It was a while ago... $$
...June of 2007 in fact, that I recommended reading Bill McKibben's book, "Deep Economy". The material seems more important now than it was then because it posits a different model for economic stability.
Our present model demands continued growth, which at this point means that Americans, in order to keep each other employed, need to buy things they don't really need (stuff) with money they don't really have (on credit cards). But suddenly, in this economic downturn, people are starting to save their money, shop carefully, and limit their purchases. That this savings is rooted in a fear of the future is problematic for a number of reasons. But that we've moved away from profligate spending towards saving ought to be a good thing - and yet the leaders of the free world are gathering today, collectively concerned that people won't be buying enough landfill this holiday season.
McKibben posits that shifting towards localized and regional economies is the solution. He addresses the possibilities of such a shift in various industries, including agriculture and energy. Of course, such shifts aren't intended to be total, or isolationist, but rather are intended to encourage a scale of production and consumption that is more humane. A byproduct though, and McKibben is not alone in believing this, is that economies are more resilient. McKibben spends the first 103 pages defending the fact that we've got a problem. Of course, back when he wrote it, in the heady days of the early 21st century, those were important pages. Now, you can skip that part if you'd like and start reading on P104.
Of course, this is entirely contrary to everything the government is presently positing as 'the way out'. In addition, any steps that you or I might take towards scalability and localized shopping will be more costly in the immediate, not less. I won't go down the road of talking about Adam Smith and challenging the notion that if we all act in our own self-interest all will be well, other than to note that maybe, if I take the long view, it IS in my self-interest to shop locally, getting my salmon from the dock rather than the warehouse store, even if it costs me a few more bucks in the immediate present.
You might wonder why I'm even talking about this - after all, I'm a pastor, not an economist. True, but my hero (Jesus) talked more about money than heaven, hell, or homosexuality (forgetting, by the way, to mention the latter directly at all). It seemed that His interest was in getting us to both live simply AND fearlessly with respect to our own provision and economic well being. I believe we need a different model in order to get there, and that the model might need to come, not from the dems or reps, or the EU, but from somewhere else, perhaps Acts 2, or Matthew 6, or I Timothy 6, or...?
How are you reacting to the economic crisis? How is it affecting you? What does the Bible have to say about all this?