NEWGroup: Overview

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The New Economy Working Group: An Overview

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), YES! Magazine, the Living Economies Forum, New Economy Coalition, Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Democracy Collaborative, plus individual member Gus Speth have joined together to launch the New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup) to put forward a bold vision and implementing strategy for a New Economy that works for all of Earth’s people and the living systems on which their well-being depends.

Illuminating a Defining Choice

As a nation and a species, we face a defining choice between the phantom wealth casino economy we now have and the real wealth living economies on which a viable human future depends.

Fourfold Failure

The failure of the phantom wealth casino economy is evident in a fourfold economic, social, environmental, and political crisis.

  • The economic crisis of the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street financial excesses has stripped tens of millions of middle class Americans of their jobs, homes, and retirement assets and plunged many into poverty and despair.
  • A social crisis of extreme and growing inequality is unraveling America’s social fabric. A tiny minority of executives and financiers have experienced soaring incomes and accumulated grand fortunes as wages for working people have stagnated despite rising productivity gains, and poverty has risen to a near thirty-year high. Social mobility has declined, record numbers of people lack health insurance, schools are failing, prison populations are swelling, employment security is a thing of the past, and Americans workers put in more hours than workers in any other high income country at the expense of family and community life.
  • An environmental crisis caused by excessive human consumption and waste is disrupting Earth’s climate patterns, reducing Earth's capacity to support life, and creating large-scale human displacement that further fuels social breakdown.
  • A political crisis created by big money, a failed market fundamentalist ideology, and the glorification of greed and extreme individualism has reduced democracy to a weak, shallow, and corrupt charade and stripped government of the capacity to provide effective corrective leadership.  

These economic, social, environmental, and political crises all point to the profound failure of an economic system designed and managed by Wall Street institutions to maximize short-term financial returns to their most powerful players.

Yet the current policy debate is largely confined to a search for measures to restore this failed economic system to its 2007 pre-Wall Street meltdown function. The major contending parties differ mainly in the extent to which they see a constructive role for government in setting rules to moderate the worst Wall Street excesses.

Repairing a system designed to serve the wrong values and priorities is a reckless waste of precious time and resources. At best it can provide only a temporary fix. A real solution requires a thorough system redesign to give priority to serving the real needs of people, community, and Earth's living systems.

Reframing the Debate

Widespread public outrage creates an opening to reframe the public debate on economic policy choices and the assumptions underlying those choices about values, the proper purpose of our economic institutions, and the potentials of our human nature.

The basic design elements of the real wealth living economies we humans must now create are largely known. Indeed, millions of people are already engaged in local initiatives that are bringing the needed new economies into being. It remains, however, to weave together the known elements into a holistic, coherent, and compelling vision of the possibilities at hand, translate that vision into a coherent policy agenda, and build public support through popular education and media outreach. This is the work we are undertaking as NEWGroup.

Our approach is values based, but non-ideological. We recognize that markets, government, and civil society all have essential and mutually supportive roles in the living economies on which our future depends.