Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Prosperity through Autarky?

Over at Kitchenslut I touched briefly on local food economics after a feature article by the King Parrot in last Weekend's Compost (not available online).  This advertorial style journalism was based on the oxymoron of 'research by the Cairns Post' and claimed a million dollars a week could be addded to the local economy if just 35,000 of us had one more meal a week from just local produce.
KS has angsted and looked at some numbers on how to respond best to this but has decided that the recent post by Nicholas Gruen at Club Troppo is quite adequate.

Gruen is one of Australia's most respected economists at the aptly named Lateral Economics. Hardly a hardline economic fundamentalist he was previously an adviser to the quirkily recalcitrant John Button as Industry Minister in the Hawke Government! Many intelligent people are smelling something unpalatable in the local food propaganda wind?

A more wonkish economic rebuttal of the local food economics is here on economic of local food.

Harvard's Ed Glaeser is always worthwhile when it comes to regional economics:  Dilemma of the Locavore 

Fair trade or no trade? Economic illiteracy alive and well in our think tanks

Posted by Nicholas Gruen on Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The right wing think tanks have been having a ball denouncing dreadful things like fiscal stimuli which saved a good hundred thousand odd jobs in Australia. Meanwhile New Matilda carries a story about life in Ladakh:

Sun-drenched images of rural life in Ladakh in the 1970s where Himalayan villagers in traditional clothing sow and winnow before sharing joyous meals with their extended families are all very evocative. But what relevance can this view of life in an exotic locale during a much earlier era possibly have for our highly urbanised modern world? A great deal, according to Helena Norberg-Hodge, whose documentary The Economics of Happiness, has been showing around Australia.

Globalisation is bad, and what you need to do is buy local food. No matter that if you buy food from Mildura it is local food for people in Mildura. No matter that there might be a reason, like season, varieties or quality that might mean that you want to buy a pineapple from Queensland and Kiwifruit from Tassie and not the other way round.

From San Francisco, where all the food for public facilities — hospitals, schools, even prisons — is now sourced locally, to places as far apart as Ogawamachi in Japan and Lewes in England, where each town’s own currency can be used to buy goods and services from local providers, more and more people are appreciating the benefits of keeping money at home.

Prosperity through autarky.

No mention of the billion odd people that globalisation is lifting out of poverty. No mention that Oxfam is one of the leading advertisers on the New Matilda website – in this case advertising pineapples which, when exported, earn the poor people who grow them some income.

Maybe Ladakh is the only place ever in the history of the world where people wouldn’t prefer to trade and become richer . . . but I doubt it.
Note: Nola Craig and Gavin King have been contacted and asked to detail and reference the basis and assumptions of their economic "research" but have not responded.

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