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Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

It used to be that frugal cheapskates like us were the odd ones out.   Now we’re trendy.  And we have a historian.

Could we actually be on the cusp of a new era of living sustainably and within our means?  Let’s hope.

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Fans of living for reasons other than shopping — among which we include ourselves  — are enjoying the curent swathe of commentary addressing (finally!) the problem of how to create an economic recovery that’s also sustainable.

So we have Douglas Coupland worrying in a slightly incoherent fashion about what we will all come to in the Times.  Benjamin Barber in the Nation, though, is a lot more cogent on the subject.

James Kunstler imagines us entering the era of ‘yard-sale nation’ – a happy prospect for those of us who love nothing more than bargain hunting among our neighbors’ left-overs.  Kunstler’s vision is pretty dark, though.  The comments to the version of his article posted at Alternet (linked to above), however, offer a few rays of hope.

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We’re happy to see the Nation devote an entire week of stories to the issue of green economics.  Important stuff there to check out.

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It’s a busy life being an EarthQuaker — especially if you aspire to live it slow, to some degree.  So we’re just now reading last month’s New Yorkers and found this fascinating but depressing insiders look at the growing trade in illegally-logged timber.  It’s essential reading.

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Every US newspaper, magazine or website with anything resembling a ‘home’ section these days has been suddenly won over, it seems, to the cause of frugality.  And of course it meshes nicely with the living-green trend they’ve all been pushing for a while now.

We welcome this, naturally, but wonder if the virtues of reducing, reusing and recycling will still be so widely extolled once advertisers start raising their ad buys again.

Still, for now, the idea of living for something other than pure consumption is getting some airtime, for which we are grateful.  Here are two recent dispatches from the trend-face:

While the New York Times today ponders the confusions we all face when we really start trying to save money (like figuring out how far to drive for the sake of a bargain or whether buying in bulk at Costco really makes sense), there’s a far more radical solution at hand.

Vermonter Jim Merkel manages to live on just $5,000 a year — a level that means he doesn’t even pay federal taxes.  That’s an added plus for the weapons engineer turned pacifist who didn’t want to pay for US weapons programs anymore.  Truly a model for all us EarthQuakers, too.

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We must restructure our economy from a foundation built on consumption to regeneration and maintenance,” say Rebekah and Stephen Hren in the Huffington Post this week.

It’s a plea for ‘ecological economics’ — and one we EarthQuakers pretty much share.

Any hope it will come with the Obama administration?  Not a huge amount, but we might move a hair in that direction and that momentum — such as it is — may actually be something to build on.  EarthCare, Sustainabilty, Stewardship, Ecological Economics: we’re at least now putting names to visions that don’t so much want to do away with conventional global corporate capitalism as radically refine it.

If we can just get economists to add environmental impacts when they calculate costs, for example (and it’s insane that governmental economists, at least, don’t do that when they consider policy alternatives), we’d be a long way towards an economics of regeneration.  There would be new corporate winners and losers for sure, but the capitalist system wouldn’t need to end while the planet and its people would sure reap the benefit.

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Farmer-poet Berry has this stanza in his poem ‘Some Further Words,’ published in his recent collection ‘Given.’

When I hear the stock market has fallen,
I say, “Long live gravity! Long live
stupidity, error, and greed in the palaces
of fantasy capitalism!” I think
an economy should be based on thrift,
on taking care of things, not on theft,
usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.

(This is a cross post from my posterous site.)

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