Finding Real Wealth: Twice the Value for Half the Resources

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Description: Imagine a way of life that's culturally richer but materially leaner. In this emerging lifestyle, there is less stress, insecurity, pollution, doubt and debt, but more vacation time, more solid connections with nature, more participation in the arts, amateur sports and politics. There is greater reliance on human energy - fueled by complex carbohydrates - and less reliance on ancient sunlight stored as pollution-filled fossil fuel. There are fewer fluorescent hours in the supermarket, more sunny afternoons out in the vegetable garden. Instead of being passive consumers, doggedly tread-milling to keep up with overproduction, we'll choose healthy, renewable forms of wealth such as social capital (networks and bonds of trust) whose value increases the more we spend it. We'll choose stimulating work that's more like a puzzle than a prison sentence. And we'll choose acquired skills and interests that enhance our free time, making money less of a stressful imperative.Canada and the European Union have already started down this enviable path, making political and cultural space for values that lie beneath the bottom line of monetary wealth. For example, most EU countries give legal standing to mandatory family leave from work, part-time jobs with pro-rated benefits, higher taxes on energy use and pollution in exchange for lower income taxes and "take-back" laws requiring manufacturers to recycle products at the end of their use. An everyday ethic is emerging in Europe that encourages sustainable behavior by popular demand. Says John de Graaf, coauthor of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, "Western European countries have invested in their social contracts. Strategic investments in Healthcare, education, transportation and public space reduced the need (and desire) of individuals to maximize their own incomes."On the other hand, in places like the U.S. and Australia, subsidized development patterns and an ingrained quest for privacy and consumption often spin off unheal
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