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Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and…

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2007)

by Bill McKibben

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This is a very important book that everyone should read. McKibben has many ideas for making this a better world. The chapter on eating locally led me to several other books. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is a book of journalism, not political or economic analysis. It does a great job of bringing the reader's attention to the links between the environmental and moral limits to endless capitalist growth, and the essentially social or psychological impulse to reconstruct society on a smaller, more personal scale. But as none of the factors McKibben suggests we need to balance are conveniently measurable in dollars (pretty much the only universal measurement left), he's left with examples, stories, anecdotes. If they echo your experience, you'll probably accept his larger thesis; if they don't, you'll probably complain about the book's lack of rigor, as though that makes its points moot.

I'm already on board with these ideas, so for me it was a quick read, giving me more examples and variations of the kind of thinking needed to sustain civilization globally and locally at something approximating its current standards. Where I live, this is the stuff of everyday life and casual conversations. Reading the book just filled in some of the background I'd missed.

Worth noting: I was surprised as I read by how little the book was affected by the experience of the economic crises and political changes of the last five years. In a revised edition I'm sure McKibben would point to them as examples to support his thesis, but it's actually nice that the book as-is allows the reader to supply the updates from his or her own experience. ( )
  localcharacter | Apr 2, 2013 |
McKibbin's a great, earnest writer, and here he treads a narrow, winding path between ecological doom-and-gloom and societal hope; however, to maintain this tone, he doesn't put forth an excessively strong argument. It's great preaching to the choir, and maybe a good book for someone who's thought only peripherally about things like community and the locavore movement, etc. But it's not likely to win over any converts from the Other Side (whatever side that is). ( )
  bnewcomer | Apr 2, 2013 |
In Deep Economy, Bill McKibben triangulates a range of world problems of disparity of wealth and access among three common factors: capitalism/consumerism, the global economy, and global ecology. He argues that productions’ pursuit of efficiency has essentially crippled itself in the long term by being unsustainable. Furthermore, the requirement of extreme efficiency in order to be competitive in the global economy has widened the wealth disparity gap: large and successful corporations in developed nations have the capital, personnel, and image to continue to build their wealth and better their production; small businesses or developing nations have none of the above, and their chances of competing against more capable mega-corporations shrinks as the global economy gets ever larger.

We currently know the sum difference between bottom-line production costs and ability to maximize profit as the ultimate measure of efficiency – the highest good of capitalism. But measuring ‘goodness’ of a system by only these two simply quantifiable values disregards the more qualitative, delicate values affected by the system. Quality of life for workers, long-term sustainability, and overall impact on the environment. So here is Bill’s ecological and sustainable proposal:

“I’m not suggesting an abrupt break with the present, but a patient rebalancing of the scales. The project will not be fast, cheap, or easy. Fast, cheap, and easy is what we have at the moment; they are the cardinal virtues upon which our economy rests (and if they also happen to be the very adjectives you don’t want attached to your child, well, that should give you a little pause). The word we use to sum up these virtues is ‘efficiency,’ and on its altar we have sacrificed a good deal….But the time has come to throw some grit into the works. To make the economy less efficient, heretical as it sounds.”

It is heresy to American capitalism, no doubt. But as we become more aware of the interconnectedness and ultimate damage American capitalism has done so far both environmentally and economically, such heresy could be a prophetic and necessary voice. ( )
  the_awesome_opossum | Jun 18, 2011 |
McKibben has a gift for language and also researches his books well. Here he questions the logic and purpose of the growth economy and offers a superior set of ideals to seek instead. The book is in the tradition of Thoreau, but updated and more attuned to the pragmatic details of changing the course of our culture from an unsustainable path to one that is durable, authentic and centered on human well-being. ( )
  bkinetic | Oct 15, 2010 |
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Introduction -- For most of human history, the two birds More and Better roosted on the same branch.
Chapter 1 -- For almost all of human history, said the great economist John Maynard Keynes, from "say, two thousand years before Christ down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, there was really no great change in the standard of living of the average man in the civilized centers of the earth."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805087222, Paperback)

"Masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding."--Los Angeles Times
In this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. Deep Economy makes the compelling case for moving beyond "growth" as the paramount economic ideal and pursuing prosperity in a more local direction, with regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. Our purchases need not be at odds with the things we truly value, McKibben argues, and the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An impassioned call for an economy that creates community and ennobles our lives. In this manifesto, journalist McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. For the first time in human history, he observes, "more" is no longer synonymous with "better"--indeed, they have become almost opposites. McKibben puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. Our purchases, he says, need not be at odds with the things we truly value. McKibben's animating idea is that we need to move beyond "growth" as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction, with regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.--From publisher description.… (more)

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