Letter To The Editor

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Hi Pip,

I came across an idea recently that has rocked my thinking and views on permaculture. Perhaps you’ll share my interest. It’s this: self-sufficiency is poverty.

Skills today have advanced to a point where they take tremendous dedication to master. You can be barely competent, or you can trade with someone (likely dollars) to do it better and faster for you.

If I can make $60/hr doing my work, should I be spending an hour making a loaf of bread that I can buy for $4? Sometimes it’s fun to DIY. Occasionally you can get a better result. But as a strategy, as a way of living? I’m starting to think it’s a mistake.

The reason we enjoy so much material wealth is because humans specialised and traded. It’s why we’re so rich (and dependent). I’m becoming increasingly convinced that specialisation and trade is the way forward, within the permaculture ethical framework.

Thoughts?

Cheers,

Greg


Hi Greg,

Yes, it might not make fiscal sense but having the knowledge and the skills required to do these things means you are less reliant on a flawed system. You might be financialy poorer but you are richer in so many other ways. For me the beauty behind making your own bread, growing your own food etc is the joy and satisfaction that it brings.

I have resisted using the term self-sufficiency in the past because of this exact point you are making, we shouldn’t be trying to do everything ourselves. What we are talking about is increasing your self-sufficiency as a community so you can trade, swap and barter your skills, services and produce with those that might be more skilled around you.

Regards,

Robyn

Author

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