This Thursday, I finish a short course on alternative economies at the UC Extension, Osher LifeLong Learning Institute. We have covered, to varying degrees, the following: a civic economy, an economy of provisions, a commons economy, peer to peer economy, a sharing economy, a gift economy, a local economy, a sustainable economy, and a democratic economy. Lots of alternatives, and there are probably more. In reviewing them, I have come up with the following ten characteristics:
Ten Characteristics of “alternative economies.”
- They are more concrete and local than our current global financial economy.
- They are more specific about wealth than the abstract measurement of GDP or even the accumulation of assets.
- They focus more on the provisions of everyday life, such as food, housing, clothing, health, and entertainment instead of stocks and bonds.
- They rely more on relationships of trust than the self-interest of disconnected individuals.
- They are more contextual than most traditional economic thought.
- They include people and the planet in their vision instead of focusing only on profit maximization.
- They recognize the limits of growth.
- They elicit the participation of all instead of only property owners.
- They see themselves as belonging to the earth rather than the earth belonging to them.
- They are part of the future, if we are to have one.