The Illusion of Scarcity

At our next “Seeds for the Soul” event next Wednesday, we will be discussing a chapter from one of the books that affected me the most during my time at Augustana, which is “Sacred Economics” by Charles Eisenstein. Eisenstein, although rather idealistic, ask some great questions about the way our economic system works in light of human needs. The following quotation is from chapter 2 in the book, “The Illusion of Scarcity.”

Version 2“It is said that money, or at least the love of it, is the root of all evil. But why should it be? After all, the purpose of money is, at its most basic, simply to facilitate exchange—in other words, to connect human gifts with human needs. What power, what monstrous perversion, has turned money into the opposite: an agent of scarcity?

For indeed we live in a world of fundamental abundance, a world where vast quantities of food, energy, and materials go to waste. Half the world starves while the other half wastes enough to feed the first half. In the Third World and our own ghettos, people lack food, shelter, and other basic necessities and cannot afford to buy them. Meanwhile, we pour vast resources into wars, plastic junk, and innumerable other products that do not serve human happiness. Obviously, poverty is not due to a lack of productive capacity. Nor is it due to a lack of willingness to help: many people would love to feed the poor, to restore nature, and do other meaningful work but cannot because there is no money in it. Money utterly fails to connect gifts and needs. Why?”

This is something I had never considered before. Money has always been merely money to me. I had never seen it as something that creates demand or perceived need in our minds. I had never seen it as disconnected from the world around us. But as Eisenstein goes on to explain, money allows our interactions – with the earth, with each other, with our food – to become anonymous and generic. Eisenstein brought me to the place of discomfort with our current system, and forces the reader to push further and ask the difficult questions, not only of “why,” but also, “how can this change?”

I encourage you to check out chapter 2 here: so that you can join in the conversation at the Camrose Public Library, from 6-8 p.m. next Wednesday to explore these ideas a little bit more. I hope it will encourage you to ask both the “whys” and consider how you factor into the future of how it can change!