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The dot-com boom seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? Pre-financial collapse. Pre- real estate collapse. Pre-9/11. Pre dot-com collapse. Pre-election 2000.

And yet even after all those things, life today for the mainstream culture bears a striking similarity to the dot-com era.

Well, the jobs are less numerous and many of the ones left don't pay so well. Techies in the 90s did much better than they do today. Ditto for advertising industry workers swimming in dot-com ad dollars raised in IPOs for vaporware start-ups that were going to make billions. (Thankfully, at least some did.)

In terms of consumption, though, we're still partying like it's 1999.

Lots and lots of stuff is still being bought, for many people more than they can possibly manage. And the reason we can still afford them in this recession for the 98% is that there are always countries, people and people who can be pinched. And that's what our government and corporations and their legions of toadies and the IMF and the World Bank are REALLY good at: converting other people's stuff and labor into "externalized costs," cheap products, and huge profits.

Exploitation, um, "externalized cost:" the bedrock of the American Way.

Don't worry. Soon enough today's economy will seem as distant as the dot-com era, probably more so. The further you are from the top now, the sooner the Class and Climate Wars are going to re-size your personal economy. Hell, most of the population is already feeling the contraction.

If we're smart, though, there could be upsides. In fact, it could get much better.

Jill Schor is one person thinking ahead. She recently gave her below vision of the economy in 2050. It assumes, of course, that we've been reasonably smart and are thus moving down the path to sustainability. If we're not, the economy will not only be much smaller but also even uglier than today. More overall Hobbesian.

In my 2050 we have people who work on average 16–20 hours in the formal economy at regular jobs, receiving regular paychecks. They meet their needs in a variety of other ways. They do some self-provisioning, for example growing food in high-tech, eco-knowledgeable ways—low-labor, high-yield growing technologies. They have a 3D printer that they can program to make small manufactured goods. The household is a little factory.

People are involved in a range of peer-production activities—that is, the kinds of collaborations we’ve seen online in the world of informational software and culture such as Wikipedia. It’s not-for-profit, collaborative, high quality, and operating according to a different economic model. There’s peer-to-peer exchange that’s possible in lots of activities and areas. I’m thinking of peer production in lodging and sites such as Couchsurfing and AirBnB, where peers make homes available to others for free or a small fee. We are seeing peer production in transportation and food.

In my future, people have more time to be involved in the production of things so if they only spend 20 hours at their jobs, they can make clothes or bake things and share with neighbors in exchange for another service. It’s an economy of sharing and peer-to-peer collaboration that frees people from high-impact lifestyles and long hours, because most of this activity is local and creative. One thing that people like is variety in how they spend their days. It’s the new economics of household production.  - Jill Schor, interview, Solutions

Of course, a choir of neoliberal economists and corporate and government lackeys and functionaries will continue to worship economic growth and the untethered, short-sighted consumption upon which it's based, blinded by habit, including greed, too afraid of losing familiar forms of security, comfort and status to transition to something more sustainable economically, environmentally, even socially. And their benefactor owner-priests will simply continue to siphon and stockpile the surpluses and fortify their increasingly militarized and gated cathedrals of capitalism, luxury retreats, and monuments to their insatiable egos.

Forward-looking thinkers like Jill Schor and David Korten (below) are the ones who are truly being practical, at least concerning the general welfare. They are members of a vanguard of this future now just ahead, a future that requires a "new economy," sized to this planet and shaped to the real priorities and values of inhabitants looking to sustain civilization long-term.

What? New Economy? Didn't the New Economy begin in the 80s, mature in the 90s and crash and burn already?

The term new economy has two sharply contrasting meanings. Let's call them New Economy 1.0 and New Economy 2.0.

In New Economy 1.0, money is the defining value and power resides in global financial markets.

In New Economy 2.0, life is the defining value and power resides in people and communities of place.

New Economy 1.0: Magical High-Tech Fantasy World

Investopedia defines New Economy  as "a buzzword describing new, high-growth industries that are on the cutting edge of technology and are the driving force of economic growth." This New Economy 1.0 envisions a globalized money-driven, perpetual-growth "High Tech Wonderland" of magical technologies and market forces that liberate humans from environmental constraints the economic growth. Global corporate monolith's competing for monopoly control of resources, technology, and markets to make money for rich investors continue to be a defining feature. New Economy 1.0 simply puts a new face on the Old Economy of financial values and concentrated power that traces back at least to the founding of the British East India Company in 1600 and now threatens our national and species viability.

[snip]

...New Economy 1.0 features a belief that  magical technologies and global market forces will save us from our environmental follies and eliminate barriers to accelerated rates of economic growth in perpetuity.

