STEADY STATE ECONOMICS
WHAT IS A STEADY STATE ECONOMY (SSE)?
A steady state economy is a sustainable economy of stable or mildly fluctuating size that does not exceed ecological limits. Natural resource extraction for economic goods is balanced by the planet's regenerative capacity (inflows=outflows). This prevents overconsumption and the depletion of our natural world and ecosystem functioning.
Daly & Farley, 2011
WHY HAVE A STEADY STATE ECONOMY?
Our current economic system is based on the continuous growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP cannot grow forever due to the first two laws of thermodynamics: 1. you can't make something out of nothing 2. entropy increases in an isolated system. As consumption increases, our natural resources are further degraded and we near ecological thresholds. The costs of losing our ecosystem functions are immeasurably high, as they are critical to all life on Earth.
A steady state economy reduces the severe income inequality that plagues our nation. GDP growth has made the top one percent wealthier while leaving the bottom quintile in a relatively steady state. Whether it be through progressive fiscal policies such as a cap and auction system for pollution permits, or through guaranteed employment opportunities following the lines of the Green New Deal, this system creates the equity that our nation lacks.
STEADY STATE ECONOMICS IN VERMONT
In 2011, Vermont was the second state after Maryland to adopt a different model of measuring wellbeing. It is called the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and, unlike GDP, it includes components such as income inequality, domestic labor, and lost leisure time. The adoption of GPI has been an effort to shift the conversation about economic wellbeing from quantitative to qualitative. Although GPI is not an all-encompassing measurement, it is nevertheless progress.
Vermont is uniquely fortunate to have the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. The Gund is one of the world's premier academic institutions for the study and teaching of ecological economics, and is an incredible aid for Vermont's transition to a steady state economy.
For more information about steady state economics, visit the website for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE).