Adirondack Cooperative Economy

We are a new community of concerned citizens and businesses that wants not only to boost our economy but bring about a shift in our attitude towards money.

The Adirondack Cooperative Economy (ACE) invited

Businesses and Concerned Citizens, Trade Alliances, Town Board and Chamber of Commerce Members to a Presentation and Conversation about:

Why We Need a Sustainable (Steady State) Economy and How to Achieve It

March 21st, 7PM at the Warrensburg Town Hall, 3797 Main Street (Route 9)

Our guest speaker was Michael Tracy Ireland, a Glens Falls Native, avid proponent of finding solutions to the issues of Climate Change, Social Injustice and Economic Uncertainty. He presently works for the N.Y.State Dept. of Education as project manager for the $80 million educational reform program (i.e.cutting waste and saving tax $)


In these uncertain economic times many people are coming to the realization that neither the federal nor state government alone can solve the massive problems facing us all. People are beginning to feel that the solutions lie in the hands of local communities and alliances of local communities. Friends and neighbors, businesses and customers need to band together to create sustainable communities with sustainable economies. All over the country the people are developing new ideas, putting in solar panels and windmills, talking about environmental responsibility, starting trade alliances, farmer’s markets, buy-local promotions and even local currencies. Local economic development groups and town boards are starting to rethink the ways that things have always been done. Is the solution to simply “bring in the big company” that will give everyone jobs and give the town more tax money? Is the solution to produce and sell more? Do we realize the hidden cost of  “cheap”?

ACE is inviting the Town Board, Economic Development Committee, Chamber of Commmerce Members, Businesses and Concerned Citizens to sit down together and begin the conversation on what it will take to stabilize and protect our local economy from hard times. What happens if grants run dry, the snow doesnt fall enough this winter, tourists have less money, if the Biggest Garage Sale in the World is washed out? How can we help ourselves? How can we help our unemployed citizens find work so they can participate in our economy?

Please find the time and join fellow residents on the first day of Spring, 2013 to Start the Conversation!

This invitation is open to all, also neighboring towns.

More information on the evening:

Our Speaker – L. Michael Tracy-Ireland – Biography

Originally from South Glens Falls, New York, Michael received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and history from SUNY Oswego in 1979. Since that time he has worked primarily in the anti-poverty and education fields in the Capital Region for Unity House, the Schenectady Community Action Program as its CEO and, since 2000, for the New York State Education Department (NYSED) as a project manager managing some of their federal Race to the Top education reform initiatives.

Michael received his Master’s degree in Public Administration in 1991 from the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College. He is the recipient of the Anna Boocher de Beer’s scholarship for excellence in public policy analysis and has been an active student of political economics striving to promote progressive social change working with community and labor groups since 1980. Currently, Michael is a shop steward and labor-management co-chairperson of the Public Employee Federation at NYSED. A seasonal resident of Lake Luzerne since 1996, Mike thinks of the Adirondacks as a part of his home and has worked as a volunteer consultant with the Adirondack Cooperative Economy organizers since its inception in September, 2012.

Michael is married to Laura Tracy-Ireland, an attorney working as court counsel for a Schenectady County judge, and has two grown children – Rachel and Adam – who live and work in Schenectady, New York, their home since 1990.

More Background Material:

A Better Plan Than ‘Endless Growth’: Enough Is Enough

by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill

The World Economic Forum held its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland last month.  The official theme was “Resilient Dynamism,” a catchphrase that makes about as much sense as the futureless economic policies trotted out at the meeting.  At least the attendees had something to ponder at cocktail hour. The mission of the forum, on paper at least, is “improving the state of the world.”  And there is clear room for improvement: trillions of dollars of public debt, billions of people living in poverty, escalating unemployment, and a distinct possibility of runaway climate change.

The popular solution to these problems is sustained economic growth.  In fact, the first item of the Davos meeting’s global agenda was “how to get the global economy back on to a path of stable growth and higher employment”  The thinking is that if we could just get people to produce and consume more stuff, then we could also pay off the debt, create jobs, eradicate poverty, and maybe even have some money left over to clean up the environment.

