• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Permaculture and capitalism  RSS feed

 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

And obviously you stated there are alot of interpretations of what permaculture is.  So I guess that is why there may be some disagreement with this stuff.  I think capitalistic views have flooded the idealogy behind what true permaculture is.  And when treated like that, it becomes just a shell of what could ideally be attained.


The funny thing is that my opinion is exactly the same thing when you replace "capitalistic" with "anti-capitalistic".

If you are not comfortable with the idea of earning money from farming, then I'm not sure why you are here in this forum.


I'm really interested in this tangent, so I've started this thread to discuss how the permaculture principles apply to the larger issue of making money/participating in capitalism or choosing not to do so.

There's the issue of sustainability--and I'm using that word in its specific sense of the degree to which something can be kept up indefinitely without running afoul of hard natural limits. For myself, I think that the capitalist economic system is proving itself fundamentally unsustainable. (Capitalism as the US has implemented it relies on the belief that wealth can keep growing exponentially even though natural resources do not; I think this belief is incorrect.) So part of my interest in permaculture is to learn how to supply myself with as much of my needs as I can, so I can lessen my reliance on an economy that I believe is on a unsustainable foundation.

Looked at from another direction, however, there's the question of whether or not a farm that doesn't turn a profit can be called sustainable from a practical standpoint. Some farms farm vegetables, some farm meat, some farm fiber, some educational farms farm future farmers, and some guest farms farm entertainment and money. A permaculture farm, it's generally accepted, should diversify--a farm that only raises corn can't be permaculture--so I think it makes sense to be doing a little of all those things, in order to attain a diverse and secure yield. After all if you don't obtain a yield of some kind, it's not sustainable, because you're sinking all your resources into a project that you get nothing back from. And a farm that relies on only one income stream is as vulnerable to changing market forces as a monoculture is to pests and blight.

My idea of balancing these principles is to think of making a living as distinct from turning a profit. I would not expect to have an outrageous profit margin that kept growing every year. Instead I would start by figuring out how much of my living and farming expenses I could reduce through permaculture methods. Then I would figure out how much money I still need to bring in to cover the necessities I can't provide myself. I'd work the income streams from my surplus resources so that I could cover my costs and have enough to set aside for lean years or the occasional disaster, and anything I had over that amount, I would contribute to building community systems with my neighbors--which helps me meet my needs for safety and ensures I have neighbors who are willing to lend me a hand when I need it. Surplus would also allow me to keep prices on my goods and services low, so that more people can afford them. This is what I think of as a sustainable economy within a capitalist society.

I'm not yet a permaculturalist or a farmer, but I'm making shifts in my life to put this vision of sustainable economy into practice in my own life. I'm cutting my costs of living drastically and learning to make do with what I can produce myself in as many ways as possible. And while I'm learning and working, I'm saving, so that one day, I hope, I can have land of my own.

What would a permacultural economy look like to you?
 
                          
Posts: 250
Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

one can't eat money, but one still needs money to buy the foods one cant grow
 
Lf London
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kerrick wrote:

(1)
Looked at from another direction, however, there's the question of whether or not a farm that doesn't turn a profit can be called sustainable from a practical standpoint. <...> After all if you don't obtain a yield of some kind, it's not sustainable, because you're sinking all your resources into a project that you get nothing back from. And a farm that relies on only one income stream is as vulnerable to changing market forces as a monoculture is to pests and blight.
(2)
I'm not yet a permaculturalist or a farmer, but I'm making shifts in my life to put this vision of sustainable economy into practice in my own life. I'm cutting my costs of living drastically and learning to make do with what I can produce myself in as many ways as possible. And while I'm learning and working, I'm saving, so that one day, I hope, I can have land of my own.
(3)
What would a permacultural economy look like to you?



(1)  Any farm can turn a profit with work and luck, and persistence, one way or another, whether it be through cropping, forestry,
plant nursery, aquaculture or other enterprise including all the other cottage industry categories, including telecommuting (after all you are stewarding a piece of land - a good thing, you're a caretaker though you derive your income offsite). A farm can be considered sustainable regardless of how it pays for itself; your living there is one payback, your serving as conservationist of it as a natural resource is a payback in the greater sense, certainly contributing to it being part of a permacultural economy.
Weather, cropping conditions, timing of farming operations, access and availability of marketing opportunities, customer base, personal health all have to do with success at making a living off cropping. By dramatically diversifying your operation and site resources you broaden your income base. That is the essence of sustainability, and permaculture. You are making a living on your farm allowing you to steward your land as a permaculture site, developing, improving and maintaining the systems you have in place so that it becomes ecologically richer, able to withstand weather extremes and more self sustaining each  year.
(2) I wish you luck in your pursuit of land.
(3) A permacultural economy is one where you have people living on sites as described in (1) who cooperate and are economically linked to all others doing the same. Consider the concept of individual farms in communities of farms adjoining towns and cities forming local nodes, which overlap with adjoining similar nodes, which together form regional nodes or networks, which overlap with adjoining regional networked nodes to form a single national production & services marketing and distribution network. That's a permacultural economy, an alternative one but robust and fully diversified, eliminating those middlemen from outside the network from making a profit off any product or service within that network. Provision probably should be made for that to happen in a sensible, practical and fair way.
LFLondon
Advocate for a National Permacultural Production and Services Marketing and Distribution Network
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
this is a subject that I think about fairly frequently.  it is increasingly obvious to me that capitalism is a dead end.  I don't believe that such a thing as sustainable or responsible capitalism is ultimately possible, but I don't think it's an issue of the United States screwing up a good thing.  the economic practices of the US likely increased the rate that capitalism is approaching its own doom, but capitalism was clearly already screwing things up before that upstart country got involved.

unfortunately, understanding that capitalism must come to an end and even desiring and working to hasten that end does not change the fact that it's still here.  so the task I see for myself (and other like-minded folks) is how to minimize my involvement in the accelerating destruction that is capitalism while finding and demonstrating positive alternatives and hopefully having a little time left over to more actively undermine the status quo.

currently, there are some expenses for a landowner that can't be reduced to zero.  property taxes alone necessitate at least some involvement in the existing economy as governments are not currently wont to accept alternative payments (though various forms of scrip have been accepted as payment by various governments in the past, including many local governments in the United States during the Great Depression).  fortunately, just about every other need for cash or credit can be potentially eliminated.  there are likely things I'm overlooking, but I'm at a loss to think of a need that can't be bartered for or payed for in kind.  in practice, this might be difficult, but avoiding paying sales and business taxes could be a strong incentive for others to get on board (barter may be technically taxable, but, well...).  I don't know that barter is the answer, but I do think it's a step in a positive direction.

