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Permaculture & designing an economic system  RSS feed

 
Nina Jay
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Location: Southern Finland, mean annual temp +4 C, rainfall 700 mm, growing season 180 days, clay soil.
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Could one use permaculture to design an economic system? Could permies be the people to bring something new to the discussions about economics? See beyond the old -isms, take a fresh look at economic systems?

Patrick Whitefield talks on "Farm for the Future" document about how people often think there are two ways of doing things: one is by drudgery and one is by throwing fossil fuel at it, and that permaculture is about the third way of doing things and that is by design. I think that's an excellent way of putting it.

In discussions about economics it often feels like people think there are only two economic systems: capitalism and communism. I would like to see permaculture people design a third way of doing things.

I know there have been different systems in the past and some of them are still alive although only used by indigenous people and unknown to the majority. But that's not what this post is about. I would really love to see a fresh new attempt (even if it has elements from existing systems as it no doubt will have) because all the existing systems carry so much extra weight, just mentioning the name of a system can trigger too strong an emotional response and the conversation gets too heated.

I confess I hardly know myself what it is that I'm looking for. I don't have any answers myself, only questions. All I know is that I would like to see an economic system that mimics nature. A system where it's easy to live in harmony with nature and very difficult to do harm to the biosphere. A system where it's easy to be just and fair and difficult to be greedy and self-serving. A system that enhances a sense of community.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I do not believe in creating a system, just for one reason: this would mean to create the system and try to submit people to it.
Yes, a system works because it is in common don't you think so?

Also, even our actual system, was is created or did it show up slowly?
Aren't we prisoners of results that were not even predicted?
Who really (or even a little) understand the money & economic system?
Not I.

So, what do I believe...
That we can make some changes in OUR behaviour, and then "something" will happen, when enough people will do it. Then some results and consequences will show up, and then we will see what is possible.

I also mean not to wait for something from the outside. Anyway, nothing can be changed successfully and acceptedly if it goes against the majority of people's will. (Alan Savory was very good at explaining that he could not do what he wanted when he got at a good place in politics, because politics people are not so powerful in reality!)

So we could at least design OUR new behaviour to the ACTUAL system. That is how I came to the idea to put my money on the usual account and not on the saving account, because if banks pay me for this use of my money, it means that they do things I do not agree with!
 
Logan Simmering
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Permaculture is pretty well aligned with systems like Mutualism and assorted other Libertarian-Socialist philosphies or Distributism and assorted other Communitarian philosophies

Distributism (also known as distributionism[1] or distributivism[2]) is an economic philosophy that developed in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century, based upon the principles of Catholic social teaching, especially the teachings of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno.[3]

According to distributists, property ownership is a fundamental right[4] and the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism) or by accomplished individuals (laissez-faire capitalism). Distributism therefore advocates a society marked by widespread property ownership[5] and, according to co-operative economist Race Mathews, maintains that such a system is key to bringing about a just social order.[6]

Distributism has often been described in opposition to both socialism and capitalism,[7][8] which distributists see as equally flawed and exploitive.[9] Thomas Storck argues that "both socialism and capitalism are products of the European Enlightenment and are thus modernizing and anti-traditional forces. In contrast, distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life".[10]


Mutualism is an economic theory and anarchist school of thought that advocates a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market.[1] Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank that would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate, just high enough to cover administration.[2] Mutualism is based on a labor theory of value that holds that when labor or its product is sold, in exchange, it ought to receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility".[3] Mutualism originated from the writings of philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

Mutualists oppose the idea of individuals receiving an income through loans, investments, and rent, as they believe these individuals are not laboring. Though Proudhon opposed this type of income, he expressed that he had never intended "...to forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I think that all these manifestations of human activity should remain free and voluntary for all: I ask for them no modifications, restrictions or suppressions, other than those which result naturally and of necessity from the universalization of the principle of reciprocity which I propose."[4] Insofar as they ensure the worker's right to the full product of their labor, mutualists support markets (or artificial markets) and property in the product of labor. However, they argue for conditional titles to land, whose ownership is legitimate only so long as it remains in use or occupation (which Proudhon called "possession");[5] thus advocating personal property, but not private property.

