The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Collection of Ecopreneurship Links

I was booting around on the web today and yesterday finding information on government grants for green businesses, but I thought it would be nifty to bulk together some business planning sites that would be of help to the budding Ecopreneur.

Ecopreneurist - I suppose the name really says it all, doesn't it? Check out this link on writing a green business plan. As a supplement, Fast Company has a few "dos" for green business plans here.

Green Marketing TV - also has a section on the green business plan, but since I'm also big on forests and biofuels... check the links!

Ecopreneur - a site from South Africa that looks rather posh. They have some good warnings for businesses that seem to apply to pretty much any business.

The Ecopreneur (blog) - seems to have died, but he's got a reasonably good article on there. I hold out hope that it died because he got his business idea off the ground... but I can't be sure.

Just for good measure, here's John Todd talking about Ecological Design (in the second link, he talks about eco-industrial parks, which interest me greatly), as well as some detail on the 12 Principles of Permaculture. Believe it or not, I actually base my management strategies on the 12 Principles of Permaculture, and they work.

Finally, here are a bunch of stories about Ecopreneurs that should warm your heart.

I admit, this was more just for me to keep my links in one place, but I figured someone else might be looking for this stuff!

Monday, 27 February 2012

A Little Good News

While I can tend to get a bit pessimistic at times about the global economy (actually... I'm not really pessimistic... probably the best thing the economy can do right now is contract: it means gas will become relatively more expensive and we'll have more market incentive to create clean alternatives), it helps to see some positivity sometimes:
Envia Systems, backed by venture capitalists, General Motors, and the Department of Energy, plans to announce on Monday at the ARPA-E conference that the company has created a lithium ion battery that has an energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram, which Envia CEO Atul Kapadia told me in an interview could be the tipping point for bringing electric cars to mainstream car owner.
Kapadia tells me that current lithium ion batteries deliver an energy density of around 100 to 150 watt-hours per kilogram, while Envia’s battery can deliver 2.5 times that energy with about the same weight as the current electric cars that have hit the market. To build a 300-mile range electric car with standard lithium ion batteries, it would cost around $40,000 just for the batteries alone, says Kapadia.
Envia says with an energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram, its battery cell costs could be at $125 per kWh.
That's very good in relation to other battery technologies. Just to shed a little gloom on the topic, though, the energy density of gasoline (or petrol) is 47.2 MJ/kg. The Envia Li-ion battery energy density is 1.44 MJ/kg. We're only off by a factor of 32 give or take, but it's better than nothing. Li-air batteries have an energy density of 9 MJ/kg, so there are other technologies out there that might supplant Li-ion, but for now, I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Economy, Democracy, Climate Change

A short link to a very long - but very wise - dissertation on how to shift the economy to become more fair, inclusive, and democratic: by Benjamin Barber.
"As we’ve seen, capitalism can serve the green economy by being entrepreneurial in an inventive way and finding alternatives that will eventually make money for some people, as it should. If I’m right in what I’ve been saying, then it is our task first and foremost to restore democracy: the commonwealth, the public good, and citizenship. I’m suggesting that what’s wrong in the debate about greening and climate change is that we’re trying to meet the challenge of sustainability exclusively as consumers in a market economy; we’re acting in a way that doesn’t allow democracy to oversee the public good anymore. Science makes powerful arguments, but science doesn’t vote. What we need instead is a restoration of the role of the citizen, of public thinking, of the commonwealth, and of the public good. A green America is part of the commonwealth, not of private wealth or corporate wealth or shareholder wealth. Shareholders have their place too, but we mustn’t support private wealth at the cost of public wealth. We need advocates for the commonwealth, and yes, we have them—they’re called citizens. If citizens take themselves seriously, then they vote for politicians who uphold the public good. If we have only consumers involved in politics, then of course they vote for the people who uphold private interests and the lobbyists who represent them."

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

It's like Capitalism... except that it's Fair!

