Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
According to Bill McKibben in Deep Economy, there was a period of time in which economic growth made everybody wealthier. That was a big part of the purpose of the growth. The standard of living went up for everyone as businesses expanded. McKibben argues that we hit a point where we should have stopped focusing on growing our economies because of limits in resources. Our economic gauges are recognize health only when they see increased economic activity. To have the same amount of activity as last quarter is unhealthy.
A less important gauge is the average wealth of the people of an economy. McKibben thinks that the Business As Usual model of growth is now geared to centralize the wealth rather than make everybody wealthier. In fact, “though our economy has been growing, most of us have relatively little to show for it. The median wage in the U.S. is the same as it was thirty years ago. The real income of the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers has declined steadily: they earned $27,060 in real dollars in 1979, $25,646 in 2005.” Where did that growth go?? Well, the top one percent in the U.S. in this 30 year period perennially “captured more of the real national gain in income than the bottom 50 percent.”
What is the point of all of it? We are not wealthier and we certainly are not happier. The richest Americans are as happy as the Pennsylvania Amish. The G8 + 5 is not some bliss club. Costa Ricans are happier than the Japanese, says McKibben. The French are about as happy as Venezuelans. Homeless people in Calcutta get some of the lowest happiness scores in the world, but their score doubled when they moved into a slum. That new score was equal to a sampling of college students from 47 countries!
What is a society that does not seek economic growth as a central focus of progress? Is it happier than this current paradigm of human existence?
Read the comments on the op-ed for more educated perspectives on the issue.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I live in central Missouri and my electricity comes from a rural co-op. I’m in my third year of purchasing eight units a month of wind energy at $3/unit. It’s not much, and it’s (i think) coming from of state (Kansas) but for $24 a month I am weaning myself from coal. It will be really nice when that same wind energy is being generated in Missouri.— Vanessa
#2 Vanessa’s post is hopeful. The renewable energy industry can change the power dynamics of one of our most important resources. Large corporations control citizen access to all major resources, but this has always been an exploitive, extractive, and destructive system.
Creating rural co-ops, where the energy is produced and controlled by the citizens, for the citizens, we develop a resource stream that empowers the people who both produce and depend on it. Do not let large corporations come into our towns and try to steal what is rightfully ours and then sell it back to us!
As we power-down our societies, let us empower our communities. Join the discussion at…
Samuel Kraft (#5),
The romance of the co-op concept is deceptive, at least from a clean energy perspective - rural co-ops are far more regressive when it comes to green energy than either regulated private utilities or independent generators. Granted regulated utilities have in most cases been driven by legislation and regulation to do what they’ve done, but in some ways that’s the point, and it’s been for-profit, competitive independent producers who have led in development of new clean energy sources. In most cases the last bastions of new coal-fired plant construction are rural co-ops, and those same co-ops have used their taxpayer-subsidized cost of capital to freeze out the independent generators who are innovating new clean sources of generation. In most states with renewable portfolio standards, co-ops have successfully fought to be excluded from them, and they’ve in most cases they’ve used that exclusion to continue with business-as-usual. You need to revisit your romantic notion of the inherent virtues of rural co-ops.— Michael HoganIt seems as though I do not really know what I am talking about when I spoke about rural co-ops. This guy Michael dropped some authoritative sounding jargon on me. But he did not sound all preachy like I did, which is the more important part of my post anyways. I can't believe he did not start his post with a compliment...that is rude.