POLICE WATCH INDIA (Regd. NGO)
The value of culture and cultural decisions relative to economic policy and stewardship of nature is poorly understood, loosely measured, and chronically undervalued.
In a world of reliable prosperity, society is enhanced within the means and opportunities of nature. A shift in society and cultural views is the starting point for growing and developing diverse bio-regional economies that meet fundamental needs.
Apparent conflicts between society and nature — jobs vs. the environment, loggers vs. spotted owls — result from short-time horizons and the failure to include broader social and ecological costs in decision making. Studies consistently show that states that have invested most heavily in environmental protection offer a higher quality of life. Thriving ecosystems pay important quality of life dividends in clean air, water, and soil; recreational opportunities; a connection to nature; and a decrease in environmentally-induced health impacts including breathing disorders, learning disabilities, and cancers.
“Society” includes education, governance, religious institutions, neighborhood groups and associations, cultural diversity, languages, libraries and other knowledge archives, health-care facilities, community development corporations, legal and police systems, and so forth. Society, like nature, suffers from chronic underinvestment because its stream of benefits, including safety and security, friendship and community, a sense of civic identity, access to knowledge, and many others, is hard to quantify in economic terms.
In a world of reliable prosperity, investments in society are extensive. Green businesses work to provide community benefit. True cost pricing provides incentives for proper accounting of society/culture and its value. Local economies and strategies of local asset ownership ensure that needs are more broadly and fairly met. The community institutions at the core of society are supported.
Although quality of life is partially correlated with income, it is possible for household economies to make decisions that lead to lives of comfortable sufficiency rather than stressful accumulation. Quality of life is highly idiosyncratic, and each household can determine a balance of social, financial, and ecological returns which is most fulfilling. From this perspective, social equity includes universal fulfillment of the most fundamental human needs along with broad access to meaningful work, while respecting the enormous range of life circumstances and personal goals which may drive people to seek different kinds of livelihood.
Invest in the community institutions and green businesses that build social capital. Support ownership strategies that meet needs more broadly and fairly. Seek policies that properly account for social capital. Allow household economies to find a better balance between society and economic capital.
THE ROLE OF CIVIC SOCIETY
As wealth and political power become increasingly concentrated, it becomes difficult for human-scale democracy to flourish.
Civic society is that component of social life that falls outside the domain of governments and commerce, yet is concerned with building community. In order to flourish, civic society requires informal “third place” meeting spaces (outside both home and work), non-governmental organizations, and independent media.
One significant role of civic society is to maintain a barrier between commerce and government. In the absence of major campaign finance reform, citizens must pay constant attention in order to resist the undue influence of wealth on politics. IMMEDIATE AND DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION IN SHAPING THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, LAND-USE, TAXATION AND SPENDING, LAWS, AND POLICIES IS INTRINSIC TO RELIABLE PROSPERITY. It is vital that this participation be provided through spontaneous channels and not just through formal governmental processes.
Non-profit organizations, associations, trade unions and related community assets play a critical role in hosting and shaping civic society. They provide ongoing ways for citizens to engage in the great conversations about society’s meaning and direction. Such dialogue allows fundamental values to be explored and profound new directions to emerge. It forms an important counterpoint to both the formal governance process and the expression of immediate consumer values in the marketplace.
Independent media — including newspapers, radio and television stations, and websites provide additional communication channels for civic society. They disseminate ideas to much broader audiences and permit ongoing critical examination.
Reliable prosperity promotes civic society through its emphasis on local control and accountability and society. Capital that is rooted locally is responsive to local concerns. CITIZENS WITH A SENSE OF SECURITY WHOSE FUNDAMENTAL NEEDS ARE MET ARE MORE LIKELY TO SHAPE CIVIC SOCIETY. In turn, reliable prosperity depends on an ongoing transformation in values that can only result from meaningful public debate.
Promote the gathering places, non-governmental organizations, and independent media that give civic society full expression. HONOUR CIVIC SOCIETY AS A BARRIER BETWEEN AND ALTERNATIVE TO BOTH GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCE.
THOSE WHO ARE IN POWER SHOULD STOP GROSSLY UNDER-ESTIMATING THE “AAM AADMI”. INSTEAD THEY SHOULD MEANINGFULLY FULFILL THE GENUINE NEEDS OF THE “AAM AADMI” BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.