Are We Transitioning To a New Economy?
The healthcare industry is undergoing major changes going far beyond the nonsense we’re told about on nightly news or by conservative radio hosts. The food industry is also seeing profound changes from how it grows to what we consume. Consumers and citizens are tired of waiting on politicians to make the right policy decisions, knowing the status quo has won out for decades. These trailblazers, proactive entrepreneurs, and socially driven consumers are molding what some call an underground economy while others refer to it as the “new economy.”
We’ve talked plenty on Muncie Voice about the advantages of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has enrolled close to 14 million people this year in affordable and portable healthcare insurance. We would have preferred a health care option that expanded Medicaid and Medicare, thus eliminating health insurance companies completely. They are unnecessary middlemen adding a profit margin to the already high cost of health care. However, the ACA was a step in the right direction.
As with all cultural changes, there have been plenty of complainers. What we’ve witnessed from the entire right side of the political spectrum is annoying and irresponsible. Choosing political ideology over American citizens’ welfare is new in this country. The venom and hate have reached all new levels, especially by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. We know democrats watch polls as well, and there have been plenty jumping on the anti-Obamacare bandwagon, and they are very short-sighted.
Muncie Voice has also been a strong advocate for labeling our food and enforcing laws at the USDA and FDA, which are supposed to protect consumers from the food industry. Big Ag & Food has huge lobbying arms that fight regulations. They’ve been allowed to call genetically modified food (GMOs) “Natural.” I don’t think anyone believes bio-engineered food is natural. Still, the USDA and FDA have allowed these genetically altered seeds to be considered natural so as not to scare consumers from buying products on supermarket shelves.
However, when you consider Vermont is ready to pass a labeling law requiring food producers to place ‘GMO’ on labels, it’s only a matter of time before the genetically spliced foods disappear as it has in most countries where consumers are protected by their government. When consumers have a choice in what they’re buying, they generally make good decisions.
You must think, “What does Big Food & Med have in common?”
Our wellness. Or more specifically, much of what we consume is directly linked to our health. If we eat poorly, it will be harmful to our health – the worse we eat, the worse our health.
Think about it – in all the years leading up to the implementation of the ACA, the health industry has profited from sick patients. Big Med, Big Pharma, and Big Medical Device Maker profited from our poor health. The more people got diseases, the more medicine was prescribed. As their weight caused knees and hips to wear out, replacement body parts were installed. If all the hospital beds were full, the more profit for everyone in Big Med. Build bigger hospitals with more beds and the more profit you would make as an organization.
The ACA has caused all this to change. The industry which profited from sick people will now be focused on making people healthier. Healthier people will use fewer services, bringing down the cost of health care.
When you look at what drove the healthcare industry for years and the public policy that went along with it, the entire model was focused on profit motives versus promoting the well-being of Americans.
As we said earlier, intelligent consumers haven’t been waiting for corrupt politicians to change public policies. They’ve sought healthier options for themselves, and farmers and social entrepreneurs are creating new business models to meet demand.
Be prepared. We’ve already read that Big Restaurant chains are moving away from GMOs and processed foods high in corn syrup. More people are buying organic, and local farmer markets are getting extremely busy. Watch for food cooperatives to form over the coming years. While large cultural shifts happen slowly, we see them accelerating in many areas throughout the country.
In Cleveland, many food cooperative ventures are springing up to discuss eating nutrient-rich food grown locally and organically. Check out the video below, where they are installing loop houses to extend growing seasons in community gardens:
Can you envision this type of project in Muncie? We can.
In Connersville, Indiana, Darrell Smith writes about a large-scale organic farm being developed with the idea of adding a salmon farm in the future. This is an investment to keep up with the local demand, which will only increase. According to Alex Carroll, owner of Lifeline Farms, “The demand side for fish protein and high-quality vegetables is outstripping supply,” Carroll said. “It’s going nowhere but up. We’ve talked with people like Kroger, U.S. Foods, Caito Foods, and people like that. It will be someone like that we start with.”
Not only are these shifts happening because food and health are related, but it’s also connected to the #solidarityeconomy, the #neweconomy, #democraticownership, and #workerowned businesses.
What are these hashtags describing?
They refer to the “New Economy” movement, which is quickly growing nationwide. Expect to hear much more of it on Muncie Voice over the coming months. This is the solution to many of the problems we face today in this country. Informed consumers and citizens make better choices for themselves and their families. We see demand going in one direction while monied interests try to stall progress. We believe populist momentum is shifting toward new economies designed to meet the new demand.
Or, more specifically, “Communities are working to move away from the old economy based on ecological destruction, gross inequality, and political paralysis and transitioning to something new — an economy based on equity, sustainability, and true democracy.”
The nice folks who said those words, the New England New Economy, created an infographic to show what the new economy looks like. Even though it’s just a sketch, we’ll start to fill in the picture with real stories over the coming weeks.