Though mutualism is similar to the economic doctrines of the nineteenth-century American individualist anarchists, unlike them, mutualism is in favor of large industries.[6] Mutualism has therefore been retrospectively characterized sometimes as being a form of individualist anarchism,[7] and as ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism as well.[8] Proudhon himself described the "liberty" he pursued as "the synthesis of communism and property."[9]

Mutualists have distinguished mutualism from state socialism, and do not advocate state control over the means of production. Benjamin Tucker said of Proudhon, that "though opposed to socializing the ownership of capital, [Proudhon] aimed nevertheless to socialize its effects by making its use beneficial to all instead of a means of impoverishing the many to enrich the few...by subjecting capital to the natural law of competition, thus bringing the price of its own use down to cost."[10]

 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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From a systems design perspective, we must first acknowledge that any economic system we are going to design is going to be an open system interacting with other open systems. All economic systems are subsystems within the biosphere.

Natural capitalism transcends and integrates our current version of capitalism by acknowledging that natural systems are the source of all wealth.
This was a fairly good article on natural capitalism:
http://permaculturenews.org/2013/06/21/thinking-out-loud-rentier-capitalism-natural-capitalism-and-permaculture-a-few-observations/

Some of the economic subsystems we are using are pathological, much the way cancer can be a pathological subsystem of the human body. Some are necessary, such as the intestinal flora that help digest food and perform multiple immune functions.

It's a good point to say that capitalism vs. socialism is a tired duality. Firstly, neither exists in it's pure form - there are many different mixes of public and private ownership of means of production. And even if there were a pure capitalism or pure socialism, it would still interact with other systems at the edges. So, the first step in getting out of the tired dualism is recognizing that it doesn't reflect reality. And not only are do the 2 big poles not exist in ideal form, they are both interpenetrated with 'polycultures' of other economic systems such as:

Open Source Economy
Crowd Sourcing
Crowd Funding
gift economy
Informal Economy
NPO's
Time Banks
Community/Local Currencies
Barter Networks
Skill Sharing
Intentional Communities
Neighborhood Sharing
Cooperatives

All of these types of systems operate alongside or within the corporate capitalist & state socialist economies. At some point one or more of these alternatives are likely to start replicating and expanding in viral fashion. It is my guess that at some point 3d printers and open-source hardware is going to go over a tipping point that makes centralized economic production obsolete for a great many things. Resource limitations may play a major role in that.
 
wayne stephen
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I am in agreement with Xisca that you cannot create an economic system yourself. The one we have has developed organically over millennia. A cooperative is not an economic system . It is a way of owning property . Crowd sourcing is not an economic system but a way of gathering capital . Those can exist in many economic systems , socialist or capitalist. I think the most basic form of an economic system is the symbolic representation of currency . Others have tried without much success to change the basic unit of currency , thinking that would change the system . The entire system is too complex. I have suggested a simple approach in another thread . Why not try to keep the wealth in a localized system . Instead of having all your hard earned dough go to Wal-Mart and away to the Waltons keep it local and permie . Mark your dollars with a highlighted "P" and spend them in permaculture supporting ways . Local farmers , cobblers , the guy who raises soft fruits and fixes cars under a shade tree , etc. See how many dollars you can have returned to you . The propaganda being spewed continuosly over the airwaves tries to convince us that corporate profit is the basic unit of the economy . Proof of that was shown when GW told us to keep spending when asked how we could help our country under attack - remember? Actually , the basic unit of the economy is the individual . The next level is the family/household. Then the street and village. How many millions of dollars spent on potato chips in your city goes out of your city not to return ?Enriches shareholders who do not spend their dollars locally ? I think we should practice/promote homestead thrift and support local efforts in sustainability. When we do the culture will change , not just the mechanism for exchanging symbolic work units.
 
Renate Howard
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IMHO, there's some power in living rightly and letting others follow suit if they so choose. As far as economics goes, that could mean using more barter to get needs met and less cash, also freely giving that which you have an abundance of, trusting karma to make that generosity come back around to you in time. Some think cut-throat economics is the only way because that's what they think humans are like, showing humans can be better may, in time, start its own movement.

IMHO the endless cycle of debt where interest creates money and throws all working people on a treadmill of ever increasing productivity to pay off ever increasing interest to create money and any kind of "stuff" we can sell so our GNP can keep going up is anti-permaculture in the worst way. Have you seen "Money as Debt"? Really makes lending at interest show itself for the most anti-environment, anti-permaculture system possible, which is outside of the capitalism/communism continuum.



My film group showed this and I was a little nervous because a college economics professor attended who I didn't know very well. At the end of the film he said he heartily agreed with almost everything in the film and it did a really good job of explaining the problem.
 
