Economics

From Deep Economy by Bill McKibben:

Three fundamental challenges to the fixation on [economic] growth have emerged.  One is political: growth, at least as we now create it, is producing more inequality than prosperity, more insecurity than progress.  This is both the most common and least fundamental objection to our present economy...The second argument is...that we do not have the energy needed to keep the magic going, and can we deal with the pollution it creates?  The third argument is both less obvious and even more basic: growth is no longer making us happy. 

There are many kinds of paternalism, including the assumption that for poor people only material things matter...  Just like us, [poor] people need dignity, security, identity.  Some of these can be achieved through economic growth, and some of them can be undermined by it.

It is our economic lives...that play the crucial role in wrecking or rebuilding our communities.  We need to once again depend on those around us for something real.  If we do, then the bonds that make for human satisfaction as opposed to endless growth will begin to reemerge. 

Local economies would demand fewer resources and cause less ecological disruption; they would be better able to weather coming shocks; they would allow us to find a better balance between the individual and the community, and hence find extra satisfaction.

 

From Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) by Pope Francis:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

 

From Wendell Berry’s writings:

Most of us get almost all the things we need by buying them; most of us know only vaguely where these things come from and not at all what damage is involved in their production.  We are almost entirely dependent on an economy of which we are almost entirely ignorant.--Sex, Economy, Freedom, Community 

We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do.  We must waste less.  We must do more for ourselves and each other.  It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes which we are inviting catastrophe to make.--What Are People For? 

We are involved in an economic disaster in which the production of monetary wealth involves the destruction of necessary goods.--What Matters?

The advantage of diverse local land-based economics is not luxury and extravagance for a few but a modest, decent, sustainable prosperity for many. --What Matters?

  

From Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World by Dorothy L. Sayers:

Whereas formerly it was considered a virtue to be thrifty and content with one’s lot, it is now considered to be the mark of a progressive nation that it is filled with hustling, go-getting citizens, intent on raising their standard of living. And this is not interpreted to mean merely that a decent sufficiency of food, clothes and shelter is attainable by all citizens...it means that every citizen is encouraged to consider more, and more complicated, luxuries necessary to his well-being.

...the whole system would come crashing down in a day if every consumer were voluntarily to restrict purchases to things really needed. (ibid)


from The Consumer Society  anthology, edited by Neva Goodwin, Frank Ackerman and David Kiron

Everyone cannot simultaneously succeed in getting ahead.

The rich damage the environment through high consumption levels, and the poor damage the environment by being forced to utilize marginal and fragile ecosystems.

As yesterday’s novel pleasures become today’s habits and tomorrow’s socially defined necessities, maintaining the same level of pleasure requires new levels of consumption.


from What Money Can’t Buy    by Michael J. Sandel:

What is the moral importance of the norms that money may erode or crowd out?...Are there some things that money can buy but shouldn’t? 

Where all good things are bought and sold, having money makes all the difference in the world... Not only has the gap between rich and poor widened, the commodification of everything has sharpened the sting of inequality by making money matter more.

Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them.

Altruism, generosity and solidarity are not like commodities that are depleted with use.  They are more like muscles that develop and grow stronger with exercise.  One of the defects of a market-driven society is that it lets these virtues languish.

 

From the Afterword to the 2nd edition of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh by Helena Norberg-Hodges:

[In Ladakh] I witnessed how outside economic pressures created not only pollution and resource scarcity but also unemployment and feelings of cultural inferiority, all previously unknown there.  I also saw how these pressures sped life up and how they separated people from the living world around them and from one another.

The primary cause of our crises is [not] human nature...but rather a relentlessly expanding economic system that is steamrolling both people and the planet.  Unfortunately, this system has grown so large that it has become difficult to recognize it as human-made.

 

From the writings of Barbara Ehrenreich:

The ‘working poor’...are in fact the major philanthropists of our society.  They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high.  To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else. --Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America

Our economy--with its dizzying bubbles, wild lending sprees, reckless downsizings and planetwide hypersensitivity--has gotten far too disconnected from basic human needs.--This Land Is Their Land

 

From Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood by Susan Linn:

In the US freedom is one of our primary shared values.  We do not like to be manipulated--or we do not like to think we are being manipulated.  Therefore...marketers perpetuate the illusion that all of our choices are ‘free’. 

 

From The Case Against the Global Economy, ed. Jerry Mander:

Such negative events as the depletion of natural resources, construction of more prisons, and the manufacture of bombs are all measures of “health” by current economic theory.  Meanwhile . . . unpaid household work, child care, community service, or the production of food to be eaten and artifacts to be used rather than sold by the formal economy are not registered in the statistics at all.

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