The Foundation of an Integrative Economy:
Full Spectrum Employment System,
New Measurement Systems and
New Wealth Accumulation Options
We can all acknowledge that the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008 has resulted in our economic system being in disarray. One factor in this is that we’ve made the final step from the Industrial/consumer & Service/Consumer economies through the bridge of the Knowledge/Service economy to an Integrative economy right in the midst of the largest financial catastrophe the world has ever seen. As bad as all this seems, the timing of these two events provides the impetus for creating the proactive solutions that will enable an Integrative Economy to come into its fullness. There’s simply no other option.
Still it remains difficult for most people to comprehend the emerging Integrative Economy and their role in it—where will they work, how will they make a living, what will be their quality of life? In this chapter, we hope to set the foundation for the four sector, Full Spectrum employment system which will thrive in an Integrative economy. With 15 million people unemployed and a jobless recovery expected since many of the industries that employed these millions are unlikely ever to return to their previous employment levels, we have no choice but to shift our attention and look at what the next economy needs.
For most people, the “economy” relates to ‘how do I make a living/accumulate the wealth I need to live’. In the Agricultural economy of the 19th century, the majority of people made their living connected to some aspect of farming. For most, the economy was locally driven and the GDP did not exist as a measurement tool at that time. In fact, we did not officially measure the national economy at all during this era. In the 20th century, the shift to the Industrial economy found most people working/making a living by working for big industries. The economy became more regionally driven and the GDP was created in 1946 as a tool for economic measurement. The concept that an ever-increasing GDP meant a good economy began at this time though even its inventor Simon Kuznets warned against this! By the end of the Industrial/consumer, Service/consumer economy, it was a global economy and wealth accumulation in terms of money, property and possessions was the primary, if not the sole determinant of a successful economy.
Wealth accumulation and the employment opportunities available as well as how the economy was measured and monetized differed mightily between the Agricultural and Industrial & Service/consumer economic eras. For someone living in 1805 vs. 1965, the employment sectors in which they could make a living were vastly different. Jobs available in 1965 were not even imagined in 1805.
Now as the Industrial & Service consumer economies retract and the Knowledge/Service economy acts as a bridge to the 21st century and the coming of an Integrative economy we will see a repetition of this same dynamic. Just as possible employment sectors between 1805 and 1965 were vastly different, so too will an Integrative economy provide new opportunities for employment while others are significantly reduced or permanently lost forever. Jobs available for work in 2015 will be very different than those of 1965. Many of them could not even be imagined in 1965 but without their inclusion, an Integrative economy will not reach its optimal outcomes: a high quality of life for humans and the planet.
As well, we will need to expand the way we measure this next economy because the GDP will be insufficient as it is far too narrow a set of criteria for an Integrative economy. While wealth accumulation (money, property/possessions) will still be a factor, a broader definition of wealth accumulation will allow us to work and live differently than we do today. This difference is not less—it will actually prove to be better though not by the previous economy’s profile of success. By giving ourselves permission to expand our definitions of wealth to include community, relationships to humans and the earth and creativity, it will allow us to restructure the three current employment sectors and bring into existence a new employment sector with three distinct facets. All four employment sectors will be vital parts of a thriving Integrative economy.
Full Spectrum employment
The Industrial & Service/consumer economy had 3 major employment sectors: markets, government and illegal (and the illegal sector actually has as much wealth running through it as does the market sector) measured in the GDP. This will not be sufficient for the new Integrative economy. These 3 employment sectors as measured by the GDP do not take into consideration an enormous work force that is currently active: non-profit and/or NGO work. Because this work has been primarily funded by the market sector through charity/donations or by government through grants, it is not valued as its own employment sector in the GDP and thus, it is somewhat unrecognized in our economy. Currently, according to the Urban Institutes research, there are 1.4 million non-profits contributing $666 billion to the economy and providing nearly 10% of the jobs. This equates to 5% of the GDP and 8% of wages, yet because of the way we measure the economy through the GDP, much of this work isn’t accounted for directly. The GDP notes growth in the market sector or government/taxes and this results in funding being shifted to the non-profits/NGOs but this non-profit/NGO growth isn’t measured because economists see it as measuring the same thing twice. This is the limitation imposed by our remaining attached to the GDP measurement system and why, if an Integrative economy is going to flourish, this must be changed. Essentially, Non-profits/NGOs are the ‘shadow employment sector’ of our economy. It is staring us in the face and yet, we can’t see it!