Logan Simmering
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On thing which sort of nags at me regarding Permaculture and assorted related anti-consumerist ethos, is how it relates to the Paradox of Thrift. While I see inherent value in increasing self-reliance and living more simply, I worry that if adopted by to many people, it will drag on Aggregate Demand, and just make everyone poorer.
 
Michael Cox
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:
So we could at least design OUR new behaviour to the ACTUAL system. That is how I came to the idea to put my money on the usual account and not on the saving account, because if banks pay me for this use of my money, it means that they do things I do not agree with!


Xisca - if you don't agree with the ethics of your bank, change banks! Banks are making money off your deposits which ever account you put them in. By leaving your money in the current account you are just not getting paid for your share of that usage! Your unethical bank is making more money off you than its regular customers.

If you want them to change, find an ethical bank you could support, transfer your money to them and then write a letter to your old bank exlaining why you are moving. Once you find a bank you like invest with them wholeheartedly and feel happy when they pay you interest - it means your money has been used to support businesses you support yourself!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I am not careful of MY bank but of BANKS in general, because of the money as debt system (I saw the film)
They might do as much money with all my accounts, dunno, but then why some accounts give you more "interests", while you engage yourself in not touching the capital for a few years?
(this certainly varies between countries, this was called assurance vie (life insurance) in France, and has more to do with investing and getting interests than having an insurance!)

I do not want Banks to do whatever with my money, and the micro-credit could be a choice if I want to support any business.
The who controls what has been reversed, and I guess it is because size.

I think this is what Logan says if I understand, size.
What we individually do can be good, but no more if everybody does it.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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wayne stephen wrote:I am in agreement with Xisca that you cannot create an economic system yourself. The one we have has developed organically over millennia.
... The entire system is too complex.
... Why not try to keep the wealth in a localized system .
How many millions of dollars spent on potato chips in your city goes out of your city not to return ?Enriches shareholders who do not spend their dollars locally ? I think we should practice/promote homestead thrift and support local efforts in sustainability. When we do the culture will change , not just the mechanism for exchanging symbolic work units.


You are in agreement and then I am too about what you say.
I can see it better since I live in an island.
Money comes from tourism and bananas, and goes away much too much.

I spend local as much as possible, but what's about the people who get my money? Then my money goes away...
The system will change when it will be necessary. First let's see what we can do in the system we live in.
And convince as many as possible to do the same!


I am very bad about economy, I do not understand more than this basic: spend as little and wisely as possible, and earn as much as possible. Keep the first lower than the second!
Countries who apply this well are richer. If tourism stops here, we are bad, as an island where 80% of the food is imported and Californian almonds are cheaper than the local ones...
Definitely, people should consider where their money is going.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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wayne stephen wrote:I am in agreement with Xisca that you cannot create an economic system yourself. The one we have has developed organically over millennia. A cooperative is not an economic system . It is a way of owning property . Crowd sourcing is not an economic system but a way of gathering capital. Those can exist in many economic systems , socialist or capitalist.


We can equally say capitalism is not an economic system, but a way of gathering capital. (Read that with sarcastic tone. I am digging on the inefficiencies of corporate capitalism here - it is not in the least bit economical. I am not digging on you, Wayne, or your viewpoint, which is quite reasonable.)

Both socialism and capitalism exist within the larger system of the biosphere, and cannot exist without it. Much as the systems that I mention mostly exist within a larger capitalist or socialist system.

i don't want to get too much into semantics. The key thing I want to say is that when we are talking about economies, what we are really talking about systems within systems within systems. Or simply open systems. There is no such thing as a closed system, except in the mind of an inventor or economist.

Why does it matter? How can we design better systems without mapping all the components of the whole system? Systems thinking gives us significant advantage in designing.

One pattern is described by Wayne & Xisca - flight of resources & capital from local economies to the global financial economy. This parallels the flight of topsoil down a river from a plowed field. I think we probably all agree that retain topsoil on our land & financial capital in our communities is of vital importance. Doing business locally, in one form or another has to be near the top, if not the top of what might work to reinvent an 'economy' that actually meets the needs of humans without trashing the biosphere.

