Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Small is Still Beautiful Review, Part III

Part III of my Small is Still Beautiful book review and summary. See Part II here, and Part I here.
Schumacher outlines several ways governments can convert towards a small scale economy in the following ways:
1.      Favor small businesses and discourage larger businesses through a graduated tax.
2.      Reduce regulation: regulation decreases the ability for small business to be competitive, because it results in less flexibility for small businesses to serve the local population, increased costs from hiring lawyers, and more bureaucracy from dealing with red tape. Furthermore, small businesses cannot afford lobbyists to tip competition in their favor. In particular, overregulation limits innovation on green, sustainable farming.
3.      Stop subsidizing intensive farming. When New Zealand stopped subsidizing farming, its pasture lands began to recover, and agriculture recovered economically.
4.      Subsidize organic farming.
5.      Redistribute private property so that more individuals hold land, as opposed to a few
individuals or corporations holding vast amounts of land. Whereas vast land-holders tend to overwork and destroy the land, small farmers are forced to conserve their land because they cannot afford to purchase more land or simply move onto the next acre.
Schumacher outlines several ways individual citizens and small communities can convert towards a small scale economy in the following ways:
1.      Urban citizens should begin city farms, which will increase health and cut down on transportation of food from the countryside.
2.      Use intermediate technology: This is technology that is appropriate for the local community. For example, if a community has abundance in labor, technology should be labor intensive. Workers, workplaces, and consumers should be local. The investment required should be cheap and conserve electricity. Decisions should be made locally and at the lowest level of leadership possible. For example, break times should be decided by the workers and the manager, and not designed by corporate HR policy.
3.      Within large corporations, incorporate “smallness within bigness.” Here a large company is broken down into smaller independent, but united, units. Instead of one large pyramid structure, think of a series of smaller pyramids.
4.      Begin producers’ cooperatives: these are business where the workers and shareholders are the same people. This creates true working communities, as well as a sense of investment, responsibility, and ownership among everyone who works in the company. Decisions are handled in a more democratic, rather than autocratic, manner. Customers are local, which provide for more consumer loyalty and immediate consumer feedback.
Continue onto Part IV (last part)

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