The next ten years are the prelimaries for our species' final exams, in which we discover whether this bold evolutionary experiment of combining a large forebrain with opposable thumbs was really a good idea.  Practically, that means: can we get our act together enough to do what we know how to do to solve our environmental problems or, better still, eliminate and avoid those problems, not at a cost but at a profit, in a way that is trans-ideological, attractive to everybody, and with no, or hardly any, losers?
Economics is a topic far and cheap to my heart. This is because traditional economics only sees the environment as a source of raw material, and therefore as a part of the greater economy. As my heavily German-accented TA from one of my graduate seminars in international relations put it: "[economists] worship a false God". From a guy who started out his academic career in Economics, that's something of a grand condemnation. Our current economic trajectory is set by an economics of endless growth:
"The current system is broken," says Bob Watson, the UK’s chief scientific advisor on environmental issues and a winner of the prestigious Blue Planet prize in 2010. "It is driving humanity to a future that is 3-5°C warmer than our species has ever known, and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self." (emphasis mine)
Economics itself is, at best, a pseudoscience. It is a dark art that attempts to explain complex, multidimensional, and cyclic behaviour through simple, monovariable, and linear means. It is better explained as part of the ecology rather than with the ecology as part of the economy. The problem is that many people conflate the word economy with money, or Capitalism - as if all economies since the Cold War are Capitalistic. Money economies have the problem that they tend to need to grow in order to survive, and that infinite growth has an inevitable run-in with a finite planet.
Capitalism today abuses the people, environment, politics and culture in equal measures. It has fostered new extremes of wealth and poverty inside most countries, and such extremes always undermine or prevent democratic politics. Capitalist production for profit likewise endangers us by its global warming, widening pollution, and looming energy crisis. And now capitalism’s recurrent instability (what others call the “business cycle”) has plunged the world into the second massive global economic crisis in the last 75 years. Manifesto for Economic Democracy and Ecological Sanity  
Economies are not all money-based, and it has taken a huge economic downturn - that is to say, a gigantic failure of Capitalism to do its job and spread the wealth equitably - to bring alternative economies to the fore. The Occupy Gift Economy is a prime example of the genre, but there are others. In Greece, for example, alternative economies are emerging to free the people from the yoke that money imposes. Such debrouillard economies - Systeme D - are growing like an economic superpower across the world. Their adherents know - just like your mechanic knows - barter is nigh impossible to tax. They also know that the purpose of the economy is not to amass the most green pieces of paper, it's to redistribute wealth. Accumulation is about the ego, redistribution is about the community. It's hard going in Greece, but they have been given an opportunity to show the world that the birthplace of Democracy - a force far more important than cash - can democratise economics, too.

Ironically it is in the gaps of a broken system that the shoots of a different, new economy get a chance to grow. ... But while disaster reveals a society’s economic and social weaknesses, it also reveals where true resilience and real value can be found - in the ability of people to cooperate at the local level to meet a community’s needs.
The change into a local economy, based on barter and a local - informally issued - currency, can actually serve to revitalise the economy without need of money. Europe, especially Germany, has been experimenting with local currencies for years now. They are complete fiction, just like any other currency, but they get buy-in because they can be spent locally. Local merchants make excellent first adopters because they realise no big-box store would ever accept such stuff. In Canada, we have the brilliant idea of Canadian Tire Money, which some local bars even accept on the occasional special promotion night. Canadian Tire knows that Canadian Tire Money keeps people coming back. Parts of Greece are now using the Local Alternative Unit to purchase goods. Does money have to be centrally issued? No. In Canada, you can settle a debt for goosefeathers if both parties agree. You can't pay taxes with them, but contract laws allow you to barter anything for anything, so long as both parties agree to the transaction.

People are even considering new ways of making business equitable. Co-ops are growing in popularity. There is a plethora of startup information online for creating co-ops, and analyses of how a cooperative economic system might develop.Other systems exist, such as a "Circular Economy" based on recycling; Holonic credit networks that are holographic groups of groups of groups that trust one another and are willing to extend one another credit based on their relationships; and Sharing Economies much like the gift economy discussed above. These are all viable ideas that fly in the face of the monetized "everything has a dollar value" paradigm. 

Economies that run on money work, but they don't work equitably. Certainly they drive all sorts of interesting social and industrial forces... but I'd rather be assured by my economy that I can eat than be assured by my economy that I can keep my teeth white and hair tangle-free. The goal of an economy is to redistribute wealth fairly. A even a free market can distribute wealth fairly - if we construct it with that aim in mind.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Problem with Honeybees

It just won't go away.

Neonicotinoids - neonics for short - are demolishing bee populations, and North America is doing sweet nothing about it. While the Europeans have made early moves on the topic, they have in no way addressed the issue head-on, and we North Americans are historically laggards in the environmental department in comparison.

A new article from Grist indicates that we are going even deeper into crisis with bee populations reaching a critical point:

“We are inching our way toward a critical tipping point,” said Steve Ellis, secretary of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and a beekeeper for 35 years. Last year he had so many abnormal bee die-offs that he’ll qualify for disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Not good, given all that we grow that depends on pollination.

