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ECONOMIC JUSTICE

The people who have enough to eat in this world, either produce the food, hunt and gather it, or pay others to provide it. In few instances do these people produce meaningful surplus for those who do not have enough to eat. Until the well fed care about the hungry and starving, there will be no economic justice, only privilege. That is how simple or complex the issue is. The minute an individual takes on the responsibility to feed her or himself, s/he begins creating low cost surpluses for those unable to do so. It makes sense to grow more plants in a global greenhouse. The more surplus an individual produces, the more likely starving people will eat. Economics affect every aspect of life, including spirituality, yet it is the least understood of the sciences because economics are poorly taught or not taught at all. Most economists have little understanding. That little understanding makes them the experts.

The global value system determines economics. That value system is based on scarcity, commonly called the law of supply and demand. Thousands of years ago the arbiters of value and wealth decided that gold, silver and precious stones were the rarest and therefore, the most valuable. Of all resources, people were the least scarce. So people have the least value in this old system. This is foolishness of the highest order and creates disposable people. There are few people living today, who cannot in their lifetimes, produce more value than their own weight in gold. Use yourself as an example. Multiply the current market price of gold by your body weight. Divide that by a typical productive life of 40 or 50 years. Are you earning more or less than this dollar value each year? Keep in mind most folks are paid less than half their market value or earnings.

The economic system we support undervalues life, because life is not scarce. The corporate world would rather have your weight in gold than you, even if you can produce five times that value. That corporate world might not harvest twenty percent of your lifetime value, unless you support their system. If you do support it, you will probably give them a big cut in your home mortgage or business loans and every paycheck. But they will always treat you as expendable, because your kind is never scarce. If we want to be fairly valued in the market place, we must be scarce in that market place. A coming labor shortage will help. Becoming scarce means lifestyle changes people do not want to make. Therefore, people will continue to support the system that makes them the least valuable commodity in it and be thankful to do so. There is little evil in this world that is not supported by the Western lifestyle. As long as we embrace it, there will be no economic justice.

Nowhere on this planet are people more capable of self sufficient living, than in the modern West. Yet these people are taught to be dependent on others for the very basics of life - wage and salary slaves. Had the back-to-the-land movements of the 60s and 70s caught on, the West would now have great models to share with poor world cultures. New technologies like fuel cells will be ideal for home and neighborhood power systems that will end dependencies on grid supplied electricity and scam artists like Enron.

In the West, we pay a dollar for a ten cent loaf of bread, because we are willing to pay the other ninety cents to have it at hand when we want it. Much of the rest of the world can't afford the same bread at ten cents a loaf. Who do you suppose the bread makers would rather sell to? This means no bread for the hungry at any price. If we really want to help the rest of the world, we make a personal commitment to slash our consumption and increase production. This creates a glut in the corporate market and forces prices down. Third world producers will complain because this drives down export prices and makes exporting unprofitable. The focus then must shift away from global trade to local trade and that is a major step toward self sufficiency and economic justice.

I heard a radio report last week that India is doing well in this global recession because ninety percent of their domestic production is sold in domestic markets. Before the great corporate marketing chains drove the mom and pop operations out of business with their economies of scale, local industry and markets were well understood as markers of economic health. Nothing prevents us from returning to local production and marketing. We can even use global marketing to subsidize the transition - transformation.

Food is a good example. The knowledge is now available that allows anyone to produce superior food at less than typical market prices. If I decide to raise food crops on an acre or two, I can also plant high dollar cash crops that can be sold in a nearby city or sent anywhere in the world, as a mail order business. The wealthy purchase these valuable crops and provide profits that allow me to obtain more land. I can then expand inexpensively on adjacent land and split the crops with the owner, or market some on her behalf. I can always expand my local production, marketing and my high dollar global and nearby marketing.

