Work-Standard Accounting Practices: Environmentalist Critiques of Double-Entry Account Bookkeeping

Environmentalism as an ideology is concerned about humanity’s relationship with nature in the State of Total Mobilization. The State of Total Mobilization itself may have concurred with the development of large cities and manufacturing zones, but it has not completely divorced humanity’s relation to nature. Humanity remains dependent on nature for natural resources required by the Manufacturing and Service Sectors of national economies. The goal of the Natural Sector, from mining to farming, is to harvest natural resources and convert them into raw materials required for the production of everyday goods and services. There will be signs of environmental degradation, resource depletion and the various forms of pollution associated with the State of Total Mobilization. The great challenge has always been to mitigate those effects not just for the environment but also for the nations whose livelihoods depend on nature.    

From the perspective of the accountant, ecological concerns are abstract and occur as an afterthought rather than something which needs to be included in their bookkeeping. This was the sentiment shared by the Accounting Profession in general during the early half of the 20th century. They focused most of their attention on the Totality or Civil Society, the Council State or Parliament. It was difficult to ascertain how the State of Total Mobilization would be capable of creating unwanted waste. After all, the kind of waste that most accountants are concerned about is the kind of waste that is more financial than ecological.  

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the five decades since the Death of Bretton Woods has seen the rise of Environmentalist economic literature that has grown alongside the ideology itself. It can be argued that there is a discernible split within the literature between those in favor of an “Environmental Economics” and those supportive of an “Ecological Economics.” Despite their superficial similarities, they constitute as two schools of economic thought with diametrically opposing perspectives on humanity’s relation to nature within the State of Total Mobilization. And while both remain trapped between Production for Profit and Production for Utility as well as Kapital and Schuld, they do provide relevant information of interest to the Work-Standard and its own conceptions of accounting and financial practices.

Should all economic life in the State of Total Mobilization be studied with humanity in mind? Or should it be studied with nature taking precedence over humanity?

  • Environmental Economics focuses on humanity’s interactions with nature and how humanity could mitigate its environmental impact. It acknowledges the primacy of the Market/Mixed Economy and the Fractional-Reserve Banking System (and ipso facto the SNA and Double-Entry Bookkeeping) in economic life. It believes that humanity’s impact on the environment can be mitigated in the same way that a Social-Democracy could mitigate the worst tendencies of Production for Profit with Production for Utility.
  • Ecological Economics differs from that of Environmental Economics by viewing economic life as an extension of what happens in the biosphere. What makes this school of thought more supportive of the Work-Standard is due to its inherent compatibility with the “Noösphere,” a concept introduced in The Third Place (1st Ed.) in reference to how the State of Total Mobilization has given rise to the digital realm. Since humanity is the only entity on Earth capable of exhibiting higher consciousness, the Noösphere becomes entertainable within the State of Total Mobilization because it represents the formation of a repository of thoughts, ideas, concepts, and values. The most obvious conceptualization of this phenomenon with regard to the environment is of course the digital realm itself and its environmental impact from the creation of Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Why would these two schools of thought be indistinguishable from each other? It has everything to do with Kapital and Schuld. Is preserving the Kapital created by nature more important than whatever Kapital that humanity is capable of creating for its own ends or vice versa? Can humanity tolerate the Schuld that comes with environmental degradation, resource depletion, loss of biodiversity, the destruction of wild habitats, and Climate Change?   

Given how Double-Entry Bookkeeping, Fractional-Reserve Banking, and the System of Accounts are overly fixated on determining all conceivable sources of Kapital and Schuld, it is understandable for Environmentalists to be concerned by their apparent disregard for the environment. But what most people (including this Author) have trouble with Environmentalism is whether a true balance between humanity and nature can ever be achieved. The crux of Environmentalism’s criticisms about those three should be redirected at the shared paradigm between Production for Profit and Production for Utility. Is there a way to develop a Chart of Accounts designed to accommodate both Modes of Production and provide indications of a privatized commercial firm’s environmental impact? Can it be reapplied to the System of Accounts? Or are these proposals simply impossible to implement in a world where the Quantities of Kapital and Schuld are limitless and yet there can only be so many natural resources in existence to sustain most economic activities?  

Here, the Work-Standard has to be able to provide its own answers, even when it takes into consideration the premises of Environmentalism. Recall the Work-Standard defined the relationship between Arbeit and Technology. Technology should be imbued with a Design Philosophy that facilitates the creation of additional sources of Arbeit and enhances the Quality of Arbeit for other existing sources. Any Arbeit deemed incapable of improvement should, at the very most, be automated by the Mechanization Rate. In addition to improving the Quality of existing sources of Arbeit within the Work-World, other existing sources of Arbeit should be preserved for future generations. The key precondition here is promoting the need for Meaningful Work and the admonishing of Meaningless Work in Production for Dasein.

Additionally, the contributions of Arbeit and Geld to the Life-Energy Reserve have to begin at the Natural Sector before any other Economic Sector. If that is the case, there should be ways of determining the Value of Arbeit for harvesting specific natural resources and converting them into Equipmentalities as matériel required in the production processes of the other Economic Sectors in the VCS Economy.

For instance, what is the Value of Arbeit for harvesting a single ton of crops or a single ton of lumber? What is the Price in Geld for each? Are there ways to determine the Quality of Arbeit (and thus the Quality of Geld) based on the qualitative longevity of the topsoil and the surrounding forests? Who or what will set the Values and Prices for the State Commissariats of Wages and Prices? Is it the personnel involved in those production processes, the personnel who would later need those Equipmentalities for producing food and wood products, or the people who will ultimately be purchasing them? Could it be all of the above?   

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