I've already spoken about this before, but we need this problem to be rectified. People are starting to look at alternative pollinators such as mason bees because they are hedging against local colony collapse. Don't hedge, get active with your local pesticide users and the people who need the services of pollinators: apple orchards, almonds, blueberries, you name it... get together and educate. Everyone loses if we lose bees.

We can help combat bee decline.

Help to ban neonics!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Science, a Battered Spouse of Politics

"We are sliding back into a dark era," she said. "And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms."
Allow me to say this clearly: if you believe there is an active and lively scientific debate about whether humans are causing global warming, you are wrong.

If you think that there is an argument to be made against global warming that has scientific merit, you are wrong.

Scientists around the world in their thousands: Nobel laureates, ecologists, climatologists, they have generally voiced a chorus of agreement with the science of global warming, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees too - which is tough to do, because EVERYTHING the UN does is watered down and made nice and warm and fuzzy for each and every one of its member states.

The voices raised against the idea tend to be economists, lawyers, journalists, and the occasional monovariable-thinking engineer.

In short, if you reject anthropogenic global warming, you are wrong. That's all there really is to say. There is no longer any debate except that created by psuedoscience and mass media bias: i.e., noise.

So, when scientists - whose tenured jobs depend on them toeing the line and keeping their speech apolitical - start saying they are under sustained attack for reporting their findings, we need to stand up and listen.

Go forth and educate!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Seven Fires

An interesting read from our First Nations brothers and sisters: The Seven Fires Prophecy.

While you're reading that, you may want to load this page about residential schools as a corollary: the first story being stuff we can learn, and the second being what happened when we thought we knew what to teach.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The Crash Course

If you haven't yet seen it, I highly recommend The Crash Course. It's free to watch every episode, broken down into bits, and the video streams fast. Pass it on, this is necessary knowledge.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Who Will Save the World?

Well, in naming this article, I have to admit I hope the reader - in her or his own mind - is saying "ME! ME!", but failing that, for those of you who are concerned about the state of affairs in the world but don't know how to help, I wanted to introduce you to some people who might be your key to becoming a superhero instead of just a concerned bystander. Here are nine groups that we should all help to save the world:

Who might fit in this group: people who like to tinker, who are good with their hands, prefer doing to talking, like to show not tell, and love the smell of freshly extruded thermoplastic.
Whether you're in one of the several groups currently working on open-source fabrication technology, a subscriber to the magazine MAKE, or determined to be able to build your own techno-farm, you might fall into the Maker camp. These are the people democratising technology and making building fun (and cool) again.
Why I think they're important: because you should know how to "prototype early, and prototype often". I remember reading about an experiment where groups of people were asked to build a simple structure out of straws. Kids typically performed better than MBAs and very close to CEOs. Why? They get in and tinker right off the bat. They try. They don't sit there planning for half the allotted time they get out and do something. That spark of intrepid and adventurous inventiveness is fanned to a flame in the Maker movement, and we're going to need that creativity and impetuous embrace of mechanical challenge to solve the problems that are coming at us now.

Who might fit in this group: people who like design-intensive (but less work-intensive) activities. People who like to be out-of-doors, who love thinking about how plants work together in an ecology rather than how to plant your tomatoes in a nice, neat row. People who want to tend a forest of diverse species and be inclusive of all the services the ecosystem provides, from the trees and shrubs to the insects and animals. If you prefer to be a steward of your garden and not a slaver, you're likely on the path to Permaculture.
Why I think they're important: because they are the antithesis of taming Nature and bringing Her to man - they take man to Nature, and meet Her half-way.

Who might fit in this group: anyone who feels that design should serve the whole of society and not benefit a corporation. People who understand that patents don't encourage invention, they actively throttle it. People who have used and benefited from wikipedia, firefox, linux, or any number of other free services provided by the open source movement for the good of all.
Why I think they're important: Open-source is living, breathing proof that not only can collaboration exist without remuneration, it can compete with corporate design and development. Partisans of the old economy would prefer to think that money is the only thing that can give an object or effort value, but open-source kicks sand in that idea's face. The fact is that informal economies - economies not based on money transactions - are eminently possible and even desirable when compared against the alternative. Open source isn't simply a greater way to innovate, it's proof positive that money isn't everything.

