Brian Czech, in his book Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, emphasizes the importance of assigning the most wasteful, destructive people in our gluttonous economy with both a name and a stigma. This portion of our population, generally the top 1% in the economy, are given the title of the Liquidating Class. This title comes from their actions – as they use up, or liquidate, vast quantities of natural capital for frivolous and extravagant things. This natural capital could be use to feed other people now, put clothing on our own children, and sustain our grandchildren’s lives as well.
You may believe that a steady-state economy cannot happen. Or perhaps you have doubts about it’s full-fledged ability to “rule” as the new standard. Whatever the case, you are still a consumer to some extent, right? We still need to eat, you still need clothes, you still need certain things to conduct a happy life (regardless of whether you like the idea of needing stuff for happiness). Sometimes it is difficult to not buy the new and improved computer for work (or play)…
This underlying need to buy food, clothing, and other essentials (arguably, the computer is not really essential) – these are the very things that will keep our economy moving, especially as we transition into a sustainable economy.
Money truly is the root of all evil. Or at the very least greed is the root of most evils…
Money is the reason we go to war. War profiteering is not just a buzz word. Halliburton is making billions in Iraq, all sanctioned by Vice President Cheney. He just happens to be a former CEO of the company, with a pretty fat dividend from his stock holdings in the company. Halliburton is building most of the military installations, engineering the “reconstruction” of Iraq. Oh, and they happen to deal in oil as well as construction. See a connection? Follow the money in the Iraq! (and elsewhere)
To believe that Christ intended us to buy things for the sake of giving things is a bit of a stretch. And to believe that it is an “American tradition” is to not be educated in history. Our nation was without any holidays for the first 67 years of it’s existence. And to think that we were founded as a christian nation is also a falsity. Our founding fathers were mostly deists, or in the case of Thomas Jefferson re-writing the new testament to exclude all miracles.
The formation of a nation built for religious freedom and separation of church and state would have definitely included the decision of making a national holiday that favors one religion over others. But, I digress…
Our desire to celebrate what is to many a sacred time of year with the wasteful consumption that insures the continuation of economic bloating is a slap in the face to the very meaning of the holiday. It invades our desire to spread good by making us believe we can only do good is by buying stuff and things. Yes! Magazine did a wonderful article about having a Christmas with No Presents.
I propose we start donating time to those who need it, donating money to the needy, donating food to the homeless. Give your kids the gift of seeing someone disadvantaged being helped. Bring them to a soup kitchen. I challenge all of us to actually spread good will in this time as we so often feel we’re doing by giving useless, expensive things.
I have often asked myself if the growth-centered economy is really the best thing for the world. Recently I began to do a little light reading on the subject of a steady-state economy. I have come to believe that this is the only sustainable economy we can have if we wish to have any economy at all into the foreseeable future.
In fact, we have already begun to see the drastic devastation greed-oriented, growth-centered capitalism can give to the world: the natural destruction done by our consumption addiction, the corporate rule of American politics, the change from community-oriented living, working, and business to community-devoid living with large, one-stop-shop mega centers. And now a more publicly apparent and glaring consequences: the global financial crisis and global climate change.
Arguably, the relationship for of the desire of growth may not be the (only) thing that lead to the current financial crisis. However, do some reading about local economies (you know, the ones that should be feeding you, providing you with good and services). See the difference in food from a farmers market and a Wal-Mart supercenter – then you shall truly see the benefit of a focus on local economies – better quality.
In a steady-state economy the growth comes not in the form GDP, but growth in quality of life. The growth comes from development within our system, not expansion of the system as a whole. This is a qualitative improvement (development), not a quantitative change (growth).
I believe that a sustainable, steady-state economy can help solve the problems poverty, hunger, and save our environment. It will encourage local businesses and economies, not conglomerates that have enough wealth to buy the government (or pay them to look the other way while bad practices are enacted).
Don’t believe me? Read!!!
- Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben (well-written, up-lifting book about the topic)
- Beyond Growth, by Herman Daly (one of the foremost man on the topic of a steady-state economy)
- Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, by Brian Czech (this book inspired me to start this blog)
- SteadyState.org (a great wealth of information and more books)
Or, don’t educate yourself. Be a mindless drone that believes everything you hear. It’s always up to you. Be a Citizen, not a Consumer!