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Join us in Bristol on October 20th for our 18th Conference
Moderated by writer and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby.
Other events 19th-21st
Readers new to this organisation please note two of its sterling projects:
Planet Local – a web series showcasing diverse examples of localization in action in such areas as community renewable energy, local food and farming, local economy, eco-villages, alternative education, radical democracy, the local commons, and more.
The International Alliance for Localisation (IAL) was originally conceived as a way to formalise and expand this informal network of groups and individuals who are working on issues that fall under the broad umbrella of this global-to-local shift network. The hope is that the IAL will help to catalyse a powerful global movement for localisation. The general public and even most local groups themselves are often unaware that they are, in fact, part of a rapidly growing worldwide localisation movement. We believe that linking together these groups that are currently operating in isolation can greatly strengthen them all.
People and groups from 58 different countries have joined the International Alliance.
A few IAL members
At the conference, we will address one of the most pressing questions of our time:
How do we move forward to create healthy and inclusive economic models that work for people and planet?
Local finance, ethical banking, local business alliances, local food strategies, big picture activism, national and international networks for a new economy, connecting with nature, building community, empowering youth, direct democracy and inclusion…this is just a taste of the topics we will cover.
Illustrated coverage here: Another World is Possible
Populus research for the RSA finds that the public as a whole is open to the idea of a Basic Income – a regular payment made by government to citizens – especially in the context of rising economic uncertainty. 40% would support local Basic Income experiments in their area, 15% would be opposed.
The Populus report by Charlie Young (RSA Associate, right) points out that despite these positive findings, 38% of the public think this measure is “unaffordable”. The most popular funding option for a Basic Income is raising a progressive tax so the rich pay more into the scheme than they would get out (39% would support this).
Protecting the most vulnerable in society was found to be by far the most important moral principle for a welfare system in the eyes of the public.
Populus found that 49% think a Basic Income would “reduce the stigma associated with receiving benefits” with 16% disagreeing.
Responding to these findings, Anthony Painter, Director of the RSA’s Action and Research Centre, said: “The Universal Credit experiment is failing on its own terms, while the wider welfare state is riddled with complexities and underpinned by draconian sanctions . . . our poll shows that in an era of widespread economic insecurity, policy-makers have the public’s support to start exploring innovative alternatives to today’s failing and unpopular welfare system”.
The report has recorded examples of Basic Income and Basic Income-type models around the world which should be considered. Anthony Painter ends: “Basic Income is no magic bullet, but with HM Opposition exploring the idea and the Scottish Government looking to pilot it with four Scottish councils, Basic Income is increasingly seen as one plausible response to modern economic insecurity.”
Highly recommended, Charlie Young’s Twitter feed.
A handout given by John Nightingale to those who attended the session on International Development (23.8.18)
When we studied international development 55 years ago it was largely understood in economic terms, primarily as the increase in national income or to be more precise national per capita income.
The per capita income used was the mean average, in other words the total income divided by the total number of people in the nation in question. However even qualifications might be made. One might choose the modal average eg the income which most people had, which would work out lower than the mean average in a society with the majority poor and a few very rich.
And of course it was realized that money wasn’t everything. But, other things being equal, national income was felt to be a reasonable guide. So, what have been the trends in the income of in different parts of the world over the last 55 years, and earlier?
There are clues in the work of the late Angus Maddison and colleagues, some examples of which are mentioned in the first three examples below:
1) REBASING ‘MADDISON’: NEW INCOME COMPARISONS AND THE SHAPE OF LONG-RUN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Jutta Bolt, Robert Inklaar, Herman de Jong and Jan Luiten van Zanden January 2018 – https://www.rug.nl/ggdc/html_publications/memorandum/gd174.pdf – page 16
“Western offshoots” consist of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Western Asia is broadly speaking Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and the Middle East.
The main aim of the MPD (Maddison Project Database) is to provide data on GDP per capita for comparisons of relative income levels across countries. This is often called ‘real GDP per capita’ in the international comparisons literature, where ‘real’ refers to the series being based on a common set of prices across countries.
In the original work by Maddison (1995, 2001, 2007), such data was compiled by starting from a modern-day cross-country income comparison – for the year 1990 – and then using growth rates of GDP per capita from (reconstructed historical) National Accounts to make comparisons for earlier years.
An attractive feature of those data was that the change in real GDP per capita over time matches the growth rate from those National Accounts. However, this internal consistency came at the expense of distorted real GDP per capita comparisons in earlier years; see Section 3 on how, for instance, changing consumption patterns can lead to such distortions.
Limitations to data quality also means that estimating the growth of GDP per capita over many decades, or even centuries, is a hazardous undertaking that, despite the best effort of statisticians and researchers, will always be surrounded by a degree of uncertainty . . .
In the new version of the MPD, a new measure of real GDP per capita is therefore introduced, based on multiple benchmark comparisons of prices and incomes across countries. The resulting measure of real GDP per capita can best be understood as based on prices that are constant across countries but depend on the current year. In keeping with the terminology used in the Penn World Table (Feenstra et al. 2015), we refer to this measure of real GDP per capita as 𝐶𝐺𝐷𝑃𝑝𝑐. This variable is expressed in 2011 US dollars by correcting for inflation in the United States to provide magnitudes that are comparable over time, but it is a ‘current’ measure in the sense that the (implicit) relative prices used for the cross-country comparisons differ over time. As a result, the relative income levels from this exercise more closely reflect direct historical income comparisons.)
2) Development Centre Studies “The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective” p 28
3) Historical Trends in global distribution of GDP
4) Millennium Development Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
The target of reducing extreme poverty rates – people living on just $1.25 a day – by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. Globally the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. However, target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger has narrowly been missed. The proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions has fallen from 23.3 per cent in 1990 to 12.9 per cent in 2014.
5) Sustainable Development Goals: The 2030 Agenda
These 17 goals replaced in Millennium goals and run from 2015-30. Within the goals are 169 targets, to put a bit of meat on the bones. Here are three of the goals:
1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere
For the least developed countries, the economic target is to attain at least a 7 percent annual growth in GDP. Other targets include reducing by at least half the number of people living in poverty by 2030, and eradicating extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25 a day).
8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
10) Reduce inequality within and among countries.
The UN report “Inequality Matter: Report on the World Social Situation 2013” mentions that while inequality between countries has been declining that within countries has been very much increasing. https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/documents/reports/InequalityMatters.pdf
6) DEBT: The new developing world debt crisis: https://jubileedebt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/New-debt-trap-briefing_10.17.pdf
7) TAX: Tax for the Common Good: http://www.catj.org.uk/uploads/1/1/8/6/118613197/cat_intro_leaflet_draft2.pdf
8) TRADE: Dangerous Deals Being Done in the Dark: https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/campaigns/trade
Also on WMNEG’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1582842795176672/permalink/1668095506651400/
On 4th February 2016, those present at WMNEG’s monthly meeting were very interested in an account of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital and allied subjects by Patrick Highton from the Birmingham Trades Union Council Health Campaign Committee, which works with Keep Our NHS Public Birmingham (KONP) and WMNEG’s Andrew Lydon, who summarised the failings of the National Health Service.
Later that year, the group heard Richard Hatcher of Birmingham Against The Cuts (BATC) speak on West Midlands Combined Authority’s Strategic Economic Plan.
For news of the hospital campaign by KONP and BATC’s cautious welcome for a publicly funded Midland Met Hospital in Smethwick/West B’ham (no PFI!) and expression of its continuing concerns, click here.
Greetings again from our Planet Centred Forum network to our supporters and allies, plus also to members of kindred and linked groups.
We have noted before the dilemma that most of us face with conflicting calls on our time and energy from our various affiliations. For this reason we welcome news of other initiatives without generally expecting active responses.
However, we do caution against reaction politics. Especially getting drawn into current political issues within human affairs while taking our eye off the ball of the ongoing damage to our living planet from total human impact, whether due to population, consumption, destructive technologies, skewed values or other factors.
Doing it Locally
PCF has consistently drawn attention to the dangers of a globalisation driven by the Neoliberal agenda of endless growth (and hence profits). Cautionary voices have long been warning us: to name but one The Growth Illusion by Richard Douthwaite (1992).
As noted in Bulletin 12, intelligent localism has the potential to reclaim at least some power back from the Neoliberal hegemony. Part of the antidote can be confident thriving local communities and economies able to ‘short circuit’ long distance politics and trade. In the book of that name Richard Douthwaite (1996) outlined some of the economic strategies that might assist, while Localisation: A Global Manifesto by Colin Hines (2000) is also in our resource library.
Yet the challenges to ‘doing it locally’ are only too real. One is the individualist ethos of modern society making it difficult to establish strong community bonds. Equally serious is the money trap: our ‘need’ to maximise our incomes now skews both our social and ‘green’ choices. Only growing trust in strong local support networks will give us confidence to get beyond our bottom line anxieties.
Despite this, local initiatives are happening and we have reported on some of them in these bulletins. Many readers will know of others. The list includes housing co-operatives, co-housing schemes, community land trusts, worker co-ops, garden and allotment sharing, growing and food distribution co-operatives, LETS schemes, local currencies, time banks, credit unions, bread funds (pooled by and for self-employed workers), partial income sharing, maker spaces, transition town initiatives, local issue campaigns, shadowing elected councillors, citizen’s councils…
Read on here.
Alan was trained as an architect and lived in Birmingham for several decades, providing technical support to a wide variety of community projects. He was a member of the Green Party, founder and secretary of Friends of Central Library and chairman of West Midlands Economics Group (WMNEG).
The writer first met him at meetings of Birmingham Green Party in the 80s and later both attended the 1994 gathering organised by George Heron (left), a supporter of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) George circulated all the NEF supporters living in the West Midlands and an inaugural meeting was held in which the constitution of an unincorporated voluntary association was adopted.