[snip]

[New Economy 2.0: Cooperative, Sustainable Civilization]

There is an important place in the New Economy 2.0 vision for advanced technologies and for global sharing of ideas and technology. This is particularly true for energy and communications technologies that wean us from dependence on fossil fuels and support and collective decision making on a global scale. New Economy 2.0 does not, however, assume that technology will magically save us from our reckless abuse of one another and nature. Rather technology is a facilitator of the deep transformation of values and institutions required to achieve an economic system that meets the needs of all in sustainable, creative balance with Earth's biosphere.

- David Korten, Beyond High Tech Fantasies, Living Economies Forum

Susan van Gelder is the Executive Editor of Yes! Magazine, a cornucopia of news, research findings, cases studies and living examples of people reaching out and exploring the future in which this new economy and the wider culture it serves exist outside small experiments. She recently had this to say about worker cooperatives and the reason that Yes! is so interested in them, the essence of which applies to the broader concept of new economy.
We've found that there's something very different that happens when human beings can make decisions driven by all of the things we care about: our communities, the freshness of our air and the [?] of our water, our children and their children down to the seventh generation, as our native friends say--all of these can come to the forefront if profit and loss statements and returning profits to those who are already wealthy isn't our dominant concern. -Sarah van Gelder
We do not have to be victims of the old new economy indefinitely. We simply need to be adventurous or courageous enough to invent a new new economy.

Juliet Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her PhD in economics at the University of Massachusetts.

Jill Schor has written extensively on Americans’ relationship to work, including her bestseller, The Overworked American. Her most recent book is True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans are creating a time-rich, ecologically-light, small-scale, high-satisfaction economy (formerly published as Plenitude). It is about the economics and sociology of ecological decline, and suggests a radical change in how we think about consumer goods, value, and ways to live. Schor is currently working on issues of environmental sustainability and its relation to Americans’ lifestyles, the economy, and the emergence of a conscious consumption movement. She is a cofounder and board member of the Center for a New American Dream, a national sustainability organization.
- Solutions

David Korten is considered a luminary of the New Economy movement. Some might say the foremost guiding light.

Dr. David C. Korten worked for more than thirty-five years in preeminent business, academic, and international development institutions before he turned away from the establishment to work exclusively with public interest citizen-action groups. He is the cofounder and board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group,  founder and president of the Living Economies Forum (formerly the People Centered Development Forum), a member of the Club of Rome, and a former board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and associate of the International Forum on Globalization.

Korten came to realize that the crisis of deepening poverty, inequality, environmental devastation, and social disintegration he observed in Asia was playing out in nearly every country in the world—including the United States and other “developed” countries. Furthermore, he concluded that the United States was actively promoting—both at home and abroad—the very policies that were deepening the crisis. If there were to be a positive human future, the United States must change. He returned to the United States in 1992 to share with his fellow Americans the lessons he had learned abroad.

Korten’s publications are required reading in university courses around the world. He has written numerous books, including Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism. He contributes regularly to edited books and professional journals, and to a wide variety of periodical publications. He is also a popular international speaker and a regular guest on talk radio and television. You can find lots of video of him on YouTube.

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Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺

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Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺ is a DKos Group. At the same time, specific Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺ are also Trade Secrets (heh...) to be revealed to, expanded upon and owned by people who pay attention and participate. :) It's going to take somewhere between 5-10 diaries to lay out the territory. IMO it's very interesting stuff and, of course, it's Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺. So it's got that going for it.

Two other groups, Affordable Sustainable Housing, and Intentional Communities Research and Development also address Stuff That Matters Most™☮ ♥ ☺, as will become evident directly. If I could I would probably put the diaries of those groups in folders for this group. Maybe DKos 6 or something. In lieu of that I will just include links to those groups in diaries of Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺.

When the territory becomes clearer to those paying attention :) I will be inviting contributors and encouraging people to inquire directly with me on that because it is more than one middle-aged, well-meaning curmudgeon can cover, though if there are no takers, I will still try, because, guess what? It Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺.


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Previous Stuff That Matters diaries:

Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺ 5.26.13 - The Story of Change
Stuff That Really Matters™☮ ♥ ☺ 5.24.13 - Growth By Consumption
Stuff That Really Matters
The Story of Stuff & Netroots Sustainability Dream Job In Berkeley?

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Selected Current Diaries That Matter In Other Ways ☮ ♥ ☺

Green diary rescue: The redwoods, the High Plains Aquifer and fracking ourselves crazy (Meteor Blades)

This week in the War on Workers: Low-wage workers keep pressuring fast food chains (Laura Clawson)

Hellraisers Journal: Dear Consumer, conditions in Bangladesh are your fault as Walmart profits! (JayRaye)

What's Happenin'? ☮ ♥ ☺ 5.25.13 (joanneleon)

In praise of farmers' markets (annetteboardman)

Why Reality is Inadmissible Evidence (cskendrick)

This week in the war on voting: Bipartisan election commission seen as weak tea by some critics (Meteor Blades

"All of the Above": Most Meaningless Slogan Ever (kindler)

Exposé - 80 Years of Planning: The Kochs + The Family + Birchers = TEA PARTY Disinformation Machine (War on Error)

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