[This is a link to and excerpt from information from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) defining what they mean by a "Local Living Economy." Here is the Link.]
The primary purpose of a true market economy is not to make money for the rich and powerful. When Adam Smith conceptualized the idea of the market economy in his classic The Wealth of Nations, he had in mind economies that allocate human and material resources justly and sustainably to meet the self-defined needs of people and community.
When enterprises are locally rooted, human-scale, owned by stakeholders, and held accountable to the rule of law by democratically elected governments, there is a natural incentive for all concerned to take human and community needs and interests into account. When income and ownership are equitably distributed, justice is served and political democracy is strong. When needs are met locally by locally owned enterprises, people have greater control over their lives, money is recycled in the community rather than leaking off into the global financial casino, jobs are more secure, economies are more stable, and there are the means and the incentives to protect the environment and to build the relationships of mutual trust and responsibility that are the foundation of community.
Our quality of life would be stunningly different if we based economic decisions on life values rather than purely financial values—a natural choice if owners had to live with the non-financial consequences of their decisions.
Full-cost pricing of energy, materials, and land use could expose the real inefficiencies of factory farming, conventional construction, and urban sprawl and make life-serving alternatives comparatively cost-effective.
The ideal of a living economy might seem an impossible dream, except for the fact that so many of its elements are already in place. There are millions of for- and not-for-profit enterprises and public initiatives around the world aligned with the values and organizational principles of living economies. They include local independent businesses of all sorts, from bookstores to bakeries, community banks to independent media outlets. Indeed, independent, human-scale businesses are by far the majority of all businesses, provide most jobs, create nearly all new jobs, and are the source of most innovation.
So how do we get from a few million living enterprises that are struggling to survive at the fringes of the current global economy to a healthy planetary system of thriving living economies? The answer is, “We grow it into being.”
A system that no longer serves can be displaced only by a more powerful system. According to Margaret Wheatley, “This means that the work of change is to start over, to organize new local efforts, connect them to each other, and know that their values and practices can emerge as something even stronger.” .....