Lacy MacAuley

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a home for my pen, projects, and passions

an economics paradigm of scarcity: a theory that should be thrown out

Economic laws that dictated, among other things, that scarcity was a “universal condition of human life” (Estavo, p18), followed the dictates of science. Basic scientific theory states that if a hypothesis proves to be incorrect, it is thrown out. But the initial assumption of economic laws or facts that were thought by the founding fathers of economics to be evident everywhere, in all human conditions, has been subsequently shown to be false.

Ethnobotanist Wade Davis observed that in the Penan indigenous peoples of Malaysia, "sharing is an obligation."

Ethnobotanist Wade Davis observed that in the Penan indigenous peoples of Malaysia, "sharing is an obligation."

Why, then, has the model of market economics taken root to the extent that it is taught at universities, codified not only as a ‘social science’ but as a reasonable premise for countless discussions on who, what, when, where and why to develop?

That the basic economic assumptions underlying the idea of scarcity are false is not in question. Economics thinking assumes that all human beings are seeking only to maximize their personal material wealth at any given time. But there are countless examples of traditional communities in which there is no construct of personal wealth.

The anthropologist Richard B. Lee studied the lives of !Kung (Dobe Ju/’hoansi) bushmen, living in the Kalahari desert in Africa, a dry and scratchy area which at the time of his research was not significantly encroached upon by outside economic paradigms. He observed, “If I had to point to one single feature that makes this way of life possible, I would focus on sharing. Each Ju is not an island unto himself or herself; each is part of a collective… The living group pools the resources that are brought into camp so that everyone receives an equitable share” (Lee, p60). Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under: books, consumerism, human welfare, international relations, thoughts and philosophies

evening reading

Lately my bedtime reading has grown quite brief. I guess a turbulent life requires more sleep, not only because the events of the day leave me dragging, but because my brain needs more time spent in REM to incorporate change and newness.

But I’ve found the perfect little pillow read. “Axioms for Organizers” by Fred Ross Sr. offers wisdom for the organizing activist who does a little too much. It contains reassuring quips such as, “If you wait until you have all the time, people and resources to go ahead, you may still never get there because you didn’t fill the interval with the action needed to get you there.”

Another dose of inspiration: “A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.”

These bite-sized nuggets are the perfect thing to have ready on my bedside table. Each page of this tiny book has just one piece of wisdom. Their size is not too big and not too small, but just right.

Filed under: activism, books, lacy's life

Lacy MacAuley ~ International Relations ~ Radical Dreamer ~ Justice Lover ~ Thought Dancer ~ Heart Writer ~ Divine Dakini ~ based in Washington DC

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Building a better world starts with just raising your voice.

If you stand for something, then stand up. Join us. You are part of the solution. lacymacauley@gmail.com