Letter to the editor: Land, labor add soul to economy
Any economic system consists of many interacting parts.
They can be boiled down to three key elements: capital, land, and labor.
We all know examples of each.
Different political constructs put varying weights on the three elements.
Capitalists think it is primarily, if not all, about the capital.
Socialists think that the key element is the people. Environmentalists believe that the ecology is the most fundamental and, that without it, there can be no economy or community.
Vermont’s original human inhabitants saw the land as being alive and enchanted and humanity and its associated labor being part of the land. The first white settlers saw the land as a natural resource to be exploited and after 30 years most of the places where they lived were spent. Just like in bread, cake or soup, vary the proportions and value of the very same ingredients of labor, land, and capital in an economy and the end results and products will be very different.
What do labor and land have that capital lacks? Think of the places where and people who see getting a return on capital as being Job 1.
Think of the places where land is honored and allowed to be self-willed to at least some degree.
Think of communities where labor is seen first as family and friends and second or perhaps last as being agents for getting a return on investment. Vermont has plenty of examples of each.
What is the primary difference between the capital-focused places and the land- and/or labor-focused places?
Capital-focused places like Wall Street and Walmart are almost entirely lacking in it.
Land- and labor-focused places like organic farms and folk festivals are awash in it.
Soul brings vitality, spirit, and connection to a place and it fills the relationships with compassion, empathetic joy, and gratitude. Capital is fine and necessary, but when baking my economic bread, please be sure to put in heaping scoops of healthy and beautiful land and joy-filled labor.
Soul makes all the difference.
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