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I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been I = M - S Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what ...

10/23/10

I was reading an essay* by Gandhiji the other day in which he suggested swadeshi as an economics principle. He went on to explain that it meant not so much buying what is nationally produced over what is produced abroad, but rather buying from what and who is close to us, our neighbors.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I prefer to buy the food I get at the farmer's market down the street from me. I like to go to my local stores in Berkeley. I do not go to Costco or WalMart or stores like that. This I do instinctively, without a lot of thought. I like being swadeshi.

The economics behind this idea and the local food and other local movements is simple: We are not producers and consumers but people. Buying and selling (and thus working) are two sides of the same coin. How we buy exactly reflects how we sell. If we buy cheaper and cheaper we also, over the long haul, sell cheaper and cheaper. If we buy sweated goods we also sell sweated goods. It is not possible to keep buying mass produced cheap products from thousands of miles away while maintaining or improving our standard of work and hence our standard of living.

Free trade equals free fall. Local trade on the other hand nourishes the organic relationships between people who buy and sell never as the split-personalities of producers and consumers that classical economics would have us believe but as whole people.

*Address delivered before the Missionary Conference on February 14, 1916.

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