The Economics of Happiness

Last night I saw the film with this title.  It was excellent.  The first part of the film describes 8 problems with globalization; the second part of the film suggests that localization is an answer and provides examples of people growing their own food and otherwise building community.  It is a message I have heard before and it is a message with which I am in agreement.

I have made efforts to localize myself.  Every week I go to our farmers’s market.  I grow some of my own food.  I patronize locally-owned businesses.  I volunteer and participate in my community.  But does this make a difference?

The film makers traveled widely to take pictures of people growing their own food.  I suspect that they made the trips in airplanes built in Seattle and fueled with oil from somewhere else.  I suspect they used cameras made in China by Japanese companies.  They had a number of “talking head” interviews in the film, but the people they interviewed were not growing their own food — they were mostly sitting in offices.

I don’t want to sound like I am criticizing the makers of this superb documentary.  This morning I dressed in clothes mostly made in Asia, put on hearing aids made in Switzerland and eyeglasses made in the USA.  I climbed on my bicycle made in Taiwan and rode to this independent cafe where I’m drinking a fair trade coffee from Nicaragua while typing on my netbook from China.

And so on.  Localizing is a good thing to do, but to what extent is it possible to escape the spider web of globalization?  I suspect we need to to seize control of our governments from the corporations and begin reorganizing the world so that ecological and human welfare come first.

Is this what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about, or is it just a demand for a larger slice of the globalized pie?

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