This is the solution to the crises of our time: the 'community'.

Irene van Staveren

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In capitalism, you can make money with money without adding anything to society.  "Inequality is part of capitalism," says economist Irene van Staveren. Things can also be different without immediately switching to communism.

In a video from the Dutch YouTube channel Universiteit van Nederland, Irene van Staveren mentions two aspects that need to change in today's economy:

  • Working with local economic partnerships. This is also called 'commons' or 'community'.
  • We must get away from the principle that the market in capitalism is about making profit.

Market, government and community

According to the well-known economist and philosopher Adam Smith, every well-functioning economy consists of three parts: market, government and community. "We do not need to invent a new solution, but we should look much more at how local economic partnerships can play a role in meeting today's needs. We call these 'commons'," says Van Staveren.

''As long as shareholders are in charge, the money will stay with the rich''

"As long as shareholders are in charge, the money stays with the rich. One way to get rid of this inequality is an employee cooperative. In that case, the employees are also owners. The money that a company earns then no longer goes to external shareholders. Instead, the employees can determine what happens to the money.

Another way of not distributing profits to shareholders is doing business with stewardship. The profit is then paid into an independent foundation. "This foundation always has an established social purpose. A good example is the Danish beer brewer Carlsberg. They invest their profits in Danish science via such a foundation."

Profit is no longer the goal

According to the economist, there is a second principle that we should get rid of: that the market in capitalism is all about making profit. "The Dutch home care organisation Buurtzorg is an example of a service provider that does not make a profit and that revolves around the people. It is an effective and efficient organisation. Because the teams are self-managing and responsible for their own personnel policy and bookkeeping. They are perfectly able to compete with profit-driven home care organisations. Why is that? The costs are lower because there are no management layers and no expensive offices.

According to Van Staveren, the examples show that an economy with a greater role for the 'community' is indeed possible. "The market would thus regain a human dimension, for mutual benefit."

How do we get the human dimension back into our economy?

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