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The Economy of Unknowing

As an economist, I study and teach about money, markets, and the economy. Given that I have been on this professional journey for nearly half a century, something makes me feel that I should have it all pretty much figured out by now. But I don’t. In some ways, I know less now than I once did. Perhaps this is good. Perhaps some unknowing is just what we need to improve our understanding of what the economy is and how it should work.

On Money (November 2015)

The Price of Lettuce

So yesterday, a lady comes to our produce table at the local Farmer’s Market, hefts one of our football-sized sweet potatoes, and asks, “How much?”

On Money (November 2015)

Voluntary Poverty Has to Be a Choice

I have read quite a few articles recently about “green” living, reducing footprints, and sustainability. None of them have mentioned one of the greatest ways of creating positive change in the world. Voluntary poverty is a far more fundamental and effective way to decrease consumption and impact, while increasing human connection and improving life all around. Our family of four lives on about $7000 a year, and our lives are more enjoyable, fuller, richer, healthier, and more interesting to us than the life we see being lived in the mainstream economy. This is nothing new of course; sages and mystics have been sharing the joys of voluntary poverty and simplicity for eons. But voluntary poverty is rarely seen as a positive lifestyle choice in modern-day America.

On Money (November 2015)

Little People

Dear Editor:  We were excited to see your photos on the front and back covers of the new Western Friend (Sept/Oct 2015), showing the little Fisher Price people. Our grandson, who will be two in November, LOVES the ones that belonged to our son, his father. Recently, he put them facing each other and turned to us explaining, “Talking.” The next week, when I played a CD of a singer we’d heard at the Farmers Market, he lined them up to listen. Many of them represent us! In your photos, the one in the cap is his “Dada.” This is all done with no input from us, and we find it amazing and wonderful. Here’s a pic of Zander’s arrangement of his “people” listening. Cheers for play!

On Money (November 2015)

On Play (letter)

Dear Editor:  It was wonderful to see an entire issue of Western Friend devoted to play! (Sept/Oct 2015) As a retired childcare director who believes in the value of play for young children, I am thrilled.

On Money (November 2015)

Responses to Fears of Terrorism

Dear Editor: Recently a friend (notice the lower case), asked me to explain “the Quaker position” on the current “Islamist attacks” (his words, not mine). I am curious to learn other Friends’ thoughts about this question. I am sure that if you got three Quakers together, you would get four different answers.

On Countries (January 2016)

Dangerous Tipping Point

Dear Editor: I just finished reading the latest issue of Western Friend [Nov/Dec 2015]. The subject of Quakers and economics is something I have thought about a great deal. I often think, “Well, you don’t get bonus points for good intentions and bad outcomes.” The Quakers, at least in the past, were better than others at linking good intentions to good outcomes.

On Countries (January 2016)

A Sustainable Life - Review

Doug Gwyn has established himself among Friends as a scholar, teacher, and writer of consequence. He has helped us through several decades to appreciate and vitalize our peculiar ways of being.

On Countries (January 2016)

On Beginning

“This isn’t working. We need to start over.” Virtually nobody ever wants to hear that. Our natural tendency is to protect our accomplishments and hang onto what we’ve got, even if that might not be good for us. Our brains are not designed to assess risk accurately. We underrate the risks of the mundane (cars, bathrooms) and overrate the risks of the dramatic (airplanes, tornadoes). The Known typically appears safer than The Unknown.

On Beginning (March 2016)

Be Not Afraid

Dear Friends: When an angel, according to biblical records, encounters a living human being, the first thing the angel says is. “Fear not!” or “Be not afraid!” or words to that effect.

On Beginning (March 2016)