But I think localism will only partly resemble the localism of 200 years ago. Rather than a rejection of globalism in favor of localism, there will emerge a synthesis of principles of globalism and localism. This is what we would expect if we look at the phenomena from an evolutionary systems perspective. This forum is an example of the synthesis of global and local. We are mostly practicing permaculture in our own localities, yet sharing information globally. This is one of the reasons I think 3d printing and open source hardware/manufacturing will become very important in the economies of the future... information shared globally, but production done on a backyard or neighborhood scale.

 
wayne stephen
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I was responding to the statement "Capitalism and Socialism . I would like to see permaculture people design a third way of doing things." Nina Jay poses this dilemna in the original post. If you search this forum and look at the debates regarding the third ethic and Salatins financial strategies you will see the pickle you will be in if you try to design an economic system for permies. Economics is a very diverse "biosphere" here on permies.com. I see private property as very organic . Just ask any 3 year old who says "mine" when you try to hold their toys . Bonobos and penguins have been seen to barter and prostitute themselves . I think permaculture and any sustainable cultural system will work where there is peace . Nothing like military tanks and humvees to compress your soil. So , as far as designing an economic system for permies I can get on board with peace as a basis for economic stability and prosperity . After that , someone will have to convince me that Libertarianism will not suffice just fine. Peace!
 
Logan Simmering
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wayne stephen wrote: I see private property as very organic . Just ask any 3 year old who says "mine" when you try to hold their toys . Bonobos and penguins have been seen to barter and prostitute themselves . I think permaculture and any sustainable cultural system will work where there is peace . Nothing like military tanks and humvees to compress your soil. So , as far as designing an economic system for permies I can get on board with peace as a basis for economic stability and prosperity . After that , someone will have to convince me that Libertarianism will not suffice just fine. Peace!


Personal belongings aren't really property in the economic sense. Stuff, just isn't capital.

Also, Libertarianism, in the typical "Don't tread on me" Laissez faire, backed by gold meaning of American politics, is a system singularly incapable of dealing with market failures or externalities. A population with a permaculutre ethic might be better able to cope with externalites given its whole systems approach to thought , but it would still seam to lack a real means of pricing them into the market (without more ethical producers being under cut by less ethical ones), and it would still lack the means of dealing with the macroeconomic shocks that lead to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Depression great depressions, and dozens of panics and price shocks.
 
wayne stephen
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So , can we clarify ? When I think economic system , I think in broad terms . Capitalism , Socialism , Distributism. Which defines who owns property and the means of production. When I think Crowd Sourcing , Bartering , Currencies I think economic instruments. When I say Libertarianism I mean the right of people to exert themselves in a capitalist society without the burden of regulatory agencies stifling progress and creativity. I do not want to debate the merits or demerits of any larger economic system . I am an old dog and came to my conclusions honestly and openmindedly. So , one thread in this conversation was focusing on economic instruments . If permaculture people want to design an economic instrument you first have to ask what is the purpose . After all it is a tool only. Are we discussing alternative currency , new distribution methods , banking practices ? What would make such an instrument distinctly permie and peculiar to permaculture ? When Nina Jay created this post she pondered if it was possible to create an economic system that would alleviate the burden of greed and self serving behaviors and create a greater community . Is that the purpose of the economic system that we are trying to create here ? Crowd sourcing is very , very cool ! I love it that Farmstead Meatsmith and many a rock and roll band have recieved the capital they need . Collective patronism ! Our community "investing" capital in businesses and projects without plan to regain that investment other than to just have those projects in the world. What is to stop someone from commiting fraud through crowd sourcing though ? Skipping town to Vegas with the cash or worse using that cash to commit terrorist acts ? I think there was incredible wisdom in the way Mollison worded the third ethic . Very broad and open to interpretation. Rather than trying to create an economic system that interfaces with permaculture the third ethic allows permaculture to interface with many economic instruments and systems . A poor or rich nation can equally benefit . A capitalist farmer certainly would . A collective farm would benefit from permaculture for sure {it just would take longer to decide where to put the hugelbed}. I do not believe economic systems are the source of bad behaviors or the cure for them. Permaculture is farming by natural laws. As I said about bonobos and penguins , the source of "trade" is in our distant genetic past . So is selfishness and greed . So is cooperation and charity. To summarize I ask why ? Why do we need an economic system for permaculture ? How will this economic system alleviate greed from the equation ? Lastly as a Libertarian , I ask would this economic system or instrument require coercion to be effective?
 
Nina Jay
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Thank you each and every one for excellent and thought-provoking posts! It will take me a little time to go through all the links and hopefully by the time I get it done someone is still willing to continue this discussion

But to say something right away:

Yukkuri kame:
it was an very good point and one I hadn't much thought about before about the edges and how economic systems interact.


Logan Simmering wroten "While I see inherent value in increasing self-reliance and living more simply, I worry that if adopted by to many people, it will drag on Aggregate Demand, and just make everyone poorer."