Who might fit in this group: you read The End of Growth (or perhaps just a short article about it), or understand the realities behind Hubbert's Peak, or perhaps read that the armies of the United States and Germany are both basing their long-term strategic planning on resource scarcity. You want to do something about this scarcity, and you want to take your whole town with you into a post-scarcity world with a resilient and renewable local economy. Welcome to the transition movement!
Why I think they're important: These guys are action-oriented and collaborative. They advocate, involve, build consensus, and motivate. Instead of whining about the state of a local economy, they actively promote economic improvement of a town based on locally-available renewable resources. They focus on down-to-earth value-building proposals and real job creation - not efficiency. This is the exact opposite of the soup-kitchen Depression mentality. Transitionistas make their own damn soup, or buy it locally with the town's own currency. Sustainability dudes have got their soups planned for the next 25 years.

Who might fit in this group: 99% of all people, and anyone else who gives a damn. You'll notice there are no links in this section, I recommend you simply write "occupy" in your favourite search engine and follow the rabbit hole.
Why I think they're important: Quite frankly, because most people still don't understand that we're participating in a system that is exploitative by nature. Occupiers are the educators of the age, the people who understand that the global economy is built to create concentrations of wealth, not distribution of wealth. The concerns and issues raised by the Occupiers are many, but perhaps this one phrase encapsulates most of them: banks may be able to create money, but they sure as hell don't create value. Only people can do that.

Who might fit in this group: people who look at the decisions other people make, and realise that almost nobody takes the consequences of their actions into account when they make those decisions. Systems thinkers are a rare new breed of human that perceives things in cycles and flows rather than linear processes of cause and effect. People who would like their idea to last generations, not years.
Why I think they're important: We can't keep thinking of the universe in the old terms of make, eat, poop; extract, consume, dispose; or creation, judgement, rapture. This is a world where actions have consequences - and consequences have consequences. Using systems theory, we can build systems that can sustain themselves based on the intelligence of their own design. The world is not a place inhabited by cause and effect, it is a place ruled by incalculable interoperating systems, where cause and effect are difficult to calculate. Systems thinkers get it.

Who might fit in this group: people who understand that the market isn't truly free. Economy is a subset of ecology, not the other way around. People who see that subsidies are simply externalities paid for by the taxpayer; that when a government gives preferential treatment, they make an economy weaker. People who know that the doing the right thing by the environment should - due simply to the laws of physics - be the right thing to do economically, as well. In short, you believe that profit and environmental stewardship are not only not mutually exclusive, they're practically intertwined.
Why I think they're important: Green economics is the great Capitalist hope for the coming economy. The belief that the market can - with an even playing field - do right by the planet. If you read Amory Lovins and anything from the Rocky Mountain Institute, you'll understand just how infuriatingly simple it would be to make an economy that not only creates jobs but protects the environment.

Who might fit in this group: people who realise that the energy buck stops with the sun; who see that incredible non-polluting chemical processes occur at room temperature throughout the world; who understand that nature has a 4-billion year head start on us for trying out the solutions to things, well, you might be a biomimic. Perhaps you've been inspired by John Todd's Living Machines or follow the work of Ocean Arks International. One way or another, you've been inspired by great thinkers who prefer to learn from Nature than enslave her. She's already solved these problems... why reinvent the wheel?
Why I think they're important: I'm a lazy guy, really. The less work I do, the better. I also like stuff that's closed-loop and easy to manage, and pays for itself after an initial investment. That's a good deal better than sewage systems that pollute. Why can't we have sewage systems that heal, instead? Why can't we simply listen to Mother Nature, and do stuff smarter, cheaper, and cleaner?

Who might fit in this group: well, it's rather obvious from the title... but people who learn from, study, and aid their local Indigenous Peoples groups are all part of this network.
Why I think they are important: well, there is a reason we call them First Nations peoples. They were around before us, and learned to live at peace with the land before anyone thought to take it away from them. Now, after all these years of neglect,we realise too late that  the knowledge that colonising powers have sought to eradicate is exactly the knowledge we need to aid us in our survival in the coming generations. We are realising our folly at having destroyed so much of the treasure trove of indigenous wisdom. Thanks to the efforts of indigenous groups, that knowledge is being preserved, recovered, and revitalised. I'm in no position to speak for the First Peoples, but I am in a position to say this: we need to be quiet and start listening rather than speaking. We've a lot to learn, and there's not much time.

That's just a few, and I know I've missed many, so I encourage you to add more in comments. We've a lot of work to do, but the work as already started. It's not a matter of where to start - it's a matter of picking who you want to help.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Crash Course in Ecological Economics

The Wise Prime Minister and Mr. M.

