I posted these ideas about the local economy during the autumn of 2014. They are the bones of an argument I shall develop over future months.
At the same time I wrote two other strands in this blog:
- under Marketing I explored some of the worldviews shared by small businesses and their compatibility with third sector worldviews, and
- under Purpose I explored organisations and their typical strengths and weaknesses.
My purpose was to define the local economy and to describe its main values: self-interest and sustainability. I introduced the idea of a national localised economy to counter the prevailing neo-liberal models. The retail co-operative movement is a good example of what I mean because it shows how grassroots economic activity developed alternative economic structures in the past.
Why the Local Economy? explains why the local economy is important and outlines its challenges to the private and third sectors. I explore the differences between these sectors in greater depth in the posts about worldviews.
A case study, Third Sector Economic Projects: A Grocers’ Shop, shows how the competing values of the private and third sectors can undermine local economic activity. This project’s roots in the third sector meant it had opportunities not open to most small businesses. Its story raises questions about the shop’s impact on other businesses and its paradoxical inability to exploit its unique position in the market.
A second case study, Third Sector Economic Projects: A Charitable Business, shows how difficult it is to draw a distinction between private business and social enterprise. I don’t think this project would have gone ahead as a small business because it had no customers. The grants and loans it received may have allowed something to develop that would not have otherwise, so what do we conclude?
The Local Economy is not
Whilst everything in What is Not the Local Economy? can be described as part of the local economy, they are not what I mean when I use the term. International development, government schemes and social enterprises all have valuable contributions to make but they all contribute to the local economy. We need a definition that goes wider and deeper.
The Local Economy is
Here are Two Examples of Local Economies that have developed with no government schemes or social enterprises. Both examples prompt questions about the extent to which collaboration is intentional or whether businesses simply benefit by being based in the same area.
I go on to describe neighbourhoods where a local economy has scope to develop. So, What is the Local Economy? shows the local economy can be a natural development with no singular intention other than small businesses aiming to make a living by delivering products or services. Is it possible to see beyond profit to the purpose of businesses to increase overall quality of life?
Why the Local Economy is Important
Why is the Local Economy Important? Because it is fundamentally about community and not profit. The idea of community has been ghettoised into the third sector whilst the big boys (and occasionally girls) get on with the serious business of making profit. This is the ideology we need to challenge. Do we set up in business for others or solely to make a profit?
There are More Reasons Why the Local Economy is Important The challenge is two-fold: to the prevailing political consensus it is about stating plainly that the purpose of business is community, or mutual benefit if you prefer, and to the third sector the challenge is to see that business builds community, not grant-aided schemes.
Is it Possible to Rebuild the Local Economy? This post is a response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his delusions that the directors of corporations can benefit anyone other than their own tightly drawn circle. We desperately need politicians who are pro-tax and pro-regulation.
Local economies are successful when underpinned by the values of self-interest and sustainability. Neither of these are particularly well-understood.
Self-Interest and Altruism challenges the third sector to abandon altruism and embrace self-interest. Self-interest is the value behind mutuality, it claims: “When I work for the benefit of society I do so for my benefit. If society benefits through my work, so shall I because I am a part of society.”
A Case Against Altruism show why altruism is not an effective approach to developing anything!
There’s probably an official name for what I’ve called a National Localised Economy. We need to name an alternative to the globalised neo-liberal economy beloved by the establishment in the UK. Try to imagine an economy that supports small businesses and where small businesses create the financial institutions they need.
How are Localised Economies Sustainable? They’re sustainable where people spend money, the more money people are able to spend, the greater the collective wealth, even though people may not have massive financial reserves. So long as people can depend on their income, their wealth is in the amount they spend, not in what they accumulate.
How Do Localised Economies Work? These days local economies operate through their grassroots, their online presence and regulation.
Effective Local Economy In this post I re-visit three aspects of the retail co-operative movement, now unregarded: democracy, education and quality.
My Vision for the Local Economy Finally, I share my vision for the local economy.