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2. How Does it Work? Putting the Economy in Its Place

Peter G. Brown Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

37

If a living system does not respect the circumstances of the super system it is a part of, it will be selected against.

—Eric Schneider and James Kay


A HAYFIELD WITH MULTIPLE species of grass, scattered blooms of wildflowers, and populations of field mice, voles, and songbirds sets the stage for a story of both economics and ecology: a story of how the economy works. If the hayfield is mowed in timely fashion when rain can be expected, it will regrow and can be cut a second time (in moderate climates) and still achieve additional regrowth before winter. The hayfield’s resilience depends on a critical variable, rain, because of the relationship of rain to other variables. Although mowing will affect their numbers, mice, voles, and songbirds will still be present, along with hawks, owls, and foxes that feed on them. The livestock fed by the hay, the farm family fed and supported by the livestock, the farmer’s customers and all the wildlife and grasses of the hayfield—all favor this state of affairs.

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27. Bicycle Space by Mykle Hansen

New World Library ePub

Mykle Hansen

People can’t sit still. Ever since the first prehumans fell out of trees, we’ve craved locomotion: to hunt, to gather, to explore and expand, to avoid and pursue one another. Undoubtedly we’re built to wander, with long, muscular legs to hold us upright, strong backs to carry supplies, and hairless bodies for efficient cooling during urgent sprints and day-long hikes. And, being clever tool users, we humans have extended our range with such inventions as the shoe, the backpack, the sled, the wheel, the cart, the saddle, the bit, the boat, the sail, the balloon, the car, the airplane, and the rocket. In fact, when you consider the mind-boggling number of profound or ridiculous inventions that we’ve come up with just to bring “over there” closer to “over here,” it seems the history of remarkable and ingenious ways to travel is human history itself.

Although our unique relationship with travel — both our skill and our romantic obsession with it — has served us brilliantly as a species, it now seems poised to become our fatal flaw: our hunger for fuel to move millions of objects in millions of directions for millions of reasons threatens to choke our planet. Ironically, we’ve gotten far too good at travel. We’ve reduced it to a desk job: a set of buttons and knobs arranged around a padded seat. Locomotion has become, for many, a chore to delegate instead of a joyful act. Our spirit of adventure has been stifled by a widely held belief that there’s no more frontier, no more undiscovered landscape on this planet. The age of exploration has passed, we’re told: welcome to the age of commuting.

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Medium 9780253009685

19. Behind the Resilience of the Syrian Regime

David McMurray Indiana University Press ePub

BASSAM HADDAD

Seasoned observers were long accustomed to making light of apparent political changes in Syria. Following the death of Hafiz al-Asad, who ruled Syria for thirty years, and the accession of his son Bashar to the presidency, a series of “springs” came and went without substantially opening up the system. The country’s political institutions were stable, but stagnant, including the Baath Party, which continued to rule by periodically reshuffling elites. Syria’s economic growth continued to lag, its small oil reserves to dwindle and its work force to fall behind in acquiring the skills needed in the global economy. Perhaps the most troubling part of Syria’s predicament was an invisible but rising wave of poverty.

For Syria’s elite, this precarious state of affairs was not unusual. For years, its primary strategy for getting by was to accentuate Syria’s importance on the international stage. Between 1970 and 1990, the Syrian regime benefited from the superpower competition of the Cold War. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Damascus relied more heavily on its regional role, beginning with its participation in the US-led coalition to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait in 1991. Washington also quietly appreciated the Syrian army’s presence in Lebanon. At the same time, Damascus posed before Syrian and Arab public opinion as the keeper of the Arab nationalist flame, rejecting Egyptian, Jordanian, and Palestinian deals with Israel, backing Hizballah in Lebanon, and loosing a stream of anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist rhetoric. At the time of Hafiz al-Asad’s death, the challenge before the regime was to bring Syria fully into the regional and international fold without alienating its domestic base of support.

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Medium 9781576754634

Chapter 11 Medicine for Health, Not for Profit

Thom Hartmann Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Andy Stephenson was an activist, a vigilant worker on behalf of clean voting in America. He worked tirelessly to help uncover details of electronic voting fraud in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections. He devoted years of his life to making America a more democratic nation.

But in 2005 his friends had to pass the hat to help pay for surgery to save him from pancreatic cancer. The surgery cost about $50,000, but the hospital wanted $25,000 upfront, and Andy was uninsured.

We are the only developed democracy in the world where such a spectacle could take place.

Dickens wrote about such horrors in Victorian England—Bob Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim, in need of medical care that was unavailable without a wealthy patron like Ebenezer Scrooge—but the United Kingdom has since awakened and become civilized.

Even the tyrants of communist China provide health care to their people, a bitter irony for the unemployed American factory workers they’ve displaced and for the poorly insured Wal-Mart workers who sell their goods.

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CHAPTER 16: Breakout From AT&T

Don M. Frick Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

As I see it, leadership that devotes itself wholly to operating successfully in the here and now—essential as this is—will not measure up to its total responsibility. Leadership is equally called on to build vitality for the long pull… A business must generate vitality under all the circumstances that confront it—not only in times of crisis, but just as much under conditions of success… 1

ROBERT K. GREENLEAF, 1960 Ghostwritten speech for
AT&T President FRED KAPPEL

Beginning with his Jungian dream work in the late fifties, Green-leaf began thinking seriously about taking early retirement from AT&T. By 1964, his first year of eligibility, all the children would have left home, and he and Esther would be free to travel while he taught, consulted, and wrote. Bob had been a teacher for AT&T employees from his earliest days with the company, and since 1950 had been a visiting lecturer at schools like Dartmouth, MIT, and Harvard Business School. He had consulted on a formal or informal basis with companies like IBM and had built a solid writing portfolio, even though many of his pieces were ghost-writing or were published anonymously 230for Alcoholics Anonymous, the Laymen’s Movement, the Cooperative Movement, and Quaker newsletters.

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