Your review of the new Power and Barrett book left me feeling that Mr. Power had left behind some previously articulated wisdom (HCN, 12/17/01: Economics with a heart, but no soul). My memory of an earlier Power book - The Economic Pursuit of Quality - and Ms. Debra Ellers' letter in the same issue prompted this response from me.
I have lost hope for a recreation- or service-based economy, for I have not seen living wages result, and I have seen abuse by recreationists of the land and a quality of life for workers that is hard to envy. I have lost hope for sustainable extractive industries, for there are too many people needing jobs in what used to be the rural West, and not enough resources available now to sustain our communities in that manner.
I have lost hope for importing businesses that export their products, for I have seen them cut back or fail altogether when the global economy goes soft, and then the community's greatest reward is yet another empty building.
The only hope I have is that we'll all begin caring about what we trade money for, where it comes from, whom the product's sale benefits, what resources were consumed in its manufacture, how long the resultant impacts to the earth will last. And that ultimately we'll care enough to keep our money, the benefits, our consumption and our impacts local, where we can respond to them and be responsible for them every day.
I do not believe the doomsayers who say that a lower standard of living is inevitable without our global markets, for I have seen quality of life improve when attention is paid to these details of expenditure, and the land, at least, does not suffer more, for there are more inhabiting it who care.
This one thin thread of hope sustains me through stories of more people, more consumption, more clear-cuts, more trophy homes. And every day I practice spending locally and responsibly, I see the difference it makes. Thank you for your review.