Inverting the Economic Order, by Wendell Berry

The September 2009 issue of The Progressive magazine features an article by Wendell Berry, Inverting the Economic Order. I think the ideas in the article are relevant to the upcoming City Comprehensive Planning Process.

There are a lot of common threads between the ideas that Berry presents, and ideas from Jerry Mander, who wrote In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of Indian Nations. Both authors discuss how modern society has devalued our relationship, as human beings, with the land that we call home (and which we depend on - and which I believe we, indeed, belong to.) Here's also a link to an interview with Jerry Mander. The interview appeared in The Sun magazine shortly after publication of In the Absence of the Sacred. Interview with Jerry Mander by Catherine Ingram.

Now here's a short excerpt from Inverting the Economic Order, by Wendell Berry:

Inverting the Economic Order
Wendell Berry in the September 2009 issue

My economic point of view is from ground level. It is a point of view sometimes described as “agrarian.” That means that in ordering the economy of a household or community or nation, I would put nature first, the economies of land use second, the manufacturing economy third, and the consumer economy fourth.

A properly ordered economy, putting nature first and consumption last, would start with the subsistence or household economy and proceed from that to the economy of markets. It would be the means by which people provide to themselves and to others the things necessary to support life: goods coming from nature and human work. It would distinguish between needs and mere wants, and it would grant a firm precedence to needs.

A proper economy, moreover, would designate certain things as priceless. This would not be, as now, the “pricelessness” of things that are extremely rare or expensive, but would refer to things of absolute value, beyond and above any price that could be set upon them by any market. The things of absolute value would be fertile land, clean water and air, ecological health, and the capacity of nature to renew itself in the economic landscapes. ...

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Corporations Control Economy by Purchasing Political Power

Wow, this is a fantastic article - even just the short excerpt of the longer article that appears online. Here's one of my favorite passages:

"This economy is based upon consumption, which ultimately serves not the ordinary consumers but a tiny class of excessively wealthy people for whose further enrichment the economy is understood (by them) to exist. For the purpose of their further enrichment, these plutocrats and the great corporations that serve them have controlled the economy by the purchase of political power. The purchased governments do not act in the interest of the governed; they act instead as agents for the corporations."