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Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology toward the organic the gentle the elegant and beautiful uote of 1970s wisdom11720 Reading David Brooks editorial today bringing back memories of my enthusiasm for small scale economics The NYT opinion writer making a case for Big is Beautiful NYT article that describes changes in our small town by big companiesThus the core problem is not capitalists exploiting their workers it s the rise of productivity ineuality It s the companies and individuals who don t have the skills to take advantage of new technologiesBrooks brings back days when I was inclined to Schumacher s vision by showing bigger is better When walking with dogs unleashed exploring the juniper and sage andscape with no buildings in sight where Apple has its security fenced monstrous presenceKnew in 1963 when home on A Conspiracy of Ravens (Lady Trent Mysteries leave to Mother s new home in Central Oregon that I wanted to root myself in the region A small place in the sunshine with nature all around Where there are now nine gigantic clouds consuming extraordinary amounts of electricity Apple and Facebook buildings including five Facebook structures that have changed my winter sky sunset profile This book was written by EF Schumacher a German economist As an Economics graduate at a conservativeiberal arts university in the US South I enjoyed the philosophy and ideas put forward in Small is Beautiful Trust me this was not on my reading Lakeside Redemption listI am fascinated with the idea that capitalism has become the new religion for the USWest and that envygreed the primary morals The book discusses how capitalistic systems push for growth to solve problems including poverty unemployment and standard ofiving It also shows how capitalistic systems fall short of solving these problems because it 1 assumes that infinite growth is possible within a finite world sustainable econ point and 2 that the complete focus on increased profits coupled with new technologies has In Pursuit of a Princess led to a decline in the self fulfillment of mankind in relation to hisher work The book argues that the communityoses when individuals cannot connect to the work they do with their handsmind when people cannot connect what they buy from where it came and how it was produced Schumacher reminds us that there are spiritual moral and ecological Second Time Loving losses in a capitalistic system All is notost but there needs to be awareness of these osses and adjustments made He argues for small businesses and the utilization of intermediate technologies so that instead of mass production we can have production by the masses This book has inspired me to read along this subject One of Cambridge Sustainability s Top 50 Books for Sustainability as voted for by our alumni network of over 3000 senior eaders from around the world To find out click h It has been thirty years since I read this book for the first time I had my original copy so it was interesting to see what I d highlighted and noted at that time In most cases I agree with the note but it was especially interesting to see what the differences wereI ve studied a Dark Awakening lot of economics since that time and it surprises me that soittle of Schumacher s prejudices against the religion of economics have taken hold Economics is so one dimensional profit on a micro scale and GNP on a macro scale and if you argue to introduce other variables finite resources you Hawks Way (Hawks Way lose all credibility with the public and are thrown into the spacey categorySo many of the uestions he raised about sustainability are so relevant today and still don t get discussedWe were in deep doodoo when he wrote this and we are in deep doodoo now He was right then and he is right now So why can t weearn I ve never been all that interested in macroeconomics but intrigued by the title I gave Small is Beautiful by EF Schumacher a try It was a Family Men long read but a good one and I culled interesting insights from every chapter Schumacher s visionary simplicity with theargest elements of society were radical 30 years ago but incredibly relevant then and todayA fair portion of the book is spent emphasizing the way our economy is unsustai. Small is Beautiful is EF Schumacher's stimulating and controversial study of world economics This remarkable book is relevant today and its many themes as pertinent and thought provoking as when it was first published twenty years ago Small is Beautiful ooks at the economi.
Nable and how uickly we use up our natural resources Schumacher also explains how ittle consideration was put towards pollution until it was too Sabina Spielrein late In the folksy way of a 60s radical he speaks about the importance of theand in a way that is neither hollow nor flippant but full of wisdom and grace The whole point is to determine what constitutes progress What is progress What should aid to the third world Cognitive Radio Networks lookike These uestions are where Schumacher particularly shines explaining a need for intermediate technologies to improve the uality of Personnel Management in Government life for everyone and not just investments which only improve the uality ofife for the highest classes and Out of This World leave theower ones even destituteNo system or machinery or economic doctrine or theory stands on its own feet it is invariably built on a metaphysical foundation that is to say upon man s basic outlook on The Time It Never Rained life its meaning and its purpose I have talked about the religion of economics the idol worship of material possessions of consumption and the so called standard ofiving and the fateful propensity that rejoices in the fact that what were The Child of the Soul and Other Stories luxuries to our fathers have become necessities for usWhen I read uotesike that one I couldn t help but think about what the economic implications of Christian thought are and how few Americans I know Childrens Phantasies least of all me embody them This is a tough one for me to rate There were parts of it that I found uite insightful parts that seemed very dated parts that feltike a big etdownSome thoughts EFS writes clearly about the problem of the hedonic treadmill though he doesn t use that term for materialist capitalism There are poor societies which have too ittle but where is the rich society that says Halt We have enough There is none He advocates a third way between The Soviet Union laissez faire capitalism and state socialism which is not just a compromise between the two Rather it is a form of organization that I might call a true ownership society with ownership being defined not by abstract property rights but by operational reality that is people should be able to own things when they can truly exercise personal ownership so owning a neighborhood business