By Jim Walts
True security can be found only if we recreate local economies for the everyday necessities.
These days whenever a conflict happens anywhere in the world, local security is threatened. Revolt in Libya has sent gas prices to around $3.50 per gallon. Drought and extreme temperatures have sent grain prices to all time highs. The world is perched on the brink of a food catastrophe. “In early January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that its Food Price Index had reached an all-time high in December, exceeding the previous record set during the 2007-08 price surge. Even more alarming, on February 3rd, the FAQ announced that the December record had been broken in January as prices climbed an additional 3 percent. “
I don't have to tell you about job security when we live in a time when huge multinational corporations think of little but the bottom line and will gladly send your job overseas if they can find, and they will, someone to do it cheaper.
For thousands of years now people have been moving together from small family groups, to clans and tribes to villages and finally to cities. Today people in cities are totally reliant on outside sources for about all their daily needs. Indeed every city, town and village in America with few exceptions is totally dependent on others for the things they need just to survive. Contrast this to the America of just a few generations ago when a community could provide for the basic necessities and many of the amenities of life themselves. These communities all had their own personalities. When a community provided for itself, many of these jobs required skill and a fair amount of physical ability. Today we sit in offices then pay for exercise. Those of us who work in factories find our work to be mostly a mind numbing menial experience. Businesses decided that by breaking up tasks into small parts any trained ape could do the job. Therefore the workers become expendable. Likewise few if any understand or gain the skills needed to create on their own. In short, there are no longer craftsman, only workers.
I propose we need to go back in many ways to a more human scaled life. Lets stop thinking of our lives in milliseconds. Imagine if the food for your geographical area was grown there by small family farmers, not using huge tractors but small ones along with human labor. Hard work? Sure it is but rewarding, ask anyone who has done it and got the recognition and rewards that it deserves. At one time every town had a mill to process local grains into flour and feed. We need to bring back mills. Yet again this would provide jobs grinding and processing the grains brought by local farmers and hobbyists.
This food would be distributed by local transportation to local sites for sale or preserving. The growing, transportation, retail and preserving all would be local businesses providing local jobs for local people. A local food bank preservation system could insure carry over during times of bad harvests. A overabundance could be traded with other local communities for things they may have that we would not.
Lets consider shelter. Communities should have forested areas large enough to supply local timber for building homes and businesses. Properly manages forests could be a source of lumber, nuts and fruits, recreation, and habitat. Again these forests could be a source of jobs for those managing the forest, lumberjacks, and here I again would say not a extremely expensive machine but people working with more human scale tools. We would need transportation of the timber, mills to cut it into boards, drying it into usable lumber and again retail people. All these local people doing local jobs for local people.
Another necessity is clothing. A community had the ability to completely clothe itself at one time in our past. Through a marriage of modern thought with classic grace I believe we could do it again. Even the concepts, design and creating of new ways to do old things on a local scale could employ local people. There are so many ways a person could fit into that kind of communities that the result is a vastly richer life than what we experience today.
Local economies would be much more sustainable. Travel for work would be much less than it is today. Goods would likewise travel mostly short distances. Communities would have a much greater say in what they eat, drink and do with their lives. People once again could take pride in what they have accomplished and pride in their communities. Our families, jobs, environment and communities would be much more secure.