Joe Dominguez wrote a book called Your Money or Your Life. This is one of the more influential books I have read. Later in life, he wrote an essay that summarized much of that book. Pogonomics "We have met the enemy and he [or she] is us." by Joe Dominguez While no one was paying much attention, economics replaced religion as the touchstone of human life. Like religion, economics has priests and rituals. The purpose of these priests and rituals is to interpret the meaning of events while keeping the people in confusion. Any effort on the part of the masses to connect directly with the realities behind the rituals is considered a sacrilege. There is supply-side economics, Keynesian economics, invisible-hand market economics - but none of these deal with the real driving force behind economics. The following simple explanations will put you in direct contact with this essential driving force. 1 - LEXICON ECOLOGY: The mutual relations between organisms and their environment. ECONOMICS: The mutual relations between human organisms and their environment. The Dismal Science that investigates the conditions and laws affecting the production, distribution and consumption of resources. The material means of satisfying human desires. Since humans appear to be insatiable, that last definition is obviously an oxymoron; therefore, antonym: enough. EARTH: Our home planet, mother, source of all sustenance, resource base, host, life support system, teat. RESOURCE: Everything in, on, or above Earth that we can consume, use up, destroy, annihilate, violate or deprive others of. We accomplish all this with the use of money (see below). CONSUME: Use up, devour, destroy, waste, squander. CONSUMER: One who uses up, devours, destroys, wastes, squanders. DEMAND: To claim as just or due. In economics, the desire to consume, combined with the ability to ignore one's conscience. ENVIRONMENT: That which results from the consumption of resources. EMPLOYMENT: Activity by which one exchanges one's human resource (life-energy) for money. A vital step in the conversion of a resource into environment. Also, contemporary man's (and increasingly, woman's) primary purpose for existence and primary means of identification - e.g., "I am a _____" (lawyer, plumber... etc.). MONEY: That which we spend one-third of our adult lifetimes acquiring, one-third disposing of, one-third recovering from the acquisition and disposal of, and the rest of the time bemoaning the lack of. Money is a lien on Earth's resources. DEBT: In ancient theology, a sin or trespass. In modern sociology, a euphemism for incarceration, as in "He paid his debt to society." In the social practices resulting from the contemporary theology of economics, a highly respected way to repay your children for the suffering they have caused you. A device for keeping people trapped in employment, thus creating more environment. SAVINGS: The result of a practice, now obsolete, whereby money (or resources) was set aside to provide for when employment was not available or advisable, due to its deleterious effect on the consumer or on the Earth. Antonym: debt. ENOUGH: A condition apparently experienced only by lower animals, plants, galaxies and primitive hominids of the Pre-Industrial Revolution era (the latter were said to have enough after spending only a few hours per day acquiring resources). VALUE: (n) Monetary or material worth; cost, expense; (v) to prize, esteem. VALUES: What we profess to be truly important guiding principles in our lives. INTEGRITY: The state of being complete, undivided; unity, concord, harmony; congruity; wholeness, completeness; alignment between values and behavior. POGONOMICS: "We have met the enemy and he is us." ECO-ECONOMICS: The interactions of all of the above. 2 - ECONOMICS Our employment greatly depends upon converting some aspect of Earth into resources. This is obvious in farming, logging, mining, cocaine- and cigarette-making, and tract house and shopping center developments. Since most of those resources are not really needed, many other forms of employment exist whose sole purpose is to convince people that consuming resources is a way toward greater happiness: e.g., employment in advertising, sales, higher education, television. Then there are the employments that deal with the results of the previous two forms, among them being psychiatrists, hernia specialists, divorce lawyers, day-care operators, police officers and morticians. Another interesting observation: The term of conscription for killing each other with permission is generally two to four years; for killing each other without permission it is generally 20 years; for employment it is generally 45 years. All these employments are for the purpose of acquiring money. A common cultural taboo insists on using circumspect language to obscure this simple fact. One does not say "I'm acquiring money" but instead says, "I'm Making a Living" - though it is obvious that the individual speaking returns home from employment much less alive than when he or she left! Also, one would never ask "How much money do you acquire?", but rather, "What do you do?" (In certain sub-cultural groupings one might, however, ask "Are you Following Your Bliss?" or, "Have you found your Right Livelihood?") The purpose of money is to consume resources. Any time that you spend money, you are consuming resources. Since you have traded a piece of your life to get that money (through your employment), you are also consuming your own resource (your life-energy) when you spend money. The new resource you bought with the money now belongs to you - it is not available to others. It is now your right to use it up, to