The wise Prime Minister had had enough of the one-size-fits-all solutions that the economic advisors of the previous national parties had left behind. She was new, and had to find a new solution. She was also hungry, and didn't feel like ordering from where she was at the PMO building on Sparks. Instead, she put on her grey hoodie, and snuck out past her RCMP detail (who were busy questioning a tourist about his particularly sharp soapstone carving - a subject about which the Mounties were rather sensitive), and jogged down Sparks to Elgin Street. For comfort food on a Friday night in Ottawa after 5PM, Elgin Street was the only real option. It was either Dunn's, the Elgin Street Diner, or International Shawarma.

Being wise, the Prime Minister decided on shawarma as she didn't have to worry about her breath smelling of garlic sauce once she was out of official meetings. One of the Cabinet ministers had mentioned that once, and she only grabbed shawarma on weekends after work from that day on.

Mr. M. was there, as he usually was on late Friday nights, and the wise Prime Minister chatted with him about business. It was clear the store was hopping, and though they served no alcohol, the tiny shop had a certain bar smell about it.

"It looks like business is brisk," said the wise Prime Minister.

"Of course!" said M., "the bars are getting ready for last call, and people are coming here before heading home... or across the bridge to Gatineau."

"But on Sparks, Bank, O'Connor... all of the shawarma places are closed now. Why are you still open?" asked the wise Prime Minister.

"Go into those places at noon, and it will be as packed as this," said M., "but they are all next to high-priced condos and government offices. My store is in the middle of a bunch of bars and just north of some lower-rent apartments. There's a reason why there's a convenience store across the way, too... they must survive on late night slurpee and condom runs." M. laughed to himself.

"So you're saying that only a few blocks north and west of here, there is a totally different type of business environment to here?" asked the wise Prime Minister.

"It's all about location," said M., "if I had the same hours in this store over on Bank, I'd go out of business. I'd need chairs, for the sit-down lunch crowd. No, my restaurant is all about the people who are going to grab a shawarma and eat it on the way home. If it wasn't for these bars and those apartments - and hey, maybe even that convenience store, my model wouldn't survive."

"You mean that other businesses - even businesses in the food and beverage industry - actually increase your sales?"

Mr. M. motioned to the line at his tiny counter that extended out the door, "See for yourself, Ms. Prime Minister."

The wise Prime Minister didn't expect to be so easy to recognise to early in her tenure, and blushed instantly. Mr. M. offered her a mint from a small jar.

"On the house." winked Mr. M., as he reached behind the bar to blast his theme song onto the street - a siren call to the drunk, the lost, and the otherwise sleepless denizens of the East downtown core.

The Wise Prime Minister and the Trade Unionist

The Trade Unionist spoke up, saying, "It's clear, Ms. Prime Minister, that in order to create jobs, you must protect workers. higher taxes on the rich are fine. Too much liberalism in our trade policy ruins our local industry. The only thing you can do to protect jobs is to protect the workers who work in those jobs."

"Go on," said the wise Prime Minister.

"Well,"said the trade unionist,"for example, you can start with strict overtime laws. If all employers have to pay for overtime, then either the workers will get higher salaries, or the employers will have to create more shifts. Tradesmen who work specialized positions will be guaranteed a higher minimum wage. The minimum wage for all workers should be raised."

"But the question of minimum wage isn't a federal one. Every province would have to have a say. What if provinces kept competing for industries by lowering their minimum wage?"

"Of course," said the trade unionist, "certain powers would have to be consolidated at the federal level. We would have to raise the standard for all workers across the board."

"That might be possible when a company becomes big enough to be considered a federal Corporation, but when it comes to local companies, how could we possibly make all the provinces agree to a single standard? Plus, how could we possibly have startup companies survive and grow with rigid, centralized, and draconian labour laws?A strict mandate from Ottawa will never work in a country where the price of milk in Yellowknife is so different from the price of milk in Toronto," said the wise Prime Minister, "even if the provinces gave up their authority over labour, Federal laws on the matter would work in Ontario, but not in nine other provinces."

"But in order to create jobs, we have to protect the rights of workers!" said the Trade Unionist.

