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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/14/09

Working in a post-consumer Full Spectrum Economy can be an entrepreneurs' dream

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Seventy percent of the economy is tied to consumption-that’s 96 million people just in the US. With skyrocketing unemployment rates, its clear the market-driven, consumer economy is in crisis. It is time to give the markets a break and build a Full Spectrum Economy.  Doing so will stimulate a new wave of entrepreneurs to meet the needs of the 21st century and result in a vibrant, working economy.

The downturn of the market-driven consumer economy is not just a temporary situation. Global warming, resource depletion and other significant factors point to the reality that a consumer economy can not return to the levels experienced over the last 50 years  We’ve been a market-driven, consumer economy for so long that we seem unwilling or unable to confront this and create new solutions. The massive financial bailouts and the new stimulus package are shoring up this old system and will only be temporary fixes.

As millions in the US and billions throughout the globe become unemployed, unless we create a new economy built on something more than consumption, there will be no way to re-employ all these people. The goods new is—we can do this!. Welcome to a Full Spectrum Economy—a six sector economy that measures and monetizes all the work activities necessary for us to sustain life.

Our current economy is based on the GDP measurement system of 3 sectors—markets, government and illegal activities. These are the work activities we consider economically valuable and the only place to build wealth as it is currently defined.  But these three sectors include only a small portion of the economic activities that actually enable our lives to function. 

The current 3 sector economy excludes 3 other sectors that produce enormous amounts of vital work.  These three sectors are the household enterprises that build the human infrastructure for our society, volunteer service that supports our caring needs and natural/environment sector on which we’re dependent for life. 

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. A Full Spectrum Economy includes these 3 missing sectors and with them we have the capacity to replace millions of jobs lost from the consumer economy and the traditional market sector.  

Because of the GDP measurement system’s biases, we are forced to rely on the markets to be the sole creator of financial wealth. As we look deeper into the way the GDP measurement system is constructed, we can see that it produces a curious twist on what we call ‘wealth creation’ and how we can accumulate wealth. In many ways it robs us at the same that it appears to be creating wealth. Look for example at the issue of employees.  Obviously, in order for a company to be profitable it has to have employees. Employees are paid from the pool of profits—thus, they are a drain on profits. Ironically, layoffs are good for a businesses’ bottom line of profits and thus, good for the GDP.  But layoffs lead to less consumption and as sales slump, so do profits. So were layoffs good for creating wealth or not? 

A Full Spectrum Economy enables us to address the limitations of the 3 sector economy’s restrictive measurement system. Adding these three missing sectors provides many new ways for all of us to be working, contributing and building wealth.  It results in a system that releases the enormous pressure on the markets to be the sole creators of wealth. It also allows us to reduce the need for government to be the only balance to the markets. Now the household, volunteer and natural environment sectors play a part and all sectors benefit (and if all goes well, the illegal sector will be reduced too!)

The small entrepreneur holds the key to our future but at the same time, being an entrepreneur will not be limited strictly to the market sector. In a Full Spectrum Economy, all 5 sectors hold possibilities for work (assuming you don’t want to go into the illegal sector). You may spend some time in traditional market sector then put in 10 years as a professional in the household enterprise sector, return to work in the market sector and end your career in the volunteer service sector.  In each of these sectors you provide valuable work for building a strong, vibrant economy and you generate wealth—both financial and social that enables the world to function effectively. 

The household enterprise—caring for children and elderly through a “professionally trained, well-paid home service corps” could provide 17-34 million jobs in the next economy.  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 bring consumables in-line with an earth friendly, green jobs sector.  And the volunteer service 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 registry and redeem it for caring support in time of need builds the wealth of a social safety net based on your effort and responsibility throughout your 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 missing sectors into our economic measurements, we build a “real wealth nation” and a caring economy that will carry us through the 21st century. And an entrepreneur will have 5 sectors instead of two in which to work, accumulate wealth and create a life that is wonderful. What entrepreneur wouldn’t be happy with all these options?  The future looks bright in A Full Spectrum Economy.

We don't have a Full Spectrum Economy yet---but we could. 

To learn more:   A Full Spectrum Economy is based on the work by Riane Eisler in Real Wealth of Nations…creating a Caring economics.

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I'm a Licensed counselor working in OR. I teach clients to build lives based in self-responsibility using a universal model called the Life Puzzle. Its practical, tangible and fills in much of the missing information we never learn in schools. It is (more...)
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