Contribution to GTI Roundtable "On Degrowth"
I welcome particularly two aspects of Kallis’s paper: the attention to care and the need to work at other levels as well as the local.
I want to begin with a few points on care:
(1) I don't think many degrowthers realize how heavy a burden care work will be without domestic equipment—cookers, washing machines, hot water, vacuum cleaners, etc. This is not an argument to keep them, but domestic work is going to take a lot of the day. In most communities, this falls to women. I am troubled by how much attention in the literature is given to welcoming increased leisure time by male authors.
(2) Health care and other public services are not easily localized—specialist care and specialist training in particular.
(3) The local has often been oppressive for women: a lot of gender equality was about breaking free.
(4) On a more positive note, there is no reason why a provisioning economy could not be built on care as a source of wealth; while de-growing in resource terms, we could grow in care terms.
The key is where money enters the economy. At present, new money emerges through a commercial circuit of investment/loans profit/repayment and trickles out to public services. My proposal is to expand the public money circuit (public money creation—public/social expenditure—retrieval through taxation). If this were directed to education or care, that would become the source of wealth, with money trickling out to the commercial sector. Quantitative easing shows how easily monetary authorities can create new money; they just need to give it to the people not the banks. What neoliberalism calls a deficit is better thought of as surplus public expenditure, money in circulation not extracted through tax. This debt-free money can be used for the exchange of use value.