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The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
What Greer has done is to synthesise his thinking in the blog and make clear the connections with Adam Smith, E.F. Schumacher and other economists and peak oil thinkers.
In a nutshell, the argument is that the "economy" is actually 3 economies: the primary economy, the goods and services that nature produces and which underpins the other two economies, is ordinarily left out of economic thinking and planning. The secondary economy at the goods and services that are created by humans using the raw materials provided by nature. And the tertiary economy is financial goods and services, money which makes money. This is arguably the least important economy in so far as actually enabling humans to live and achieve a civilized quality of life, and yet it is given precedence over the other two economies.
This leads to the dysfunctional state of affairs that we enjoy today, bringing in global climate change and peak oil along the way.
In addition to well-argued analysis, understandable by any intelligent layman, Greer also posits some interesting ways forward to help correct the current imbalance. From changing the tax regime (to tax primary goods and services, ie. nature's products at the point they come into the human economy stream, and to tax financial transactions, but to take tax off secondary economy goods and services - no more income tax, sales tax, etc), to punishing corporate criminality in the same way as we do personal criminality (i.e.Read more ›
Although the 2005 peak oil is questionable, the underlying argument is well worth heeding.
Perhaps a later work can give due consideration to economic rent such as with land value taxation.
Reading this book gets you thinking again about your assumptions and conclusions. Given the state of the world that is not a bad thing!
"The Wealth of Nature" is explicitly inspired by E. F. Schumacher's "Small is beautiful". Like his mentor, Greer calls for a radical "greening" of economics, making a sharp distinction between three different economies. The primary economy is Nature itself, with all its energy sources, including the non-renewable ones. The secondary economy consists of the actual goods and services produced and consumed, while money (so seemingly all-important) are relegated to the tertiary economy.
While the book is too short to present a fully-fledged "economic theory", it's clear that Greer sees the economic crises of modern civilization to be ultimately driven by a disconnect between the three sectors, especially between the primary and the tertiary economy. The system uses up or squanders enormous quantities of non-renewable energy sources, oil in particular, all the while the money economy becomes both more parasitical and more illusory. Attempts to solve the crisis by flooding the economy with cheap credit might make sense if energy is still abundant, but in a post-peak world, it simply makes matters worse.
Greer doesn't believe that our economic system is viable, and predicts its gradual decline and collapse as people will be forced to revert to more self-reliant lifestyles, family-based production of basic foodstuffs and much lower salaries. Governments and corporations would have to give up many complex, machine- and energy-dependent systems.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I work in oil and gas.
Many of my friends consider me the most sceptical person they know.
I still agreed with most of what he had to say.
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