Focusing on the optimism aspect of our blog here, my usual late night tour of the interwebs caught a slew of headlines that left me in a better mood than I started – indications that the business as usual status quo is being questioned, sometimes in high places, and principles of EcoOptimism are getting more attention. Here, for your end of the week boost, are a few of them.
From The Economist, a realization that growth unfettered is not necessarily good:
“A new form of radical centrist politics is needed to tackle inequality without hurting economic growth”
Some quotes (taken out of order):
In America the share of national income going to the top 0.01% (some 16,000 families) has risen from just over 1% in 1980 to almost 5% now—an even bigger slice than the top 0.01% got in the Gilded Age.
[I]nequality has reached a stage where it can be inefficient and bad for growth.
Even the sort of inequality produced by meritocracy can hurt growth. If income gaps get wide enough, they can lead to less equality of opportunity, especially in education.
Here’s the positive take-away:
The priority should be a Rooseveltian attack on monopolies and vested interests, be they state-owned enterprises in China or big banks on Wall Street.
“The greener the industry, the higher the job-growth rate”
According to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute, “Industries that support a higher number of “green” workers who are making goods and services more environmentally friendly have experienced a higher rate of growth over the last decade than industries with fewer green jobs.”
The 2010 result: “3.1 million green jobs nationwide in renewable energy, water management, recycling, and various positions that help improve the efficiency and environmental footprint of a company or institution.”
“Natural capital accounting gets a push at Global Green Growth Forum”
One of the positive outcomes achieved on the sidelines of the Rio+20 conference, as highlighted by Jo Mackness at GreenBiz on June 26, was progress made on natural capital accounting. Fifty-seven countries and 86 companies, for instance, signed a World Bank-organized communiqué committing signatories to account for the value of clean air, clean water and forests in their decision-making.
“Federal Reserve Official Calls For Placing Limits On The Size Of Big Banks”
[Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel ]Tarullo said that, in order to keep big banks from growing so large that they threaten the entire financial system, they should be limited in size to a certain percentage of the overall economy.
“[T]he Fed should block any merger or acquisition this group of big banks attempts to make,” which it is allowed to do under Dodd-Frank.
The string of positivism actually began a bit earlier in the week with a post from The Atlantic’s new site Quartz:
“Does Ben Bernanke want to replace GDP with a happiness index?”
In a prerecorded talk for a conference this past summer, Bernanke said, ”…we should seek better and more-direct measurements of economic well-being, the ultimate objective of our policy decisions.”
Rather, Bernanke suggests that survey measures of happiness and life satisfaction should take their place alongside GDP as measures of how a nation is doing. In doing so, he joined current British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said ”it’s time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB—general wellbeing” and former French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who said he would ”fight to make all international organisations change their statistical systems by following the recommendations” of the Stiglitz report. He refers to Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s committee’s work proclaiming “the time is ripe for our measurement system to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being.” The emphasis is in the original.
It’s good to end the week on an up note. Would be great if I could make a habit of this….