Local production and marketing allows us to hire local labor. The unemployed and under employed get some paid work, free food or both. The idea is to reverse the centralization of 20th Century production and

marketing, which in turn, decentralizes other aspects of our lives. We save the costs of heavy farm machinery, bank loans, transportation, taxes, processing, packaging and pay it out to hand labor instead. We also adopt production methods, such as Square Foot Gardening, which reduce water, fertilizer, land and labor costs by as much as eighty percent. The savings can then be invested in expansion and we can market in nearby communities. We can encourage more small scale production, teaching the techniques we have successfully applied in our own production and marketing.

As local marketing returns in the West, corporate food producers lose their markets, reduce their production accordingly and poison much less land and water. That is, unless taxpayers continue to subsidize them. When an individual only produces the value of the food s/he consumes, s/he can now live with ten to twenty percent less income. If s/he produces a surplus, other income could be cut in half. Should s/he lose the main source of income, s/he eats well as s/he increases production with mostly personal labor, which essentially removes this person from the corporate value system and all its hidden costs. Economic justice becomes a lifestyle.

Food is so basic to life and health as to be the first need addressed in the Lord's Prayer. So it is in any economy also. It is the foundation of economic prosperity. Food has usually been grown so inefficiently, only people who loved the work or immigrants would do it. Making agriculture a chemical and machine operation was one of the huge mistakes of the Machine Age. Individuals are now in a position to make it right and would be wise to do so. I understand about nine million people are out of work in America. Use those unemployment benefits to grow and store food and have more money for housing.

As local agriculture replaces corporate agriculture and hydrogen becomes the new fuel for power, water becomes very valuable. Rainwater, which is superior to ground water in so many ways, for plants and people, can be collected. Large storage containers, such as swimming pools are not only justified but necessary to food production and home security. Use enough water gathering capacity to weather three years of serious drought. A back up well can be a handy thing for a neighborhood association. Indoor and outdoor water can be stored conveniently and provide thermal mass for moderating home and greenhouse temperatures. It can be raised to high temperatures and pumped through radiators in winter. We could all live in cozy, clever, greenhouse homes. Eat fresh strawberries year round and earn lots of money for as long as it is worth anything to do so. Feed your neighbor. Feed your community and encourage others to grow. Food independence is true independence for an individual, a group, a town, a nation.

When we love our neighbors more than we love our money, we create economic justice. We move the least valued things to the top of the old value system. We know there is great intrinsic value in the other. We want to know each other's thoughts on world issues and be free to respond. Freedom exists in service. If we love our neighbors, we include them in our work, as time, need and desire requires. Who do we wish to exclude from relative prosperity in global crises? What if the world demands win - win solutions for every problem, instead of win - lose? Can we not create such a world by increasing our chances of surviving its plagues? Green plagues would be a perfect reason to keep and produce much of your food in your home, where you can have environmental control and protection. This is especially so in the city where cultivating land may be impractical.

What is wrong with living with one's food as a lifestyle? How many people need to choose this to make a positive change in the balances of external, material power? One thousand? One million? Ten million? They don't have to congregate in Idaho, though it's good for like minded folks to congregate anywhere. Most folks can be far more independent in their choices than they are. It helps when they know they have the choices, regardless of corporate, political and bureaucratic systems. When there are people starving anywhere, someone has made poor choices and it might be you and me that made them. Governments feed people in emergencies. Will you be needing government food in the future? What will you do to get it?

Stored grains, nuts and seeds provide ready food you can eat dry, while sprouting pounds of tender, delicious, baby plants; in anywhere from one to seven days. These are fine food storage items when vacuum sealed to keep insect eggs from hatching. Add water, increase nutritional value and eat, fresh, live food. Meat, fish and poultry can be stored in cans for quite a while if desired. Jerkys will also satisfy a taste for meat and keep a long time. Build stacking sprout trays according to your available space and begin indoor food production. Go meet your neighbors with samples. They will soon be your customers.

It is the Boy Scout motto to Be Prepared! It applies to all of us today. The hard times are so much writing on the wall. Who will you and I help through them? When will we begin to practice economic justice in our personal lives? When will we divorce our old world corporate masters?

Freelance writer published on many websites and newspapers.



Written by: Ed Howes

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