Charity, Recycling: The Casual Violence

Two big stories on the downturn show the slow motion, casual violence that stems from applying a market system to our most basic commodities:

First, Recycling: the Times comes through with this article on the rapid decline in commodity prices which cut the legs out from under recycling programs.   A simple example of the mis-use of the market model, where something that could become useful becomes trash because the pricing shifts suddenly. Once it shifts past the tipping point, it only accumulates further and becomes even more trash.

Second, charity: a general theme, particularly around the holidays, is the cutback in charity donations.  The pinch runs the other way this time- more people need food, but can’t get to it, because less people donate to food banks during a recession.  The decline pincers the most needy when it really hurts.

The important thing is not to try to design workarounds to each of these problems, but rather view them systemically – as part of a deeply flawed economic system with built in, casual violence


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