Welcome to the 

Threefold  Economy

website

This page is still under construction. Links in purple are not active links; links in red have been activated

This no-frills website is authored by Gavin Tang who is the architect behind the Fractal Economy Cooperative. The Fractal Economy Cooperative is a vehicle for implementing the ideas expressed in this website in the real world (starting with no money to speak of). The ideas presented here are not to be taken as necessarily endorsed by the Cooperative (by definition, a cooperative's policies are not simply one person's views). What is called a 'Fractal Economy' in the Cooperative's website should be taken to be identical to what is called here a Threefold Economy except that the Fractal Economy is the application of the Threefold Economy principles  to a grassroots venture. The explanation for the use of the term 'Threefold Economy' is to be found at the beginning of List of Articles

Capitalism has reached a kind of breaking point in its 'growth', by which I mean the capacity for a wealthy elite to amass a disproportionate share of society's wealth and income. The environment is under enormous pressure as a result and there is widespread anger, discontent and despair simmering under the surface appearance of 'business as usual'. Some people may not agree, but I believe that the State, with corporate forces pulling the strings, is using a number of means to invade our personal privacy and restrict our civil liberties; and the reason for it is that the more insightful elements behind these corporate forces understand that as we approach this breaking point, people will either rebel and demand radical changes, or they may gain insights into the necessary systemic changes to our iniquitous and inequitable system.

 

It is not a textbook way of characterising or defining Capitalism but I would describe it as an economic system which is designed to allow those those with money the unfettered right to make even more money without working. Simply put, 'growth' in Capitalism equates to unearned income - income made without contributing (labour) towards the production of goods and services - the very goods and services which that money can then make claim to. This insanity has to stop. If unhygienic conditions are causing the proliferation of pathogens and making us sick, it is not a question primarily of working out the best coping mechanism, but of cleaning up the unhygienic conditions.

While many - and I dare say, most - people believe there is something rigged, something nefarious and malevolent, in the plutocracy that runs Capitalism, we remain almost wholly obsequious to, or ignorant of, the underlying structures and practices that enable the perpetuation of Capitalism. We critique the decision makers of Capitalism but not the structures, the players rather than the rules of the game.  We need a paradigm shift in which many practices that seem acceptable to us must be questioned and examined, and replaced if they are found wanting. I will be examining some core paradigms of Capitalism in this website.

 

The image below is a cartoon that kind of sums up what Capitalism is about. At the top is a 'Monopoly guy' called Mr One-Percent who is so called because he belongs to the wealthiest 1% of society. He owns a portfolio of assets which include real estate, shares and bonds. These assets give him an abundance of unearned income - also called passive income - which is income that he makes but does not earn by labour or intellectual exertion. This income he receives by the spadeful with his right hand . With his left hand, he casually flicks a coin for the purchase of goods and services. This coin that he flicks goes back into the 'real' economy where people work to provide goods and services to each other - people like teachers, tradespeople, chefs, mechanics, engineers, people looking after the young and the elderly, farmers, nurses, public servants and so on. They have to live on the circulation of money in the 'real' economy. However, as depicted in the cartoon, there is a net haemorrhage of money out of the real economy into the hands of Mr One-Percent and his social class. In the real economy a shortage of money is experienced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr One-Percent receives a lot more unearned income (right hand) than he spends back (left hand) in the real economy through the purchase of goods and services. Most of his income is instead rolled over into the purchase of even more real estate, bonds and shares. This action creates a future where he makes an even larger amount of unearned income, and the proportion of his income that he spends on goods and services becomes even smaller. To sum up, there are two parts which reinforce each other:

  1. Capitalism allows the rich to make unearned income.

  2. The rich can not spend most of their income. Instead they divert their income into buying more assets, which gives them even more unearned income in the future, and this repeats and escalates the cycle of wealth generating wealth.

 

On the bottom panel, I show the outcome in the real economy with six main issues. There are many more issues, but this six encapsulates the deleterious effect of unearned income by the wealthy. The six I have chosen to depict are: unemployment, poverty and homelessness, the bribery of legislatures and politicians, inequality, debt, and environmental catastrophes. It takes a bit of explaining and teasing out to see why they are all almost wholly caused by an economic system which incorporates unearned income into the heart of its structure. The articles in List of Articles explain and elaborate on these processes, as well as show how we can replace the violent and unjust practices of Capitalism with practices which are fair and sustainable, participatory and inclusive, vibrant and productive.

The cartoon image image below is my attempt to depict how a healthy post-Capitalist economy - which has been called, amongst other things,  a New Economy, Steady State Economy, Sustainable Economy, and so on - should look like. I have very exact prescriptions which are not wholly to be found in the various interpretations of such a post-Capitalist economy. I have chosen to call it a Threefold Economy in this website. In the Threefold Economy, private banks do not exist; the share owned corporations have been replaced by profit-sharing cooperatives; and land and has been bought back from private ownership by the commons to be placed permanently in common ownership. As explained in The Threefold Economy vis a vis Capitalism and Communism , this economy is as different from Communism as it is different from Capitalism.

 

Note that in the above illustration, trade in goods and services as depicted in the upper icon, is unhindered by any kind of Communist-state intervention. In capitalist/neoliberal terminology, there is a 'free market'. However all the land rental money, the interest on loans, and what is currently profits paid out to Capitalist owners; all that is transformed into revenue (green text box) for the commons.  In turn, all that commons income enables us to spend a huge quantity of money on necessary things (as summarised by the red text box), and that money, unlike capitalist income, goes straight back into the goods and services economy.

Please move on to List of Articles to 'unpack' these ideas.

 

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