Synopsis of Global Development by chapters

Global Development: Problems, Solutions and Strategy is split into four parts.

Part 1, with the first five chapters, analyzes the major problems humanity faces. In Chapter I, it is argued that the global economy will enter a downward spiral due to a growing gap between productive capacity, which is rapidly rising due to technological development, and sluggish demand caused by stagnating lower and middle incomes. Sluggish demand combined with a growing concentration of wealth also leads to ever greater amounts of capital being used for speculation rather than investment and consumption. At some point, that will lead to a major financial and economic crisis (note: this book was written in 1998).

Chapter II analyzes the problem of destitute poverty. It is shown that in spite of progress in fighting poverty in the 1960s and 1970s, the number of poor is on the increase again. If present policies continue, the number of poor and the depth of poverty will grow further, even in areas with high economic growth rates.

Chapter III describes the major environmental problems humanity faces, and their impact on human welfare. It is shown that even though many politicians and other opinion leaders ignore or belittle its importance, environmental contamination and deterioration causes millions of deaths each year, with worse to come.

Chapter IV analyzes the problem of crime. Different types of crime are discussed, and their causes and impact on society are analyzed and related to social and political problems such as poverty, poor law enforcement, deficiencies in our legal system and corruption.

Chapter V analyzes the problems of political decision making and of policy implementation by government bureaucracies. It shows how a hierarchy of interests determines political decisions, and obstructs the cooperation that is needed for tackling the challenges humanity faces today.

Part 2 of the book, also consisting of five chapters, describes solutions to the problems discussed in Part 1. In Chapter VI, a global investment program for sustainable development is proposed. Also, a social and environmental “bottom line” in trade is advocated, meaning free trade is bound to compliance with basic regulations protecting workers and the environment. Thirdly, a set of measures to promote (investment in) local production is suggested. 

Chapter VII puts good quality education and health care at the core of a strategy for eliminating poverty. Job creation can be achieved with the sustainable development program outlined in Chapter VI and with (investment in) the production of goods and services in and for local markets. Land reform through a progressive land tax is suggested as one among several measures to increase the access of the rural poor to good quality land.

Chapter VIII argues that to effectively address the world’s environmental problems, it is necessary to minimize pollution to the extent possible. At the same time, a program for the worldwide conversion to renewable energy should be started. Among the other key issues addressed in this chapter are the preservation of the remaining natural ecosystems and a transformation to ecologically sustainable agriculture.

Chapter IX suggests approaches to diminish the various types of crime discussed in Chapter IV. They consist of a mix of prevention, deterrence and more effective law enforcement. Also, it proposes regulation rather than prohibition for acts that are now labeled criminal, although the supposed victim engages in them willingly.

Chapter X offers solutions for today’s political dilemmas through an overhaul of government bureaucracies and a new approach to politics. Cooperation, especially at the international level, is to be fostered by constructive negotiation instead of the conflictive engagement that is characteristic of today’s politics. Also, it is suggested that where an agreement cannot be reached, those involved should submit to arbitration.

Part 3 of the book presents proposals for financing the measures proposed in Part 2. In Chapter XI, more conventional ways of financing are discussed: savings in military spending, downsizing government bureaucracies, environmental taxes, increased taxes on the highest incomes, and a tax on security and currency transactions.

In Chapter XII, an additional, less conventional way to finance sustainable development is proposed: money creation. It is argued that money creation to finance sustainable development is feasible as long as the resulting increased demand for goods and services does not exceed society’s productive capacity. At the same such additional demand will contribute to closing the growing gap between productivity and demand.

Part 4 discusses a strategy to implement the solutions proposed in Part 2, and the financial measures suggested in Part 3. A non-governmental organization working at global level should elaborate a global development program. Regional, national and local branches, to be established in each continent, region, country and locality, should elaborate regional, national and local development programs that should fit the global plan. For implementation of the plans the organization should attempt to evolve into a movement by attracting as large a membership as possible, using a combination of information supply and service delivery. If the movement were able to grow large enough to influence national politics, political parties should be formed that should commit themselves to carrying out the national development programs – and thereby, the global program for sustainable development.

The Conclusions of the book re-emphasize the need for sustainable development, and addresses the issue of the limits to growth. Also, it describes what the reader can do to set us on the path to sustainable development.