Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scarcity Abundance?

"This prosperity comes from operating in a local economy. An economy based significantly on barter and local resources. We use our money and capacities to support the local economy. Call it a citizen economy, one based on gifts and local abundance."

Peter Block and John McKnight, The Abundant Community

As usual, at first read this seems preposterous. In this day and age in the U.S., how much economic activity, goods and services, could be generated in neighborhoods, assuming a current level of quality of life? They even embrace the marketplace in this riff, the local marketplace, that is, as if "local" cleanses market functioning of all the bad stuff.

This question is not so preposterous if we introduce a changed variable or condition that they equate with the Devil -- scarcity. (The basis of bad economic thinking according to Block and McKnight). What if our economic recovery is forever slow? What if our role in the world economy diminishes? Might we turn to forgotten forms of association, household production, self sufficiency? We've become a nation of frugal savers again, so anything is possible.

There we go, the abundant community seems more likely when scarcity shows its face, when deficits reign.

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