Local Economy Manifesto

Update: This post from 2012 was an attempt to jumpstart local economy and sustainability efforts. For a more recent perspective, see my 2024 Cultural Ecology course:

Local Economy Manifesto (2021)

Give people jobs to restore local economy and reduce resource use.

Do or die. Now or never. Priority #1. Choose your cliché. A local economy manifesto.

Here’s why:

    • We are about to push the Earth over the brink, as human modifications cause a planetary shift.
    • The industrialized countries face unprecedented long-term unemployment and millions of educated young people without jobs.
    • There are many possibilities to restore local economy and reduce resource use, living in ways that would forestall or reverse the ecological crisis.
    • The U.S. can currently borrow at extremely low interest rates. Countries traditionally considered to be developing–like China and Brazil–have enormous cash reserves.

People need jobs. The Earth faces ecological catastrophe. We know how to live more sustainably. We have the money or borrowing power to do it. It’s now time to restore sustainable local economy.

A few clarifications:

      • The consequences of inaction are catastrophic. Human waste in the present–planetary death in the long run. It’s worse than Keynes’s maxim about how in the long run we’re all dead: If we don’t act, in the long run we’re all extinct. Staying the course is not viable. Capitalism is not lifting all boats, and extending middle-class capitalist fantasies would consume several more planets.
      • Debate, analysis and circumspection must be subordinated to action. Taking action will precede change in ideas and ideology. Expropriate now, ask questions later.
      • There will be mistakes, corruption, and inefficiency. Some projects won’t work. Some will be ridiculed. But let’s be serious–there is already tremendous inefficiency, corruption and waste in the current system.
      • Personal choices can be an example, but the primary goal is policy and institutional change. Promote systemic change and don’t worry about personal purity.

This post simplifies and distills longer analyses like Jumpstart jobs for a green economy and was developed in dialogue with entries by my economist colleague Karl Seeley on The Dance of the Hippo: Economics as if the physical world really existed.

There will be plenty more analysis to come. But for now wanted to put everything in the clearest, simplest, and strongest possible terms. A manifesto to restore local economy now.

Living Anthropologically means documenting history, interconnection, and power during a time of global transformation. We need to care for others as we attempt to build a world together. This blog is a personal project of Jason Antrosio, author of Fast, Easy, and In Cash: Artisan Hardship and Hope in the Global Economy. For updates, subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow on Twitter.

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