We’ve already seen in stark reality what happens when we stop consuming. The fear that all 3 automakers would close up and release 5-10 million people into the ranks of the unemployed has everyone shaking in their boots. It isn’t just the auto factories—it’s all the parts suppliers, service bays and advertising companies, etc., that will close up too that makes obvious how dependent our entire economy is on consumption.
There are many who would like to think that the recession/depression is just a temporary thing. But global warming, resource depletion, and other significant factors all point to the fact that this consumer economy will never return to levels we’ve experienced over the last 50 years. This is not just a housing bubble or a temporary over-supply issue this time. Recent writings from the world’s economists and other such sources confirm this. Deep down, we all know it on some levels, yet it creates such cognitive dissonance when we say it out loud—that we just refuse to say it!
Right now in the US, 70% of our economy is tied to consumption on some level—that’s 96 million people employed through this sector. Globally, the number employed/linked to consumption is staggering. Just look at two countries—the US and China. When the US stops consuming then China stops producing. When China stops producing, how will a nation of a billion people be able to replace all this work?
Over the next 10 years, as we downshift on consumption, the numbers are overwhelming of how many will become unemployed throughout the globe. We’ve been in a consumer economy for so long that we seem unable or unwilling to confront this reality and create new solutions and options on which to build our economy. There will be no major source for re-employment unless we create a new economy built on something other than consumption. And the good news is—we can do this!
What if the economy transitioned to a 30% consumer economy? That would be a downshift of 96 million people to 32 million---a net loss of 64 million jobs. What can replace 64 million jobs? If we don’t have a consumer economy, what kind of economy would we have? A Full Spectrum Economy.
Our current economy is a 3 sector economy—markets, government and illegal activities are what are measured, monetized and valued. But these three sectors include only a small portion of the economic activities that actually enable our lives to function. The current economy excludes and ignores 3 other sectors that produce enormous amounts of vital work. These three sectors are the household, volunteer and natural/environmental sectors. Without these three, the current 3 sector economy would not be able to function, yet, for most of us, they are completely invisible simply because we have not measured, monetized and valued them through economic indicators. But for our future—these 3 sectors will provide the majority of the replacement jobs of the 64 million jobs lost from the consumer economy.
The real wealth of our nation is its people. Building an economy to ensure that the people of our country have the opportunity for optimal development requires a significant shift in our work. The household sector—caring for children and elderly through a “professional trained, well-paid home service corps” could provide upwards of 34 million jobs. The natural sector—working with the environment to launch new businesses that utilize solar, wind, closed loop production systems could bring 5 million new jobs as we seek to transform our current homes, offices, transportation systems, and even some aspects of our consumables in-line with an earth friendly, green jobs sector. And the unpaid volunteer sector could engage millions of young and older citizens working in community support activities while ‘earning’ social service credits that could be ‘traded’ in for caring in one’s senior years or through a crisis time in one’s life. The ability to ‘bank’ your volunteer efforts into a national ‘service’ register and ‘cash’ it in for caring support in time of need sets a foundation for a social safety net based on one’s effort throughout one’s entire life.
The new, Full Spectrum Economy addresses the reality of our changing world. It measures, values and monetizes the ‘full spectrum’ of work that enables a vibrant economy to engage in the necessary activities that support life—human and planet. By adding these three sectors into our economic measurements, we build a “real wealth nation” and a caring economy that will carry us through the 21st century.
Let’s get started!