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Economic Instability

Money and Economy

The Flaw of Western Economies
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, People Systems, Village Development — by Marcin Gerwin
Original posting November 2008, posted here July 27, 2009

Let’s imagine a green and responsible consumer. Let’s call him George. George lives in a sleepy town, near the center and the park where he often goes for a walk with his dog. George built his house with his friends two years ago. It is a very small house, only 320 square feet and it was made with cob – clay mixed with straw and aggregate. The clay for construction was extracted from George’s land behind the house – now you can see a nice pond there with water lilies. George was fortunate enough to find some recycled timber for the roof from the old garage that his neighbors were demolishing. He considered making a turf roof with wild flowers and herbs, but eventually he decided that a slate roof will be more practical because he will be able to collect rainwater from it and use it for watering his garden during warm summer days...
The above article demonstrates that we not only need to change our consumer values, but also become involved in the production of essentials for our community, and participate in rebuilding community resilience and self-reliance. - DavidM

Green Economics and How it Might Work
by Tushara Kodikara, Scoop
In times of the global economic recession and ecological crisis, it is obvious a radical response is needed. World-renowned economist Herman Daly maintains the future of human civilisation is dependent on a new economic model, based on a dynamic model—known as the steady state economy—preserving the environment we are all dependent upon.

There needs to be a shift away from the current paradigm of the growth economy towards a system that emphasises conserving natural capital and views the economy as a subset of the environment. Neoclassical economics has ignored the environment. The current system views environment and economy as intertwined. Any environmental problem can be solved by the market or by governmental interference...

The Overoptimized Society
by Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights, November 29, 2008
For former Wall Street hedge fund manager and self-styled student of uncertainty Nassim Nicholas Taleb an important cause of the current financial meltdown is best described by ecological science. The system has become overoptimized. The consolidation of finance into the hands of fewer and fewer large players--banks, insurance companies, investment banks, and giant hedge funds--has made it less vulnerable to frequent crises, but more likely to produce a severe crisis when there is a breakdown in the system. What used to be country-specific or regional crises, now become worldwide crises. In the past we've had the Mexican crisis, the Asian crisis, the Argentinian meltdown and most recently the utterly devastating hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. But none of these became global crises.

Think the Nation's Debt Doesn't Affect You? Think Again!
Is it a natural state of affairs for the world's richest nation to be borrowing from the world's poorest nations, to the tune of over 6 percent of its GDP? Harvard Economic Professor and former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund, Kenneth Rogoff doesn't think so. Rogoff goes on camera in the recently released documentary film, TIME-BOMB: America's Debt Crises, Causes, Consequences and Solutions and says, "This is not a normal state of affairs. And it's certainly not something we expect to see from the world's richest country. Back when Britain was on top they were lending money to the world, but we're borrowing from the rest of the world. Our current account trade deficit is now more than our defense spending and incredibly we've been borrowing from the rest of the world like this for several years now..." In short America has been living beyond its means for too long and the reckoning is looming.

McKibben - Happiness and the Deep Economy
Energy Bulletin, posted 3/24/07
Bill McKibben has been championing the themes of global warming, peak oil and sustainability for years. In his recently released book, Deep Economy, he focuses on relocalization and a rethinking of our conception of happiness.

Independence from the Corporate Global Economy
by Ethan Miller, Winter 2007, Yes! Magazine
Call it "globalization," or the "free market," or "capitalism." Whatever its name, people across the United States and throughout the world are experiencing the devastating effects of an economy that places profit above all else. ...what's the alternative? We're taught that there are only two possible economic choices: capitalism—a system in which rich people and corporations have the power, make the decisions, and control our lives; or communism—a system where state bureaucrats have the power, make the decisions, and control our lives. What a choice!

'Small-Marts' take on Wal-Mart
Small, local groups nationwide are fighting back against big business and helter-skelter globalization.
Fortune Magazine, August 30, 2006
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Local businesses in Whatcom County, Wash., next month will exhort their customers to "Buy Fresh Eat Local."
Some people in the scenic, mountainous region will take a pledge to nourish themselves for a week entirely from the local food shed - drinking milk from local cows, eating fresh-baked organic bread and patronizing restaurants like Flats Tapas Bar, which will serve such dishes as flatbread with all-local smoked salmon, caramelized apple, gouda cheese and hazelnuts..."We want to help raise awareness of the value of local food systems," explains Max Morange of Sustainable Connections, a network of more than 500 Bellingham-area businesses that sponsors the annual event. "We're losing farmland very quickly."

The Small Mart Revolution
Author, attorney and economist Michael Shuman describes how small, local businesses are emerging as the most effective means of building community prosperity, creating opportunity and building a good quality of life. He and Bill McKibben are co-authors of the new book "The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition " that describes how small businesses provide a better quality of life to many more people than we knew. Small businesses offer people the chance to contribute to their communities in so many fundamental and unexpected positive ways: by buying from locally-owned businesses - or by owning a local business - both are "Voting with Your Money"!
29 minute video interview:

The Idea of a Local Economy
by Wendell Berry
People must think about protecting themselves. 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 want to give everybody in the local community a direct, long-term interest in the prosperity, health, and beauty of their homeland.

Economics: The Sound of Aunt Edna's Knitting
The Archdruid Report: John Michael Greer
Since the twilight of the money economy will be a gradual process, it won't necessarily be possible for individuals to make the transition to a deindustrial career in a single leap. What can and must be tackled right now is the learning curve demanded by any of these skilled trades. It's not enough to line your shelves with books about organic farming, for example; you need to start buying tools, digging garden beds, and growing your own crops, and you need to do this as soon as possible, because mastering the craft of organic farming takes time. The same is true if you decide to take up blacksmithying, brewing, small appliance repair, or any other useful trade: you need to get the tools and start learning the craft, so you'll have your Plan B firmly in place when the money economy folds out from under you.