Kerrick, I think that I'm roughly in agreement with you regarding the balance of truly sustainable practices with the hard facts of current economic reality, though my emphasis might be in slightly different areas.

Kerrick wrote:
I'm cutting my costs of living drastically and learning to make do with what I can produce myself in as many ways as possible.


as a means to an end, this may be a good way to save money for land, but it seems very isolating.  for myself, I don't aspire to self-sufficiency.  being interdependent with other people seems a much better scenario, so long as those other people are part of my local community.

Bird wrote:
one can't eat money, but one still needs money to buy the foods one cant grow


I disagree.  there are plenty of things folks are willing to exchange for food.  money is probably the most common, but certainly not the most appropriate.

anyhow, those were just some immediate thoughts I had in response to this thread.  I'm sure alternatives like LETS and time banks and local currencies et cetera have been mentioned elsewhere so I won't go into them now except to say that they have a lot of potential to steer us closer to a really sustainable path.
 
Rob Alexander
Posts: 52
Location: Furano, Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel wrote:I disagree.  there are plenty of things folks are willing to exchange for food.  money is probably the most common, but certainly not the most appropriate.


I'm sure I'm not the only person on this forum who has, at some stage, decided to opt out of capitalism/consumerism entirely and only barter/ work in exchange for goods or services.
I'm also sure that everyone who has tried this will have discovered the same thing that I did.
You run out of money fairly quickly.

Yes you can exchange/barter for lots of things, but try exchanging beans for medical treatment in a hospital, or for public transport. It's not the things that you can exchange for, but the things that you can't that we have to worry about.

Perhaps this is a goal to work towards in a permaculture economy, but we also have to remember that money developed simply because barter/exchange has limits in large systems. Money as a tool for extended society is not a bad thing in itself.

The term Capitalism as is in practice today needs to be qualified as Laissez-faire capitalism, or perhaps more accurately short-term-profiteerism.
True "CAPITAL"ism must regard the environment and human health and potential as Capital, and don't let any neo-cons tell you that free(for-all-for-the-entities-that-have-the-most-money-and-can-manipulate-the-system-for-their-own-gain)markets are the ONLY way to go, and that any kind of regulation or restriction is somehow wrong. (anyone who tells you that their way is the ONLY way, is either deluded or lying (us included).)

Frankly, I think that capitalism is much more resilient and adaptable than a lot of people would like to think, and it continues to prove it, but I definitely agree that capitalism as we see it today has already exceeded its practical limits by a long way.
My personal guess for Capitalism 3.0 is something like the theory put forward in "Natural Capitalism" http://www.natcap.org/
It's worth checking out, and you can read almost the entire book along with other articles on the website.

Sure, lets focus on growing trade/barter/exchange in our communities but money can be used in permaculture ways if we decide to do so.
I'm doing what I can, how about you?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 995
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think we need to remember that it isn't money in itself that is the root of all evil, but the *love* of money (and making a *reasonable* profit doesn't, IMO, count as love of money -- there's no point in working if your labor won't do anything to support your family).  In other words, when people start putting money ahead of people, that's where the problems come in. 

Money itself was developed partly as a form of accounting (it's easier to keep track of transactions that are all apples -- or dollars or pounds or pesos -- than transactions that are a gallon of milk, two bushels of corn, a haircut, an hour spent plowing your garden, a dozen jars of honey, and so on); and partly as a more portable form of wealth (easier to carry a bag of coins to market to buy the week's groceries than to carry a wagon-load of wheat, or a dozen dried beaver skins, or a bale of wool).  I'm all for barter, but it's not reasonable to expect the whole world to switch to barter just to suit us, and there's no denying that sometimes it's easier to just use money. 

Kathleen
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
pawnjp wrote:
well-reasoned argument.

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
points both rational and lucid.


well, there's a lot to address here.  I think we're going to run into trouble because we're obviously operating with different sets of assumptions.  we could spend time hashing those out, but it would be a long, boring, and potentially upsetting process that would probably work better over a few beers (or not beers, if beer isn't for you) rather than in text.  one quick example: before we bicker over whether beans will give us access to hospital care, I think we should work out whether or not the existence of hospitals is desirable.  I don't believe it is.  many people believe we need more hospitals.  if I get into a discussion with one of those folks, chances are good we're going to end up talking past each other.

likewise with money.  I'm of the belief that any economic activity is necessarily damaging.  damaging to life, to human relationships, to the integrity of ecosystems.  if I understand correctly, pawnjp is of a very different, though somewhat related belief.  we could both elaborate why we believe the disparate things that we do, but that's not easy to do when we've got to rely on folks still being interested by the end of the post.

Kathleen Sanderson alluded to the First Epistle to Timothy from the Christian Bible.  while that might be an interesting read, I'm happy to have kicked the habit of treating it with too much respect.  if I get into a discussion with somebody who believes the Bible is divine and infallible truth, the two of us are going to have a hard time talking about disputed authorship and the finer points of who it was that got to condemn a text as heterodox.  I do happen to believe there is a kernel of truth in First Timothy 6:10, but I think the author was a little mixed up.  seems more likely to me that money is the result of evil, not the other way around.

I am glad to hear, pawnjp, that you're doing what you can in the direction of saner forms of exchange.  I'm curious to know what forms that has taken.  for me, as you've likely guessed, I have been unable to completely avoid economic involvement with capitalism.  I try to limit it, and do my best to use the money I have in a way that brings me closer to not needing money.  further, I want to help and be helped by other folks to do the same.  we may never get there, but I'm betting we will.

Kathleen, I don't expect the whole world to switch to barter to suit us.  let me reiterate that I don't believe barter is a panacea.  I do believe it's a better method of exchange than money, but far from ideal.  folks in many parts of the world have been forced (by violence both metaphorical and literal) to switch from the methods of exchange they chose for themselves to the method preferred by the global economy.  I suppose the justice of that is less pertinent to this discussion than the fact that money exchange is reality almost worldwide, but I think it's important to remember.

if money were simply a way to standardize accounting, I would have fewer objections.  I won't dispute here that it makes exchanges much easier, but I'm not sure that making exchanges easier is such a good thing.  that seems, to me, to be the basis for a great increase in capacity for consumption.  but it isn't just a way to standardize accounting.  for money to maintain value, it has to be scarce.  the scarcity of money leads very quickly to inequality, manipulation, and exploitation.  I'm getting exceptionally long-winded here (I apologize), so I'll quit for now with a couple book recommendations:

Stephen Zarlenga's The Lost Science of Money.  at 736 pages, it's a bit of a tome, but very illuminating.  too expensive to buy, your library will be able to get it through an interlibrary loan if it's not part of the collection.  if reading giant books about the history of money isn't for you, there's a decent primer on the topic in video form called Money as Debt.  pretty easy to find on the youtube.

not really about money, but since hospitals came up, Ivan Illich's Medical Nemesis is an excellent and much shorter read.

and I've browsed that site before, pawnjp, but I'm definitely going to have a look at the Natural Capitalism book.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
using money is using barter. you are bartering for money. or the other way around. money eases the "barter"......"you may not have what I want but you can give me money for item X and I can go find what I want or wait till it is available and use the money to aquire it" it gives great freedom and simplification of exchange. as for avoiding taxes with bartering. I suppose if one were to be interested in engineering the collapse of all government entities then that would be a step in the right direction. most of us would prefer to keep some public services going. personally. I would be really upset if the hordes of people took over the countryside trying to survive through a barter system because everyone had to produce their own food. and because taxes were avoided and no one needed to pay sales tax and no one needed income, there was no longer any government system to at least attempt to protect the enviroment and companies could be free to dump their trash in our rivers. no law enforcement or judicial system (what..back to town hangings and burning witches?) no ambulance or decent roads to take a woman dying in childbirth to a surgical facility or a young child dying of pneumonia to an icu. maybe we could just distribute suicied pills for hopeless cases. can't say "here is a bag of beans, please fix the road and save my life" or "hey fred, that dude down the street raped me can you take care of that for me in exchange for some hay? I would really prefer not to have to go through that experience again".  not that you all are advocating a scenario like that but sometimes the bigger picture and consequences get lost on utopian ideas.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leah Sattler wrote:
using money is using barter. you are bartering for money. or the other way around. money eases the "barter"......"you may not have what I want but you can give me money for item X and I can go find what I want or wait till it is available and use the money to aquire it"


I don't want to get bogged down talking about barter.  I brought it up because it's one alternative to the modern mainstream economy that's familiar to most folks.  barter has a lot of problems and limitations in common with using money.  using money, however, is most certainly not bartering.  bartering is direct exchange of real value without using a common unit of exchange (money).  that might not impact your argument, but it's important to define our terms.

Leah Sattler wrote:
"you may not have what I want but you can give me money for item X and I can go find what I want or wait till it is available and use the money to aquire it" it gives great freedom and simplification of exchange.


I believe you're correct, to a degree, that money simplifies exchange.  in many cases, though, it greatly complicates exchange.  we run into problems because money must be scarce to retain any value.  that means that there are going to be people who don't have enough, or neighborhoods or cities or states or countries.  now we've got a scenario where I don't have money to buy anything.  I've got a barn full of hay, but none of my neighbors have any money to buy it.  one of them has an orchard full of fruit that she would like to sell to me, but I don't have any money.  she needs hay, but she doesn't have any money to buy it with.  we could just trade, but we would legally have to pay taxes on that exchange and neither of us have any money.  both of us would gladly go to work for somebody to earn some money, but the whole region is economically depressed and there aren't jobs to get.  so even though our community may be resource rich and have everything we need to live comfortably, we can't because we're money poor.  this really isn't a far-fetched scenario, it happens all the time.  simple barter solves the problem to some degree.  so would a Local Exchange Trading Scheme or a local currency or time bank.  in this case, I don't think the common unit of exchange is the problem, money is the problem.

Leah Sattler wrote:
as for avoiding taxes with bartering. I suppose if one were to be interested in engineering the collapse of all government entities then that would be a step in the right direction. most of us would prefer to keep some public services going. personally. I would be really upset if the hordes of people took over the countryside trying to survive through a barter system because everyone had to produce their own food.


maybe I should have avoided the taxes can of worms.  let me just say that taxes aren't the only way to accomplish public goals.  at the risk of outing myself, let me recommend a book that examines one very effective alternative: The Spanish Anarchists: the heroic years 1868-1963, by Murray Bookchin.  a bit of a dry read because it largely sticks to hard numbers, but very impressive.  you would be upset if hordes of people took over the countryside trying to feed themselves.  fine.  I would be upset if a few industrial agricultural giants took over the countryside under the guise of trying to feed the hordes.  if you prefer that option, I don't think we're going to see eye to eye.  I make my living as a farmer, but I would much rather be put out of that job because everybody was growing their own food.  it's easy and is one of the easiest ways just about anybody can really make a connection to the dirt that supports all of us and learn to respect natural processes rather than dominate them.

Leah Sattler wrote:
and because taxes were avoided and no one needed to pay sales tax and no one needed income, there was no longer any government system to at least attempt to protect the enviroment and companies could be free to dump their trash in our rivers. no law enforcement or judicial system (what..back to town hangings and burning witches?) no ambulance or decent roads to take a woman dying in childbirth to a surgical facility or a young child dying of pneumonia to an icu. maybe we could just distribute suicied pills for hopeless cases. can't say "here is a bag of beans, please fix the road and save my life" or "hey fred, that dude down the street raped me can you take care of that for me in exchange for some hay? I would really prefer not to have to go through that experience again".  not that you all are advocating a scenario like that but sometimes the bigger picture and consequences get lost on utopian ideas.


the bad old days of Western industrial culture aren't the only alternative to the bad present days of destructive global economy.  there are many examples of much saner and responsible cultures than ours that we can learn from and emulate.  unfortunately, on our way to building police cars and hospitals, we seem to have destroyed most of them.  because missionaries tended to also have an anthropology hobby, however, there are some fairly good records to learn from.  you're right, of course, that utopian ideas have panned out exactly never, but this isn't utopia.  this is taking the best examples from human history as a guide and learning what works instead of clinging fearfully to what we know doesn't work but at least isn't as scary as having to cooperate with "the hordes".  obviously, abolishing law enforcement and hospitals overnight would cause some pretty serious problems.  I don't think I would advocate that.  rather, I would advocate re-learning the skills that those groups have monopolized and spreading them around our communities.  leaving the care and protection of each other and our communities to governments is a dereliction.

here's another big picture we shouldn't miss: industrial civilization is poisoning us, murdering us, deforming us, torturing us, sickening us.  every human on earth now has measurable levels of toxic pollutants in their bodies.  mothers' milk all over the world contains PCBs that poison their children.  most of us are familiar with a large list of offenses made possible by a money economy.

Leah, I think you correctly described what would happen if any of us tried to use barter today in place of money.  I'm not suggesting that the next time you need a C-section or you check out at the grocery store you pull out your bag of beans to trade.  I'm suggesting that we're on one path heading in one direction.  with every step, we choose that direction.  we may as well start heading toward someplace we really want to be instead of just following the most well-worn path to where nobody wants to be.  one step or one change in direction isn't going to change the world noticeably, but it's a start.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22490
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel,

I have to applaud you use of the english language.  It seems that usually these ideas strike me as a bunch of justification for an entitlement mentality, but your descriptions really help be to understand this perspective.  Thanks!


I moved this thread from the farm income forum because I think this is more of a philosophical discussion and I would like the farm income forum to evolve to be more practical.

 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
thanks, paul.  I, in turn, applaud your ability to wade through my screeds.  the thread is definitely headed away from direct discussion of farm income.  I might mildly object to it being classified as meaningless drivel, but I'll concede that this is probably a more appropriate location.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22490
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The "meaningless drivel" name helps in keeping stuff from getting too heated.

 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Money or trade beads gives one the ability to retain value until needed and to make wealth transportable. You can't carry enough hay in your pocket to town to barter for soap.
Your trusting your neighbor to share her apples with you for hay that you have delivered even if it is written down is an exchange. Just because I have nothing jingling in my pocket doesn't mean that there isn't something of value changing hands. So your neighbor is hay poor and you are apple poor. Trust or lack of creates the need for money. Scarcity of any item increases its value not just money.

You'll get no argument from me that much of government is broken. There is a disconnect between the people and those that lead. But some of it is our own doing apathy is rampant. Politicians can continue to mediocre work and still recieve full monetary compensation. You or I do badly we either do not make money from a poor crop or in my case selling products that are too expensive or of poor quality. If a politicians salary was dependent on performance that would result in more deliberative decisions on their part.

If only protecting ourselves was as simple as calling the neighbors and rounding up a posse. But there are other forms of protection from so many fronts. Weak, infirm, physically challenged, there has to some type of organization to control the posse. When does a group become a government entity? What about civil crimes where there needs to be arbitration? A community at some point becomes a governing body of sorts.
 
Rob Alexander
Posts: 52
Location: Furano, Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's obvious that some of us have put quite a bit of thought into this, and its a pleasure chatting with you all.

tel wrote: simple barter solves the problem to some degree.  so would a Local Exchange Trading Scheme or a local currency or time bank.

Absolutely. I think that LETS, local currencies and community time banks are all essential for localizing and humanizing economies on a small scale. We have the beginnings of a local currency where I'm living and it is a surprisingly powerful tool.

I hope we can all agree that localization of trade has enormous benefits for communities, and this is something that we should be aiming for, before we start the long conversation about governance.
I should qualify that my personal guess at a manageable local economy is at a small town/ suburb level, but having said that, I'm not advocating some kind of economic isolationism, just a conscious shift towards localizing trade.

Another book/website recommendation.. The Transition Handbook and its very active website http://transitionculture.org/
Very well thought out low impact/small footprint localization and community organizing ideas and practices that are being taken up all over the world.
(They never use the big bad A word, probably because of the stigma attached, but I think their organizing is succeeding in including a much greater proportion of the populace because of its omission.)
(Not a rebuke by any means Tel.)
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A permaculture economy would be the same as a permaculture farm. Low import dependency. Maximum local production that has no detrimental ecological impact. A community that suppports local businesses that have a vested interest in the community. There is always need for transportable wealth so some form of universal currency, the dollar, would need to still be part of the economy but local community currency could be employed.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
nothing new to add just yet, but I wanted to correct a book recommendation I made: I suggested The Spanish Anarchists, but I meant to suggest The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in Spain 1936-39 by Sam Dolgoff and Murray Bookchin.  terribly sorry for the error.  carry on.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
lapinerobert wrote:
Scarcity of any item increases its value not just money.


scarcity only increases abstract value.  the value in an apple is real: carbohydrates, enzymes, deliciousness, life.  if I'm real short on apples, I might want an apple more, but its value, or utility, remains the same.  the value in a dollar bill is abstract: a dollar.  as a dollar's value is abstract, a convention, it can be manipulated.

pawnjp wrote:
I should qualify that my personal guess at a manageable local economy is at a small town/ suburb level, but having said that, I'm not advocating some kind of economic isolationism, just a conscious shift towards localizing trade.

lapinerobert wrote:
A permaculture economy would be the same as a permaculture farm. Low import dependency. Maximum local production that has no detrimental ecological impact. A community that suppports local businesses that have a vested interest in the community.


I can get on board with you, at least for the time being.  if the vast majority of trade occurs at a local level, the occasional long-distance transaction will be much less detrimental.  local economy can be a step toward something even better, though: no economy.  maybe trading locally will put us into better contact with each other, keep our resources circulating close by, and one day lead to such abundance that the impetus to trade will be gone.  we'll learn the limits of the dirt that supports us so everyone will have plenty.  we'll share among the community, but it will be so commonplace that we won't even notice it or name it.  it will take time to unlearn the greed and competition that surrounds us at present, but humans have lived this way before, I don't see why we can't do it again.

so now I am getting a bit Utopian, but the difference is that it's a goal to aim for, not an abrupt, enforced change.  the support needed will be in place ahead of time instead of cobbled together after the fact.

lapinerobert wrote:
Money or trade beads gives one the ability to retain value until needed and to make wealth transportable. You can't carry enough hay in your pocket to town to barter for soap.


I think a bale of hay ought to get me a few bars of soap.  one bale would easily fit in the sweet trailer I've got for my bicycle.  or in the goat-drawn wagon I've been meaning to build...  but your point is taken: you want easily transportable representation of wealth and money fits the bill.  fine.  I just happen to think, like any number of other innovations in our history, that money creates more problems than it solves.

pawnjp wrote:
Another book/website recommendation.. The Transition Handbook and its very active website http://transitionculture.org/
Very well thought out low impact/small footprint localization and community organizing ideas and practices that are being taken up all over the world.
(They never use the big bad A word, probably because of the stigma attached, but I think their organizing is succeeding in including a much greater proportion of the populace because of its omission.)
(Not a rebuke by any means Tel.)


probably wise to avoid the word.  professed anarchists can be insufferable (just like other professed -ists), and professing anarchism, unfortunately, frequently closes minds that might otherwise be open.  fortunately, it's relatively easy to talk about ideas and experiences without professing any -ism at all.  until I want to suggest some literature to read...

as I understand it, though, the genesis of permaculture was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to make government obsolete.  that sounds a lot like anarchism by another name.  obviously we're not all in this for exactly the same reasons, but anarchism has been an important piece of the milieu since the beginning.

let me reiterate that I exist and participate in the capitalist economy so I try to avoid any high horses.  I try to minimize my participation for two main reasons: I don't want to contribute to the many negative consequences of that economy, and I don't want to become invested or entrenched in that dysfunctional system.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Any exchange for dissimilar products would involve some form of determination of abstract value. Who determines the value of their product, the neighbor with the apples? If it is an acceptable trade between both parties then the value is identified for that particular season. If there are only two apples and four people that want one, sharing would be the ideal situation.
Local currency would have to have some form of value attached, each local rupee is equivalent to one brown egg?
Mmmm deliciousness I don't need it but I like it so there would be a value added there if that is a component of my desire.
I would like to see a vibrant local economy and I would hope that it would be by community choice rather than by economic collapse

Greed, that is where we get into a problem. Greed is when either party doesn't agree that a trade is equitable. Greed is accomplished through an unequitable trade or by force and no compensation occurs. Who prevents that greed if it is through force?

