Several years ago, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain, announced that "There is no alternative" to a world wide system of market based capitalism. This effectively meant that the economic development of lesser developed countries was to be left to market forces. Economic activity in these countries was to be focused on those commodities in which there was a 'comparative advantage' so that merchants in those countries could export those products and import other goods with the proceeds.
Sadly, the promise that export led growth would provide benefits to all people has been proven wrong. Growth which depends on market forces brings uneven benefits - some people are helped and some are hurt.
Thus arose a need for the creation of alternative economic models so that all people can choose how much to enter or how much to withdraw from the global economy.
This project is an attempt to find and publicize such alternative economic models.
The project was undertaken by calling for papers on the subject via several internet mailing lists. A prize of US $100.00 for the five winning essays was announced. Three judges were recruited and the essays began to arrive.
Some of the essays herein rely on local trading currencies or LETS systems to partially or completely disengage from the global system. There is much published on basic LETS systems and curious readers are directed to those works.
The winning essays presented here bring entirely new ideas as well as refinements to the LETS idea.
The five winning essays are as follows:
Blessed with abundant oil revenues, Alaska could have kept the money in government hands and let private business bid on state chosen projects. Instead, the revenues are distributed to the population with fascinating results.
Can the global tax system be revised to create more equal opportunities? Howard Wachtel thinks it can.
A locality cannot disengage from the global monetary system, you say? Well, it has already been done. Read how.
A revolutionary idea for bootstrapping, currently under field testing.
Can growth be financed by sharing ground rents (geonomics)? You be the judge of whether Henry George's ideas make sense today. But, bear in mind that the UN thinks it's a good idea.
The entries were judged by three volunteers who gave unsparingly of themselves.
"I am a member of the New Economics Foundation in London. I am a founder member and one of the directors of FEASTA, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability based in Dublin and I am co-editor with Richard Douthwaite of the first Feasta Review Whilst having no professional qualifications in economics, I did read PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at Oxford University. I practiced as a barrister at the Chancery Bar in London for 35 years. Through my work for the Sustainable London Trust and the London 21 Sustainability Network, and various boards I sit on, I am well aware of the effects of the existing regime and of the range of attempts being made to develop viable alternatives in London. I am also fairly well read in the literature of criticism of the current regime and am trying to become more comprehensive in my knowledge of the alternatives. "
Mr. Manning was kind enough to act as a judge and recuse himself from judging his own paper.
"I am a New Zealand lawyer resident in the Netherlands with more than 20 years' experience in the development of water pumping technologies for the world's poor, first with the spring rebound enertia handpump system then with the solar submersible horizontal axis piston pump technology. My experiences were such that I felt there must be a way whereby even the poorest in the world can finance their own development, and I have spent the last ten years writing the Model self-financing integrated development project the subject of my application."
"Three decades (1964-95) at the IMF and World Bank, including senior staff positions in each (most recently as Senior Advisor in the latter's Environment Department) with a transition year (1985) as external debt advisor to the Central Bank of Bolivia convinced me there must be a better approach to development. I was fortunate enough to have a sufficient variety of assignments in the Bretton Woods institutions and to have bosses who condoned my interest in the unorthodox but still found conditions so confining that I couldn't imagine finding that better approach while working within the system. I took early retirement to spend full time trying to figure it out, with special emphasis on how decentralized decision-making can be enfolded in today's top-down processes. I remain active in a number of processes, some feeding into the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, others concerning Southwest Florida where I live as well as ad hoc advising on projects I find worthwhile. "
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