Book By Bill Mckibben
Essay by Kevin Malone
“More and better,” states Bill Mckibben ' in his national best selling book Deep Economy ' “are two birds roosting on the same branch.” Within traditional economic values these two birds could be taken out with one stone synonymously in every attempt. However, in our age of endless economic growth, expanded populations, and industrial centralization, “the greater wealth no longer make us happier.” (Mckibben, 2) Not only this, but “more” ' more money, more consumerism, more fuel ' succeeds in adding momentum to the course of environmental destruction that we, as North Americans, are responsible for putting in motion. This is the underlying metaphor throughout the novel and something to consider when weighing in your mind the practicality of Mckibben's arguments. After thorough analysis of the text it is abundantly clear that Mckibben's idea's on the gradual establishment of localized, self sustaining, durable, community-based economies in the developed world will succeed in making its peoples collectively happier, and more charitable, as well as sustaining the planets ecology and providing a positive example for developing nations.
Being a popular environmentalist and economist, it is no surprise that bill Mckibben has decided to tie these themes together into this novel. The book begins with issues surrounding the global economy and the fundamental flaws that come with it. In this opening chapter he explains his perspectives on the flaws of the money system and possible alternatives to that system. The second chapter entirely concerns the food industry. He initially bombards the reader with facts about major corporations and how they, with the help of the government, have worked to centralize food production and retail. The mood then swings from problem to solution as Mckibben embarks on a winter of “eating locally” in his home state of Vermont. From this he draws much experience and fact which effectively contrasts the first half of the chapter. Individualism then takes the stage as Mckibben offers the positives that solitude has historically produced. Then, true to form, Mckibben swings around and tries to outline to the reader exactly why these methods, though traditionally effective, have been overabused, and what exactly can be done about it. In “the wealth of communities,” The ideas that were apparent in food return as the author makes examples of a wide range of commodities ' from communication, to timber, and of course energy ' In the manner apparent in the previous chapters. Finally, the book finishes out discussing the future and exactly where we are currently headed, and then where we should be headed if we want to maintain our planet and our personal satisfaction.
The book begins by outlining the issues surrounding our modern economic model. Mckibben perpetually draws from the princaples of modern economics established by Adam Smith. Smith was the first to publicly recognize, in The Wealth of Nations, that “it is not the actual greatness of national wealth but its continued increase.” (Mckibben, 6?) It is this principle that has developed into the “religious growth and efficiency” (Mckibben, 6) that is apparent in North American culture. This mandate was made perfectly clear by Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton's secretary of the Treasury, when she proclaimed that “the democratic administration will not accept any 'speed limit' on American economic growth.” (Mckibben, 9) And it didn't: as we witnessed, during Clinton's presidential term, the highest growth rates in American history. Mckibben quickly puts to rest any sort of promise held in these statements with an endless stream of facts which attest to the truth that “the real income of the bottom 90% of American taxpayers has declined steadily: they earned 27,060 in 1979, and 25,646 in 2005.”(Mckibben, 11)
The concept most economist have trouble accepting...