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Economics: The Basics

JULY 10TH, 2012

This section explains some of the key concepts about how our current economic system works, and some of the problems with it. If we are to lead economic change in our communities, we will be talking to lots of people about many different issues. It is important to have a grasp of the key concepts so that we can talk with clarity, integrity and credibility.

An economic system is composed of people, institutions, rules and relationships. It is the means by which goods and services are produced, exchanged, distributed, consumed and disposed/recovered in a local, regional, national or international community. It includes inputs of labour, capital and natural resources, and ‘agents’ such as buyers and sellers. The type of economic system determines what’s produced, how, and who gets it.

Our industrial growth society is characterised by high consumption rates due to short product lifetimes, built-in obsolescence (so you need to buy new versions/models), fast-changing fashions and throw-away culture. It assumes the earth has unlimited resources as inputs, and an unlimited ‘sink’ for receiving waste outputs.

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