Deep Economy Mckibben Essay
After thorough analysis of the text it Is abundantly clear that Muckiness’s Idea’s on the gradual establishment of localized, self sustaining, durable, community-based economies in the developed world will succeed in making Its peoples collectively happier, and more charitable, as well as sustaining the planets ecology and providing a positive example for developing nations. Being a popular environmentalist and economist, it is no surprise that bill McKinney has decided to tie these themes together into this novel. The book begins with issues surrounding the global economy and the fundamental flaws that come with it.
In this opening chapter he explains his perspectives on the flaws of the money system and possible alternatives to that system. The second chapter entirely concerns the food industry. He initially bombards the reader with facts about major corporations and how they, with the help of the government, have worked to centralize food production and retail. The mood then swings from problem to solution as Ensemble embarks on a winter of “eating locally” In his home state of Vermont. From this he draws much experience and fact which effectively contrasts the first half of the chapter.
Individualism then takes the stage as McKinney offers the positives that solitude has historically produced. Then, true to form, McKinney swings around and tries to outline to the reader exactly why these methods, though traditionally effective, have been overused, and what exactly can be done about it. In “the wealth of communities,” The ideas that were apparent in food return as the tutor makes examples of a wide range of commodities ‘ from communication, to timber, and of course energy’ In the manner apparent in the previous chapters.
Finally, the book finishes out discussing the future and exactly where we are currently headed, and then where we should be headed If we want to maintain our planet and our personal satisfaction. The book begins by outlining the Issues surrounding our modern economic model. McKinney perpetually draws from the principles of modern economics established that “it is not the actual greatness of national wealth but its continued increase. ” (McKinney, 6? It is this principle that has developed into the “religious growth and efficiency’ (McKinney, 6) that is apparent in North American culture. This mandate was made perfectly clear by Lawrence Summers, Bill Silicon’s secretary of the Treasury, when she proclaimed that “the democratic administration will not accept any ‘speed limit’ on American economic growth. ” (McKinney, 9) And it didn’t: as we witnessed, during Silicon’s presidential term, the highest growth rates in American history.
McKinney quickly puts to rest any sort of promise held in these tenements with an endless stream of facts which attest to the truth that “the real income of the bottom 90% of American taxpayers has declined steadily: they earned 27,060 in 1979, and 25,646 in 1 1) The concept most economist have trouble accepting is that past a certain threshold money doesn’t buy happiness. What research generally shows is that “money consistently buys happiness right up to about $10,000 per capita income, and after that, the point of correlation disappears. (McKinney, 41) Through his research of foreign economics, Richard Lardy reports that “when the Irish where making a hired as much as Americans they were reporting higher levels of satisfaction, as were the Swedes, the Danes, and the Dutch. ” (McKinney, 42) This is only a portion of the data indicating that general happiness disassociates itself with material wealth at a definite point “similar to the freezing point of water. ” (McKinney, 41) The focus then shifts from economical to ecological economics.
Instead of stating what has already been popularized, McKinney uses examples from multiple credible sources to powerfully reinforce his argument specifically for economists. Systems of assortment such as “ecosystem services,” published by Bob Stanza in a 1997 issue of Nature, seek to group “the universally appealing notion of economic growth with reduced energy consumption” with the “equally appealing, but impossible, idea of perpetual motion. ” (McKinney, 27) the concept of “Ecosystem services” is interesting because it puts an economic value on all the services of nature that have, in the past, been counted as free.
The results total an impressive “$33 Trillion annually, far larger then the human economy taken all together. ” (McKinney, 27) The heaper concludes by indulging the reader in facts and ideas that help them comprehend that happiness, not money, should be a nation’s global indicator of wealth. A great example is found near the end of the book where McKinney discusses “the Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan. ” The government of Bhutan have replaced Gross National Product with a “happiness index. ” (McKinney, 217) The crucial point in all this information is that what worked for us in the past will no longer work for us now and in the future.
A quotation that drove this point home from my perspective is the following: “two beers make me feel good, so ten beers will aka me feel five times better. ” (McKinney, 42) Food, seemingly insignificant, occupies “50% of the worlds assets and consumer expenditure, and half the Jobs too. “(McKinney, 47) Food, it is bluntly stated, is as conditioned to Adam Smith’s ideals of efficiency ‘ in price and production ‘ as anything else on the planet. Corporations like Cargill Inc. Control almost all of the world food trade and practice “relentless consolidation and concentration” which has beef.
