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Sharing: good for the environment - bad for the economy

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Sharing: good for the environment - bad for the economy

Post by ecosocialist on Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:07 pm

Hi, it was suggested I come to this forum and contribute - especially in the environment section. I'm perfectly happy to do this Smile. I'm going to start with a pretty theoretical post:

Here I will expose some flaws in the current capitalist economy.

Imagine a person who owns a kettle.

They bought that kettle as part of the capitalist economy. It was manufactured in a factory and transported to a store where it was purchased. At each stage, some income was taken by a company (the manufacturing company, the haulage company and the shop). The money earned by these companies was used to pay for labour (providing employment) and for the resources required to create, transport and store the kettle and some of the money was taken as profit. Also, at each stage there was energy use; contributing to greenhouse gasses and pollution and depleting natural resources.

The person doesn't really want a kettle at all. What they really want is boiling water, on demand. The kettle just happens to be the most convenient way to provide this. The person finds this useful and so derives a use value from the kettle.

Now consider they have a friend who lives in close proximity to them - perhaps they share a house or flat.This friend suddenly decides they need a readily available supply of boiling water but they don't own a kettle themselves.There are a couple of things they can do to fulfil this need.

1) They go and buy themselves a kettle. This costs them a few quid, for which they receive the use value of a kettle. The money they spend helps to sustain the economy that provided them with the kettle - paying for labour costs, energy costs and material costs in its production. This clearly benefits the economy by adding another source of consumption which feeds into economic growth and provides more possibility of employment. On the other hand, it also contributes to environmental destruction - buying another kettle requires more materials to be taken from the Earth and more energy to be used. The process can be summarised as:

  Labour -> Earnings -> Kettle (Labour + Materials + Energy) -> Use Value

In words, the person works so they can earn money. Some of this money they spend on a kettle, paying for the labour, materials and energy used in its production. From this kettle, they derive a use value. The total process for both people can be summarised as:

   2[ Labour -> Earnings -> Kettle (Labour + Materials + Energy) ] -> 2 * Use Value

2) They arrange to both share the kettle that has already been bought. The second person effectively gets the use value of the kettle for free - none of their labour needs to be spent to gain this use. Theoretically, this person could reduce the amount they work due to this. The use value of the single kettle is increased to nearly (there is some 'overlap' where the use value for each person is slightly less than if they individually owned a kettle due to them not always being able to both use the kettle at the same time) twice the value it had when it was used by only one person. Both individuals also gain some value from the social interaction of sharing - 'Social Value'. This has less impact on the environment as the extra materials and energy required to produce another kettle are not used. However, it also contributes less to the economy - the extra labour is not needed which, scaled up, leads to less work. Less work and less consumption would not be a problem in a sane economic system - it would simply lead to shorter working hours. In reality, it leads to unemployment and crisis. The total process for sharing can be summarised as:

   1[ Labour -> Earnings -> Kettle (Labour + Materials + Energy) ] -> (2 - overlap) * Use Value + Social Value

This is clearly a more efficient process, providing more value for less labour and natural resources. The 'overlap' is very small for a small number of people.

So capitalism is not really 'efficient' as its advocates like to claim. It is efficient only at producing and consuming more and more requiring people to work harder and destroying ecosystems. As an ecosocialist, I believe we need to move to a system where people consume less, work less and share more.I believe this can be achieved with socialist policies emphasising the commons and a high degree of truly democratic localism.
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Re: Sharing: good for the environment - bad for the economy

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:57 pm

Even greater economies can be obtained by providing communal dwellings, with communal kitchens and communal clothing laundered in a communal facility, whilst workers' children are cared for in a communal creche.

But who wants to live like that to save a few pennies?
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Re: Sharing: good for the environment - bad for the economy

Post by ecosocialist on Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:34 pm

oftenwrong wrote:Even greater economies can be obtained by providing communal dwellings, with communal kitchens and communal clothing laundered in a communal facility, whilst workers' children are cared for in a communal creche.

But who wants to live like that to save a few pennies?

Sounds like a great way to live to me.
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Re: Sharing: good for the environment - bad for the economy

Post by astra on Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:00 pm

Ah, so it's back to the communal villa or forum?



Sounds more like prison or billets to me. No Thanks.



Now if yer mentioned Kibbutz - - - -
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