It’s tempting to believe this economic fairy tale.  But if growth is the cure to all of our ills, why are we in such a bind after sixty years of it?  Even though the U.S. economy has more than tripled in size since 1950, surveys indicate that people have not become any happier.  Inequality has risen sharply in recent years, and jobs are far from secure.  At the same time, increased economic activity has led to greater resource use, dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and declining biodiversity.  There is now strong evidence that economic growth has become uneconomic in the sense that it costs more than it’s worth.

Maybe it’s time to consider a new strategy—an economy of enough.  Suppose that instead of chasing after more stuff, more jobs, more consumption, and more income, we aimed for enough stuff, enough jobs, enough consumption, and enough income.

To build a successful economy of enough, we would first need to eliminate the “growth imperative”—factors that make the economy reliant on growth.  These include reliance on inappropriate measures of progress, creation of debt-based money, and the use of aggregate growth as a tool (albeit a blunt one) for generating jobs.  With key policy changes, it is possible to dismantle the growth imperative and build an economy that works for people and the planet.

Let’s start with measures of progress.  Our main economic indicator, GDP, is a good measure of economic activity—of money changing hands—but a poor measure of social welfare.  It lumps together desirable expenditures (food, entertainment, and investment in education) with expenditures that we’d rather avoid (war, pollution, and family breakdown).  In the language of economics, GDP does not distinguish between costs and benefits, but counts all economic activity as “progress.”

Instead of GDP, we need indicators that measure the things that matter to people, such as health, happiness, and meaningful employment.  We also need indicators that measure what matters to the planet, such as material use and carbon emissions.  In fact, we already have these indicators; the problem is that we largely ignore them, because we are so fixated on GDP.  If the goal of society could be changed from increasing GDP to improving human well-being and preventing long-term environmental damage, then many proposals currently seen as “impossible” would suddenly become possible.

What about jobs?  If we forgot about GDP, would the economy spiral into recession?  The evidence for a relationship between economic growth and job creation is much weaker than you might expect and varies remarkably between countries.  In the U.S., for example, a 3 percent increase in GDP tends to be accompanied by a 1 percent fall in unemployment.  In France, the same amount of GDP growth reduces unemployment by about half a percent.  In Japan, there is no relationship whatsoever.  Clearly it is possible to break the connection between economic growth and unemployment.  We just need the right economic policies.

If the goal of society could be changed from increasing GDP to improving human well-being and preventing long-term environmental damage, then many proposals currently seen as “impossible” would suddenly become possible.

One of these policies is work-time reduction.  Over time, we have become more efficient at producing goods and services, such that it now takes us less time to produce the same amount of stuff as it did a few decades ago.  But instead of using the benefits of technological progress to reduce working time, we have mainly used them to produce and sell more stuff.  This may work in an economy where the goal is more (i.e., continuous growth), but not in one where the goal is enough.  What we can do instead is use the benefits of technological progress to gradually shorten the working day, week, year, and career. Besides increasing leisure time, this would help keep people employed by distributing available work more equally.

Finally, there’s the financial system.  Most people don’t realize it, but nearly all of our money is created by private banks.  Banks are able to create money because they can issue loans far in excess of their deposits.  This debt-based monetary system drives three things: (1) economic growth, as the need to pay back an ever-increasing amount of debt requires an ever-increasing amount of economic activity, (2) inflation, as the money supply tends to grow faster than the amount of real wealth that’s available in the economy, and (3) instability, because if the banks stop lending, the whole house of cards collapses.  If we want to take a stab at the heart of the growth imperative, and also prevent future financial crises, the answer is simple: stop banks from creating money out of thin air, and transfer this power to a public authority.

It’s hard to believe that many folks in Davos (or anywhere else, for that matter) came away with a clear understanding of what “Resilient Dynamism” means.  But one thing is certain: an economy founded on perpetual growth has no shot at being resilient.  Maybe we could classify such an economy as dynamic, since it will continue to displace people and communities and erode the life-support systems of the planet.  While the economic elites interpret “Resilient Dynamism” to fit their agenda, perhaps the rest of us should employ some plain language and let them know that enough is enough.

Rob Dietz

Rob Dietz is the editor of the Daly News, former executive director of CASSE (the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy), and co-author (with Dan O’Neill) of Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.

Dan O'Neill

Dan O’Neill is a lecturer in ecological economics at the University of Leeds and the chief economist for CASSE (the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy). He is the co-author (with Rob Dietz) of Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.


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This entry was posted on March 17, 2013 by .

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