The National: This is from a newsletter from Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, called Reinventing Scotland - focusing on the wellbeing economy. Sign up here to receive it every Tuesday at 7pm. 

Would a wellbeing economy make everyone better off or just happier and more content? That question points to a worry that an economy that isn't primarily dedicated to growth will not grow as fast as one that is but it’s a wrong-headed assumption. Ask any football coach: All-out attack is a sure-fire way to lose a game.

The last few decades of neoliberal obsessive focus on growth is, in my view, the enemy to long-term sustainable growth. Just as a sports team needs defensive strategies for scenarios to win a game, an economy needs to devise strategies to boost the wellbeing of society. Otherwise, it will at best boom and bust or at worst, enter a slow terminal decline – as the UK has since 2007.  

Two types of growth in a wellbeing economy 

Some people think that zero or even negative growth is required to address climate change: There is a lot of sense in that. We certainly cannot continue to consume the planet's resources and as a result pollute it the way we currently do. However, I think there are two types of positive growth built into the wellbeing economy model. I dealt with the first in a previous column suggesting a radical approach to climate change.

Wellbeing requires climate intervention

As there is zero chance of the world's governments doing anywhere near enough to avoid climate disaster, I suggested that every currency-issuing central bank in the world must agree to create 9% of their nation's annual GDP in new money every year until a review in 2030. This emergency finance would apply (probably via a new supranational body) within strictly defined criteria to fund a swift transition to renewable energy and sustainable growth, making avoiding climate disaster the great cause of our generation. 

As this would involve massive investment in renewables and environmental science it would create sustainable green growth, better wages, higher quality jobs and massive tax revenue boosts.

READ MORE: Five key misconceptions are holding a 'doughnut economy' back

Better consumers mean better growth

The other way that a wellbeing economy would create growth is that we as consumers would change our behaviour. Neoliberalism is based upon the pursuit of growth and maximisation of corporate shareholder value as government policy, which leads to higher return on investment to asset holders (the rich). To make that formula work, we the consumer, must buy more often and so products must have inbuilt obsolescence. 

To keep the products cheap so consumers can afford to repeatedly purchase, the wages of the people making the products also need to also be kept low. This leads to inequality, with asset holders getting wealthier and the actual producers getting poorer.

We are all victims of consumer marketing

Since the 1980s, this has also led to large corporations scouring the world to find manufacturing locations where they can pay ultra-low wages. They also look for jurisdictions where heath and safety regulations, workers rights and even child labour laws are lax.

Combine that with a global marketing machine that uses psychoanalysis, big data and social media algorithms to turn us all (yes, you too!) into thoughtless repeat consumers of unnecessary goods and we have a dying planet, an unfair society, less and poorer jobs for the working class and no future.

READ MORE: Energy bills expected to rise for millions after Christmas

So, how do we consume in the wellbeing economy?

Higher quality products that cost more last longer, pay higher wages to the producers and for the most part are easier to produce locally. The literary genius Terry Pratchett explains it best via Sam Vimes's "Boots" theory of socio-economic unfairness. Here is a snippet, you should read the rest: 

“A man who could afford 50 dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in 10 years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent 100 dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.” 

The first task of a person in a neoliberal capitalist system is to be an unconscious consumer. The first task of a person in a wellbeing economy is not only to invest in their own wellbeing but also to see the big picture and invest in the wellbeing of their family, community, workplace, nation, humanity and the planet - most people stop at family.

The cult of individualism undermines collective responsibility within society. That is what has driven the collapse of the left and the inexorable dominance of the right in western politics. Labour hope to win the next UK General Election with a policy platform to the right of Margaret Thatcher’s – the goal posts have moved right because that is where our individual desires are driving society. 

The National: File photo dated 12/10/1984 of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday March 3, 2014. The miners' strike started in Yorkshire in early March 1984 and within days half the country's mineworkers had walked out

READ MORE: When Labour and Tories use the same tactics, we're heading for crisis

We are consuming machines, driven by unconscious desires to be seen by others as more powerful, influential, attractive, successful and/or likeable, even though we seldom admit it.

Ask yourself what the economy and society would look like if we rejected those fake personas? If we all started to buy products that last; if we invested in quality, not quantity; if we consciously cut out consumption that we don't really need but only serves to feed our collective egos? What if we consumed as if our own personal and the planet's wellbeing were connected?

Switching to a wellbeing economic approach is not just about resetting the economy – it's about resetting what it means to be human.