Common Economic Welfare: An Alternative Economic Model?

The common economic welfare (CEW) is intended as an alternative economic model for the current liberal market. Der Service Gärtner, a sister company of would like to give you an insight into the topic:
What is the background? How did Der Service Gärtner arrive at the idea? Our experiences, and what it has brought it to us so far.

Background, or The First Insight into the Common Economic Welfare

It represents an alternative economic model and is based on the values promoting common welfare. It supports changes that go towards sustainability, fairness, and democracy. Its goal is to provide a good life for all living creatures and for the Earth

Energy Plants, Impressions of Willows

Energy Plants, Impressions of Willows

The common economic welfare (CEW) does not only apply to enterprises or schools. Communities, clubs, and individuals can also contribute very much to the public welfare. For example, there is a common welfare self-test for each one of us. Basically, you assess what contribution you can make to the common welfare.

You make impacts or work economically, politically, and socially:

Economy: The model applies to everyone, no matter whether you are a company, a municipality, or a school. Size or legal form do not matter, either.

In politics, legal changes are discussed for such an economic system. Politics should eventually help establish the standards of human dignity, fairness, solidarity, justice, involvement, and sustainability.

In social sphere, the contribution should be made to creating awareness. The movement is looking for networking with similar initiatives. Appreciation and encouragement are also important points.

How can the values of the common economic welfare be experienced in our everyday life?

Here, common welfare matrix can help. It contains criteria to analyze objects using a scoring system.
As a company, you generate a common welfare balance or a first report. You perform the assessment yourself, and then the balance or report are checked externally. Then you may/should publish them to meet the transparency requirements. For individuals, the self-test is a bit easier: This is an Excel sheet with answers to the questions regarding their personal attitude to the common welfare. Here, you also deal with the same scoring system. In the end, you can see your “We Awareness” based on that score, which stimulates thinking with some certainty!

The long-term goal is to get legal benefits granted for the common welfare company, such as better credit conditions, lower tax burdens, preferential public contracts, and facilitated (international) trading. Moreover, in an ideal case, the profits made should not be distributed to external persons; they should remain in the company and strengthen the same. The drive for economy growth should disappear, creativity and cooperation are forced by enterprises more actively, the life will become more satisfied, and trading fairer. The practice will show whether it is really the case.

This form of economic order ensures democratic decision making, and everyone is encouraged to contribute their ideas to.Over time, the common welfare economy must be captured in the Constitution.

Why an alternative economy?

Energiepflanzen Elektrocars, BMWi3 und Mitsubishi i-MiEV

BMWi3 and Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), environment protection, employee recognition, respect for everyone – employees, customers, colleagues, or suppliers. All this has been an integral part of the Service Gärtners since it was founded. As climate-alliance company, we set the initial course followed by the first natural-gas car, and a larger conversion of vehicle fleet in 2013. Moreover, the paper used in the office is environmentally friendly, and the company knows its CO2 emissions. The public welfare economy was just the next logical step to make business more transparent.

What were the experiences of the Service Gärtner?

Since you must deal with your company intensively, it is a priori clear that generating the balance sheet or report would be time-consuming. Regional group meetings and a manual with many tips, explanations of the questions, and positive examples serve as an aid, which has already excellently worked in practice.
Scores should be given for individual criteria, which is not so easy, because how can you estimate your own company?
The whole thing is the process of learning by doing!

So euphoric as landscape gardeners may be now, we, at Service Gärtner, wanted to start with the balance sheet immediately. We downloaded all materials, and the work began. We participated in the Energy Group meeting, which was a great support. However, the meetings were very time consuming, and that did not always fit in the gardeners’ everyday work. So we developed much by ourselves and got good results. However, much turned out to be too immature; there were no answers at all to some questions or proofs for some matters – the phase of disenchantment set in, and we had not worked on that for almost one year. In a year, the first report (the simple version) was generated, checked externally, and published on our website. Now you can get a good overview of what the Service Gärtner does and how it can improve. Meanwhile, the manual was read, and balance sheet 2014 was prepared using it – next spring, our sister company can publish its first “large” balance sheet!

The authors of the common welfare balance sheet came up with those ideas, too:

CEW does not fit for all companies, perhaps. Among negative criteria, there are some points that are greatly demanded of by one or more enterprises. Nuclear power can be mentioned as an example: It falls under inhumane products and is evaluated negatively. There are 200 minus points here. Therefore, the company must largely invest into safety or equality, or any other positive criteria to get a good value.

There are also critical opinionsregarding CEW, of course: The Julius Raab Foundation, for example, has spoken out on the topic.

Energy Plants, Willow Detail

Energy Plants, Impressions of Willows

for many times: Once in “Anschlag auf unseren Wohlstand?” and furthermore, also a critical examination by Dr. René Schmidpeter. They show the negative sides of the economic model or the idea that some approaches should be reconsidered – expropriation and individuals’ freedom restriction should also be mentioned. Developing this further, you come to dictatorship – if it is not to come = the way to this form of economy will apply worldwide, so it is still far away.

What will generating the common economic balance sheet bring?

First of all, showing what the company does. Internally, we talk pretty much about it, but actually the most remains in operation. However, it would be much more interesting to share visions with others, exchange ideas, and make our own activities transparent.

Of course, such balance sheet also detects where improvements can take place. The matrix standards are relatively high, but you get to your destination step by step. Currently, it is not the intention to be already perfect in everything – yearly improvements make more sense.

Stefi Wassermann

 DSG Mondseeland

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