The Earth is the ultimate circular economy. It is essentially a closed system where everything cycles and is regenerated and restored. Insofar as we keep within that central concept, we are within the bounds of what is sustainable on the planet… because there is no choice.
The planet as a whole has a circular economy that is comprised of endless smaller circles. We really only see a few and are oblivious to most of the circles; however, if we break them, it can be fatal to our future.
Circles are healthy because they encourage accountability. A farmer who takes care of his own fields is rewarded, as are his children. The entire basis of civilization has been agreed upon laws protecting these circles. Mainly because they work on a practical level.
Many national boundaries are natural: oceans, lakes, rivers, and so on. The people within them adapted to their natural circular economies, and their cultures grew up with knowledge of those circles and their boundaries. Countries that keep breaking their natural circular boundaries fail and their people become refugees.
Although as humans we believe in and adapt to our homes, and expect our governments to protect our traditional boundaries, there is a broad disconnect between governments and their people about whether we have a right to maintain historical boundaries. This loss of our own circular economies is unnatural and breaks the national circle that we live in by agreement.
Once broken, there is no reinforcement that keeps people living in a way that is sustainable. If corporations destroy our country’s agricultural system in favor of shipments from across the globe to increase their profits… we lose ability to feed ourselves and the population feedback that gives us.
What happens locally when there is unrestrained movement of people who break their own circular economy? Globally, we are seeing massive movement towards coalescing in economies that are not broken. Problem is that 7 billion people cannot move to Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Australia, United States, and so on, and live sustainability. It breaks the receiving country’s circular economy.
In the face of these destabilizing circular economies within my own state and country, I know that my own circular economy is at the same risk.
I look at my 5 acre property to determine what is possible for me to create here: can I create shelter from what is available? Can I eat from what grows on my land? Do I have fresh water available? In truth, I can come quite close to doing just that. My small circular economy is fairly complete and I can close any gaps, with time.
One thing I need from my larger circle is government-acceptable housing. This is the biggest barrier in the US to living in a sustainable way on land. There is massive regulation of US housing that is unknown in large parts of the world. More nations are following the western lead in this matter, but still allow poor people to make their small modest homes. It provides a level of social stability in the face of extreme income inequality worldwide.
In the United States, we have rising poverty and income inequality that now mirrors poorer countries. Of the various ways I have seen this addressed, families living together at higher densities is becoming common. Multigenerational homes have been the norm worldwide, but are gaining popularity in the US as more people are without stable income. However, while in Mexico I might see 35 related people living openly in one five bedroom home, each bedroom holding a subfamily… this is illegal in many municipalities in the US.
At one point my son’s neighbor had 11 relatives living with his family of five. In a standard 4 bedroom suburban home, a bit much by American standards and illegal in my son’s community. They eventually moved out when all were employed again. They were also lucky to have someone take them in and neighbors that didn’t report.
Our “recovered” economy has about one-half million homeless today, and many are children. No official numbers, but there are 90 or so tent cities in New York City alone, and tent cities all across our country with unemployed people having minimal shelter.
Our housing laws are so draconian, it is hard for people to buy an inexpensive property and build their own homes, like my father and his father did. We lived in one room for several years with no bathroom but the outhouse. Before that it was a camp trailer. We bathed in the kitchen sink. That is no longer legal in most of this country. The tortoise way is how we ended up with a two story home and no mortgage. The rabbit gets a 30 year mortgage that cannot be paid off without stable income. I would not prohibit either way, but the tortoise is one illegal little guy over most of this nation.
As the economy continues to provide fewer jobs than applicants… how are we going to reconcile these problems? How are we going to reconcile this lack of employment with millions of illegal immigrants? With millions of legal immigrants?
I have heard all the blather about unemployed Americans but… they are ours and we do not have a social net designed to take care of increasing numbers of unemployed. Congress just voted a social net for incoming Syrians while half a million Americans live on the street. Not popular with the people of this country.
If minimum wage is all there is for many working poor, then why are we continuing to pass harsher laws against any life they could create? I grew up poor in a poor area. We worked hard together and built a house on land we bought. I remember being treated well at school and our family was respectable.
Our people are disposable to global megacorporations… can we go back to an older form where it is legal to buy land and build our own shelter? To collect drinking water in cisterns like early settlers? To create small home businesses legally?
The elemental truth is that global megacorporations have passed laws forcing us to buy their services, and in doing so forced us into decades of slavery to their jobs. We have complied with each restriction. Since they now throw us away as worthless to them… can we now throw the rules out that require us to purchase their goods?
Keeping rules made by those who have already moved on is not sustainable for those who have been discarded. Increasing welfare and refusing people the right to become self-sustaining is also not sustainable. Let’s create a new way forward.