A Cure for Growing Unemployment and the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ in the U.S.?

4 September 2012, 11:38

Sam Townsend

620x200-What-to-Do-About-the-News

150x94 Sam's Blog

Sam Townsend

Here we take a penetrating look behind today’s headlines as they relate to health, wealth, and sustainable living success from Abundant Sustainable Living advocate Sam Townsend. Sam is the author of the popular Time to Head for the Ark (www.TimetoHeadfortheArk.com) guide to Abundant Sustainable Living. Sam, a “recovering banker and economist”, businessman, consultant, investor and author offers a unique perspective and helpful approach to improving your life and the lives of those you care about most in these turbulent “Harm’s Way” times.

 The News . . . and What’s Behind it

“For Spain’s Jobless, Time Equals Money” – The Wall Street Journal headline on its 8/27/12 Page 1 story written by Matt Moffett and Ilan Brat. What were they talking about and why should we care?

As the world now knows, Spain and Greece lead the developed world in unemployment. Unfortunately, most other countries are showing signs of catching up to them as growth of global economies slows and turns into decline. Indeed, chronic underemployment in the U.S., already near Great Depression levels, is again worsening. This WSJ story provides key hints to solving our own growing problem of underemployment of labor, land, facilities, equipment, and investment capital along with ideas on confronting growing social discontent and alarm.

This WSJ article focuses on the “time banks” that are springing up around Spain. They facilitate local bartering of services by hundreds of workers. One member reported that, “The time bank not only saves her cash, but also lifts her spirits by making her feel ‘part of a community that’s taking some positive action during hard times.’”

Unlike commercial or investment banks that borrow and lend troubled currencies, “’social’ currencies and time banks actually preclude the taking on of debt.” That’s a healthy and necessary feature in economies all over the world that are drowning in debt of governments, businesses, and households.

Such local measures, variations of which we have also found effective are common “in rural or disaster-zone economies … supplement a public safety net that is fraying under forced government austerity programs”. Besides time banks and barter exchanges, local economies are employing “local currencies, charity networks, and shared gardens”. These methods for living sustainably in local economies are reminiscent of the community supported agriculture programs that are becoming popular here in the U.S.

WSJ quotes a Spanish economist, “For people who can’t find work, these kinds of possibilities of exchanges and mutual help can help make bearable a situation that otherwise would be unsustainable.” They add that similar efforts are also emerging in other Southern European economies, including bartering goods and services for food. Local currencies have also appeared to facilitate local trade. One Spaniard who helped launch a small time bank said, “And in this time of economic crisis, for people who lack the resources to get things on their own, they know there are people here to give a helping hand.”

Critics exist however of these movements to “underground” economies. They reason correctly that “off the books” local commerce reduces tax revenues and doesn’t record what could become a substantial amount of economic growth and productivity. On the other hand (that’s the recovering banker and economist in me talking), such movements are inevitable and are necessary to sustain healthy lives in socially beneficial and economically viable ways.

The article concludes with a quote from a 22-yr old unemployed social worker who sees hope in projects like these, “There has to be a change in the mentality for there to be a change in the country” she says. “We can’t continue to spend resources we don’t have. We have to learn to live with less.” I’d say that most informed and responsible U.S. citizens would agree.

 What YOU Can Do About the News

An added benefit to building local economies that don’t depend upon non-local resources is the shrinking of unsustainable and socially destructive and failing welfare states – both by withholding funding and by reducing needs. Besides, as we and countless others have experienced, well-motivated free enterprise and neighborly charity are far more efficient, productive, and can contribute to a community’s health and well being.

So how do we participate in healthy, economic, and sustainable living?  Whether we have capital or not?  And in good times or bad?

I’ve written Time to Head for the Ark (www.TimetoHeadfortheArk.com) which presents Abundant Living in Harm’s Way, why it’s the best way to live, why it is now both necessary and urgent, and how to gain and maintain it in its three key aspects:

  • Health and Wholeness – physically, relationally, and spiritually;
  • Wealth and Resource Management – especially “sustainable investments” which preserve asset values and lives and provide meaningful returns in diverse economic conditions;
  • Abundant Sustainable Living in local communities and economies – in good times and bad and under a wide variety of circumstances.

 Time to Head for the Ark provides a solid foundation for “getting personal” with living sustainably and well in these turbulent times. You can order it postage prepaid at www.PreparedALHWays.com – our portal Web site that features multi-media publishing, programming, and analysis related to the rapidly growing sustainable living movement.

Being PreparedALHWays(TM) helps families, businesses, and communities benefit right where they live and work, especially as our Creator designed and provides. We help people connect with the thinking, expertise and other resources useful in developing local, satisfying and sustainable solutions that are tailored to their unique needs and circumstances. ALHWays(TM) is our acronym for “Abundant Living in Harm’s Way – always and in all ways”.

Recognizing what’s really happening and what it means to us and those who depend upon us requires that we look behind the economic, geo-political, and social change news in order to be prepared. Sound preparation is the antidote for fear, and a timely example of our news and commentary of economic and social significance is my July 23rd Blog “Sinkholes, New Bull Markets, and Such”. (www.preparedalhways.tygmedia.com/archives/998). See “Sam’s Blog” at www.PreparedALHWays.com and also videos and commentaries at www.WhatToDoAboutTheNews.com.

We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions and/or to address your specific needs. Your future is our priority and we look forward to helping you plan and implement your own “Harm’s Way Solutions”.

Contact Sam: SamTownsend@ALHWays.com
Learn more: www.PreparedALHWays.com