Friday, February 20, 2009

"Cheap" is It...and Other Musings


OK, it's "thrifty" to you blue bloods and wordsmiths out there.

I read this article today, and it got me thinking (which is always a dangerous thing); I need to be cheaper...

I have been acting like Homo Economicus, when the economy tanks, I pay more attention to where my money goes. For all my rhetoric re: local business, local food, locavorianism, reuse, closing the loop, biking, investing in alignment with values, etc., I am not performing very well. (I've been doing better on the biking front) So, if budgets are moral documents (again a shout out to Bill Grace) what is my budget telling me? What can living cheaply do for the morality of my expenditures?

And...I am switching gears here...some new ideas popped in that need venting...

I read GreenSkeptic's post today, and it continued the trend of getting out of the mental model that we are dependent for our happiness and success on this intangible thing called the "market". I've slowly been moving in the direction he's proposing; heck, I'm thinking back to the times when I was in college and the economy was in the doldrums (OK, the early 90's got nuthin' on what we're seeing now). I completely ignored what was going on outside the walls of WPI. I was happier and optimistic. I'm not advocating putting heads in the sand, yet, at the same time, becoming a deer-in-the-headlights of the failing economy is not going to solve anything.

Maybe it's time to turn off the mainstream news sources and think about what we might create, what we might reinvent.

Switching gears a bit (again), one of the articles GreenSkeptic (thank you!) referred to was, Ruined financiers committing desperate acts. I read it with a combination of rage & pity. For the people that felt their life was worth living in the context of being financially wealthy; I feel pity. For those that amscrayed, that bailed on their responsibility, that bilked people and thought they were too smart to get caught; enraged am I. Here's a thought...imagine if we punished financial fraud as strongly as felonies. I read that the former AIG CEO received four years in prison. Big friggin' deal! It seems to me that punishing people that destroy or hamstring people's lives in the same way that we punish "common criminals" would deter these crimes in the first place. Ah, but then we'd be hindering capitalism and "economic growth", right? Bah!

The graphic now has more meaning...we have the soil to plant the seeds of a new real economy...what will it be like? Will it be simple and reflect what we truly value? Will it respect all forms of capital (I think of social & environmental as the roots, and financial growing from them)? Will it lead us down the same path again?

I went a little off the rails on this one, and each paragraph could be a missive on its own. I feel better for putting it out there. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

curiousdwk said...

Why is it easier to hear the outcry of society of a welfare mom who has bilked the system of $1,500.00 more than the outcry of a ninanceer who has bilked the people of millions or billions?

Why do we identify with the haves but have no empathy with the have-nots? Even when we are neither?

Why do we do everything we can to keep from providing for people's economic relief, but think nothing of providing economic relief for corporations?

The answers? Wrong values.