Economics as if the Earth Really Mattered

   by Susan Meeker-Lowry

A Progressive Living Book Review

Representative Quotations

Mission Statement

"This book is primarily a handbook for action.

"Our economic system often feels distant and impersonal, one of the givens of our lives. We live within its constraints, feel subject to its changes, and think we have little hope of affecting it. (Even the experts claim with increasing frequency that they don't know what's going on.)

"I believe, however, that we can affect our economy, both locally and as a whole. I am convinced because I've spent the last five years learning about, meeting, and writing in Catalyst about the many people who are working to transform our economic system into one that is more sustainable, just, and life-affirming. The projects and possibilities these people are working on are the subject of this book."


"The key to affecting our economy is to consciously choose to apply our values to economic interactions. If we do not choose our own values, then we subscribe by default to the values of the prevalent system. Such acquiescence is always dangerous, but these days it's also suicidal. Business as usual is killing the Earth, the source of all life."

"Thanks to our communication technologies, it is more and more difficult for us to pretend that starvation, acute poverty, and environmental degradation do not exist. As I examined them, it became clearer that these situations are a direct result of a global economy characterized by materialist values and inadequate methods of evaluating its own effects. Indeed, our economy and our culture are based on separations—from the Earth, from other peoples, from each other, from ourselves. Even the efforts designed to ease these situations often ignore the reality of people's lives on the community level."

"In search of money, many of us have foregone special interests or talents that do not pay. Worse, we have traded webs of relationships with communities, places, and the Earth for the transient search for the dollar. Seduced by the pleasures money can buy, or forced by economic circumstance, we have traded self-reliance for dependence on our employers. We have become commodities to be bought and sold. If we lose whatever money we have, we truly are destitute; we have nothing to fall back on."

"Our current economy fosters a ruthless 'winner-take-all' competitiveness. We do not consider the results of this greedy consumption. We disregard our depletion of the Earth's resources—her gifts to us—our exploitation of other people, and the impact of our individual and corporate actions on our societies and cultures. Our competitive economy has contributed to our living with little creativity and individuality in a faceless monoculture."

"To compound the problem, the U.S. government encourages multinationals to expand into labor markets in developing countries. For example, the government gave aid amounting to $400 million to the Sourth Korean textile industry. And the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has encouraged the growth of high-tech labor markets in Malaysia. Some of the companies that make use of labor shops in developing countries include Sears, J. C. Penney, Hewlett-Packard, National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, and Gulf & Western."

"Small business is responsible for almost all job creation and is where many innovations begin."

"The best money decisions are fully integrated with your overall life goals. Many people view money as a 'thing' separate from themselves and their lives, except as it can provide other 'things' they want. Instead, try thinking of lending, investing, and giving as you view your work, your talents, your interests, your skills—as tools and resources for expressing your values and achieving your goals."

"Economic Renewal is a project of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) . . . .

"The institute believes that security cannot be provided by the Pentagon from the top down, but must be created from the bottom up. They argue that people feel secure to the extent that their basic needs are met and to the extent that they live in a sustainable economy under a legitimate government. Further, the more secure your neighbors are, the more secure you become, because your neighbors are unlikely to want to take what you have. Finally, they believe that this sense of security can be gained much more cheaply and directly than through a large standing army."

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