Anarchy occurs when a community allows it, resistance to anarchy is the only cure and that would require community buy in.  By banding together to prevent anarchy, that is community governance.

A healthy community requires a relative common vision. The same would be for value of a local currency.

 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just wanted to say I am still reading and learning from different people's perspectives, and feeling like I don't have very much new to add.

I've heard some really interesting things about alternative currencies--LETS are usually based on time, aren't they? One unit represents an hour of work, no matter what kind of work it is. I read something about another idea, wherein the currency is devalued over time, deliberately, to provide an incentive to loan money at low interest; this is called demurrage currency.

Silvio Gesell:
Only money that goes out of date like a newspaper, rots like potatoes, rusts like iron, evaporates like ether, is capable of standing the test as an instrument for the exchange of potatoes, newspapers, iron and ether. For such money is not preferred to goods either by the purchaser or the seller. We then part with our goods for money only because we need the money as a means of exchange, not because we expect an advantage from possession of the money.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Time based currency is interesting but what about the type of service one gives, is a Journeyman's work more valued than an apprentice? What about quality of work.

If I have I have a vat of wine and it doesn't spoil, does it's currency value increase and what if my potatoes were turned into vodka? A currency that decreases in value in all cases doesn't seem to be the answer to me either.

A finite amount of currency in a community? Would that work?

 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kerrick wrote:
I read something about another idea, wherein the currency is devalued over time, deliberately, to provide an incentive to loan money at low interest; this is called demurrage currency.


demurrage also encourages rapid spending of money instead of hoarding.  sort of the opposite of interest.  to my knowledge, it has been employed most widely during economic depressions to counteract folks' tendency to hold on to what little cash they have.  it was very effective at reviving local economies.

lapinerobert wrote:
Time based currency is interesting but what about the type of service one gives, is a Journeyman's work more valued than an apprentice? What about quality of work.

If I have I have a vat of wine and it doesn't spoil, does it's currency value increase and what if my potatoes were turned into vodka? A currency that decreases in value in all cases doesn't seem to be the answer to me either.

A finite amount of currency in a community? Would that work?


a couple interesting parts of most LETSchemes go some way toward addressing these.  the price is agreed on by both parties, so if somebody wants to charge more for their time, they're free too.  what's most interesting to me, though, is that there is no interest.  no penalty for negative balance, no reward for positive balance.  folks are encouraged to avoid going overboard in either direction to keep the scheme functioning.  the money is worthless except to facilitate exchange because there is no limit to the amount in circulation.  that removes a huge barrier to trade.  whether or not that's a good thing certainly depends on scale, but LETSchemes are definitely on the right side of that scale.

strictly time-based currencies are more commonly called time banks.

lapinerobert wrote:
Any exchange for dissimilar products would involve some form of determination of abstract value.


you're right, I guess.  seems more like determination of real value, though, just different real values.  the issue remains, though.  in its present incarnation, a lot of direct exchanges use dollar (or other national or international currency) value to approximate real value.  that's reasonable where direct exchange exists in parallel to money exchange.  should a time come when direct exchange supplants money exchange, I'm confident folks will have remembered how to do it without referring to currencies.

lapinerobert wrote:
Greed, that is where we get into a problem. Greed is when either party doesn't agree that a trade is equitable. Greed is accomplished through an unequitable trade or by force and no compensation occurs. Who prevents that greed if it is through force?


maybe this is wishful thinking, but wouldn't greed be much less of an issue on a small scale?  folks would be much less likely to swindle somebody they're in community with than an anonymous stranger.  I think greed is also a cultural phenomenon to a large degree.  in a culture where greed is not culturally condoned or socially acceptable, it would decrease substantially.

these finer points are interesting for sure and let's keep that discussion going, but I'm interested in getting back to what I see as the heart of Kerrick's initial post: are capitalism and permaculture philosophically compatible?  can something be sustainable if it is embedded in an unsustainable economy?
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I limit it it to western culture what period of time has there ever been anything but capatilism as the norm?

 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
lapinerobert wrote:
If I limit it it to western culture what period of time has there ever been anything but capatilism as the norm?


why limit yourself to Western culture?  or the norm, for that matter?  even if you do, there are alternatives to be found, though maybe not on a Western culture-wide scale.  Spanish anarchism and the Paris Commune come to mind.  the Seattle general strike was short-lived, but folks took very good care of each other.  I imagine the pre-industrial Western world was much less homogeneous, economically and otherwise, than it is today.  other examples exist, but it takes some digging to find them.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With a local circle of sustainable minded people I think that trade and a less dependent use of a capitalist system would be possible.
Once you go beyond that circle of easy access and limited travel. I see where some type of transportable wealth will always be a part of life.
  Once I want the deliciousness of that apple that is not available at a local point and all I have for exchange is a bale of hay that I would have to transport on my bike trailer it is prohibitive.
With an attitude or mindset that acknowledges that apples are available only in certain times of the year I think that then it could be a workable system.
Greed has been a part of the human condition and always will be as long as there is desire. I don't necessarily like greed but I do acknowledge that I am unable to change it.
Desire makes us human, tempering desire makes us a cohesive unit or community
 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Michael Greer has had a really great series of blog posts up about the sustainability (or otherwise) of capitalism-as-we-know-it. I particularly like the December 30 post where he proposes some moderate reforms that he argues could have a sweepingly beneficial effect--an overhaul of the US tax code. I haven't read this week's post yet, but a skim indicates some other very doable proposed reforms, namely, if we're going to treat corporations as persons under the law, they need to be subject to the same kinds of punishment if they commit crimes as natural persons are. I find these suggestions refreshing because they seem a good deal more possible than a total reform of the currency system would be. What do you think?
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having a business that is incorporated I have questions. If a board member is unaware of some unlawful shenannigans who would be punished?
We need tax reform, flat tax, universal sales tax, something. What would be your method of taxing a trade?
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If a board member is unaware of some unlawful shenannigans who would be punished?

that board member and every other board member.

