Degrowth Solutions: Half-Farmer, Half-X
(July 19, 2014)
The Status Quo is terrified of a world devoid of debt-serf "middle class" consumers.
When people say they want solutions, they're actually seeking only a specific kind of solution, one that leaves everything they have now intact but guarantees them more of something: more security, more healthcare, more education, more money, etc., but at no cost or inconvenience to themselves.
Anything that fits these parameters isn't a solution; it's magic. Magical thinking and magical fixes are endlessly appealing precisely because they don't require us to change anything or work at anything outside our comfort zone.
In the real world, solutions change core values and processes. If they don't, they're not real solutions. Fake fixes come in various types: cosmetic band-aids, alleviation of the symptoms while the disease continues unchecked, public-relations relabeling of the problem so it appears to go away via semantic trickery, and so on.
Real solutions tend to have two parts: changes in values and operational changes in habits and processes. For example, "protecting air quality" can only occur if the internalized values of the populace change so they value air quality enough to demand it, and if there are operational systems for making air quality happen in the real world: monitoring air quality, tracing sources of pollution, changing the processes that generate pollution, and so on.
This two-sided structure of solutions--values and operations--is scale invariant, meaning it works the same for individuals, households, neighborhoods, towns, cities, organizations, enterprises, nations and empires. Any solution that doesn't change both values and operations in fundamental ways is just another magic trick, a simulacrum solution.
It requires this context of values and operations to understand how half-farmer, half-X is a potential solution for an over-debted, dysfunctional Degrowth economy. Unsurprisingly, the concept originates in Japan, one of the nations farthest down the Road of No Return of debt, political dysfunction and Degrowth.
I've covered various aspects of Degrowth in depth:
Degrowth, Anti-Consumerism and Peak Consumption (May 9, 2013)
The American Model of "Growth": Overbuilding and Poaching November 19, 2013
And the Next Big Thing Is ... Degrowth? (April 7, 2014)
What is "half-farmer, half-X?" A growing number of young Japanese people, according to Junko Edahiro, whose TEDx Tokyo talk on the "De" Generation (8 min) was submitted by longtime correspondent Zeus Y. in an email exchange resulting from my Musings Report 5, What's Behind the Erosion of Community?
We have plenty of friends in Japan and so we know this is still the operant model: the male breadwinner works six days a week, leaving early in the morning and returning late at night. In some cases, the 7th day is devoted to classes and study needed to advance the man's career within the institution.
It's up to each individual to solve for X. When I say, "solve for X," it isn't an algebraic problem, it's an expression of human freedom and choice: what interests you? What do you want to learn, pursue, master, share, create, enjoy?
Being half-farmer, half-X requires a very low-cost lifestyle--no middle-class luxuries here, except the one luxury the middle-class employees of Corporate Japan can never have: time.
Zeus made a number of excellent points in our email exchange, and I excerpt three here:
"The new price of entry is production, as I said in my book Transforming Economy: From Corrupted Capitalism to Connected Communities. If you are a parasite of any stripe, you are dispensable.
Now the only thing that has to happen is for people who have grown dependent on a corrupt and unsustainable (and time-wasting) government, corporate, pop culture, bureaucratic world, to wake up and awaken their genius, contribution, and connection. That is happening as we speak on a largely invisible level.
Here's the deal between the two worlds right now: the Status Quo is dying but trying to take everything with it and the other is trying hold the old world up enough to avoid complete collapse, buy time, and construct the airplane of the new world, all while flying."
The conventional media and indeed, the entire Status Quo, is terrified of a world devoid of debt-serf "middle class" consumers who willingly support debt-based consumption via workaholic devotion to their job in the state/corporation, aspirational consumption, debt-serfdom and high earnings/taxes.
I discuss another solution/model in International Workers' Day (May 1) and the New Class: Mobile Creatives (May 1, 2014).
Compared to that indentured life, being half-farmer, half-X is quite appealing to those who value their time and life, for the one luxury reserved for the super-wealthy--time--is within reach of everyone who jettisons the "middle class" aspirations and lifestyle that mask the harsh reality of debt-serfdom.
This essay is drawn from Musings Report 6 (2014). The weekly Musings Reports are
sent exclusively to subscribers ($5/month, or $50/annually). Further information
can be found below.
Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy (Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
Are you like me?
Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.
And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.
You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.
Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.
So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.
It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.
I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.
"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a
Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take
a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or
agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Gordon Long and I discuss The
New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers (25 minutes, YouTube)
NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.
"This guy is THE leading visionary on reality.
He routinely discusses things which no one else has talked about, yet,
turn out to be quite relevant months later."
"You shine a bright and piercing light out into an ever-darkening world."
Or send coins, stamps or quatloos via mail--please request P.O. Box address.
Subscribers ($5/mo) and those who have contributed $50 or more annually (or made multiple contributions totalling $50 or more) receive weekly exclusive Musings Reports via email ($50/year is about 96 cents a week).
Each weekly Musings Report offers six features:
At readers' request, there is also a $10/month option.
What subscribers are saying about the Musings (Musings samples here):
The "unsubscribe" link is for when you find the usual drivel here insufferable.
Dwolla members can subscribe to the Musings Reports with a one-time $50 payment; please email me if you use Dwolla, as Dwolla does not provide me with your email.
The Heroes & Heroines of New Media:
oftwominds.com contributors and subscribers
All content, HTML coding, format design, design elements and images copyright © 2014 Charles Hugh Smith, All global rights reserved in all media, unless otherwise credited or noted.
I am honored if you link to this essay, or print a copy for your own use.
Terms of Service: