“Competing with Capitalism to Maximize Well-Being” LEDDA framework on Thruth Out

What would you do to reinvent capitalism, to make it less destructive and more focused on what people really need?
It’s not that the benefits of capitalism are undesirable – jumbo jets and smart phones are sheer wonders – it’s that the collateral damage is growing untenable. Democracy and the commons are being sold off to the highest bidders.

GovInn Director Lorenzo Fioramonti and John Boik, creator of the Principled Societies Project present on TruthOut the Local Economic Direct Democracy (LEDDA) framework.

A LEDDA, Local Economic Direct Democracy Association
, is a membership-based, community benefit association open to residents, businesses, schools, nonprofits, local governments, public services, and others that choose to participate. The LEDDA framework is the local economic system – comprised of software, policies, standards, and procedures – that a new LEDDA implements. Once live, the membership can alter the local framework as desired.

In effect, the framework offers a secondary level of organization on top of an existing local economy.

Each LEDDA governs its own local framework through an online process of direct democracy, and all LEDDAs are networked together within a global association, which is also governed through online direct democracy. Thus the focus is both local and global.

The LEDDA framework integrates and builds on numerous initiatives already existing in cities and regions around the world, including buy local, local currency, open source, crowdfunding, socially responsible business, open data, smart cities, and participatory democracy. It contains its own monetary system, which issues a local electronic currency, called the token. And it has its own financial system, called the Crowd-Based Financial System (CBFS), which resembles crowdfunding and participatory budgeting. The framework is sophisticated, and there are many more elements.

The LEDDA framework is synonymous with LEDDA economic direct democracy, an economic system that offers all participants roughly equal and direct opportunity to influence their local economy. The framework infuses a local economy with democracy, in part by using money as a voting tool and by increasing and equalizing family incomes.

A computer simulation model has been published that illustrates the process. Inflation-adjusted mean family income more than doubles during the twenty-eight-year simulation period. As incomes rise, they become more equal. By the end of the simulation, every member family receives a pre-tax, take-home income equivalent to about $107,000, just above the 90th percentile of baseline income. Even very wealthy families would see a small direct gain.

By the end of the simulation, the LEDDA, located in an averaged-size US county, channels the equivalent of more than $2 billion dollars annually toward local businesses, schools, public services, and nonprofit organizations. Tax revenues for the county markedly rise. With such abundant resources, and democratic control over funding decisions, a community could remake its economy into one that best suits its needs.

The LEDDA framework is still theoretical, and the partnership is just forming. Over time, we hope to provide answers to the host of questions that such an approach naturally raises. In this, we invite your participation.

Imagine a democracy-infused economic system that maximizes well-being. The long-run social and environmental returns might be valued in the trillions, thousands of times greater than the costs of development and pilot trials. Isn’t it worth the effort?

Read the full article on TruthOut

Business by numbers can dull creativity of workforce -BusinessDay-

Fioramonti’s article this week focuses on the dangers on relying on simplified figures such as GDP to assess the development and the wealth of a country and make business decisions.

“When businesses base investment decisions on indicators such as the gross domestic product (GDP) they miss the forest for the trees. GDP is a very myopic measure of economic performance, which counts profits but excludes costs. Moreover, it flattens society and the market, thus giving the impression that growth affects all businesses (and people) in the same manner. In fact, there can be good and bad, equal and unequal, sustainable and unsustainable GDP growth.

“The “Africa rising” debate animating the investment community these days is a case in point, insofar as it does not pay attention to issues of sustainability and distribution, which are likely to hamper the performance of these “rising” economies. “

“Even good numbers can be misleading: indeed, numbers, by design, (over)simplify reality. In a numbers-driven world, only what can be measured counts. A metric-dependent business is more likely to forfeit long-term goals, which are harder to quantify, for short-term returns.”

Read it all on BusinessDay

gdproblem
“Our mis-leading indicators”: book review featuring “Gross Domestic Problem”

gdproblemThe book review website Public Books features GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti‘s “Gross Domestic Problem” in its article on GDP “Our mis-leading indicators”.

“GDP became the yardstick for measuring progress and still often serves as a proxy for overall national well-being. Policymakers think of national economic life in terms of GDP: raising GDP is a primary policy goal and people across the world look to GDP growth rates to assess how well their leaders are guiding economic policy choices. Yet today GDP is under fire from a variety of sources. Why?”

Gross Domestic Problem is reviewed along with Diane Coyle’s “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History” and Zachary Karabell’s “Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World”. In his in-depth analysis Stephen Macekura, postdoctoral fellow at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College (US), says of Fioramonti’s book:

“Fioramonti presents the most scathing critique. He criticizes the deeply held faith that raising GDP can solve all political and social problems—what he calls the “dogma of infinite GDP growth.” For him, the reliance on GDP derives from a technocratic worldview that glorifies experts, corrodes communal values, and devalues the natural world. In addition to inveighing against this worldview throughout his book, he highlights contemporary social movements that are challenging both the use of GDP and mainstream society more broadly. He explains the “transition” and “de-growth” movements, which seek to downscale production and consumption, encourage participatory decision-making, decentralize power towards the community level, redistribute resources along more equitable lines, and lower humankind’s ecological footprint. Similarly, he recounts the efforts of communities that use their own currencies and banking systems to break free of the larger financial power structures (states, multinational corporations) that dominate economic transactions worldwide. In general, he sees technocracy and its GDP “dogma” as powerful centralizing and anti-democratic forces, and he celebrates grassroots, local movements that show “alternative ways of life are not just possible but also desirable.” His prescriptions are thus cultural and political; no merely technical fixes will suffice.”

Read the full article on Public Books

Land matrix in action: “Among the Senegalese Mother-Earths

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera features result from our LandMatrix  land monitoring project to describe the struggle of Senegalese women against land-grabbing multinationals. Read the full article here [Italian]

Private sector must address challenges of the 21st century

THE Corporate Governance Index 2014, which GovInn released last week in partnership with the Institute of Internal Auditors of SA, provides a worrying snapshot of the state of business performance in SA.

The index finds that the leadership skills, accountability and overall conduct of public and private corporations have worsened over the past year. GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti comments on the perilous relationship between economic and political powers on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper.

If public officials take bribes to favour a few at the expense of the public good, then it is worth asking: where does the money come from? And the answer usually is: from business.

The simplistic juxtaposition between corrupt government and virtuous business does not pass the reality check.

Read the full article here

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iiasa.org.za/resource/collection/1FD175F0-82CB-40AF-9127-7A91E5C1058C/2014_Corporate_Governance_Index_report.pdf

GovInn, in partnership with the Institute of Internal Auditors of South Africa, has just released the results of the Corporate Governance Index 2014. To download the report please click here: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iiasa.org.za/resource/collection/1FD175F0-82CB-40AF-9127-7A91E5C1058C/2014_Corporate_Governance_Index_report.pdf