Cargill, Inc. , controls 45% of the global grain trade, while its competitor Archer Daniels Midland controls another 30%. (McKinney, 52) These same names “have also worked to consolidate the retail end of food business. ” (McKinney, 53) With major retailers such as Walter ‘ of which there is no shortage of disturbing facts on ‘ accepting tomatoes from farmers “only if they are between 53 and 63 millimeters in diameter,”(McKinney, 53) limits the opportunities for small local farmers to gain a foothold in the market.
Not only this, but “the farmers profit margin dropped from 35% in the sass’s to about 9% today. ” (McKinney, 54) This means that “to generate the same income as it did in 1950, a farm today would need to be ugly four times as large. ” (McKinney, 55) As a result of this perpetual growth and centralization, problems like “huge sewage lagoons, miserable animals, vulnerability to sabotage and food-born illness”(McKinney, 61) have become commonplace. Not only this, but “we are running out of the two basic ingredients we need to grow food on an industrial scale: oil and water. (McKinney, 62) The situation has become so dire that “we are now facing a near simultaneous depletion of the underground aquifers which have been responsible for the unsustainable, artificial inflation of food production. At this point of realization, McKinney begins indulging the reader in a large number of facts that promote a more localized form of farming as the solution to a seemingly endless number of issues. Initially the point is raised that “sustainable agriculture leads to a 93% increase in per-hectare food production. (McKinney, 68) The next idea raised is that, “since World War 1, it has been cheaper to use oil then employ people. ” (McKinney, 67) So, it can be concluded, with increased yield from small farms, and higher costs due to employment, the two factors put the small farmer back at square one. However, with the popular emergence of farmers markets, local farmers can yield a 100% profit on their goods as opposed to the 9% earned by the large-scale farm. Not only this, but research has shown that “people engage in lox more conversation at the farmers market then they do at the supermarket. (McKinney, 105) The prevailing issue in this system is participation, which, to most people, would be a much welcomed change. “The cost is not in health, or in money, but in time. ” (McKinney, 94) McKinney summarized his point perfectly in saying that “in more ways then one, it left a good taste in my mouth. The good taste was satisfaction. In my roll as eater, I was part of something larger then myself that made sense to me ‘ a community. I felt grounded, connected. ” (McKinney, 94) American individualism, occupying an entire chapter, is our point of pride and the new of other nations.
Our seemingly unique capability to find economic and social independence is what sets us apart from the developing nations of the world. This “liberation has brought us great benefits: they helped to produce the ideas we hold dearest, such as democracy; they helped to spur the human rights and women’s revolutions; and they have made us much, much richer. (McKinney, 96) It is not a part of Inscribes agenda to dismiss the idea of individualism as useless, but instead to prove that, once again, up to a certain point individualism can be self-destructive.
There are countless studies that have shown that, not only does isolation inflict on our mental health, but, also, “the body reacts to community in measurable that “Joining a club or society of some kind halves the risk that you will die in the next year. ” (McKinney, 110) It is these facts ‘ depression has increased five-fold, the likelihood of getting sick is four times greater with fewer friends ‘ that form a strong sass against what McKinney refers to as “hyper individualism. ” So why keep pursuing individualism?
For those in the top 10% of national wealth securing that wealth entailed defiantly tricking the public into believing they have community. And there is no better medium to subliminally broadcast your message then advertisement. Advertisers were the first to discover, ‘ “long before sociologists, psychologists or anyone else” ‘ that “we lacked community, and they set about promoting the particular idea that the stuff they where selling would satisfy those longings. ” If commodities were capable of this then “the twentieth century would eave worked better then it did. This, along with “American employees adding 199 hours to his annual work schedule between the years 1973 and 2000,” (McKinney, 114) adman’s Americans to a system whose momentum is inescapable. It is very impractical to what could be our reality. “Between 1969 and 2000, Juliet Scorch reports, overall labor productivity increased 80%. Had we used that productivity dividend to reduce hours of work, the average American could be working a little more then 20 hours a week. ” (McKinney, 115) With even marginally less work hours it is proven that people’s quality of living changes and becomes more full.
In 1930, W. K. Kellogg put his workers on a six-hour day at full pay. Not only did “productivity increase dramatically, helping to pay for the experiment, but people began using community resources such as the YMCA, churches, parks and community centers. People asked themselves “what should I do? ” instead of “what should I buy,” and overall happiness was clearly higher. “l wouldn’t go back for anything,” said one. “l wouldn’t have time to do anything but work and eat” (McKinney, 116) Security has also been surrendered for individualism.
