Small Is Beautiful and Local Is Even More So

We have a rare opportunity on Tuesday, May 12 to hear Michael Shuman speak.  The lecture is free and open to the public, 7:30 p.m. in the Rackham Building.  Shuman is to goods-and-services-oriented businesses what Michael Pollan is to agriculture.  In his book, The Small-Mart Revolution, he sets up a dichotomy between “local ownership and import substitution” (LOIS) businesses, and the globalized “there is no alternative” (TINA) businesses that have taken over so much of American life.  His thesis is that we can live better and happier by supporting community-based enterprises and that the TINA businesses are responsible for many of our modern (economic) ills.  He calls the economy based on TINA “Wreckonomics”. The book was published in 2006, but remarkably enough says this in its first chapter:

“One of the central paradoxes of contemporary American life is that despite so much wealth and progress, we have never been so insecure.  Millions of middle-class Americans have taken advantage of low interest rates and borrowed their way to short-term stability, but we know that sooner or later this will come crashing down…Many of us are no further than one layoff, one major illness, or one national calamity away from plunging into a personal economic tailspin.”

He has many examples and prescriptions, and has continued the fight in many forums, as documented in his blog.  I’m looking forward to hearing him in person.

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