Economic Depression Definition:
decreases in jobs, money, goods;
increases in unemployment, poverty, need.
But what's wrong with fewer jobs, less money, fewer goods?
The problem is with the other part of the definition of economic depression:
lack of jobs and resources, increase in poverty, need.
Less is More, I've heard over and over. And I agree.
But the people saying that like a mantra haven't meant:
less money in the world and a huge economic meltdown.
They haven't meant:
fewer mortgages as more and more people default. Fewer banks as banks go bankrupt.
But I will stand on the side of Less is More.
Growth, growth, growth. Over and over I've heard, growth is good, growth in the gross national product, growth in the economy.
It's never made sense to me. Why should growth be good?
What about obese overstuffed societies, bloating on things, closets stuffed, stuff piling everywhere?
Less is More, I've also heard, though not in relation to the economy.
I'm not in favor of an economic meltdown, a economic bloodbath, That's like sudden starvation, not like losing blobs of fat through a healthy diet combined with good exercise.
I don't see consumption as either good or bad, in itself. But I remember, over and over, co-workers with debts piled by, staggering along paycheck to paycheck. And I was taking unpaid leaves of absence, a month or two here and there.
It wasn't that I lacked. I lived in a nice place, had nice clothes, and so on. But I was careful about money. Careful – that meant that I was aware that I had to spend lots of time to earn things.
And I valued time.
Yet, like so many other people, over the past few years, I've ended up busier than I've ever been – and very concerned with finances.
I want to get back to that space with miles of time.
For me, "growth is good" has never made any more sense than "cancer is good". The kind of growth matters. More consumption. Well, first-world people are supposedly getting fatter and fatter in ever larger numbers. That sure is growth. I don't see what's good about it.
How to survive the recession, go about managing downturn? If you're lucky, you can cut down on costs and increase satisfaction. If you're very lucky, if you have enough to get by (as some people do), you can have time away from paid work recharging yourself, having time to do something other than work. Alternative economics: less is more.
What's an economic depression? Economic depression definition: it's when people have a lot less than they had - and want (or need) more. Often there are economic hardships linked to a downturn or a shrink in the economy. Jobs are lost - shrinkage means there's less money to spend, and of course it isn't that everyone gets a little less. Instead some people are cut from the work system. That can turn into a downward economic spiral with less and less money to be spent, meaning more and more loss of jobs. Economic meltdown, sometimes combined with massive inflation.
Economic depression definition: a diet that, as weight is lost, keeps escalating. It's actually a bit like a dieter going anorexic. Except that the anorexic thinks they're still too fat. Here those with lost jobs, lost houses and so on don't think the economy is still too fat.
In a severe depression: people are like the starving cells in the body of an anorexic. They want more, but there's less and less.
Back to: how to survive the recession, beat the recession? One (for the lucky), cut the fat, the bloat, the excess. For quite a number of people, it can be a shift toward economic health.
The open secret: less is more. Not if you're starving. But if you're overweight - like millions upon millions of people.
Actually to modify the open secret: balance is best.
I find massive consumption depressing.
There's a lot I enjoy consuming: travel, a nice home, the labor of others - I need money to be able to afford that or I need to do everything myself, plumbing, electricity, roof repairs, car repairs, everything.
Yet around me I see much more than balance: massive "over-having" in the first world, People with dozens of pairs of shoes, closets stuffed.
Yet many people still feel empty - like the overeater who is still hungry and eating - while heading for a heart attack.
Something else is lacking, stuff many people are looking for: community, deep interests, passions.
I look around my neighborhood in Montreal: far from wealthy, far from poor. Things get put out on the sidewalk, things people no longer want or need: "here, take this desk, couch, computer. I've moved on."
I see a lot of space for economic receding, but a movement toward rather than away. Toward things that satisfy more, satisfy truly.
This is cold comfort - meaning no comfort - for anyone losing their house, their retirement funds. That's anorexia, not healthy dieting. A healthy diet has you feeling better, more energetic, more alive.
What we need is change toward alternative economics - in terms of consumption ,this is a change toward a healthy diet. Mortgages based on nothing is like people eating the seeds of what should have been next year's harvest, drawing the last drops of water from dry wells. This is the recipe for economic collapse - or at least economic downturn, economic recession.
Of course after eating next's years seeds, and draining the earth dry, next year there's a shortage of seeds and of ground water. The earth has a lot of capacity to regenerate. But in the meantime people go hungry.
The emperor had no clothes - that's Bush, that's all those who who touted a free market, free to strip people, free to strip the future. The problem: they did such a sell job that few saw through it. And those who did, their voices were hardly heard.
Time to pay attention, and also to ask: what do we really need? And each individual also needs to look at: what do I really need? Which things? And what other things?
On a social level. Health care, massively so. Education, massively so. And safeguards - a government that takes the financial health of the world seriously. But when it hasn't even been able - as in the United States - to take the physical health of its citizens seriously, small wonder it hasn't been able to take the economic health seriously.
Why do we need expansion and populations growth? Those never made sense to me.
I feel a bit like Cassandra, who knew things but couldn't get her fellow trojans to listen to her. At least she knew why: she hadn't done what one of the Greek god wanted (he wanted her to have sex with him; she was a vestal virgin and said no; he curses her). I don't know where my curse is coming from.
I know that, unlike Cassandra, I have no special vision. I don't even have the credentials - I'm no economist. But some things just plain don't make sense. You don't have to be a specialist to know that cutting the head off is not the best way to cure a head ache.
And when I look at the world where our species is devouring resources and multiplying like - well not like flies, but how about like humans. It doesn't take a genius to see we don't need growth, but moderation, and even the opposite of growth - lessening the burden we are placing on this planet.
Nov 1, 2008
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2008, 2009 - all rights reserved
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a turn to alternative economics.
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Survive the Recession. Thrive and Beat the Recession.
Alternative Economics, Economic Alternatives
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Survive Recession, Manage Downturn
I've lived much of my life under my means.
I valued my time.
One thing: I'm lucky - I live in a country with universal health care, with very inexpensive education, and with (in many places) affordable housing.
So my own mindset was not: how do I survive recession. I was rather: how do I stay away from the pressure to work more than I need.
Around me, most of the people I saw lived spending more - but I'm not sure they enjoyed more.
And lately, recession fears, fears of a global economic meltdown, business downturn, investment downturn, economic downturn - more than economic slowdown, economic recession at least, economic depression by other definitions.
I think of economic alternatives, and especially alternative economics - one of balance and moderation rather than growth dreams.
How to survive recession, beat the recession? For me, it's just plain how to live well.
A mindset toward seeing what one values - and not going in for economic obesity.
August 13, 2009
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2009, 2011
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