It’s no one’s fault really. The Non-profit/NGO businesses were such a relatively minor portion of employment until the late 70’s. For the most part, people didn’t really think of them as a ‘career path’ since much of this work was driven by those creating small non-profits to focus in on a specific crisis/problem. However, over the last twenty years, Non-profits and NGOs have transitioned into a much more viable entity and many now do want to work in this sector as it provides satisfying work that improves the quality of life of people and the planet.
But this transition has happened so fast that it’s only now becoming obvious that the funding streams for this sector are not sustainable under the current market’s charitable giving or the government grant support structure. One first step in this is to recognize it as a separate employment sector. We’ve named it “Local Community Capacity” or LCC sector. Now, instead of saying “Non-Profit” (not the market sector) or NGO (non-government organization), we’ll say LCC—Local Community Capacity.
This issue is not going to go away. This new Local Community Capacity (LCC) sector is going to continue to be one of the fastest growing areas for employment in an Integrative economy. That’s because an Integrative Economy is not focused on quantity of products produced and consumed but instead is about the quality of life for humans and the planet. Human capacity development fostering high quality of life will be the major driver of the future. Simply by bringing the valuable work done in Non-profits/NGOs out of the shadows and into full measure as a defined employment sector call LCC, we launch Full Spectrum employment and give ourselves the opportunity to build a thriving Integrative Economy.
The necessity for this was enabled due to the success of the Industrial & Service/consumer economy. Over this last 100 years, the ability to accumulate information and build/use technology has facilitated the shift away from physical labor to knowledge labor. This is the benefit on which an Integrative Economy comes into existence. We will now spend far less time making stuff and far more of our time and effort using this knowledge in the creation of an economy that benefits humans and the planet. While some work of the 20th century’s Industrial & Service/consumer economy will remain, overall, it will incorporate a much smaller portion of the population working within those fields.
Four Employment Sectors Needed
An Integrative Economy lets us redirect our energy to working in ways that help us realize our full human capacity to enjoy life and live meaningful lives. To achieve this, the employment sectors will continue to include the markets, government and illegal (sorry, seems there will always be some level of this!) but to this we can now add a new employment sector, Local Community Capacity (LCC), that will provide work opportunities in areas not previously acknowledged or considered valuable enough to monetize or measure. Within LCC there will be three distinct areas of focus which will enable a higher quality of life for humans and the planet. They are Local Human Capacity Development, Volunteer Services and Natural Environment integration.
• Local Human capacity development. One of the primary necessities of an Integrative Economy will be highly functioning humans. To achieve this will require human capacity development to become a significant career option and this work must be done within the local community. Every local/regional area will employ Human capacity development professionals through small businesses supported through the local community. This is the Village at work—maintaining the highest outcomes for the community through the network of in-home Human capacity development professionals to ensure that children receive the best in whole person development. In addition, elderly and children and adults with disabilities also be served.
o Humans have the longest childhood of any species on this planet; almost 24 years. Yet, in the Industrial & Service/consumer economy, it was not valued and thus did not qualify as highly paid work. But it is different for an Integrative Economy. This work is of such utmost importance for the new Integrative economy that it cannot be viewed as anything less than professional and high level work equivalent to engineers or high-tech consultants. Yes, it is its own unique employment arena.
o Local community: All across this country new businesses will pop up to fulfill this work but all the work will be done at the local level. This is why we need the Local Community Capacity employment sector to be recognized. In large cities, local may include 10 blocks of an urban landscape, in suburbia, local may include two distinct yet adjacent neighborhoods and in a rural environment, local may include a 20 mile landscape. As the LCC employment sector grows, more and more businesses will arise and employ many of the millions who have lost their jobs in the retracting consumer economy. The local team/network will design the workload to maintain high quality. Each local community has a vested interest in the success of these businesses—as it provides a direct benefit to them.
o Raising the bar: wholeness is normal. For centuries, we were unaware of how humans could reach their highest potential. But the last 100 years has provided the information we need to make this possible. Human capacity development professionals will work from this wholeness framework to maximize the potential of all.