We need tax reform, flat tax, universal sales tax, something. What would be your method of taxing a trade?


taxes don't really excite me much, but I've heard some interesting ideas over the years.  taxing "bads" instead of goods and services, for example.  this would be putting large taxes on things that cause harm, say pollution of any kind, instead of on things like income or property or value adding or sales.  in theory, that would stimulate economic activity that is much more benign.  I don't know if that would actually work, but it's interesting.

I find these suggestions refreshing because they seem a good deal more possible than a total reform of the currency system would be. What do you think?


I agree that the reforms you mention are worth working toward.  I don't believe that they are very plausible, though.  corporate boards are obligated to maximize profits for shareholders.  new corporate regulations will most certainly not increase profits for shareholders.  corporations have immense power over political and legislative processes in the US and elsewhere.  connect the dots.

again, that isn't to say that folks shouldn't work toward those reforms.  my own preference is for change from the bottom up.  new (and old or forgotten) ideas are much easier to try out on a small scale and without official sanction.  if these ideas work, others will take notice and the ideas will spread.  we're seeing this with local currencies and LETSs.  fortunately, reform from the bottom is entirely compatible with reform from the top, so why not pursue both avenues?
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel wrote:
[/that board member and every other board member.]

Though I believe that there is some fiduciary responsibility to a corporatian for wrong doing charging someone for a coporate employee's misbehaviour is a bit of a strech.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
[quote author=lapinerobert]Though I believe that there is some fiduciary responsibility to a corporatian for wrong doing charging someone for a coporate employee's misbehaviour is a bit of a strech.

well, I'm not familiar with anyone every being forced to join a corporate board.  if the responsibility and risks are too much, declining the position would be the thing to do.  but you're right, of course: this idea, like any other meaningful reform of corporations, will not likely come to pass.
 
Daniel Zimmermann
Posts: 122
Location: Sacramento
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, I never thought my first post in these forums would be in a political vein, but there are so many good ideas in this thread.

   First off, I think its too soon to write off capitalism as an economic model.  The problem occurring in the US right now is only in part the fault of an "unchecked" mortgage industry.  I'd probably better explain the history of the sub-prime industry.  Banks used to not extend mortgages and loans to people with marginal credit because the risk of default was entirely on them.  A lot (some say "disproportionate" of people were minorities, During the Carter administration ideas were put forward on ways to increase minority home ownership, but as Carter was defeated by Reagan in 1980 there wasn't time to push this legislation through.

   The idea came around again during the Clinton administration.  The banks did not want to assume the risk, so in order to get the capital needed, the government guaranteed the loans.  The banks did not immediately launch into seeking out marginal loans, but began to extend credit to those whose scores were borderline.  As time went on and these customers were already in houses the loans targeted poorer and poorer customers--people who would have been a bad risk if the loans were not guaranteed by the Federal government.   The rest, as they say, is history.

   I bring this up to point out that the economic system of the US is not purely capitalist, not when major industries are so firmly backed with government largess.  Another example in only two words is Farm Subsidies.  The economic trend in fact is towards a kind of National Socialism.  If you doubt that, look at the federalization of banking and General Motors.  The polite term is "Keynesian macroeconomics".

   In a truly capitalist system--a laissez faire(LF) one--the checks and balances would be the amount of risk the investor was willing to accept, without any hope of rescue.   Were the government to stop subsidizing agri-business, everything from commercial feed lots to widespread GMO use--everything--would collapse.

   Another aspect to consider is that modern economics worldwide are open systems.  Raw material will always come from somewhere and waste will be disposed of somewhere, although that somewhere might not be known.   Out of crude?  We can extract it from shale!  Weeds in the fields?  Roundup!  Landfill full?  Open a new one!   The open system supposes that new resources will be found.  From the seas maybe, or from space.  And these new discoveries will come just as we need them most, spurred by the prospect of collapse.

   Permaculture in its strictest definition is a closed system, although in practice it seems to be layers of mostly closed but interconnected systems.   If any one system needs a resource not available to them they can obtain it from another mostly closed system that has it in surplus, or even better, generates it as a waste product.  Capturing wastes and reusing them is one of the key tenets of permaculture. 

   This can use a capitalist model; maybe one in which profits are consensual instead of adversarial.  Much of the current growth of permaculture, ironically, is built upon people in open systems purchasing the products that they see produced by (mostly) closed systems.  Namely, the growth of organic, biodynamic, and (Creator help us all) "green" products. 

one can't eat money, but one still needs money to buy the foods one cant grow

   I disagree.  there are plenty of things folks are willing to exchange for food.  money is probably the most common, but certainly not the most appropriate.


   Money is an agreed-upon standard of labor.  In any macro system there must be a way for non-connected system to interact.  Money allows that.  Money is a whole different can of maggots...

   As far as "greed" is concerned, it certainly is not limited to capitalist systems.  In a LF system I would practice "enlightened self-interest", since my ability to do business in the future would be dependent on how others viewed these transactions, ie my reputation.  To use a non-business term, karma.  Note that the "green" efforts of companies like BP or Monsanto are trying to create the illusion of karma.

If I limit it it to western culture what period of time has there ever been anything but capatalism as the norm?

why limit yourself to Western culture?  or the norm, for that matter?  even if you do, there are alternatives to be found, though maybe not on a Western culture-wide scale.  Spanish anarchism and the Paris Commune come to mind.  the Seattle general strike was short-lived, but folks took very good care of each other.  I imagine the pre-industrial Western world was much less homogeneous, economically and otherwise, than it is today.  other examples exist, but it takes some digging to find them.



   Marxism is a Western idea, and an abject failure, especially where growing food was concerned.  What do Capitalism and Marxist communism (and National Socialism, religious autocracy, etc)  have in common?  The imposition of unnatural hierarchies and non-existent cycles.  Marxism tried to create "The State" by completely removing anything that smacked of profit and greed.  See where it got them!

   Permacultural economies already exist, as evidenced by this board.  But if you are looking for a permacultural macro economy, you might find a good model in science fiction.  I'm not denigrating the question, but the nature of permaculture is to start at the lowest level, at the most basic levels, and build up.  Every other economic system in place is driven from the top down (especially Marxist "communism".  Permaculture must permeate from the bottom up, and for that to happen the world will have to undergo enormous changes, on the order of TEOTWAKI.  The current system (poorly) supports 7 BILLION human beings, unsustainably.  How many people could be supported with a global permaculture that does not include game changing "gee whiz" creations like fusion?  Three billion?  Two?  Zero Population Growth is not currently in favor even in China and India, so we are talking about the death of billions of unsustainable lives, and in a short span of time.  Who makes that decision?  Or will runaway growth make the decisions for us?

