Christian Felber

Common Weal vs. Common Goods Economy

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Adam Smith ( 1723-1790) was the first “Common Good” economist concerned about the quality of human livelihood in the community and about ideas (including basic income) contributing to this ethical and moral goal. For him, all individuals and groups must have equal access to basic conditions enabling them to realize, –  under their own  “free” responsibility – individual self-development and their own ends. The Vienna School of Economics (Carl Menger, Eugen Böhm Ritter von Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises) took over this basic idea in their economic thinking. Later it occurred to some degree (Ordoliberalism) in the Social Market Economy ( Alfred Mueller-Armand, Walter Euken, Wilhelm Röpke, Ludwig Erhard) in  West-Germany and Austria after the Second World War, – contrary to the Communists in East Germany and in other countries under Russian (Stalin) domination.  As an alternative to the Social Market Economy (based on Capitalism), Christian Felber developed the “Common Goods Economy.” Well-known economists criticize it as a politically motivated social movement. Now the important question arises which economic way of thinking, including the communist ones, are suitable to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?  The author assumes that all ways of economic thinking shall contribute and not be excluded for ideological reasons.

Roland Leithenmayr, VfV

Target of Criticism: IMF (International Monetary Fund)

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This is a contribution to the project of CSD (UN Committee on Sustainable Development):

A Healthy Planet for Future Generations, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development

indicates six (6) obstacles to progress positively in the present world economic system:

  1. Massive flows of financial resources that do not contribute to the real economy
  2. Corruption
  3. Illicit flows of finance, money laundering, and tax evasion
  4. Labour-saving instead of resource-saving technical progress
  5. High public debt in many countries (particular in developing countries)
  6. Lack of socially responsible/cooperative entrepreneurship

Because of the debt crisis worldwide, the actions and supposed neoliberal vision of the IMF are criticized: Is this justified?

Christian Felber recommends in his book  “50 Vorschläge für eine gerechte Welt, Gegen Konzernmacht und Kapitalismus”, Wien 2006“, the IMF should be embedded in the UN system under the hegemony of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); furthermore, the IMF shall involve NGOs, trade unions, churches, small business owners and farmers’ associations. Joseph Stiglitz (Die Schatten der Globalisierung, Berlin 2002) proposed that a democratically composed “Borrowers Committee” should check each loan before IMF approves it. Yanis Varoufakis sees the IMF as the gravedigger of indebted countries in his book (Bescheidener Vorschlag zur Lösung der Eurokrise, 2015).

Stiglitz, Varoufakis, and Felber criticize the neoliberal ethos, independence and the lack of democracy of IMF; moreover, they reject IMFs interference in economic policies of the debt countries in a form of stipulated structural adjustment programs.