Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This Old Economist: “Europe’s woes relate to North American lifestyles” Pt 2

["We're eating our planet too quickly"]

As an old economist (and highly qualified - I have a university degree and a valid library card) I often say some brilliant things. To be precise, I said three brilliant things yesterday in Pt 1.

One. “We’re all in this pea soup together, so as Europe's economy falters North America's declines as well, and here in Canada, citizens will have to re-adjust the Canadian Dream downward - if they haven’t done so already.

No matter how good “our fundamentals” are, i.e., according to Line Dance Minister Jim Flaherty, Canada is up to his arm pits in the mire of the global economy and many of our big export customers aren’t doing so well right now and may never return to their former glory. Canadians who believe bigger is better and that consumer goods are the way to happiness may need to re-adjust their dreams downward - more than a titch - in the near future. (And ‘right now’ would be a good idea, in my opinion). 

Two. “I propose we quickly reduce personal and household spending, pay down debts and save money for tough times ahead (just like ants, who put away supplies for the winter).

I believe those three bits of sound financial advice form the basis of a world economy that fits the planet’s ability to feed, clothe and shelter us in a sustainable manner. Not that many will listen or adhere to advice so simple (while rain forests are cleared to make room for cattle feed), but I give it anyway (i.e., to humans. Ants already know how to handle tough times). 

Three. “Living with less now will produce many positive benefits in the future.

Most of the resources required to feed, clothe and shelter 7 billion humans today are used in excess, especially in countries considered the wealthiest 10 per cent. In 10 years, when the population will be 8 billion and rising, global shortages of food, water, building materials, etc. will raise many concerns, but those who voluntarily practice conservation methods today will be better prepared for the thin times.

Reduce spending and enjoy the following benefits:

you’ll spend less time and money shopping

you’ll have more time for family and friends

you’ll have more money to pay down debt

you’ll spend less time in the car

you’ll save money on gasoline

In ‘A Short History of Progress’ by R. Wright we read “when guano deposits and other natural fertilizers were exhausted, commercial farming became almost entirely dependent on chemical fertilizers made from oil and gas. Fossil energy not only powers but feeds the modern world. We are literally eating oil.” pg. 115

by reducing spending you’ll eat less oil

you’ll have more money for your savings account

you’ll have more time for inexpensive hobbies, e.g., gardening, bicycling

you’ll save more money by gardening, bicycling

you’ll develop new muscles by exercising

your body will look healthier

you’ll feel healthier

In ‘A Short History of Progress’ by R. Wright we read “ecological markers suggest that in the early 1960s, humans were using about 70 per cent of nature’s yearly output; by the early 1980s, we’d reached 100 per cent; and in 1999, we were at 125 per cent. Such numbers may be imprecise, but their trend is clear - they mark the road to bankruptcy.” (pg. 129)

by reducing spending you’ll feel you’re not bankrupting yourself or the planet

you’ll develop peace of mind by reducing CO2 emissions, slowing the trend toward higher temperatures and saving the planet

you’ll become less of a slave to things, material goods, and unsustainable consumption

your life will become simpler

you’ll smile more often

you’ll put your feet up more often and like it

Reduce your debts and enjoy the following benefits:

you’ll feel peace of mind and less weight on your shoulders

you’ll receive fewer bills or threats in the mail

you’ll be able to do less juggling of chainsaws (i.e., personal finances)

you’ll sleep easier

you’ll rejoice when the MINIMUM PAYMENT is zero

you’ll be free from vexing mathematical dilemmas associated with credit cards, e.g., “what is 19.5 per cent of the price of a big screen TV, charged monthly for 4.6 years?”

as debt declines you’ll realize that one day you’ll be paying yourself and not a faceless, excessively rich corporation

you’ll feel that you’re finally occupying your own house, not the bank’s house

you’ll smile more often

you’ll hear unusual but satisfying questions, e.g., “why is Dad or Mom smiling more often?”

Save money for tough times and enjoy the following benefits:

you’ll grow tougher along with the times

you’ll have cash as prices increase

credit card companies cannot charge you 19.5 per cent interest rate on your cash

you’ll have money or a cushion in case of an emergency

you’ll develop a feeling of self-confidence, self-reliance

you’ll develop a healthier attitude about life on earth

you’ll become wiser and more selective about consumption

you’ll feel more whole

[Cartoons by G.Harrison]


Sure, I’m just scratching the surface.

Please click here to read This Old Economist: “Europe’s woes relate to North American lifestyles” Pt1

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