 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What will be the wake up call?
 
Lf London
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Antibubba writes:

Permaculture must permeate from the bottom up


I really like the idea that permaculture, and permaculturists need to permeate the world with new ways of living and surviving.
Permeate the world as nutrients permeate the extremely fine micropore structure of biochar.

LFLondon

 
ronie dee
Posts: 619
Location: NW MO
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well those who dont want their money can send it to me... I'll put it to good uses.

quote tel:

"Kathleen Sanderson alluded to the First Epistle to Timothy from the Christian Bible.  while that might be an interesting read, I'm happy to have kicked the habit of treating it with too much respect.  if I get into a discussion with somebody who believes the Bible is divine and infallible truth, the two of us are going to have a hard time talking about disputed authorship and the finer points of who it was that got to condemn a text as heterodox.  I do happen to believe there is a kernel of truth in First Timothy 6:10, but I think the author was a little mixed up.  seems more likely to me that money is the result of evil, not the other way around."


I suppose that debating politics and religions are controversial subjects.. I try to avoid both when disagreeing but enjoy company of those who agree with my opinions...

The quote in the Bible, about money and evil, is always misquoted and so it is no wonder that it is also misunderstood... I find that anytime I can't understand the way that things are presented in the Bible, that is I who misunderstood,  and on further thought or rereading ....i can get a clearer pic of what is being said....

For years i heard the money/evil quote as something like this: Money is the root of all evil... then someone pointed out that the quote is something more like this: The love of money is the rood of all evil....  OK then well that don't make any sense as there was evil before there was any money used.... so i thought surely it doesn't say that the love of money is the root of all evil...so i went and checked...and sure enough, it doesn't say that either.

To avoid any further misunderstandings I guess that it wud be better to write it word fer words..

1 Timothy 6:10,
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil...

Note that it is a part of a bigger passage not just an isolated proverb of some kind... I don't see that it shows in any way that the writer (Paul) was mixed up.. and i never take anything in the Bible and disrespect it. I can't argue that each book in the Bible belongs there and can't figure out how all other writings were left out and these 60 some odd books were included..? so i won't try..

But to dismiss the knowledge that is in the Bible is to lose out on many great truths in this life. I give great respect to the Bible and always will.
 
Daniel Zimmermann
Posts: 122
Location: Sacramento
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I really like the idea that permaculture, and permaculturists need to permeate the world with new ways of living and surviving.
Permeate the world as nutrients permeate the extremely fine micropore structure of biochar.

LFLondon


I think of it in terms of the food cycle, with the smallest creatures at the bottom consumed by those higher up, and vice versa.  Man occupies the apex, but over-consumption of finite resources will eventually remove us.  We differ from the other predators in that we can choose to feed at a lower level.

=lapinerobert wrote:What will be the wake up call?


The alarm is already going off, but we keep hitting the snooze button.

It will take something on the order of an unstoppable pandemic, or the collapse of the food chain.  There could be an external event that precipitates it.  But there will be unprecedented death and suffering; the flies will feast.
 
Rob Alexander
Posts: 52
Location: Furano, Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
lapinerobert wrote: We need tax reform, flat tax, universal sales tax, something. What would be your method of taxing a trade?


Flat taxes and universal sales taxes get suggested occasionally as a "fair" method of taxation, when with a little examination, it's not difficult to see that they are the exact opposite.
The poor spend the vast majority, if not all of their income, and thus have tax applied  to all of their income.
The wealthy will save at least some of their income and are accordingly only taxed on the portion of their income that they spend.

When these ideas are put forward the argument generally boils down to "it's cheaper to manage". Taxation is an extremely complicated and important issue, and "cheap to manage" should be waaay down on the list of criteria.

Personally I'm happy to pay tax.  I believe (perhaps naively, I'm sure tel can join in here) that taxation is essential to an equitable society and for the protection of those most vulnerable, but "poor taxes" like sales taxes do the opposite.

Sorry to just naysay and not suggest a better alternative everyone, I'll try to do better next time.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tax reform could be just a reduction of loopholes rather than a change to a flat tax or universal sales tax.
Ultimately the cost of any tax is placed on cost of goods or labor though. If one is taxed on inventory the cost filters down to the consumer. Percentage of tax on wages increase for a plumbers payroll the cost of service goes up.
I see the need for taxes and the need for a healthy society to pay taxes for times of need or to fund schools, senior care, etc.

  What I always notice is that politicians salaries and the taxes that pay that salary are not affected by economic hard times. Perhaps politicians should have salary compensation determined by job performance.
Maybe unemployment goes up in a city, Mayors and Councilors salary goes down by the same percentage. In Congress a politician doesn't vote the way the majority of the State feels he should have voted, gimme back my money.
A politician earns money for a speaking engagement on the States dime, that's the States money not his.
Politicians get a raise or full compensation whether they are good or not.

A percentage of military personnel are deployed, we can do without the same percentage of Congressmen and Senators while they serve their tour in harms way.
National guard from a State, same for State Representatives, and we can hope their job is there when they get back.

oops got off topic sorry
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
pawnjp wrote:
Personally I'm happy to pay tax.  I believe (perhaps naively, I'm sure tel can join in here) that taxation is essential to an equitable society and for the protection of those most vulnerable, but "poor taxes" like sales taxes do the opposite.


I'm not at all happy to pay taxes.  maybe if taxes didn't fund wars, highways, airports, industrial agriculture, et cetera ad nauseum, I wouldn't mind as much.  you're right, though: tax revenue is also used for social programs, which are much less objectionable, though some of them are also of dubious value.

so the way vulnerable folks are protected in the US is largely through the use of tax money, but is that really a very efficient or effective way to do it?  I think we need some folks to continue to fight for good social supports in our legislatures while other folks find better ways to fill those same needs in their communities without relying on overcoming the inertia inherent in unwieldy governments.  we do the best we can within the reality we inherit, but there's no need to limit our activity to official and accepted channels.

[quote author=pawnjp]When these ideas are put forward the argument generally boils down to "it's cheaper to manage". Taxation is an extremely complicated and important issue, and "cheap to manage" should be waaay down on the list of criteria.

steeply graduated income tax like we used to have would be cheap to manage and progressive and would bring in boatloads of cash.  the Scandinavian countries do this and it works very well.  they fared pretty well in the recent economic downturn.  less desirable in my mind than dissolving national governments, but certainly better than the current US model.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would you see part of your solution perhaps beginning with a more defined separation of State and Federal government?
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
lapinerobert wrote:
Would you see part of your solution perhaps beginning with a more defined separation of State and Federal government?