I see your point and it's a good one and one of the reasons I feel we need a different economic system. Is it possible to design a system where increasing self-reliance and living more simply will NOT make everyone poorer? Of course we may need to clarify here what we mean by poverty. One can be poor materially and/ or spiritually. Material poverty to me is if one is suffering from malnutrition or does not get his or her other basic needs met. To be spiritually well of means living in a functional community, not isolated and alone. It can also mean many other things but in my mind this is the first and foremost.

Xisca and wayne stephen: You are probably right that it's impossible to design an economic system. That is why I put this post on the "meaningless drivel" forum : I don't seriously believe it could be done BUT I think it would still be interesting and mind broadening to try and possibly give birth to some useful new ideas.

wayne makes an important point about the difference between a system and an economic instrument.

It is indeed one of the central questions who owns property and the means of production. And I might continue: what is property and what is production?

Could we possibly take a look at nature: do any other animals own property or means of production? Is there an elite class that owns a territory? Many animals are territorial and defend their living area. But do they really own "their" land? When they move, the area is quickly inhabited by other animals. Possibly resembling Mutualism as quoted by Logan Simmering: "conditional titles to land, whose ownership is legitimate only so long as it remains in use or occupation."

These were my first thoughts but you've given me a lot to study and think about and I'll be back with more questions later!

 
wayne stephen
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Is private property any different than an animal claiming its territory ? My "No Trespassing" sign is an abstract symbol for me beating my chest and hurlng turds and palm fronds at you for crossing the line. So be it . I like the idea that economics has a genetic basis . Richard Dawkins coined the term meme for this type of phenomena . Those genetic impulses that we have abstracted into culture and now spread person to person through ideas , art , religion , tradition. If we are going to have a "new" economic tool for permies should it embrace these natural impulses that created economics to begin with ? Should it embrace those natural impulses that sentient critters have for competition and cooperation . I know the idea of the "Alpha Male " in a wolf pack is actually a myth . This data was obtained by observing wolves in captivity . Wolf packs in the wild are actually family units with the father and Mother as "Alpha" adults. The rest of the pack are their sons and daughters who stay and help raise succesive generations until they become sexually mature and are driven off by the elders. This prevents inbreeding . So , incredible cooperation among family units but woe unto a neighboring pack treading on their territory. Or maybe woe unto the resident pack who cannot fight off the invaders . Anybody see this pattern in human economics ? I don't think we will become capable of rising above territorialism and cutthroat competition until we see our species as one family and not seperate packs . I believe healthy competition should exist amongst us - unburdened by government regulation- so that the cream can rise to the top . Sepp over Monsanto anyone? But we should all embrace and revel in that competiton and see it as a way to better our species and not just for personal gain . Personal gain is great though , especially when everyone gets theirs.
"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom" - Albert Einstein
 
Logan Simmering
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wayne stephen wrote:Is private property any different than an animal claiming its territory


Yes. Look at any system built around absentee landlords. The people with rights to the land and whom derive most benefit from it, are not the people who own it in a pure Lockean sense. And many conflicts have arisen historically when the interests of the people who worked the land and ones who owned it differed.

Edit: The point of property is to make money, the point of territory is to have a place to live, these can overlap, but clearly don't necessarily.
 
wayne stephen
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Fee simple is very simple . Unless you were the original "owners" whose land was claimed by Providential decree . Just ask the Lakota. So even the working tenants of the absentee landowners are claiming what others have owned. I have my own crazed notions about politics and economics . I merely play Devils advocate to stir up the pot . This subject is like politics and religion at the family dinner table . I enjoy the debate but I wonder what purpose it serves for the goals of this on-line community? Why do we need economic instruments or systems peculiar to permaculture ? Nature will do permaculture without us, just without the human culture part. I have faith that if we humans steer towards natural living and stewardship ; always with respect for each other and peace in mind , the economic tools we need to coexist will become evident.
 