• Volunteer Services: Every year thousands of people provide millions of hours of volunteer work. Our country and our economy simply could not run without this work! While intrinsically rewarding for the volunteer, this work is hugely beneficial to all sorts of businesses—social service agencies, schools, hospitals etc. For example, in my area, the small for-profit hospital logs $500,000 in volunteer hours which they report as an in-kind donation on the Hospital’s Foundation grant applications. The hospital could not afford to pay for this work, but it also could not achieve its success without this volunteer assistance.
That $500,000 value could be designated as ‘wealth accumulation’ to the individual volunteers through a National Volunteer Service registry. Much like Social Security payments are registered throughout one’s work life, a similar Volunteer ‘payment’ could be logged to show the value of one’s volunteer efforts. Then, over one’s lifetime, this ‘wealth’ could be “spent” in exchange for another volunteer to provide services when needed. One might not ‘cash in’ an equal 1 to 1 exchange of giving care equivalent to getting care—but it does provide a savings and social safety network that can be traded for care when needed.
o There are State determined rates for volunteer work as well as Federal rates. Right now, the federal rate is $20.85, Oregon is $17.79.
o Example—an elderly person who might have accumulated $100,000 for the ‘value’ of giving their volunteer time over their lives, could have lawn care or grocery delivery provided through the volunteer network. Each time, a ‘time debit’ is made out of their account while a credit is posted on the young person who is now cutting the grass for the elder.
o This is real wealth accumulation backed by the full faith and credit of each other. The motivation for all of us to spend some time in this “employment” option provides a benefit both immediate (intrinsic reward) and long-term (social safety net). We all win in this system.
• Natural environment integration. For far too long, the ‘work’ done by the natural environment has been taken for granted. Land, air, water, plant and animal life all provide huge resources that have been tapped unceasingly by the markets to provide untold profits. This imbalance however, now finds us with a seriously compromised earth that risks our very existence. As we head into this next economy, the natural environment ‘work’ needs to be included in the measured and monetized economy. We truly ‘employ’ these natural resources for all our benefits and must acknowledge this value.
o Humans employed in this sector will work with these resources to establish ‘true cost accounting’ values which will be factored into the market’s use of natural resources.
o Investment into the restoration of these resources will become a prime employment opportunity in conjunction with the market sector. Alignment of production methods that provide a closed-loop (all waste by-products will either create new businesses or immediate clean-up to protect the original resources) will create a collaborative partnership to the benefit of the people, planet and profits.
These three distinct and new employment options are made possible by recognizing the value of the work currently done by non-profits/NGOs and taking the action to bring it out of the shadows and into the measured economy through the recognition of the “Local Community Capacity” sector.
The four employment sectors provide the foundation for a new Integrative economy: Markets, Government, Illegal, and Local Community Capacity. Transitions are difficult, but in a very short time, we can adopt this new strategy and it will feel as comfortable as the current Industrial & Service/consumer economy has for the last 100 years. Just as farmers of 1805 were yet to imagine a Ford or GM factory in which they would work, we too must open our imaginations to new employment sectors that will provide to the most vibrant economy humans have ever created.
In an Integrative Economy every piece impacts the whole where wholeness (human, family, community, nation, globe) is normal.
Employment Sector Work Examples
Markets: Housing, clothing, food, arts, entertainment, technology, medicine, finance, insurance, higher education, and energy
Government: Military, social services, legislation, police, fire, and national transportation
Illegal: Drug trade, sex trade, under-ground economy
Local Community Capacity: Three new, distinct focuses
• Human capacity development professionals; “the Village at work”
• Volunteer Services
• Natural Environment integration