Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Mythical "New Economy"

Today I'm tending to my strawberry melomel, a lovely liquid amalgam of honey from a family hive and local strawberries picked under last June's sun. The yeast have tuckered out-- maybe they're just too cold or drunk to continue, but I'm going to try to shake them awake today.

I do little to earn this--bees in my daughter's yard made a few million trips to gather the nectar made by plants that harness the sun. Most things in life are like this. Every piece of clothing you own was stitched together by plants at some point along the way. Same is true of the last mouthful of food you ate.

Economy is an old, old word, its roots mean "household management"--back when managing a home meant managing our basic needs. Our needs have not changed, though the word  has long been butchered beyond its literal sense.

"Global economy" is an oxymoron--we have no home in the abstract.

There is no "new" economy--our needs have not changed, and, for most, neither have desires. We breathe, we eat, we sleep, we play. Everything we needs comes of the earth. We come of this earth. That's not some poetic ethereal thought--it's the concrete truth.

There is no "knowledge" economy--wheat is still wheat, cotton still cotton. There are clever machines run by clever people who have gotten very good at extracting  "value" from economic exchanges, but knowledge per se won't make the corn grow any faster.

I am teetering on the edge of a professional chasm. Every time a child leaves our high school knowing more about the Super Bowl than the swamp hosting it, a vast estuary just a few miles from our high school, we have failed her.

So long as we are pretending to prepare our children for a "global economy," for the "knowledge industries," for the many euphemisms we slap onto the destructive extractive practices of powerful folks, we fail in our duty to help our children lead productive and happy lives living in the only economy that matters, living locally, living well.

If nothing else, a loaf of bread made from freshly-ground wheat  slathered with roasted tomatoes from your backyard goes real well with a glass of strawberry melomel, the WTO be damned.

Photos by Leslie and me.


Matthew Giordano said...

You know Michael it all comes down to two problems.
1.) There are far too many of us walking this earth for the good of the planet.
2.) Education will never truly improve until we can get the politicians to stop running it and let the teacher teach and run it.

Matthew Giordano said...

Yeah what I just said...

doyle said...

Dear Matt,

One may well be true, but I'm not quite ready to drop dead yet.

Two is definitely true--I came from a tough profession before landing in this one. As much as people squawked about medical care, few ever doubted docs work hard. Everybody seems to think that teaching is a snap.

Trust me--doing this thing well rivals medicine in intensity and hard work.

Susan Eckert said...

(Hi Matt!)

...I don't know, I don't think we've reached the carrying capacity for hyoomin beans on our little blue dot. I think it's a bit difficult to determine, especially b/c we can so easily alter the environment to fit our needs. Unfortunately, no other species can. We are so selfish...welcome to the Anthropocene.

I agree with #2 but with some serious reservations: there are some teachers that I would never want my own children to have. I don't like to see them running any kind of show. Not into teacher bashing, of course, but it's a mixed bag in my experience. But I do agree that the top-down approach and standardization of everything doesn't work with good or bad teachers.

And Michael, you motivated me to try to get a field trip going for the spring so my freshman can see that the Meadowlands are more than just a place to see a football game. Great post. :)