"You are right," said the wise Prime Minister, "but we cannot sacrifice the flexibility of traditional family business, and by forcing all labour to abide by national rules, we would create a barrier to new business. We need new businesses - startups, family businesses, small-scale entrepreneurs - to keep the economy going strong. To keep growing, we can't force a single, overarching labour law on all entrepreneurs... especially when labour is the largest expense for almost every small business out there! Every entrepreneur, even if he doesn't hire, adds another job to the economy: his own. More than that, startups create huge amounts of jobs, and the startups that become mid-sized are the biggest job-creation sector in the economy. By raising the single greatest cost to the small entrepreneur, we almost guarantee wiping out the biggest job-creation sector by making it more difficult to cross the magical boundary between small to mid-sized business. It's clear none of the three solutions I have heard solve the problem of job creation."

Almost as if on cue, the Economic Liberal, the Neo Conservative, and the Trade Unionist piped up "No single solution can solve all of the economy's problems!"

To which the wise Prime Minister uttered the only reply under the circumstances: "Of course! There is no single solution..."

Friday, 3 February 2012

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Wise Prime Minister and the Neo Conservative

"Perhaps I can be of help." said the Neo Conservative.

"What is your plan for increasing the amount of jobs in our nation?" asked the wise Prime Minister.

Taking the floor, the Neo Conservative said, "Certainly, Ms. Prime Minister, a degree of protectionism is required in order to protect local industries, but free trade is a good thing if we have companies that can profit by it. Even if companies are not always creating jobs, protecting our own corporations against foreign companies is better than the alternative. But my concern isn't efficiency. I believe that job creation requires job creators, and we must make policies that allow them to profit above all others."

"Go on." said the wise Prime Minister.

"Well, the rich entrepreneurial class are your job creators," continued the Neo Conservative, "they are the ones who need tax cuts so they can go on creating jobs. You can't tax them to death and then expect them to have money left over for job creation. Let them use their hard-earned money as they see fit. They are the visionaries, after all."

"So what you're saying is that we should allow the rich to keep more of their profit because they will create jobs with that profit?" asked the wise Prime Minister.

"Yes," replied the Neo Conservative, "they will have more money to create new ventures, and the new ventures will hire many new workers!"

"You are thinking about things like a bureaucrat and not a businessperson," said the wise Prime Minister, "because if I'm rich, I can write off business expenses to lower my tax rate, correct?"

"Of course." said the Neo Conservative.

The wise Prime Minister continued, "If I am rich and paying lots of tax, I am willing to give more to the economy to get more protection from taxes. If my taxes are low, there is no need to get a tax break, and no need to add money to the economy. I will save it for a rainy day when taxes are higher. Lower taxes means the cost of money is low. If the cost of money is low, I will hold on to it. If the cost of money is high, I will spend it so that I can protect myself from that expense. If you think that it is the entrepreneurial class that creates jobs, then clearly what we need to do is tax them more, not less."

The Wise Prime Minister and the Economic Liberal

The wise Prime Minister called for her Economic advisors. Three men stepped forward: the Economic Liberal, the Neo Conservative, and the Trade Unionist. "Tell me," she said "how can we give our people more jobs?"

Her first advisor, the Liberal, stepped forward and said "we should open our borders to trade, and engage other nations in mutual free-trade agreements. We are a nation with many natural resources to export, and free trade with those who wish to buy our exports would increase sales. Sales increase revenues, and revenues allow companies to expand their workforce. An efficient market, that is the key."

The wise Prime Minister nodded, and said, "Yes, this makes sense. But what of those nations that do not wish to purchase our resources because they have resources of their own?"

"Ahh, then," smiled the liberal, "we will gain access to their markets with our mining and harvesting companies and produce more efficiently than the local corporations. Either way, unrestricted access to their market is beneficial. With barriers gone, the market gains efficiency. That means it's easier for companies to profit."

The wise Prime Minister nodded, "yes, companies profit, but when companies are able to profit efficiently, do they create jobs? I would say they do the opposite. If a company gains profit, it buys out its competitors, it buys back shares, extends its leverage, pays stock dividends, or rewards its executives. It doesn't create jobs."

"But jobs are created when companies can compete in efficient and unrestricted markets," protested the liberal, "When a company wants to expand operations in order to gain more profit, they must hire new people!"

"Sometimes," quipped the wise Prime Minister, "but more profit does not always mean expanded operations. In the rare times jobs are created, those jobs are created where they are most efficient - in efficient markets where the workforce costs less to maintain. Efficiency in a market does not mean more jobs, it simply means more corporate profits. More corporate profits does not mean more jobs, it means a corporation can acquire its competitors and eliminate redundancies. Efficiency is the opposite of more jobs: it is the ability to make more profit by paying less. The idea that efficient corporate profit adds to the welfare of our people is a myth. Corporate profits do not create jobs."