Monthly Archives: November 2011

Global Wish List

Politicians and the media seem out of touch with what the people want: they struggle to make sense of the Occupy movement, the Spanish Indignados, the Arab Spring and what all these groups have in common. Clearly they, or should I say we, have no single coordinated leadership. This is an emergent process, it is up to each of us to offer ideas, and below I offer my personal list of demands.
Basically we all want an end to brutal dictatorships and gross inequality. We want more than regime change: we want systemic change. We want a world that is ecologically sustainable and socially just.
Here are a few policy recommendations that would help.
Raise, and save, funds of approx £/$ 10 to 20 Trillion per annum by:-

  • Introduce Pigovian taxes on pollution of all kinds, especially carbon taxes and nuclear fuel rod taxes.
    Close tax loopholes, tax havens, crack down on tax avoidance and tax evasion, and increase income taxes on the top 1% of global population.
    Introduce a one-off wealth tax, as advocated by Greg Philo and tie-in with increases in death duties.
  • Introduce Robin Hood tax on global financial transactions. Take the ability to create money as debt away from banks, as advocated by Positive Money.
  • Slash perverse subsidies to the fossil fuel, fishing, farming and infrastructure industries that currently subsidise ecologically unsustainable practices.
  • Slash global defence spending by 90% and put the remaining forces under UN control.
  • Also slash spending on roads, airports, high speed rail and other unnecessary and energy hungry projects.

Invest funds to maximise ecological sustainability and global social justice by:-

  • Many millions of jobs and apprenticeships could be created by improving the global housing stock: in cold countries building to Passive House standards and planning new settlements to One Planet Living standards.
  • In hotter poorer areas ensuring good water and sewage services is a key to improving health.
  • Even more jobs could be created in creating a global good food revolution. Amazingly good and useful examples should be studied, expanded and replicated: examples are Growing Power in Milwaukee, SEKEM in Egypt, Machakos miracle in Kenya, Zai pit cultivation and reforestation in Burkina Faso, Seawater Greenhouses for expanding possibilities in the deserts and the old New Alchemy Institutes super greenhouses for cold climates, plus of course the many community supported agriculture and other farms and allotments that help people have access to good fresh organic produce.
  • Converting the global economy to 100% renewables: everywhere needs to follow the Gussing model and look to their local resources and plan an energy efficient, balanced mix of local renewables, which especially in the case of bigger cities will need to be augmented with distant renewables like Desertec Solar.
  • Good governance will need to be promoted: the Aalborg Commitments expanded from local governance to include national and global standards of governance.
  • More funds will need to be invested in globally universal health care systems that are free at point of use and of the highest standards. The same applies for education.
  • Global full employment, with a legal minimum and maximum wage, and a good work-life balance…

I could go on. I do, in talks, evening classes and in the book I’m writing.

The Occupy Protest

I’ve just got back from London, where I spent a few hours with the Occupy group outside St Paul’s Cathedral. The level of organisation was impressive. Great care was being taken not to block access to the Cathedral, toilets and kitchens all seemed to function pretty well, a first aid post was manned by volunteer doctors and nurses, the information desk and library were well staffed and efficient. The fact that the Cathedral authorities had previously felt it necessary to close the Cathedral for a week seems to have been a case of ‘health and safety gone mad.’
The protesters have organised a ‘Tent City University’, open to anyone to present ideas, to listen, debate and to learn. Anyone can propose a session via their excellent website, They have attracted an impressive list of speakers including Richard Wilkinson, co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’, George Monbiot, Rupert Read and dozens of others, some well known, others not. I gave a talk on ‘Ideas for a Sustainable Future’, which generated a good level of interest and debate. This afternoon, Wednesday 9th November, there will be a demonstration and folk concert featuring many of the best known political singers of the last half century, including Peggy Seeger, Billy Bragg, Roy Bailey, Leon Rosselson amongst others.
These demonstrations and occupations are the tip of an iceberg. Rage against the increasing inequality that debt driven consumer capitalism is generating is on the rise globally. Reports that UK directors pay rose by 50% last year while austerity measures forced more of us into financial difficulties are provoking anger on a scale I’ve not seen since the days of Thatcher and the Poll Tax protests.
Global political and financial leaders seem ever more out of touch with the people, and remind me more and more of the Communist leaders in Eastern Europe in the months and years before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, mouthing political and economic rhetoric nobody believes any longer. The people and the planet are crying out for change. The next blog will be my Global Wish List!