The Economics of Happiness (Small, Slow and Local)

helena norberg-hodge the economics of happiness

Economics of Happiness

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The Economics of Happiness documentary speaks to an economic system that breeds unhappiness for profit. The United States is the world’s economic (for now) powerhouse but her citizens are some of the most unhappy on the planet. In this video, Helena Norberg-Hodge speaks to TED about her well-researched documentary “Economics of Happiness”.

In this discussion, she speaks to how most current economic systems are set up to breed waste and unhappiness. She speaks about the current farming system as an example.

When you allow accountants and business people to have full control of setting up the economic system they will breed waste and unhappiness in the pursuit of profit. They will treat everything as a widget instead of what the product or service truly is.

In farming the produce (widget) is not grown locally whenever possible. It may not even be grown in the country and transporting produce unnecessarily in wasteful. Also, accountants and business people will force those widgets to fit a mold for easier production and those that don’t will be thrown out.

If a fruit or vegetable does not fit the mold for size, shape or imperfections along the way to the supermarket it will be thrown away. Throwing away perfectly good fruits and vegetables are wasteful.

It may not even be grown in the country and transporting produce unnecessarily in wasteful. Also, accountants and business people will force those widgets to fit a mold for easier production and those that don’t will be thrown out.

If a fruit or vegetable does not fit the mold for size, shape or imperfections along the way to the supermarket it will be thrown away. Throwing away perfectly good fruits and vegetables are wasteful.

It may not even be grown in the country and transporting produce unnecessarily in wasteful. Also, accountants and business people will force those widgets to fit a mold for easier production and those that don’t will be thrown out.

If a fruit or vegetable does not fit the mold for size, shape or imperfections along the way to the supermarket it will be thrown away. Throwing away perfectly good fruits and vegetables are wasteful.

 

Economics of Happiness

As a newly converted Freegan, I have seen this waste in local markets first hand. I have been on trash tours where we have found enough perfectly good food in the trash that could feed an Army.

In her example, the burden of the waste is not carried by the business or corporation that burden is passed on to the people and this breeds the unhappiness.

She speaks to a more local system of economics. It the current system the farmer earns about 10% of the profits but in a more local system, the farmer earns 100% of the profits.

Earning 100% of the profits breeds more happiness for all involved. Here are excerpts from the synopsis of the documentary “The Economics of Happiness” below:

The film shows how globalization breeds cultural self-rejection, competition, and divisiveness; how it structurally promotes the growth of slums and urban sprawl; how it is decimating democracy.

We learn about the obscene waste that results from trade for the sake of trade: apples sent from the UK to South Africa to be washed and waxed, then shipped back to British supermarkets; tuna caught off the coast of America, flown to Japan to be processed, then flown back to the US.

We hear about the suicides of Indian farmers; about the demise of land-based cultures in every corner of the world.

The second half of The Economics of Happiness provides not only inspiration but practical solutions. Arguing that economic localization is a strategic solution multiplier that can solve our most serious problems, the film spells out the policy changes needed to enable local businesses to survive and prosper.

We are introduced to community initiatives that are moving the localization agenda forward, including urban gardens in Detroit, Michigan and the Transition Town movement in Totnes, UK.

We see the benefits of an expanding local food movement that is restoring biological diversity, communities, and local economies worldwide. And we are introduced to Via Campesina, the largest social movement in the world, with more than 400 million members.

We hear from a chorus of voices from six continents, including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Samdhong Rinpoche, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Michael Shuman, Zac Goldsmith, and Keibo Oiwa. They tell us that climate change and peak oil give us little choice: we need to localize, to bring the economy home.

The good news is that as we move in this direction we will begin not only to heal the earth but also to restore our own sense of well-being. The Economics of Happiness challenges us to restore our faith in humanity, challenges us to believe that it is possible to build a better world.

In my research, I have found The Transition movement. This is a worldwide community movement that is addressing these problems. They have active chapters in many countries and here is the link to the one in The United States Transition United States. This is a great movement and with discussing this at a later date.

I hope you check them out. The Transition Movement is a vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis.

It represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people in strengthening their communities against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, equitable and socially connected.

 

Economics of Happiness

Also, The Post Carbon Institute has a wealth of information on this and many other related topics. Post-Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, environmental, and equity crises that define the 21st century.

We envision a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds.

I really hope you view and enjoy the short video below as Helena Norberg-Hodge discuss her documentary “The Economics of Happiness” with TED.

Economics of Happiness

 

 

 

 

 

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