I don't think so.  that isn't to say I would oppose that, but what I feel compelled to work toward is making government irrelevant or obsolete.  I think moving toward a federation could be of some benefit, but that's not my primary concern.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3382
Location: woodland, washington
82
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
[quote author=Antibubba]Well, I never...decisions for us?

been meaning to address some of what Antibubba posted.  there was a lot, though, so I'm sure I won't get to it all.

the bit about the mortgage crisis was interesting, but maybe not really to the point.  the modern money system has done and continues to do plenty of damage that isn't directly related to or dependent on mortgages and all the myriad gambling that attends them.  but that raises an interesting point: for a moment, when our economy was crumbling around us, consumption decreased dramatically.  so in this instance, a smoothly running economy seems to be much worse ecologically than a failing one.

Antibubba also brought up laissez-faire, or free-market capitalism.  this idea get's tossed around a lot, particularly among right libertarians, et cetera.  the problem with our economic system, from this point of view, is that government intervention distorts the natural laws of the market which would otherwise guide us all to heaven on Earth.  I don't buy it.  obviously, government intervention affects market activity.  I don't have a problem with that part of the argument.  that is, after all, the purpose of government intervention in economies.  it's the other half that strikes me as, well, nonsense.  at its beginning, capitalism was unregulated.  in time, folks noticed some fairly negative impacts and began imposing restrictions.  regulations weren't put in place because everything was going too smoothly (though I wouldn't put something like that past modern bureaucracies).  the idea that if we just left it alone, a free market would somehow stop encouraging myopic self-interest seems like pretty wishful thinking.  Antibubba would practice enlightened self-interest, but the problem with enlightened self-interest is that it is so easily undermined by garden variety un-enlightened self-interest.

as hard as I've just been on free markets, I do also think industrial subsidies are big trouble, including agricultural subsidies.  they cause problems by creating the illusion of affordability, thereby encouraging consumption.  so, Antibubba, you mentioned Farm Subsidies.  they're bad news.  you're going to run into trouble using the term National Socialism, though, accurately or otherwise.  comparisons to Nazis have a way of derailing a conversation, sort of like talking about anarchists...

moving on: Antibubba, talking about permaculture, said:

This can use a capitalist model; maybe one in which profits are consensual instead of adversarial.


as far as I can tell, capitalist models are inherently coercive.  I'm not going to consent to paying more for a thing than it took to create it (the basis of profit) unless I'm in a position of inferiority.  that seems to rule out the possibility of consensual profit.

but then he said:

Much of the current growth of permaculture, ironically, is built upon people in open systems purchasing the products that they see produced by (mostly) closed systems.


and this get's back to the heart of the problem: can my farm be truly sustainable if it relies on revenue from unsustainable sources.  what if, for example, I support my permaculture habit by charging folks large sums of money to stay on my farm for a few days?  in an honest accounting I've got to take into consideration where those folks earned the money to pay for their stay and how they traveled to my farm.

now, there's got to be a transitional period so maybe some clearly unsustainable practices can be justified in the short term, but one of the most powerful things about permaculture is that it encourages a longer view than a lot of folks are accustomed to (not too long, though, or heat death will render pretty much everything moot).  the trouble with being embedded in an unsustainable economy is that it becomes part of the game plan.  the motivation for transforming the entire thing to something better is lost, because I'm doing pretty well the way things are.  I've got the karma points because I set up a gray water system and feed my chickens comfrey, never mind that the only folks who can afford my products probably didn't come by their money in quite so pure a fashion.

I see this with the dumpster-diving crowd, too.  I'm a big fan of dumpster-diving because it turns wastes into resources, but it only works if somebody else is being wasteful.  so if I'm getting all my resources from dumpsters, suddenly I'm no longer a critic of wasteful practices, I'm their biggest fan.  if the jetset buys my hams for $4000 each, how long am I going to remain a critic of the extremely harmful global capitalism that made them rich?

Money is an agreed-upon standard of labor.


in theory, maybe.  personally, I've never been asked if I agree.  for the record, I don't agree.  there are too many instances of life-destroying labor being compensated magnitudes more than life-supporting labor.  too many instances of clever manipulation of other people being compensated better than honest and indispensable work.  too many instances of women being compensated less than men.  too many instances of folks forced to work for a pittance because of "structural unemployment" or plain old desperation.  I could go on.

In any macro system there must be a way for non-connected system to interact.  Money allows that.


what's so great about a macro system?  I think that as long as most commerce is transacted on a local scale, a lot of problems go away, whether we call it capitalism or something else.  the possibility of long-distance trade shouldn't be the prime consideration for how we arrange local economies.

Marxism is a Western idea, and an abject failure, especially where growing food was concerned.


you said this right after I mentioned Spanish anarchism, the Paris Commune, and the Seattle general strike.  there may have been Marxist individuals involved in all of those, but Marxism was not the dominant ideology in any of them.  at any rate, I'm no great fan of Mr. Marx.  I think his descriptive work was pretty good, but his prescriptive work was lacking.  his largest flaw, in my opinion, was his tendency toward authoritarianism.  but all that aside, the Spanish anarchists were quite successful in the food department.  they were better at growing it and better at distributing it than their predecessors or successors.  but, they weren't Marxist, so I can't disagree with your assessment.

but wait: what about Cuba?  isn't Cuba's government Marxist?  human rights aside for the moment, Cubans have done a fantastic job of a quick transition to local food production after the collapse of the USSR.  in reality, that probably had little to do with Marxism and more to do with folks being resourceful in a pinch, but the fact remains: not all Marxists are bad at growing food.

The current system (poorly) supports 7 BILLION human beings, unsustainably.  How many people could be supported with a global permaculture that does not include game changing "gee whiz" creations like fusion?  Three billion?  Two?  Zero Population Growth is not currently in favor even in China and India, so we are talking about the death of billions of unsustainable lives, and in a short span of time.  Who makes that decision?  Or will runaway growth make the decisions for us?


well, I suspect that the longer we're able to put off collapse, the worse it will be in the end.  evidence suggests that it's going to happen one way or the other, so having some alternatives in place that won't lead to another collapse down the road seems prudent.

so... if this thread wasn't dead already, it likely will be now.  I've really enjoyed bouncing these ideas around and hearing some different points of view, but I fear my enthusiasm has ruined it for everyone else.  terribly sorry.
 
Screaming fools! It's nothing more than a tiny ad:
Jacqueline Freeman - Honeybee Techniques - streaming video
https://permies.com/wiki/65175/videos/digital-market/Jacqueline-Freeman-Honeybee-Techniques-streaming
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!