Since the structure of the NEF did not allow for branches as such, it was agreed that WMNEG would be independent of the NEF but share its values and interests. A management committee planned the programme of activities and George was its chairman until he moved to Manchester in 1997. Paul Baptie took the chair for a short period followed by Alan Clawley. A website was created and contact with supporters was maintained by email.
Read on here.
- Everyone agrees that Transnational Corporations (TNCs) are so big that they can avoid any responsibility to local communities.
- Like any other business, TNCs are driven by profit for shareholders above all else.
- WMNEG does not condemn profit in itself but wants TNCs and all businesses to be accountable not only to shareholders but to employees, consumers and local communities.
- Citizens have so far ensured accountability through democracy but TNCs and business are on the whole not democratic.
- TNCs can and do by-pass local democratic institutions if they do not like what they do. National governments believe that they are powerless to control TNCs lest they put their economies at a disadvantage in the global market.
- If they want to control TNCs and make them accountable to communities all the nation states will have to get together and agree what is to be done.
- There is no supra-national machinery at present that can do this job. Those that do exist, such as the World Trade Organisation and the European Union are all the side of the TNCs and in favour of removing even more barriers to their freedom.
- The United Nations could do it if it were given the resources and the mandate to do the job. It could become an integral part of its role to prevent conflict between the nations of the world.
- In the meantime those of us including WMNEG who criticise the operation of TNCs in the global market can only protest and mount negative campaigns.
- The alternative strategy is to support local communities in taking unilateral action to protect themselves from the impact of TNCs and other irresponsible businesses.
- The antidotes to globalism for communities to adopt are:
(a) increased seIf-sufficiency,
(b) resistance to TNCs and
inward investors so as to extract “responsible behaviour” agreements from them,
(c) diversification and break-up of over-dominant industries.
- These tactics could be supported by local authorities and trades unions in particular.
- The role of WMNEG could be to
(a) promote locally self-sufficient economies that rely less on inward investment and TNCs,
(b) promote diverse economies that do not rely on a single large industry,
(c) campaign for a new supranational democratic body to agree the rules by which TNCs will be accountable to local communities and,
(d) argue for the democratic control of business by all its stakeholders.
Steve Beauchampé pays tribute to the community activist and Birmingham Press columnist who passed away earlier this week.
Alan Clawley, who has died from cancer aged 74, was the kind of tireless campaigner that every community needs more of. The causes that he became best known for – saving Birmingham’s modernist central library from demolition and championing the work of its architect John Madin – may not have been the most popular, but Alan fought for both tenaciously, assiduously and with a relentless determination that was both an example, and an inspiration, to others. That he was supported in his efforts by such informed and respected voices as those of English Heritage (now Historic England) and the Victorian and 20th Century societies, and by knowledgeable local architectural experts Joe Holyoak and Andy Foster, speaks volumes for the strength of his arguments.
Fearlessly taking on both councillors and senior council officials over the library, exposing their cant, their ill-informed interventions, the deep flaws in their arguments, Alan presented a coherent, convincing case for the defence. He scoured official documents, challenging a decision-making process that had clearly reached its conclusions before it had examined the evidence, shining a very bright light on its shortcomings in a way that no elected councillor came close to. And he did so incessantly, initially via the online pages of Adrian Goldberg’s Stirrer website and, following its closure, via its successor, the Birmingham Press.
What his Council opponents wanted at Paradise Circus were 60-storey towers, what they are now getting is a bland, urban office scape as forgettable as Madin’s imposing inverted ziggurat was memorable. Alan saw this coming; he read the planning applications, poured over the Paradise Circus development plans and strategy documents…and when it came to the new Library of Birmingham, Alan repeatedly warned of the project’s true cost and un-affordability, of how the city would end up with a central library reduced in size and offering a diminished service to that of its predecessor.
Whilst many councillors and high-ranking city officials derided John Madin’s work, readily approving or supporting the demolition of many of his key buildings, and colluding in trashing his reputation, Alan spoke out for surely the most important and influential of twentieth century Birmingham architects. This admiration resulted in a biography of Madin, published in 2011 (part of the RIBA’s 20th Century Architects series) and the first serious overview of Madin’s work. Alan wrote and researched two further books, Batsford’s Birmingham Then and Now (2013) and Library Story: A History of Birmingham Central Library (2016) and helped form the Brutiful Birmingham Action Group, its goal to increase appreciation of this much derided brutalist style of modernist architecture.
Yet there was more to Alan Clawley than the Birmingham Central Library and John Madin. Moving to the city in the early 1970s after training at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where he had graduated in 1969, he became involved in the Small Heath Park Housing Co-operative and was an active member of the Green Party, standing (as did his wife Hazel) in many elections (both he and Hazel were on the ballot paper for yesterday’s council elections), and he was a friend of Moseley Road Baths amongst many other community campaign groups. Indeed, so much of what Alan Clawley did was undertaken without the thought or expectation of financial gain, but because it was worthwhile and needed to be done. Surely a significant measure of a life well-lived.
May 3rd 2018
First published in the Birmingham Press
There was also a tribute in the Birmingham Mail
Alan was chairman of the West Midlands New Economics group and some of his more low-profile activities will be recorded here in due course.