One of the things I write about in The Buddha on Wall Street is walking, its pleasure and benefits, and the slow disappearance of urban opportunities for walks untrammelled by commercial pressures. So, it’s great to read that there are signs of a revival of the habit of walking, at least in urban America. In Walking: The Secret Ingredient for Health, Wealth, and More Exciting Neighborhoods by Jay Walljasper the ramifications of this trend for more local and communal patterns of living are explored.
In the New York Times Marci Shore reviews a new book “Havel: A Life” by Michael Zantovsky. I haven’t read the book (yet) but Havel is one of my heroes. In February 1990, Havel, recently elected the first president of post-Communist Czechoslovakia, came to Washington. “Consciousness precedes being, and not the other way around, as Marxists claim,” he told a bemused joint session of Congress. At the foundation of Marxism was the idea that individual, subjective consciousness was derivative of one’s objective, socioeconomic position. John Maynard Keynes, the great 20th century economist essentially believed the same thing, when he wrote that once the world economy had progressed to the stage where everyone could be provided with the basics necessary to lead a fulfilling life, capitalism would simply fade away along with ugly habits like greed and selfishness. Havel opposed this idea. Any world leader who walks away from politicians in Washington to go to a rock concert in New York must be worth reading!
Lynn Parramore interviews Joseph Stiglitz in Joseph Stiglitz: Economics Has to Come to Terms with Wealth and Income Inequality. Economics Nobel prize winner Stiglitz has probably done more than any other economist to highlight inequality as a crucial problem in the modern world. Stiglitz has some interesting observations on Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. To help reduce inequality Stiglitz recommends first things like higher minimum wages, stronger unions, better education, and stronger enforcement of anti-trust laws and corporate governance laws. Second, he recommends addressing things like capital gains taxes, the preferential treatment that mainly benefits people at the very top, and better redistributive policies. A human voice amongst economists.
In The New Economy Comes of Age: 7 Steps Toward Shared Prosperity executive director of Yes! Magazine Fran Korten reports on the conference of the New Economy Coalition and its converging of policies and actions to:
- Place ownership in the hands of real people, not globalized corporations;
- Localize control of food, energy, land, housing, retail;
- Advance cooperative enterprises where workers share in profits and decision-making;
- Shift from fossil fuels to renewables and from destructive to regenerative agriculture;
- Expand credit unions, community banks, and public banks so that finance benefits communities rather than Wall Street;
- Reform trade rules to reduce the power of global corporations and enable local economies to flourish;
- Adopt a worldview that we humans are part of the ecosystem and our economy must work with nature rather than against it.