Small Is Beautiful Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher • German (1911-1977) • Studied and later taught economics at Oxford • German recovery • Consultant for developing nations "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction."
Small is Beautiful • Originally published in 1973 • What was going on at this time? • Richard Nixon inaugurated for second term • Clean Water, Clean Air, and Endangered Species Act • Limits to Growth published 1972 • OPEC and embargo on oil imports • Rising gas prices • Energy shortage? • Sound familiar?
Followed by President Carter saying in 1977: • Americans agreed and most were anti-growth • What happened? “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption” “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does by what one owns”
Small was Ugly • Solar panels came down along with the budget for R&D for renewables (Reagan) • No limits to growth (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama) • Larry Summers: “There are no…limits to the carrying capacity of the earth that are likely bind any time in the foreseeable future. There isn’t any risk of an apocalypse due to global warming or anything else. The idea that we should put limits on growth because of some natural limit is a profound error”
Small is Beautiful (again?) • Financial collapse • Peak Oil • Global Warming
Small is Beautiful For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight. • Internal and External consequences of modern economics • Environmental • Natural Capital and waste • Spiritual and Societal • How can we expect peace and prosperity if our ways of getting there are through greed and violence? • Will we ever be rich? John Maynard Keynes
Schumacher and Buddhist Economics Buddhist Economist Modern Economist Work is a necessary evil Focus on goods Scale: Bigger is better • Work and leisure are complementary • Focus on liberation • Scale: smaller is better
Buddhist Economics Modern Economics Creatures and land are factors of production (means) • Creatures and land are inherently valued (ends)
Small is Beautiful • Lead to: • Local Agriculture Movement • Main Street not Wall Street • Fair Trade
"Only after the last tree has been cut down…the last river has been poisoned…the last fish caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." - Cree Indian Prophesy