Signs of Hope Feed

The Ideal of a Local Economy

Wendell Berry via How to Save the World:

A TOTAL ECONOMY is one in which everything—“life forms,” for instance,—or the “right to pollute” is “private property” and has a price and is for sale. In a total economy significant and sometimes critical choices that once belonged to individuals or communities become the property of corporations. A total economy, operating internationally, necessarily shrinks the powers of state.... A total economy is an unrestrained taking of profits from the disintegration of nations: communities, households, landscapes, and ecosystems. It licenses symbolic or artificial wealth to “grow” by means of the destruction of the real wealth of all the world…

How are they to protect themselves? There seems, really, to be only one way, and that is to develop and put into practice the idea of a local economy—something that growing numbers of people are now doing. For several good reasons, they are beginning with the idea of a local food economy. People are trying to find ways to shorten the distance between producers and consumers, to make the connections between the two more direct, and to make this local economic activity a benefit to the local community. They are trying to learn to use the consumer economies of local towns and cities to preserve the livelihoods of local farm families and farm communities. They want to use the local economy to give consumers an influence over the kind and quality of their food, and to preserve land and enhance the local landscapes. They want to give everybody in the local community a direct, long-term interest in the prosperity, health, and beauty of their homeland. This is the only way presently available to make the total economy less total. It was once, I believe, the only way to make a national or a colonial economy less total. But now the necessity is greater...

Perhaps one also begins to see the difference between a small local business that must share the fate of the local community and a large absentee corporation that is set up to escape the fate of the local community by ruining the local community....

The “free trade” which from the standpoint of the corporate economy brings “unprecedented economic growth,” from the standpoint of the land and its local populations, and ultimately from the standpoint of the cities, is destruction and slavery. Without prosperous local economies, the people have no power and the land no voice.

I can visualize a specialization in financial planning that would get out in front of this trend, with both personal planning and local investment vehicles.  As the auction rate securities market locks up, the mortgage loans default, the stock market drops, gas and food prices rise, the dollar collapses, derivatives unwind, and as official cost of living statistics (driving raises and Social Security increases) are systematically understated, people are going to have to adjust by unplugging from the bubble economy and its global Superclass and start looking closer to home, among friends and neighbors who actually do something useful, like grow tomatoes or fix a toaster oven.  Sounds grim, but money will be made, no doubt, getting out in front of this mega-trend.


May Your Political Anxiety Float Free

From Free Floating Political Anxiety, 2 page pdf by Donna Zajonc at politics of hope:

A "free-floating anxiety disorder" is the label psychologists use when their patients describe anxiety that exists for no apparent reason. Unlike anxiety that is based upon a specific phobia or panic attack, it is unclear why the person feels anxious. All that they know is that they are waiting for "the next shoe to drop" that will add to the chaos in their lives.

For many in our country, September 11, 2001 is the fault-line that triggered the inner quaking that seems to be ever present. The last time this level of free-floating anxiety was present was in the 1960’s following the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy....

Perhaps any living creature must feel some inkling of dread.  The species God put as stewards of the earth has allowed certain "negative externalities" to poison the life flow.  Until the human race dies back, and our toxins have been processed for milennia, what hope is there for the bees, bats, fishes? Perhaps God has slated our political leaders for reincarnation as species that will go extinct.  That Dodo in the museum of natural history was once Alexander the Great.