prevent others from getting it, to hide it from other people in your closet, to make other people feel bad because they don't have it. When you want to consume more resources than you can get with the money you got by selling your own resource (your life energy) through your employment, you can sell your future and your children's future. This is called "trading futures," or debt. You have to use up even more resources when you are consuming via debt - the extra amount being called, interestingly enough, "interest on consumer debt." This is a very efficient way to "use up, devour, destroy, waste and squander." While you are in employment, acquiring money and debt, and consuming, you are creating the environment. All along the way, from when that resource was taken from the Earth to the time you have consumed as much of it as you want and then thrown it "away," it has been creating environment. The mining equipment that got to the resource had to create environment by removing trees and topsoil that were in the way, had to burn (consume) fuels that created a different recipe for the air environment, had to run a lot of water to take the used-up chemicals into the river environment. Then the resource had to be transported to the refiner, creating a lot of environment along the way, and the refiner created more environment, and then the manufacturer created still more environment, and then the shipper had to create lots more environment to package the resource so that it would appeal to the consumer, who would pay the money that it cost for all that environment (and employment and resource). The consumer often uses the new resource to create more environment as well, and then throws it "away" - creating even more environment. 3 - POGONOMICS "We have met the enemy and he is us." - Pogo If the environment is not to our liking, it is because of our employment, our consumption, our debt, our focus on money. It is us - as individuals - who are the enemy. It is not due to the "Military-Industrial Complex." Or "The Federal Budget." Or "Defense Spending." Or EXXON. Or the Logging Industry. It is not even due to McDonald's! It is due only to our individual consumption. OUR DEMAND. Prostitution would be the world's loneliest profession without demand. The Medellin Cartel would be a 4-H club without demand. Loggers would be owlophiles without demand. OPEC would be a Solar Energy and Desalinization Consortium without our demand. Japan would be a leader in Third World sustainable development if not for our demand ... for sushi, Toshibas, Suzooks, CDs, VCRs, TVs, HDs, RAM, CVCCs... What sort of demand? Bigger house. Remodelled kitchen. Full employment. Boat. Mountain Bike. Second car. Vacation cabin. Job security. Motor home. Four wheeler. Satellite dish. Microwave. Laptop. Riding mower. Silk blouse. Bigger paycheck. Second income. Why this demand? Because we have come to believe, or act as if we believe, that: More Is Better We Must Raise Our Standard of Living Quality of Life Is Measured by Income Abundance and Prosperity Are Material Birthrights Whoever Dies with The Most Toys Wins We Should Shop Till We Drop We Deserve It It's The American Way We Are Our Jobs Success Is a Many-Spended Thing We Can Serve Two Masters - God and Mammon 4 - ECO-ECONOMICS The Ecology of Values and Value What do we value? Do we value our lives? What value do we put on our lives? Do we value life? Do we value the host of life - Earth? (Organisms that survive "know" that the health of their host eco-system is vital to their survival; apparently this "knowledge" has escaped cancer cells, humans, and other parasites.) Do we value breathable air? Drinkable water? Fertile topsoil? Healthy children? Functioning families? Time to love? What are your personal values? When our actions are in alignment with our values, we experience wholeness - integrity. Money is not only a lien on a physical resource, it is also a lien on our personal resource: we sold X number of hours of our life to acquire Y dollars. Since money is unique to the human species, we can even say that money = human life- energy! How we spend our life-energy and how we spend money are direct measurements of the degree of alignment between our actions and our values. When we spend money for a resource we must ask: "Is this money spent in alignment with my values?" Fulfillment, by its very definition, is a function of knowing when you have enough. The questions to ask: "Am I likely to get fulfillment from this money spent in proportion to the resources that it represents? " "Am I likely to get fulfillment from this money spent in proportion to my expenditure of my resource (my life-energy)?" "Am I likely to get fulfillment from this money spent in proportion to the environment that it has created and will create after I am finished consuming it? What if asking those questions results in spending much less money, and yet feeling much more fulfilled and whole? Savings is money not spent, resources not consumed and environment not created. It can instead be used to consume debt and reduce dependence on employment. By saving money, you maintain the integrity of the Earth. You do not maintain the integrity of the Earth by spending money, no matter how "green" the product. All consumers are "green" consumers simply because the color of their money is green. But what will we do if we do not consume? Who are we, if not consumers? Answering that question is life's greatest adventure. When we're not consuming, we are creating, caring, communicating, communing, conserving, cooperating, being concerned, being conscious. What we have, when we let go of consuming, is integrity - wholeness.