Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sustaining ourselves

When Margaret screamed up the stairs this morning, "Coco still has her ligaments," she quickly added, "Stop wrinkling up your forehead!" because she knew my nonverbal response. She lectured me yesterday on the complete worthlessness of worrying about Coco's impending birth, so I'm trying to think of something else! I started reading blogs and came upon a new one, recommended by Vintage Flapper. Tread Softly has a great post on the Morality of Frugality. It was one of those moments when you're sure you hear the Twilight Zone music playing in the background, because just two days ago, I picked up a copy of Walden Two by B.F. Skinner in the library and read the 1976 foreword, which said:

Consider the following economic propositions. The first is from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden: by reducing the amount of goods we consume, we can reduce the amount of time we spend in unpleasant labor. The second appears to assert just the opposite: we must all consume as much as possible so that everyone can have a job. I submit that the first one is more reasonable, even though the second is defended by many people today. Indeed, it might be argued that if America were to convert to a network of small communities, our economy would be wrecked. But something is wrong when it is the system that must be saved rather than the way of life that the system is supposed to serve.

I read it over and over, hardly able to believe it was written 35 years ago, because he could have written it yesterday. Between Skinner and Tread Softly, I think it is pretty obvious what we need to be doing right now, and it ain't buying more lawn ornaments and $700 purses! The system is so broken, I really don't know how it's going to get fixed, but I know my family will be fed, clothed, and sheltered -- and happily entertained with all the activity that it takes to feed, clothe, and shelter us.


SkippyMom said...

The last line is the most telling and IMO the most disturbing.

There is a reason [not valid IMO, again] for saving the system as opposed to saving the community, but that is a soapbox I just wouldn't step upon on the net.

Needless to say the caste system is alive and well in the US and they are protecting it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The more things change the more they stay the same, huh? I know this time in our lives is making me even more dedicated to getting out of debt and becoming more self-sufficient. Not because I'm a "Sky is falling" kind of person, but because the more I see how this economy works (or doesn't), the less I want to depend on it. We aren't even in a position right now to help others, but hope to be soon. That's what life should be about on the local level, in my opinion. Thanks for the great post.

Lisa French

Sharrie said...

Boy, the is a real nugget for thought. I am also dedicated to getting as far out of debt as I can, but after that, I don't know what else I can do. Thanks for the thoughts.

Jenny Holden said...

Good food for thought here. The whole credit crunch thing has really brought into sharp focus the problems with modern society that we have all muttered about for years. I'm with Lisa and having been a student in debt, I'll never be going there again. Work and save, the old fahioned way and sustain yourselves: it's safer and less stressful!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

As always, a thoughtful post, Deborah, and one I heartily agree with. When people say "We need to BUY to support the economy," I go "Huh?" Come on, most people in our country are TERRIBLE at saving! Anyway, I passed on an award to you over at my blog; I think it fits you well!


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