Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein [Book Review]

Eisenstein, Charles (2011) Sacred Economics. Evolver Editions: Berkeley, CA.


I saw Eisenstein speak in Portland (standing room only...only in Portland!) so I was curious to read his book. Because his background is more in philosophy than economics, I would love to see an enlightened economist’s critique of his ideas. But it’s interesting to see his view of the world unfold.

Central to his premise is that our economy has been largely about converting what is sacred and available to us all (nature’s bounty and the kindness of others) into monetary exchanges. We now pay for childcare, for food preparation, for entertainment. When we run out of things to convert to dollars and run out of natural resources, our economy and our society will falter. He believes we are in that transition now.

He claims that money violates natural laws in that it doesn’t degrade but I never got a clear sense why inflation didn’t qualify. His solution to the money-based economy is a gift economy. When he speaks, he charges only the cost to get there and then asks people to donate whatever they feel the value was on the way out. He explains similar options for business transactions, including a law firm that lets clients adjust their bill up or down based on the value they felt they received.

Since I had heard him speak, I did skim some of the chapters. If you are well versed in what is wrong with our monetary system and economy, you might just want to read the latter half of the book which lays out a transition strategy.

I appreciated that he speaks with a gentle tone. He’s not judgmental and envisions ways to transform our existing systems (eg, negative interest).

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