makes sense but owning a multinational company or even worse a share of one does not He doesn t use this terminology but I think his advocacy of small scale is closely tied to the ethics of caring it is natural to want to care for things one owns but this is only possible at the human scale on which care can operate I appreciated his discussion of convergent and divergent problems Briefly a convergent problem is one where there is a solution that can be communicated to others who can then carry it out an example being a math or engineering problem while a divergent problem is one where this is not the case such as a social or political problem Much of modernity EFS argues is dedicated to the attempt to reduce divergent problems to convergent problems for instance in political organization or education Not only is this impossible says EFS but it actually represents a moral horror imagine what a world would beike in which convergent solutions had been found to problems of human relationships a Gods and Heroes living death as many sci fi novels will tell you The way to deal with divergent problems is not to solve them but toive them out I find this distinction to be pretty useful Despite approaching it critically due to the New Agey title I actually Science, Technology and Culture liked the essay Buddhist Economics and I wish he had called it something different as there isittle in it that is specific to Buddhism I think it was just a hot topic in 1973 It s really just about the role of virtue in grounding economic organization The main focus is on the ogic of consumption EFS notes that standard economic thought understands an increase in consumption as always and everywhere good On the other hand nearly all traditional virtue systems agree that pleonexia is bad and this is a case where even classical Greek and Christian understandings of virtue agree EFS argues that the main measure of interest is happiness per unit of consumption and that the right way to maximize. C structure of the Western world in a revolutionary way Schumacher maintains that Man's current pursuit of profit and progress which promotes giant organisations and increased specialization has in fact resulted in gross economic inefficiency environmental pollution and inh.
This is in ways that minimize the denominator while holding the numerator constant In this essay he doesn t much go into specific ways of doing that so one could read it as insufferably preachy Just be content with ess But I think that is an unfair reading I think the argument finds a very powerful application for example in the trend away from public goods toward private goods in America moving from using the municipal pool to everyone having a pool in their backyard One could argue that this slightly increased individual utility though I d be skeptical but certainly it represents a vast decrease in the happinessconsumption ratioI could go on but I should probably wrap it up So here s my main problem with this book Despite his avowed ove for small scale organization EFS ultimately seems not to have the full courage of his convictions He ends up advocating that appropriate scale be brought about through a somewhat baroue arge scale technocratic method involving forced euity participation by the state Social Councils special courts etc Throughout the book whenever EFS was arguing that the status uo was unjust or destructive I found myself agreeing with him but wondering what to do about it So when he finally came to describe his prescription in this way I felt pretty Last Chance Bride let down I think that anyone making this type of critiue of modern society needs to have the courage advocate actions that can be taken at the scale of individuals or communities without recourse to the state s monopoly on violence This of course is the hard part but having just read Dorothy Day I know that people have managed it perhaps not in ways that are glamorous but I think that is part of the point The conception of economics as a free standing autonomous discipline and sphere of activity and even as an end unto itself is one of the costliest fallacies of our age It is precisely this fallacy that this book dismantles That economic growth should be subordinated to broader human cultural political and ecological concerns and that it should serve human growth by being intelligently harnessed to fuel community development projects rather than having politics hijacked by economics by claiming economic growth is the end all of I baised my economic philosophy is very much in agreement with SchumacherSchumacher takes economics and makes it human ethical and easy to understand Shumacher s perspective is economics as a set of tools to assess and answer uestions rather than economics as the answer itself He highlights the shortcomings of statistical models ie externalities such as uality ofife environmental degradation social impacts etc are not assessedThe response to Small is Beautiful was the creation of a humanistic economics movement This movement suggests that deeming something economic does not mean it is the automatic correct course of action rather the first discussion of economics should be followed by consideration of whether the action is ethical ecological etc Regarding globalization Schumaker asked how much further growth will be possible since infinate growth in a finite environment is an obvious impossibility The basic tenent of Small is Beautiful is that people should come before economics that one s workplacelife should be dignified and meaningful first efficient second and that nature is priceless Oof tried to read this but found it dated and preachy Some of Schumacher s fundamental ideas are wonderful and important but I can t read books that make blanket statements about the iniuity and moral vacuity of modern society how things were better before the 19th20th21st centuryAlso if you re writing for an audience of non conformists in the seventies and you re NOT a feminist shame on you Schumacher says that most women shouldn t have to work yet claims that meaningful work is a human right Um EF Schumacher was an economist And he wrote Small is Beautiful to talk about the economicproblems we have in the world this book was published back in the Whos Cheatin Who? (Thoroughbred Legacy late 70s and it has been updated recently the basic idea of Small is Beautiful is that our economies in the world are bi. Umane working conditions Schumacher challenges the doctrine of economic technological and scientific specialization and proposes a system of Intermediate Technology based on smaller working units communal ownership and regional workplaces utilizingocal abour and resource.
Ernst Friedrich Fritz Schumacher was an internationally influential economic thinker statistician and economist in Britain serving as Chief Economic Advisor to the UK National Coal Board for two decades