A Field Trip to the Schumacher Center for a New Economics

imageIn his 1973 book, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, E.F. Schumacher challenges our economic assumptions that more is better and bigger is more efficient. It has now been 42 years since Schumacher wrote his book and while there’s increased awareness of some of the issues he raised – inequality and environmental degradation among them – there seems to be no indication that these trends are going to reverse themselves anytime soon. To say that there’s still plenty of work to do is an understatement. Fortunately, there are some amazing people leading the way.

While in Connecticut visiting my family for the Christmas holiday, we took an economic pilgrimage to the nearby Schumacher Center for a New Economics located in the Berkshire Mountains. Continue reading

Local Currency In Practice

A few weeks ago, I wrote the economic case for local currency as a way to keep money circulating within the local economy and supporting locally owned businesses.  While printing your own money might seem like an improbable solution for most cities, a handful of communities have actually put it into practice. Continue reading

The Economic Case for Local Currency

In Small Town Decline: 1920s & the Rise of Chain Stores, I wrote about how locally owned shops keep on average 3.7 times more money in the local economy than their chain store counterparts, an important benefit to be encouraged and supported. But as compelling as this number is, our family finds that on a practical level backing up our localist principles with our wallets is not always easy. Why? Well, as with most families, the Golbabais operate within a fairly strict budget. From groceries, to clothes, to books and entertainment – the very reason chains, and now the Internet, have been so successful is that they are able to, in reality or simply in perception, offer cheaper prices than the local competition. Yet patronizing these chains in lieu of local stores in the long term leads to poorer, clone towns. Continue reading