Ten clichés about wealth
by Patrick Viveret. Writer, philosopher, author of the ministerial report “Reconsidering the wealth” (available below)
The wealth of a country is not what we believe, and especially not what we measure ... Patrick Viveret analyzes 10 received ideas on wealth ... It is about money, third sector, home economics, ecology ...
1. GDP is a good indicator of the wealth created
Mad cow to the Erika, the storm of December 1999 to road accidents or the explosion of the AZF factory in Toulouse: All these disasters are blessings to our gross domestic product! The hundreds of billions of francs they cost society are not recognized as destruction, but as wealth Creations: therefore have to pay garages to repair damaged cars, cement to burn animal meal or doctors to treat victims of pollution, added monetary values are recorded in the accounts. Which contributes to higher GDP (gross domestic product).
2. Only companies produce wealth
Our economic system is based on the strict separation between, on one hand, regarded companies as only producing wealth and on the other, social and ecological activities financed from this wealth. Such myth condemns associations to beg their livelihood to the State or to search for on the market, failing to have directly linked to social resources wealth they help to create or maintain. In terms of national accounting associations contribute to lower GDP by developing volunteer activities rather than paid. This perverse system that utilities a suspected area continuously parasitism.
3. the industrial era of productivity indicators are still valid
We have productivity measurement tools forged to promote material growth of an industrial nature. These turn out to be largely counter-productive when it comes to facing the three major challenges of the future: entering the information age, ecological issues, the role of relational services (education, health, etc.) in our development. So, in terms of health, what counts is not the number of visits to the doctor, but the fact of knowing if one is cured or, better, if one avoids such or such risk. But in the current accounting, the more one is prevention, more growth is broken (Since it uses less medication and hours of hospitalization)!
4. The money is first used to facilitate the exchange
Correct, but only in part. The word “pay” comes from the Latin pacare, which means to pacify, and Montesquieu developed a theory of “soft trade” as an alternative to war. But, if money fulfills this function when it facilitates exchange between partners, factor becomes violent when she gets tool of domination of capitalism being more of a will to power that the desire to exchange. That people willing to exchange and create activities can not do so because they are insolvent contradicts the theory of money as a bargaining tool.
5. Money remains the foundation of any trading system
The most universal system of exchange between human beings is actually the one time. This fulfills the roles of unit of account and medium of exchange traditionally devolved to money all the better as its units (hours, minutes, seconds) have the advantage, unlike money, of being universally recognized and invariable. In short, what is called money, which is in fact only "market money", is only a special case of the exchange of time. It would be wiser to say that "money is time" rather than "time is money".
6. It is the rarity that makes the real value of property
We define value in the economic sense, by scarcity. But this intuition is false when it denies any value to non-scarce goods but whose loss would be irreparable: the air is abundant and free, but its disappearance would condemn the human species. Which shows that the market value is a subset of a higher value system, which simply simulate the loss to discover its importance.
7. Planetary resources are insufficient to satisfy all needs
The current economic war that we present ourselves as related to logic of scarcity and survival, is in a context where the basic needs of the six billion people can be satisfied. Figures from the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) speak for themselves: it would take about 40 billion a year to eradicate hunger, provide access to safe water for all, to house them decently and combat major epidemics. Ten times less than for global spending on advertising!
8. The economy was born of the need to allocate scarce resources
In most cases, it is not the scarcity but the abundance that characterizes nature: think of the abundance of species, of cells and, in general, of the tremendous profusion of the phenomenon. of life ... Far from the economy appearing as the basic activity, a condition of all survival, it is much more, from its modern reinvention in the nineteenth century, the dominant ideology of industrial society.
9. The economy plays a central role in all human societies
If there is a common feature in most civilizations, is the subordination of labor, production and wider economic sphere or activities deemed more fundamental values such as politics, culture, philosophy. Even Adam Smith, the father of our political economy, believed that the real role of economics, in organizing abundance, was to bring together the conditions to then build a “philosophical republic”. As for Keynes, he considered that the economy should occupy, in the long term, a reduced place in social activity and economists accept that their role is not more important than that of "dentists".
10. There is no alternative internationally on these issues
From today, we can rely on an international research trend to facilitate the transformation of our systems of representation of wealth. This is evidenced by the human development and poverty indicators drawn up by the UNDP, those of the European Union on environmental and social indicators, the recent debate on “corporate social responsibility” and even certain studies by the World Bank and of the OECD on "social capital" and "natural capital". Lastly and above all, the growing demands of global civil society are pushing institutional and economic actors to act on this issue: the Quebec meeting to “globalize solidarity”, organized by actors in the social and solidarity economy, and the Forum Porto Alegre's World Socialists have all put the reconsideration of wealth on their agenda. Suddenly, it becomes difficult to argue that France cannot engage alone in a transformation strategy to justify stagnation.