Lori's Book Nook

Deep Economy

Posted on: May 8, 2007

Well, Booktalk.org is at it again. This time, one of the books is Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. (Here’s the link to the Booktalk.org discussion forum.)

This one is hitting me close to home. I worked the opening day of the local Farmers’ Market (I’m the manager), came home, and picked up Deep Economy to read McKibben’s discussion on farmers’ markets — and the studied fact that people have 10 more social interactions there than they do in a supermarket.

I could’ve told  him that!!

McKibben believes in communities — the idea that as individuals we make decisions that (seem to) affect only us, but with an awareness of our community, we make decisions that have deeper consequences. [It’s a big book, lots of ideas, and I’m writing this in an office with no circulation on a hot day at 6 p.m.. Bear with me on my simplistic synopses. 🙂 ]

For example, if I’m just thinking of myself, then I’ll go to the local Walmart and buy the cheapest coffee on the shelf. But, if I were aware of my local community, I’d go to the grocery store in town that may have a higher price tag, but where I know that the management cares about their staff and pay good wages. If I were thinking of the broader community, I’d go out of my way to buy fair trade, shade-grown coffee, and by-pass the big corporations abusing the people of the coffee-growing nations. But, if I were really thinking of the greater community, I’d stop drinking coffee altogether, as the fossil fuels needed to bring that coffee to me, no matter how it’s grown, are damaging our environment. (Plus, they’re running out. Might as well overcome the coffee addiction now, before I’m forced to, down the road!)

This is a huge discussion…that I don’t feel like undertaking at this moment. Perhaps in the comments??



4 Responses to "Deep Economy"

I feel your synopsis nicely sums up the concept of personal choice in a free marketplace.

The unfortunate reality is that many of the bigger companies have been actively trying to short-circuit the idea.

Some do it by honest means: incentives, points, loyalty cards, specials, and trading stamps. None of which make up for the difference between shopping from people who know your face and name and shopping from Wal-Mart.

Others do it by foul–prescriptive trade practices, litigation, obstructionism.

But the ones who do it worst are usually the biggest promoters of the “free marketplace”–such as the aformentioned Wal-Mart. By paying their workers crap, they encourage consumption from themselves and similar stores.

After all, you can’t buy shade-grown, organic coffee roasted by hand by Buddhist monks if you’ve only a dollar to spend and the cheap stuff is 99¢ a pound.

After all, you can’t buy shade-grown, organic coffee roasted by hand by Buddhist monks if you’ve only a dollar to spend and the cheap stuff is 99¢ a pound.

Good summary of the whole Walmart-ization of communities. :\

I started to type a comment and got a little carried away, and it turned into a post for my own blog. I ordered a copy of the book from my library, but it hasn’t come in yet.

I try and avoid the chain stores as much as possible, but it’s become nearly impossible here in the city of Boston. I’ve always held a dim view of these large, sterile warehouse kinds of stores. I really miss the little neighborhood stores, which are almost all gone now.

Both corner drugstores in my area were driven out of business almost overnight by chain stores that opened up within about 500 yards of them, and the local hardware store was shuttered after a huge Home Depot went in across the street.

They make their money by volume and by paying minimum wages to their employees, which means the customer service is almost nonexistent, since the staff could really care less, and the individual consumer isn’t all that important in the greater scheme of things. They just suck up money and export it out of the community, while giving back as little as possible to maximize their profits.

Even the low prices are often overrated in my opinion. If you look beyond the one sale item in each section of Wal-Mart, the values aren’t all that special. Not worth the loss of the corner drugstore as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Rich, I’m with you. And I read your blog post…very touching, but calm.

I live in a town with a Walmart, but for now, there is still a remarkably vital downtown core. It just requires more work — building a network, an active Chamber of Commerce…I belong to a Women in Business group that is really strong.

And a lot of people I know refuse to even mention Walmart. 🙂

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Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!
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