Actualising the New Economy (heads we win or tales we woe)

Our society, culture and economic system are so intermixed that it is impossible to take a pound coin out of your pocket and for some aspect of it not to have been a contributory factor in society’s ills.

I alluded to this in Better Bricks and Good Foundations and I have also written previously about the Social Economy in ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’ — Is it possible to socialise the economy?.

The wider possible connections of Socially Enterprising are touched on in Socially Enterprising as a Socio-Cultural-Economic Paradigm.

All three posts provide some background for what I will put forward here.

You see that coin in your pocket can be used to draw attention to everything that is wrong about our current system but at the same time it may also present to us a way of thinking about the New Economy.

Today there is a single coin with a single story.

But what if there was another story? What if by shining a light on the coin at the centre of things we could help to create a separation and begin to actualise something much more tangible?

The economy we’ve got isn’t going anywhere.

That coin in your pocket that too is here to stay. It plays a central role in our society and whatever we do economically will orient itself around our common currency.

So let’s try working with what we’ve got.

Let’s try — Start where we are. Use what we have. Do what we can.

We can always do that.

Start where we are — The economy and the coin

We have an Economy and in it’s current form this can have some negative effects on Society, Culture and the Environment.

There is a Social Economy which exists as part of the Economy. This part of the Economy tends to be pro-social i.e. it can have beneficial effects on Society, Culture and the Environment.

We also have a New Economy and movement which refers to an economic system that values human wellbeing, fairness and sustainability above profits.

This may sound the Social Economy and I’m sure that a lot of people would argue that it is but I feel that there is an important difference.

For me the key differentiation is the ‘movement’ aspect.

The economies above are not entirely separate (isolated) and they don’t entirely tell a story of good or bad actors either.

But they do give us a starting point.

Most importantly for me the New Economy movement brings into existence a polarity which doesn’t necessarily exist with the Social Economy.

You know the other side of the coin I thought we could tell a different story with…

Use what we have — Putting our heads together

Here we will be focusing on money and the economy but the logic is fairly identical as it’s still behavioural.

Governments, local authorities, companies and organisations of all shapes and sizes have to buy things.

These purchases can range from a pack of teabags for a staff room right through to an entire supply chain delivering a power plant.

Have you ever heard of Social Procurement?

Social Procurement is when organisations use their buying power to generate social value above and beyond the value of the goods, services or construction being procured.

What this actually means in practice is rather variable but it begins to open up thinking about what it is that organisations actually spend money on and the real world effects this has.

There are; 900,000 civil society organisations; 2.5 million businesses; 810 public bodies, agencies, and local authorities; and 11,930 town/parish/community councils in the UK.

When we think of all of the organisations and businesses that exist and the purchasing and procurement decisions they make this adds up to quite a big chunk of the economy.

The government alone spends over £700 billion a year and businesses spend over £250 billion with each other.

Have you ever heard of Ethical Shopping?

Unless you have a very large family a procurement process probably isn’t part of your weekly shop = although a cash and carry card might save you a few pennies.

You can think of Ethical Shopping as being your personal way to think beyond price/brand/look/convenience and consider other social and environmental elements that might be important to you.

This is you as a consumer being more than just a consumer.

There are over 52 million adults in the UK.

When you think of all the products and services that we the public buy in the UK it adds up to another big chunk of the economy.

The UK Consumer Spending Total was £342 billion for 2019.

Being more mindful of our actions

There are consultancies and software applications. Websites, books and guides.

It’s pretty much the same picture on the consumer side of things. If you want to be more ethical in your purchasing you can be.

But whether you’re a corporate or a citizen it isn’t completely straightforward because;

  1. everything is currently so mixed up in the economy.
  2. you may place different emphasis on social or environmental factors.
  3. what is good one day may not be quite so good the next.

There is a certain amount of effort entailed here. Still there’s a certain amount of effort entailed in thinking like a human being and being part of a society so lets not excuse ourselves for not bothering!

Do what you can — Winning the toss

The way things are today in our society and in our economy are not necessarily by design. It’s just how things have come about.

We were told for decades a story of just letting the market, competition and governments make those complicated decisions for us and everything would work itself out just fine.

It didn’t though did it. Not for everyone and certainly not for the planet.

Now we find ourselves with the tricky problem of how to sort it all out.

Making better choices whether that is as individuals or as organisations is a key part of how we can do this for ourselves.

Shifting the balance gradually from The Economy over to the New Economy would accomplish great ends in itself.

It also begins to get us thinking again about our actions.

As we do this we in effect solidify and cement the New Economy in place and give us all a clearer choice of which kind of world we wish to live in.

Do we want ‘tales we woe’?

Or do we want ‘heads we win’?

We don’t need to toss a coin to find out.

We just need to make a bit more effort in our choices.

It gets much easier once they’re made clear.

Founder of Socially Enterprising / Commoner / Mostly Unemployed.