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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

Change, the Hen House, and the Power of Fear

It can be very subtle--fear. It keeps hens in the pen when they can't see, from their viewpoint, that the door is open. It keeps Lucy (the goose) from trying a new, perfectly good, leafy green vegetable. It keeps intelligent economists from exploring the means of providing basic needs without growth--like "...subsistence, security and participation...". (Quote from Rob Dietz's "Restoring Science as the Basis for Economic Policy in The Daly News, August 12, at http://www.steadystate.org.)
Fear keeps our politicians from exploring ways to achieve long-term prosperity on a healthy planet, rather than touting growth as a cure-all for an overstressed Earth. The reason? Debt and the fear that interest generates. How's that for a one-liner? Dietz puts it this way--we have "...a defense mechanism that allows people to accept faulty premises."
i.e. the faulty premises of classical economics.

We can do it--accept the hard facts, like "Nothing can grow forever." We can use awareness of the workings of complex systems to modify the way we do things in both our institutions and in our daily lives.

First of all we can demand that universities explore and teach ecological economics, how a steady state might work, what can disrupt it, how we can get there from here. Look for the details is some upcoming books--O'Neill and Dietz's ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, Brian Czech's SUPPLY SHOCK and my fictional example in THE WEBS OF VAROK.)

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Goats, Skunks, and Gardens

Years ago daughter Indra wanted a goat. It was time for each daughter to have a pet of their own. We had seen baby goats at the State Fair, and she had fallen in love with a miniature variety with huge brown eyes. It seemed not all that different from a big dog. But intriguing somehow, perhaps more needy? We all agreed, a goat would be fine. The garden would suffer, but it already suffered from being too large with too many hills. Maybe the goat would help by mowing the hilly parts. A well-known lady in town had once had a house-broken goat. That would be even more fun--but the current pet rules were too specific. No goats in town. Sorry. So we got Indra a skunk--a wild animal, not domesticated. More on that next week. Therein lies the complexity--emergence and all that.  Read More 

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