Tel:051-843578 or 086-8738280 (after 2.35pm).
Hi, I’m Dr Ben Nutty. I’m standing in this election for the new party, Fís Nua, because like many people I feel that we need an entirely new approach. Based in the city, married with two young children and a national schoolteacher in Tramore, it would be an honour to serve you and our children by using my economics knowledge to achieve a real, lasting and fair prosperity. Accordingly, I’m asking you for your No. 1 vote.
Qualifications: Doctor of Education (UUJ), MA in European Studies (includes 1st class honours in economics) (UCD), MA in History (TCD) Diploma in Financial Services.
Website and blog: http://bennutty.com/
A New Steady State Economy
We’ve had the irresponsible boom followed by the dreadful bust. Now it’s time to steady things but in a new way. Most politicians will tell you that economic growth is the answer but they’re not giving you the full story. The truth is that an economy which forever chases more will fail again because we have limited resources, including fossil-fuel energy, on which it depends. Science tells us that in the next few years such energy won’t be available like it is now. Even if this wasn’t an overwhelming problem, research shows that once people’s basic needs are met and they have enough goods and services, economic growth fails to improve people’s happiness and life satisfaction. Similarly, growth fails to deliver lasting solutions to unemployment and poverty, and despite global growth, 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day.
The challenge then is to sustain our economy which already has enough goods and services, without relying on consumption growth. A steady state economy represents a positive alternative because energy and resource use are reduced to levels that are within ecological limits and the goal of maximising economic growth is replaced by the goal of maximising quality of life. A high quality of life means that things that really matter to people are given priority, like health, well-being, secure employment, leisure time, education, fairness, strong communities and economic stability.
To stabilise things we need to do the following:
- Debt-easing for citizens and for our government finances from the European Central Bank. We also need a structured debt-equity swap in relation to the debts of the banks owed to bondholders.
- Create employment through building renewable energy systems and other public works, creating other sustainability technologies and establishing shorter work times which would also help people who are over-worked to have more free time.
Reform The Monetary System
The monetary system should be the servant rather than the master of the wider community. The current debt-based system where banks lend excessively should be replaced and the money supply, a public resource, should be controlled by public authorities. We should demerge any bank which is supposedly “too big to fail”, segregate financial markets and eliminate “exotic” financial instruments. We should also create secure, accessible and ethical local financial systems by growing the role of post offices and credit unions while introducing community investment trusts for deprived areas, and create time banking, local currencies and local exchange trading systems.
New Measures of Progress
We should be aiming at the goal, not the sideline! The main economic indicator in use today is gross domestic product (GDP). This measures the size of the economy but not real progress or well-being because it lumps in good things like spending on food, entertainment or education with bad things like the costs of war, crime, pollution and family breakdown. We need to aim for sustainable and equitable human well-being as measured by our happy life years, our income equality and our ecological footprint. We also need to change unfulfilling consumerism and promote love, connectedness, friendship, spirituality and creativity for a lasting prosperity and happiness.
A rising tide doesn’t lift all boats. Rather, it lifts the yachts and swamps the lifeboats! High levels of income inequality are associated with a variety of health and social problems, including decreased trust, increased mental illness, and higher crime rates. Democratising the places where people work, maximum pay differentials, a citizen’s income to reform our welfare system, progressive and fair taxation and fair social programmes help to address these problems.
Responsible, ethical and profitable business has a huge role to play in a secure steady state economy.
This is done by introducing the concept of “right-size profits”. A firm’s total revenue would be large enough to allow it to be comfortably financially viable but not so large as to cause environmental damage which would damage business in the long term. This should result in a less pressurised system and optimise sustainable and equitable well-being. Similarly, new or alternative organisational forms such as co-operatives, foundations, and community interest companies should be facilitated with sufficient supports in recognition of their particular social benefits.
See more at www.steadystate.org
Investing in Education and Health
As a father and a teacher, I’m only too aware of the necessity of investing in all three levels of education and particularly at primary level where it is needed most. We need to cut down on tax evasion and corruption and if necessary raise taxes to get class sizes right down. In the long term, it will pay for itself many times over. Similarly, our health service must be given more assistance as necessary. It will also be helped by the proposed move away from consumerism and the new culture of care. It should be a single tier health service as a basic right for every citizen of the state.
A New Approach to Drugs
I favour the decriminalisation of recreational drug users, as is already working in Portugal. They should be given medical and psychological support rather than jail as it has been shown to reduce deaths and
the wider social problems which otherwise occur. Justice should be very hard on illegal dealers.
New Global Co-operation
We should improve global justice by democratising international organisations, technology transfers to developing countries, international aid, tariffs and capital controls where necessary. Ultimately, because of resource depletion and climate change it is in our interests as well as being an overwhelming matter of the utmost importance and basic fairness.
TDs should be national legislators. Local issues should be dealt with by local councillors and there should be far more opportunities for the involvement of all members of the community in the decisions that affect their lives. I’m also in favour of a trimmed Oireachtas and reduced salaries for public representatives. I’ve undertaken personally to accept no more than I’d make in my present job over the same period if elected.