Prout is a consumption-based economy which is quite distinct from consumer-driven ones. Economies like capitalism view consumption of commodities as the primary driver of profits. Hence limitless consumption of goods and services is encouraged, whether one needs them or can afford them.
In Prout, consumption signifies the meeting of human needs. This is accomplished in the following ways:
- Basic necessities: Production initially focuses on supplying basic necessities. Once essential needs are met, other non-essential items and services can be produced. Adequate production, particularly of essential goods, stabilises prices, thereby increasing purchasing capacity and living standards.
- Decentralisation: The economy should be controlled by local residents whose primary interest is to meet local needs. Local production channels profits back into the community through higher job compensation which ensures stable demand. Additionally, communities are naturally concerned about their environment and therefore will strive to prevent resource depletion and ecological degradation.
- Diversification: As societies and environments are ever-changing and evolving, consumption needs to diversify and progress. The former requires technological advances to produce diverse products to meet expanding demands. The latter refers to the natural evolution of human needs, from the physical dimension to the mental and spiritual. Once people meet their basic needs, they search for ways to satisfy their subtler desires which require different kinds of goods and services.
- Reasonable profits: Although profits are not the principal objective in a consumption-based economy, a reasonable level of surplus income is necessary for investment and worker incentives. Some profits can also help build community wealth through development projects.
- New social values: The shift from a profit-oriented economy to a consumption one will necessitate a fundamental change in the dominant values guiding society. Today’s emphasis on material gain, zero-sum competition, individual self-interest, and unsustainable production benefits only a few and harms our planet. Prout promotes Neohumanism, a worldview characterised by love, care and compassion for all beings. An economy based on this worldview will be caring, inclusive, fair, and non-exploitative.