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The Sustainabilist View of Capitalism

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We offer a new equation for managing the world’s economies by valuing Natural Capital as the primary capital that Human Capital “values” into Financial Capital.  The full presentation can be found on SlideShare. The simple equations are presented below: ___________________________________________________________________________________________ … Continue reading

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Is Adam Smith The Founding Father of Sustainability?

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When I was working on my MBA in Sustainable Enterprise back in 2007 I remember the first time that Adam Smith popped into my consciousness.  It was a typical Sunday afternoon class. We’d been in classes since Friday morning at … Continue reading

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Will There Be a Silicon Valley for Sustainable Enterprise?

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Will There Be a Silicon Valley for Sustainable Enterprise?

Michael, thanks for starting this intriguing dialogue. And, as many commenters have already stated we need many of these micro “Sustainable Valley” communities around the world. In fact, in many communities these are already de-facto happening lead by ardent and passionate activists. Bravo to them!

When you look at Silicon Valley, the nexus of global innovation, it’s been primarily fueled by one institution: Stanford University. Why? Because Stanford has always welcomed, nee championed, innovative thinking. As a result it has been able to attract world-class talent whose thinking has not been limited to common notions of innovation, but in breakthrough ideas with bold effects. To have Sustainable Valley really drive global innovation the need for a center post institution that rewards true innovation seems like a necessary part of any strategy. Thinking of localities that have this type of institution begins to limit specific geo-centers. Nevertheless, any community can diffuse their innovations if they are relevant and can scale to many like-minded communities.

Adam Smith, the moral philosopher who has been mistakenly labeled the “founder” of modern capitalism lead by the Invisible Hand theory, would embrace your idea for a Sustainable Valley. In fact, he wrote in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) that:

The produce of the soil maintains at all times nearly that number of inhabitants which it is capable of maintaining.

The rich only select from the heap what is most precious and agreeable. They consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency, though the sole end which they propose from the labours of all the thousands whom they employ, be the gratification of their own vain and insatiable desires, they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements.

They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.

Looking at Smith in a new light would be a wise idea for anyone considering building a Sustainable Valley. Why? Because Smith opined that “consumption is the sole purpose of all production” in An Inquiry Concerning the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). He also went on to say to be wary of the producer for they will want you to consume more than you need to fulfil their rapacious desire for profit.

In Smith’s view there is a limit to growth: soil. Thinking of sustainability going forward should really be a consumer movement. If we were to to be “led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life” we’d view consumption in an entirely different light.

Finding an institution that embraces this core philosophy would be a requirement in any Sustainable Valley. The challenge before us is real. We are not only threatening our own lives with our current consumption patterns and mindless pursuit of the duality of growth/profit, we are ruining our children’s future. That is a travesty and in my mind a wholly immoral lifestyle. It’s time for a recalibration of our expectations based on Smith’s 255-year old insight: there’s only so much natural capital to go around. Finding a centerpiece institution that recognizes this basic fact would be an ideal for any Sustainable Valley.

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Market Man – The New Yorker

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Smith, at least, lived to have high hopes for the new country. He thought that it was normal for human beings to want to live in a prosperous society, but that it was also normal for them to live in a broadly just society.

Their desire for self-improvement was in many ways mysterious, but in the end it was inherently social, rooted not only in the love of acquiring but in the love of haggling, bargaining, interacting—the whole work of building worlds out of wishes. What moved men to make markets was ultimately their love of pleasure and happiness, and who, Smith wondered, could live happily in a society where all the wealth has been confiscated and kept in a few hands? He believed not that markets make men free but that free men move toward markets.

The difference is small but decisive; it is most of what we mean by humanism.

via Market Man – The New Yorker.

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Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision – YouTube

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Senator Warren is a true American hero! Spend 9 minutes of your

life to watch this and become inspired. Let’s take back our power!

via Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision – YouTube.

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The World According to Adam Smith by IMF Podcasts

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The World According to Adam Smith by IMF Podcasts.

Despite his reputation as the father of greedy capitalism, Adam Smith did a great deal of thinking about the human condition and how to be a better, more generous person. One economist believes that Smith could change your life.

Listen to Russ Roberts on economics as entertainment

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Pope Francis: We Are ‘Stewards, Not Masters’ of the Earth » EcoWatch

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“This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. We need to love and respect nature, but instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, exploiting; we do not ‘preserve’ the Earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely given gift to look after. Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes.”

via Pope Francis: We Are ‘Stewards, Not Masters’ of the Earth » EcoWatch.

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