular relevance within the context of Rotary’s own evolution because undoubtedly a lot of our members have done well out of the system that has arguably caused a lot more problems that it has solved. The generation is sometimes described as the baby boomers, perhaps the luckiest generation in history.
Is that why we endeavour to ‘give back’? Do we appreciate our good fortune? That would be my interpretation of most Rotarians. As an organisation we live in rapidly changing times and we must change with them. I believe that Rotary for the 21st Century must look very different from Rotary of the 20th. This may go some way to explaining its evolutionary ‘transition’ pains.
Like Transition, our eClub in the main adopts a positive optimistic can do approach. I know Transition as an organisation would work very well with a new Rotary for the new economy.
For a better understanding of this new economy, why it is necessary & what it might look like I can recommend this twelve minute video.
Simon Carter Transition Movement.