On crypto-currencies

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. William Gibson, The Economist, 4/12/2003 The crypto-currency thing has been going for a while now, but this post has been precipitated by the recent story that the government of El Salvador has expressed the desire to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Leaving aside theContinue reading “On crypto-currencies”

On people

Some years back, Wendell Berry published an essay collection with the pertinent title: What are people for? (Counterpoint, 2010; ISBN 978-1582434872), and it’s a very good question. What, according to the commonly-accepted values of our civilisation, are people for? Economists will tell you that people are producers and consumers of goods and services. But bothContinue reading “On people”

On homelessness

Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now. Wendell Berry, “The objective” There are many people in the industrialised world who currently have no fixed address – some of them voluntarily, but most of them not. Exactly how many depends on who you believe. Government statistics will naturally understate the figuresContinue reading “On homelessness”

On supermarket shopping

The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard. Joel Salatin,Continue reading “On supermarket shopping”

On management and control

The I of the basic word I-Thou is different from that of the basic word I-It. Martin Buber, I and Thou (1923) In this week’s essay, I want to discuss the concept of management: not just the management of a company or other organisation, but the notion of control in general. We really, really likeContinue reading “On management and control”

On economic growth

Yes! There will be growth in the spring! Chance, the gardener in the film Being There (1979) It is a truth universally acknowledged that economic growth is a good thing. Well, not quite universally, but it’s the view you’ll find in the mainstream media and on the lips of pretty much every politician and pundit.Continue reading “On economic growth”

On resilience

When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. Anon. After last week’s discussion of efficiency, it’s time to talk about its complement: resilience, literally the quality of springing back, like a rubber ball. It’s a broader and vaguer concept, with none of the satisfyingly crisp arithmetic we can bring to bear on efficiency, but IContinue reading “On resilience”

On time, its uses and abuses

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Only the Maya can claim to have been half as obsessed with time as our industrial civilisation is, and even they only went as far as devising a calendar so accurate it is said to be used by NASA. (ThisContinue reading “On time, its uses and abuses”