voluntary simplicity, peace & justice - Nonviolence Web URL FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 7 Feb 1998 03:25:44 -0800 (PST)

See LINKS at end & *Nonviolence Web* home page http://www.nonviolence.org/
FWD found at http://www.nonviolence.org/issues/economic.htm

By Martin Kelley

Money affects everything we do. It can both create and constrain our
options. Unequal access to money creates unequal access not only to
material goods, but to political power. Undue dependence on money can
create siutations where we feel unable to speak out for fear of losing our
economic livelihood.

Those who possess more than their share of wealth have the power to subvert
justice. Their money gives them easy access to politicians, and lets their
issues get more consideration. Whole industries spring up around their
preferences in attempts to make profits (there's more money to be made in
luxury sedans than in commuter bicycles, for example). Most importantly,
control of money means control of resources, the power to make decisions
without input from those most affected by them. When we base our society
around the greatest potentials for stock returns, we often make decisions
that have socially reprehensible consequences.

Money is not all bad, of course. It gives us the power to do things, it
opens up opportunities. But when engaging in social change work, it is
important to be conscious of one's economic choices.

One way to create more economic justice is to live more simply. This has a
many-fold effect. When our lifestyle requires less money to maintain, we
can spend more time working for the common good. Instead of chasing for
that extra dollar, we can volunteer in our community. Simple lifestyles
also put us in touch with others, since we need to cooperate more to get
things done. This builds a sense of place, a power of community.

By building community, we are able to live on less while providing a social
safety net (for example, friends who can put you up when times take a
sudden turn for the worse). With community, we can also work out ways to
share the resources we do have. For example, you could start a car co-op,
where a number of people share the use of a car, providing each of them
with limited access for a much smaller economic cost than if everyone owned
their own car. These kinds of grassroots civic organization keep the
democratic process alive.

We must also look to structurally change the balance of money. Concentrated
money should be challenged for the corrupting role it can play. Decisions
should be based by all of those concerned.

When you buy from a locally-owned small business, you are decentralizing
the power of money. You are keeping the money in the hands of real people,
people you can talk to. When art goes on the wall of a local coffeehouse,
it's made by local people; when it goes on the wall of a chain coffeehouse,
it's the same piece of art reproduced a hundred times for each franchise.
Small is beautiful, as E. F. Schumaker said, and small-scale economics
keeps the power of money decentralized and accountable.

Speak out on this issue on the NVWeb Discussion Board! [see URLs at top of

Related Sites:

INFACT is best known for its successful General electric and Nestle boycott
campaigns of past decades. They're currently working on two campaigns: the
Tobacco Industry Campaign and Boycott, and the Hall of Shame Campaign.

The Boycott Board's Listing of Boycotts is a thorough collection of
declared boycotts. Issues include labor, human rights, environmental and
civil rights. The listing includes the websites of the boycotters and
boycotted and has a letter-writing feature that makes it easy for youto
speak out.

Share the Wealth draws attention to the growth of economic inequality in
the United States. They have plenty of resources available, and engage in
street theater and other popular educational work.

The Impact Project addresses the concerns of those with inherited wealth.
It has many resources designed to help you think about your relationship
with money, and it provides counseling and support for those interested in
large-scale donations.

The E. F. Schumacher Society continues the work of its namesake (author of
"Small is Beautiful")

Ithaca Money is the most vibrant of local currencies. Only usable in the
Ithaca, New York, area, "Ithaca Hours" have helped keep economic resources
local, while encouraging a barter system ideal for alternative,
community-based services.

Intentional Communities are a way of sharing resources. From rural
farmsteaders to urban housing co-ops, there's many models of community to
choose from.


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