The Transition Movement

A friend asked me what I thought of the Transition movement
(http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/great-transition), this was
my response.

I've only read the exec summary, but here are my initial thoughts.
>
> One major issue is that they seem to play down or ignore the general
> problems of government. For example, regulations and policies with
> unintended consequences were large contributing factors to the GFC.
> Fannie and Freddie were essentially told by the govt to take on
> sub-prime mortgages to increase the number of home owners.
>
> Throughout they seem to assume that it's possible for government to
> set appropriate price levels that include social costs. In principle I
> agree that we often don't include social costs, but the answer isn't
> central price setting. I don't think there's a single historical
> example where that's worked out well.
>
> Basically I think they base their entire implementation on the ability
> and independence of government. I don't think governments are
> (generally) malicious: they believe that their actions are helpful.
> But regulatory capture, campaign funding and the incestuous
> relationship between industry and regulatory heads makes it hard for
> impossible for govt to make truly independent decisions. I don't think
> that we can rely on govt to "save" us.
>
> Possibly the biggest problem I have is with the 2nd last paragraph:
>
> "...but also to finally rid the world of the scourge of poverty and
> inequality. Business as usual has also failed in this regard. Just as
> within countries, trickle down approaches at global level have brought
> us to the brink of environmental disaster, while also increasing
> inequalities and entrenching grinding poverty in many parts of the
> world"
>
> That's demonstrably false. The 200 years has taken the West from
> $5/day and a life expectancy of 40 to $100/day and a life expectancy
> of 75. It has taken the Chinese from $5/day to $30/day, and in two
> generations they'll have caught up with the west. I can't take
> seriously any proposal that ignores the single largest improvement in
> human living conditions ever known.
>
> It's not all bad though: their tax policies are solid. Progressive
> consumption tax has a lot of nice side-effects (encourages saving,
> discourages debt) and taxing socially harmful activity, while a bit on
> the authoritarian side, is probably a the best way to combat
> undesirable behaviour. It has to be done carefully though (do you
> think the alcopops tax had any impact on teen binge drinking?)
>
> I liked what they were saying about moving decision making to the
> lowest level possible, but that seems in conflict with their desire to
> centrally plan things like prices and the size of industries.
>
> Resilience (in individuals, communities, businesses, society) is A
> Good Thing. I'm not entirely sure how we should encourage it, but we
> should aim for it.
>
> Although it also has a bunch of things that bug me, I think The New
> Capitalist Manifesto does a better job of addressing the ways in which
> the current Western corporatist states are failing.
>
> Anyway, that's my 2c.

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