How the Fourth Corner Exchange Local Currency Works
The Fourth Corner Exchange is a mutual-credit, time-dollar system. It supports a gift economy which is fundamentally different from a cash economy. The system is based on human capital - your skills and energies - and on trust. Unlike the cash economy your capital is not restricted to the numbers on your bank statement. So long as you have something to offer another person (and everyone does), you have capital. Since participants don't need to compete for scarce resources, it is a fundamentally cooperative trading endeavor.
The goods and services you can obtain are not limited to a single trading partner, as with barter, but rather encompass the offerings of the entire trading network. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and energy.

Coming Clean
By Katherine Austin Fitts: Coming clean means shifting our time, our attention, our spending and investing away from the "tapeworm economy" and into a financially intimate economy and a wonderful world. Who's your banker? Who's your farmer? Where's your money? Where's the money in your neighborhood going?

Out of the retail rat race
Consumer group doesn't buy notion that new is better
While many people will spend countless hours this year lining up at Wal-Mart and maxing out their credit cards at Nordstrom, a small Bay Area group has declared it will do just the opposite. About 50 teachers, engineers, executives and other professionals in the Bay Area have made a vow to not buy anything new in 2006 -- except food, health and safety items and underwear. "We're people for whom recycling is no longer enough," said one of the members of the fledgling movement, John Perry, who works in marketing at a high-tech company. "We're trying to get off the first-market consumerism grid, because consumer culture is destroying the world."

Steady State Economies: An Alternative to Unrestrained Growth
By Dave Ewoldt: "Do you enjoy eating ice cream? If so, ask yourself if a little bit of ice cream is good, wouldn't more be even better? Why not just consume gallons of it? And forget about broccoli and asparagus, and especially those nasty little Brussels sprouts and slimy okra. Well, this way of thinking is the foundation for the economic theory orthodox growth economists in the industrialized world use today."

Steady State Economics
by Herman Daly: "The first question asked of any critic of the status quo is: What would you put in place? In place of the growth economy we would put a steady-state economy. But such a theoretical alternative is not of great interest unless there is dissatisfaction with the business-as-usual growth economy. If you have eaten poison, it is not enough to simply resume eating healthful foods. You must get rid of the specific substances that are making you ill. Let us, then, apply the stomach pump to the doctrines of economic growth that we have been force-fed for the past four decades. Perhaps the best way to do that is to jump right into the growth debate and consider critically some fifteen to twenty general pro growth arguments that recur in various guises and either expose their errors or accommodate their valid criticisms."

Buddhist Economics - E.F. Schumacher
"'Right Livelihood' is one of the requirements of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is clear, therefore, that there must be such a thing as Buddhist economics..."

Rev. Billy says: Stop shopping
Why the Church of Stop Shopping's evangelical leader wants us to buy nothing this holiday season.
"Americans are instructed that our way of life is shopping. That our democracy is shopping. Citizenship is shopping. We don't need towns and cities anymore because we have a shopping experience," Reverend Billy told
"Our communities are collapsing. We can be so much more than consumers."

Local/Community Currencies - An Introduction
"Our current economic system, with its paradoxical idea of permanent growth based on limited resources, is approaching difficult times. Yet we can take some steps to prepare ourselves, and one of them is to become familiar with different kinds of money. The first thing we need to do is to shake off the idea that only governments can create money. Not true. Anybody can create money. Money is just a promise to redeem something, to give the person holding the banknote something of value..."

Local/Community Currencies
"To understand community currencies we need to better understand what money does. We will see that a community currency should fulfill at least some of the key roles of any currency, and that a well-designed community currency can even fill some of the roles that the "normal" national currency does not. Since the breakdown in 1972 of the Bretton Woods system, the world has been living with pure fiat currency--that is, there is nothing material backing the currencies of the world. Nonetheless, money has continued to fulfill a number of different functions, only two of which are essential..."

Whole Ithaca Stock Exchange: Investing in Community
"Many now realize that unless the global economy is based on a world of stable communities amid healthy environments, trading stable currencies, then bank accounts are just worthless big numbers. Getting reliably rich means investing in community."

Participatory Economics
"Participatory Economics (Parecon for short) is a type of economy proposed as an alternative to contemporary capitalism. The underlying values are equity, solidarity, diversity, and participatory self management. The main institutions are workers and consumers councils utilizing self managed decision making, balanced job complexes, remuneration according to effort and sacrifice, and participatory planning."

Are the Markets Rigged?
A Financial Sense Newshour roundtable with Bill Murphy, Chairman of GATA and publisher of, Chris Powell, Secretary & Treasury of GATA and James Turk, founder of
Whether we are citizen, activist or investor, we need to understand how the control of the financial markets really works. If you want to stop an army, you shut off their supply lines. If you want to stop the Tapeworm, we need to understand how and where it gets its financial supplies. Here is a terrific introduction from some of the finest "real money men" on the planet today.

Buying Local and the Circulating Dollar
By John Amundsen of Portland, Oregon who describes himself as "a native Oregonian who wants to improve it's livability, economy, and communities."
Buy local. We all want to do it, but do we really know why? It's good for our local economy. Well, that's right. If we can buy at a national chain at what we think is a lower price, isn't that better for our personal or our company's economy? Well, that's wrong. What happens to a dollar spent locally versus at a national chain or formula restaurant? Lists ten reasons buying local is better for us all!!

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