Sunday, June 12, 2011

Toward a New Economics

Fritz Schumacher's (1911-1977) prophetic questions of correct scale, appropriate technology, and right livelihood intrigue me. Consider this quote from page 56:
What is the meaning of democracy, freedom, human dignity, standard of living, self-realisation, fulfillment? Is it a matter of goods, or of people? Of course it is a matter of people. But people can be themselves only in small comprehensible groups. Therefore we must learn to think in terms of an articulated structure that can cope with a multiplicity of small-scale units. If economic thinking cannot grasp this it is useless. If it cannot get beyond its vast abstractions, the national income, the rate of growth, capital / output ratio, input-output analysis, labour mobility, capital accumulation; if it cannot get beyond all this and make contact with human realities of poverty, frustration, alienation, despair, breakdown, crime, escapism, stress, congestion, ugliness, and spiritual death, then let us scrap economics and start afresh.
Schumacher, E. F. (1973 / 1999). Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mattered, 25 years later... with commentaries. Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks Publisher's, Inc.