This is surprising because “a series of roper surveys shows that people value security as a top priority when concerning money. ” (McKinney, 119) The great depression “mocked the idea that individual effort would save us,” (McKinney, 118) and thus we established Social Security and Medicare ‘ dependencies that have been entirely abandoned by the “ownership society’ of the Bush Administration. As a result, the elderly “have become the fastest-growing portion of the work force. ” (McKinney, 119) This is sad, because in the past people could rely on community and neighborliness in a time of turmoil.
People supported each other under the sole condition that they could depend on the same resources when their own personal crisis arose. Not that communities don’t have their drawbacks; “small societies can be parochial, gossip-ridden, and discriminatory. ” (McKinney, 127) This is common in any community, but localism “offers a physically plausible economy for the future, and a psychologically plausible one as well: a society that might better provide goods like time and security that we’re short of. ” (McKinney, 127) It goes like this: “as farms grow more productive, they need fewer farmers.
Those spaced move to the city, drawn by higher wages that in turn reflect higher productivity in densely populated urban areas. Meanwhile, the division of labor increases. Then comes Adam Smith with the idea that specialization increases sustenance agriculture towards light manufacturing and arbitration and on to high-tech services. ” (McKinney, 180) This is the “gospel” which we followed to individualizing and economic independence, and which the Chinese are now relentlessly building wasteful factories to emulate.
The final chapter is entirely devoted to the future and how exactly we are continuing on a path towards total ecological and personal disaster. Beijing is an amazing spectacle, one on which the hopes of millions of Chinese rest. McKinney compares it in spectacle to Alas Vegas. But Vegas is “an attempt to figure out what more might mean when you’ve already had too much. Whatever else it is, china is not like that at all. “(McKinney, 183) In this respect I would personally compare Beijing to the popular scene where immigrants first emerge from the interior of the boat to the wonders of New York and the majesty of the Statue Of Liberty.
But if that’s the case, and China is Americas little brother, what of the consequences? If the Chinese ate meat the way we do, they’d use two- thirds of the worlds grain harvest; if they drove as many cars they would consume all the worlds oil plus an extra 15 million barrels a day,” (McKinney, 183) Just to put it into perspective. Were the entire planet to follow our level of consumption we’d need extra planets, several of them. Some countries citizens are taking a stand. Across Latin America, the governments that have followed the inalienable, export-led, growth- at-all-costs model have been voted out one after another. ” (McKinney, 194) But, such independence simply wont work for the entire planet. Our “biggest exports are television and movies that model our way of life,” (McKinney, 196) and have left a permanent mark in the mind of hopeful foreigners. The only plausible option, and one which makes sense for the general happiness of Americans and the rest of the world, is to meet poor countries half way. If the rich began making less extreme demands on the planet, poor countries would have more physical margin to work with ‘ a little slack. ” (McKinney, 197) This would solve two fundamental problem: “the rich world is too rich,” (McKinney, 196) and the poor are too poor. To speed the recess, considering “each American owes the world between $273 and $1086 annually for polluting more then our share,” (McKinney, 197) We should consider “sharing some of the wealth with the developing world in the form of aid and technology. We should, practically speaking, be more like Europe. Not only do they provide more aid ‘ 50% of the worlds development assistance ‘ they also consume much less ‘ homes of about half the size, and extremely effective public transit systems. They also boast the lowest poverty rates in the world ‘ an average of about 6% – compared to Americas grossly high 17% rate. This is due to a number of factors, but mainly because “Europeans have a higher regard for community, a more measured sense of the individual.
They emphasize community relationships over individual autonomy, cultural diversity over assimilation, quality of life over the accumulation of wealth, sustained development over material growth, deep play over relenting toil, and universal human rights. ” (McKinney, 225) Deep Economy is an incredibly comprehensive outline of what has been done, what is being done and what should be done in order for humanity to overcome the rends which have nearly set in stone a fate which shows promise for no nation on to?
This novel has successfully proven that happiness is not a result of the accumulation of wealth and commodity, but instead a mixture of the qualities of life that seem to have scattered themselves to different corners of the world. Yes, money is important up to a point, but that point has been passed 100 fold by those who refuse to quit until every resource is dry and every human being, save a few thousand, lies in total abject poverty. So, though it will the a painful process, the lane ‘ especially America – must begin reversing the damage and spreading the wealth to those in need. What should development look like? It should concentrate on creating and sustaining strong communities, not creating a culture of economic individualism. It should aim not at growth, but at durability. ” (McKinney, 197) Until the word community begins to again resonate meaning and arouse generosity, perpetual growth will continue until our system of fake debt collapses in on itself and the world is forced to start anew. Works Cited McKinney, Bill. Deep Economy. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2007.