Beyond Poverty and Affluence

Beyond Poverty and Affluence: Toward a Canadian Economy of Care

Bob Goudzwaard
Harry de Lange
With a Foreword by Maurice F. Strong
Translated and Edited by Mark R. Vander Vennen
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 174
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442671348
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Poverty and Affluence
    Book Description:

    Beyond Poverty and Affluence argues that, like a virus which has developed an immunity to the cure, the problems of poverty, environmental degeneration, and unemployment today successfully resist the remedy of growth in industrial production. Bob Goudzwaard and Harry de Lange demonstrate that over the last several decades the solutions used by industrialized nations either have not helped or have dramatically exacerbated these problems. Instead, these predicaments have become structural features of today's economic practice. The authors formulate an alternative, which they call the economics of care, and propose a twelve-step program for economic recovery in Canada.

    Goudzwaard and de Lange contend that poverty, environmental damage, and unemployment have a common origin: they emerge from structural flaws in classical and contemporary neoclassical economic thought, including that of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Drawing on thinkers as diverse as RenT Girard and Hannah Arendt, on numerous Canadian sources, and on their own Christian tradition, the authors propose a `pre-care' economy, which places care needs first on its list of priorities and only then addresses the scope of production, rather than a 'post-care' economy, which pursues maximum consumption and production above all else. They also describe in detail structural changes the Canadian economy will need to undergo to become an economy of pre-care. Included in their discussion is an assessment of the progress of `sustainable development' in Canada, including the work of the federal and provincial roundtables on environment and economy, and a proposed framework for setting Canadian government finances on a durable foundation.

    The twelve economic proposals the authors put forward deal with such issues as international currency creation, the environment, the foundation of labour/management relations, the funding of social programs, wage and salary development, the scope of production and technological development, the structure of economic decision-making, the direction of government funding, and the dropping of trade barriers in North America and Europe.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7134-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Maurice F. Strong

    This borrowing from Dr Samuel Johnson was especially appropriate in describing the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (unced) at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The gathering concentrated not only the mind, but also the hearts, of humankind. It riveted the worldʹs attention on the fragility of Earthʹs environment and the finiteness of its resources. It illuminated, as never before, in the presence of the largest host of the worldʹs political leaders ever gathered in one place, the indisputable fact that the global community is on a pathway to destruction.

    The full quotation from Dr Johnson is this:...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    In this book, we attempt to demonstrate that the Canadian economy, as part of the industrialized world, has reached the point where it must be fundamentally renewed. We argue that the industrialized economies, in both theory and practice, are incapable of resolving the major economic dilemmas of our time – poverty, environmental degradation, and unemployment. We suggest that these problems call for a new economic agenda. We also explore the prospects of finding a genuine resolution to these difficulties, a resolution that lies beyond the grasp of todayʹs commonly accepted solutions. And this process leads us to recommend, at the...

  6. Part One Why Economic Renewal?
    • 1 Poverty, Environmental Degradation, and Unemployment
      (pp. 11-42)

      In the Introduction, we described several paradoxes that plague the industrialized societies. We suggested that these paradoxes are signs that the problems of poverty, environmental degradation, and unemployment have acquired a new, baffling element – they appear to be impervious to currently accepted solutions. In this chapter, we sketch this development. We trace the development of each problem over the last several decades from the vantage point of the success or failure of the attempted solutions, rooted largely in the much-vaunted remedy of a growth in industrial production. We also briefly consider the economic ramifications of the changing nature of...

  7. Part Two Finding a Solution
    • 2 Risky Calculations
      (pp. 45-65)

      In part I, we discussed poverty, the environmental malaise, and structural unemployment together. We now explore the possibility, alluded to at the end of that part, that they belong together. Is it possible that these three most significant economic impasses of our time have a common origin and that their simultaneous emergence is not an accident?

      We saw above how paradoxical and unyielding these problems have become. They have acquired such an inner rigidity that many people have the feeling that something fundamental has gone wrong somewhere. We may feel as if we are passengers on a train that somewhere...

    • 3 Reclaiming People and Their Needs
      (pp. 66-79)

      Let us now take stock of the economic ʹparadigmʹ operative in the industrialized societies today and then attempt to contribute to its renewal.

      By and large, reports on the course of a nationʹs economic life render judgments solely on the basis of quantitative givens. Driving the assessment of these givens is the commonly held assumption that higher growth is good and higher growth than ever before is better. Conversely, a decline in growth implies that someone has made a mistake somewhere. And for a country such as Canada, which has boasted high growth figures for many years, lower growth is...

    • 4 Renewing the Economic Order
      (pp. 80-94)

      Let us consider where we have alighted along the way. In chapter 1 we described the main economic problems facing the world today: mounting poverty, the deterioration of the environment, and the loss of meaningful employment. In chapter 2 we suggested that these problems have a common origin. In one way or another, they all have to do with ʹcalculationsʹ implemented by the industrialized societies, and they no longer seem to add up. We saw that the science of economics actively participated in drafting these calculations, including those designed to solve poverty, environmental abuse, and unemployment. Economic theorists formulated them...

    • 5 Revitalizing Our Outmoded Economic Order
      (pp. 95-106)

      In chapter 4, we observed that a change of the current economic order is at least conceivable. At the same time, any readiness to implement change in society faces several hurdles, which appear at the junctures of redefining the industrialized societiesʹ economic ends, making the means in such societies serviceable to these ends, and linking these together and coordinating them. With the fly-wheel, spoil-sport and magnifying-glass arguments, we also noted that society may be more ready to change than we might have assumed. Todayʹs economic order may therefore no longer be responsive to the cultural demands of our time and...

    • 6 Sustainable Development
      (pp. 107-112)

      In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development published the reportOur Common Future. Established by the United Nations, this commission, chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, was broadly constituted. Its task was to define the relationship between development and the environment. The problem posed for the commission was: how can we achieve a form of economic development that provides for the needs of todayʹs generation without endangering future generations? Thanks largely to the Brundtland Report, the environment returned to the political agenda, from which it had virtually disappeared, especially because of the actions of the us...

    • 7 ʹBut Thatʹs Impossible!ʹ
      (pp. 113-124)

      In this chapter we seek to answer a number of objections frequently voiced against renewing the economy.

      It is self-evident that what undergirds todayʹs economic system and economic theory is our pursuit of the ʹacquisitive society.ʹ This pursuit both drives the economy and is a result of it. The desire for more material products plays such a central role that we frequently hear it described as a basic trait of human nature. When discussing patterns of economic practice in the light of the prospects for economic renewal, we often hear: ʹBut thatʹs how people are,ʹ or ʹThatʹs human nature,ʹ or...

  8. Part Three A Program for Recovery
    • 8 A Twelve-Step Program for Economic Recovery
      (pp. 127-152)

      In this final chapter, we explore the possibilities of taking a few steps now towards a renewed Canadian economy. We shall focus especially on specific steps that Canada can take to lead the way towards an economy of care in the industrialized nations. In our view, Canada is uniquely positioned, both historically and politically, to set a powerful example. It is richly endowed with the legacy of the era of Lester B. Pearson, while internationally it has a reputation – including among the nations of the South – for adopting independent positions. Moreover, Canada is known for fulfilling its international...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 153-168)
  10. Index
    (pp. 169-173)