Thursday, February 25, 2010

tar: Efficiency, and economic decline

John Michael Greer writes the Archdruid Report. Last week Mr. Greer wrote on a continuing topic, descent of the United States and the rest of the world to "Third World" economy and lifestyle, Why Factories Aren't Efficient. Only his picture isn't bleak for the citizenry, only the industrial magnates.

After describing "efficiency" as defined by putting more (or less) money in someone's pocket, I smiled when I read the setup for Imaginaria. "You are the president of the newly independent Republic of Imaginaria. You’ve got a population that’s not particularly well fed, clothed, and housed, and a fairly high unemployment rate.

Unemployment, huh? I like Sharon Astyk's terms of formal and informal economy. The formal economy is the economist playground, the Gross National Product kind of thing - someone making a monetary profit.

I think the term "unemployment" has been perverted to mean "not contributing to the formal economy; not putting profit in someone's pocket." I would think that description especially pertinent when talking about re-localizing crafts and production.

There is a difference between those unemployed as in not being employed, not producing anything or serving anyone, and those not employed at putting profit in someone's pocket. Many of the unemployed are still serving, at household tasks and parenting tasks, some at day work and unreported income efforts.

What you apparently propose is to permanently remove the bulk of people currently working to put profit into someone's pocket from the industrial workforce, to serve their community and family in efforts with meaning, directly, only at the local level. Huh. I bet that does irritate some Organized union leaders, political fund raisers, and transcontinental trucking operations.

I kind of like the way Leo Frankowski reinvented technology in his sf "Cross Time Engineer" novels - including horse and mule-drawn rail, reliance on steam power and wind, and even working within a feudal political system.

My own notion of perpetual motion is a hydroelectric generator that requires 2 feet of water head. Installed every hundred yards in minor rivers, requiring no major damming or ponding, in sizes down to seasonal farm creeks.

Reading about your concerns over ethanol - has anyone worked toward solar-heated steam or water sources of mechanical or electric - or even compressed air or gas - energy options? Or hydro-mechanical (like the quaint songs about "the old mill stream"). It worked once, after all. The wood to build the wheel and races, that can be hacked out. With tools and skill.

I can see where the current "fad" in heritage seeds and seed saving contribute to Schumacher style utilization of resources. Also the victory garden approach to diversifying reliance on transcontinental food production and distribution.

No comments:

Post a Comment