Sacred Economics

I’ve been waiting forever for Charles Eisenstein’s book, Sacred Economics. We’ve been reading snippets of it on Reality Sandwich, and I wanted to be able to see the whole thing laid out.

The result was well worth the wait.

I’ve been concerned for some time about two contrary motions in the economic world: on the one hand, the fact that money increases exponentially due to the existence of interest (above and beyond what economists call the “risk premium,” which is the rate at which money is lost to bad investments); on the other, the fact that the real economy of goods and services is not only slowing down, globally, but it is reaching the point of either stopping entirely, or contracting.

Economists are worried sick about that, too — they just don’t talk about it, because it’s scary as Hell.

It means there will not be a “recovery” from this recession. Ever. Unlike the Great Depression, this recession will deepen until (in conventional thinking) the entire economy goes down the toilet and we return to herding goats. Which won’t work very well in Manhattan.

Eisenstein brings a solution to the table. Because I live on the intellectual fringe — as I said, we’ve been reading his book in snippets — I was not completely unfamiliar with the ideas he’s proposing, but it was astonishing to see them all put together like this.

It also turns out that these ideas are not all that new, and many of them have actually been field tested — and they worked extremely well. They didn’t take hold, because they naturally and systematically combat the single greatest problem with our current interest-based economy, which is limitless concentration of wealth and power. In every case, the field-tests were shut down by the central banks and the government.

Shutting down field tests won’t be an option this time around, because this, or something like it, will be the only way the powerful can retain any power or wealth at all.

It’s like the sinking Titanic. At first, people light candles, the orchestra plays, and it’s all very romantic. When the steward comes and says it’s time to get into the lifeboats, the people drinking champagne say, “Why? Nasty, crowded things. We’re perfectly comfortable right here.” But when ice-cold seawater begins washing the deck, the lifeboat suddenly looks extremely attractive.

The “rising tide” is the increase in the money supply. The slowing economy is the sinking ship. It’s a really bad combination.

Apart from bringing a breath of very fresh air to the stale economic debates, Charles’ book is a book about beauty, and it is itself a beautiful book. An inspiring book. One of those reads that makes you wonder how you are going to start living your life in the aftermath of reading it.