Logan Simmering
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Yeah, I'm kind of adicted to debating political economy, but overall it's relevence here is limited. I do think though that the ideals of permaculture, or at least many permaculturalists raise a number of macroeconomic questions that will need to be adressed at some point if the philosophy is going to go mainstream. Beyond the afore mentioned paradox of thrift, there are questions about trade, specialization and the division of labor. about how to treat the accumulation and distribution of capital, and particuraly its movement between comunities, and sort of fundamental questions about the interaction between agrainism and industrialism, as well as the role of (high) technology, can you have a permacultural y sound computer?
 
wayne stephen
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So , let me pose a scene and maybe we can work out solutions from a permie perspective . See if we can create permie solutions to Old Testament age problems . {My personal opinion about Keynsian economics is that they view the corporation as the smallest entity of the economy . I believe the individual is .They are so afraid that thrift might slow the "aggregate demand". Bull. The root source of wealth is human ingenuity.} Ok , this is the scene. Mike buys a 40 acre piece of land and plots out his groundworks and establishes an orchard , pasture with movable electrified paddock systems , pork-beef-fowl, etc. Passive solar post and beam home with rocket mass heater . Ponds with fish . Soon his agricultural acumen has attracted the attention of Michelle down the road , they marry and have a son and then a daughter. Remember , I am starting off Old Testament. The Amish say that 40 acres is the smallest piece of land that is profitable for a farm. Mike and Michelle are able to supply all their own food and heating / cooking fuel . Raise their son and daughter - we will call them Sid and Nancy- home school them and teach them to love the earth and become great stewards and permaculturalists. Their surplus supplies all their monetary needs and allows them to participate in crowd-sourcing their favorite causes . We will say that they crowd source to the tune of 10% of their gain . Very Old Testament still. Soon Sid and Nancy are of age and being inspired permies they have new ideas and a fresh youthful energy and are ready to raise little permies of their own. Economically Mike and Michelle have made a big investment , spent 20 years paying off their mortgage , paid the costs of living as they went along. Would not the next generation profit even more without the huge startup costs ? The farm is liquid now, aside from the upgrades that the new kids on the block will want to initiate. Mike and Michelles strength is waning but can look forward to another 30-40 healthy years . Now , in the days of old Sid would be the inheritor of all his fathers vineyards and chattle. Mike and Michelle would stay on and be cared for by Sid and his family and Nancy would have married off . Nancy though is strong and capable . She is Helen Atthowe to Sids Paul Wheaton. Permaculure has already solved the problem with smaller plots being as or more profitable than the proverbial 40. By common law {in most states} without a will in place - after the death of Mike and Michelle - the right of survivorship would fall to the first born. What economic and cultural instruments would we need to face such situations in a progressive way ? How can we meet the needs of aging parents , convey to the next generations the fruits of our labors , be equitable to sons and daughters , and deal with ever shrinking land assets ? Any thoughts ?
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Love the discussion. It may be drivel, but I think it's highly relevant.

Logan Simmering wrote:
Also, Libertarianism, in the typical "Don't tread on me" Laissez faire, backed by gold meaning of American politics, is a system singularly incapable of dealing with market failures or externalities. A population with a permaculutre ethic might be better able to cope with externalites given its whole systems approach to thought , but it would still seam to lack a real means of pricing them into the market (without more ethical producers being under cut by less ethical ones), and it would still lack the means of dealing with the macroeconomic shocks that lead to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Depression great depressions, and dozens of panics and price shocks.


Price is a sophisticated measure of a great many factors, perhaps the most sophisticated tool we have. However, it is far from infallible and easily manipulated. LIBOR scandal. A handful of bankers manipulating the key indicator determining interest rates throughout the global economy, and thus affecting supply of $, and thereby distorting the price of everything.

As you point out, it fails to account for externalities. The price of a locally grown tomato and the price of a tomato shipped from the other side of the earth may be the same in the supermarket. They are both red and roundish, but the similarities that stop there. Quality is lost in global price competition, we have all experienced the steady erosion of quality of goods as a result of the global economy & big box stores. Resiliency suffers. Workers suffer the insecurity of global wage arbitrage. The waste of natural resources and destruction of ecosystems is beyond measure.

All that said, I'm not sure we have anything more sophisticated than price right now.

I appreciate Libertarian philosophy, but I think it falls short in it's anti-regulatory stance. There are all sorts of absurd regulations and burdens on businesses. Like the local kimchee place that was recently forced to sell their kimchee in plastic bags instead of glass. Retarded, I won't buy it. The taste suffers. But then there are TEPCO's, British Petroleum and Goldman Sachs, who trash the world with impunity.
 
wayne stephen
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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David Boaz comments on the concept of "spontaneous order" : " The fatal conceit of intellectuals ....is to think that smart people can design an economy or a society better than the apparently chaotic interactions of millions of people . Such intellectuals fail to realize how much they don't know or how a market makes use of all the localized knowledge each of us possesses." no dig at anyone on this forum intended. Actually a high five to all doing permaculture . I believe we need faith that as we prosper in permaculture the necessary social and economic instruments we require will appear like black locust volunteers.
 
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