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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book written by a truly great poet, writer, farmer and neighbor who hurts for his people
This book is primarily written about and for local economies in USA; especially rural economies, its destruction and how it can be saved. While discussing them, he questions the motives, intentions and actions of industrial corporations, the "modern education", the stock market economy without getting vitriolic or sarcastic.
I have to say that initially some of you...
Published on September 21, 2010 by Muhammad Asad Khan

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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A New/Old way of thinking.
The ideas have turned me on to a new way of thinking about economics not based on money. The Bible says that money belongs to government, which makes most economics theories firmly outside any biblical worldview. This presents a possible alternative for me to think about.
Published on October 27, 2011 by M. Santiago


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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book written by a truly great poet, writer, farmer and neighbor who hurts for his people, September 21, 2010
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This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
This book is primarily written about and for local economies in USA; especially rural economies, its destruction and how it can be saved. While discussing them, he questions the motives, intentions and actions of industrial corporations, the "modern education", the stock market economy without getting vitriolic or sarcastic.
I have to say that initially some of you who will read it, may feel that Wendell Berry is bringing in Religion in this book and you might be put off by it. But I strongly suggest that you put that judgement aside and keep on reading. It will get more and more fascinating. It will also become clear what he means by the Kingdom or God or Greater Economy of which we are just a part. And this greater Economy has an order far more intricate than we can ever know. I love the example of topsoil - the foundation of our food source and how it is being decimated by modern agriculture, erosion etc. The magic of the topsoil is its ability to hold water well and yet simultaneously drain well. And its strength is made up by the life dying into it and by life living in it. Science can never fully comprehend it - it only measures its quantity or quality. Not its full working. Therefore Nature has a certain mystery that we must humbly accept. He calls simple solutions and package deals a myth created by big industrial corporations. Some nice quotes; "We think that shopping is a patriotic act, and a public service. We tolerate fabulous capitalists who think A BET ON A DEBT IS AN ASSET".
He then talks about local cultures, good forestry and good husbandry of our lands and animals. But despite knowing, we continue to massacre our lands with machines and make people obsolete and cause death of local cultures and bring suffering for the people. And the money made is never reinvested in the local communities. Desecration of our mountains in the case of Mountaintop removal for coal is a classic example of destroying our lands, rivers, forests and communities. Nothing is left of those lands and economies but slow and painful death.
He comments on modern education with its specific emphasis on specialization. He argues that industrial economy requires this because it can separate work from its results because it subsists upon divisions of interest and must deny the fundamental kinships of producer and consumer, seller and buyer, nature and artifice etc.
Later he tells us ways to recover and lessen the damage we have done. He gives an account of Menominee Indians in Northern Wisconsin. They manage their forest so well, so much so that in 1854 when they started logging their forest, it contained billion and a half board feet of standing timber. Today after 140 years, it has equal to or more than the standing board feet timber the forest had in 1854.
He sums it up with very logical and valid arguments that there are no simple solutions, and "free trade" is nothing but modern slavery. And the ultimate freedom cannot be achieved without prosperous local economies and good neighborliness.

I had loved his poetry and now I admire him as a caring neighbor who is fighting for the rural America and its people and culture. Copies of this book will become birthday gifts for many I care and love.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Truths, January 12, 2011
This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
The more I read Wendell Berry, the more I love him, because he says exactly what I've tried to say, only he puts in more eloquently than I ever could. He accurately identifies the problems I've complained about underlying our recent economic doldrums, like vendors who sell promises at a profit and call it "finance," and a near-feudal gap between affluent capitalists and the workers who make their wealth happen.

But Berry isn't satisfied with near-term causes. The recent abusive "Total Economy," in which even our air and water is for sale, stems from a fundamental disconnect between traditional values of neighborliness and community, on the one hand, and an attitude that places monetary worth on everything on the other. We cannot build economic prosperity and phantasms of "growth" on systems that shift debt and despair to the future.

Our problems begin, in Berry's reckoning, with our loss of place, devaluing where we live, and the idea that the land on which we live exists as a consumable resource. When we believe the earth's gifts await our taking, we plunder our own future. When we trust government officials' centralized plans over our own hard-won knowledge of the land we steward, we yoke ourselves to visions that fundamentally don't include us.

Yet this synopsis misses the depth of Berry's insights. Berry keenly and patiently unwraps the official narratives that bind our thinking, showing how our common solutions rely on the same false assumptions that first created our problems. Though his agrarian insights may initially alienate urban readers, as we consider our own stewardship, we realize how culpable we are for our current state, and how responsible we are to the future.

Berry tells the truths we need to hear, even when they sting. He pierces the facades of our simple thinking, showing us the truths that political "rain makers" have struggled to keep out of our view. His writings seem melancholy, but they sing optimistically of the hope that we can still reverse our course. And he provides the hope and vision so many of us have sought for so long.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A call for an individual and local economic plan, March 25, 2011
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This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
Wendell Berry is one of my touchstones and again he didn't fail me in this book. I finished the book saddened however because his thoughts and warnings over the past 20+ years have not been heeded and the effect of Economics on communities and individuals has been much more damaging than he imagined or feared.

I would have given the book 5 stars, but there were a couple of essays that I didn't connect with and I skipped over them. The essays I connected with spoke truth and common sense as always.

"The only true and effective 'operator's manual for spaceship earth' is not a book that any human will ever write; it is hundreds of thousands of local cultures."

In the essay "Economy and Pleasure" Berry the effect of Economics under the guise of altruism still has the same ruinous effect on communities and individuals. "This work has been done, and is still being done, under the heading of altruism:Its aims, as its proponents never tire of repeating, are to 'serve agriculture' and 'to feed the world'. These aims,as stated, are irreproachable;as pursued, they raise a number of doubts. Agriculture, it turns out, is to be served strictly according to the rules of competitive economics. The aim is 'to make farmers more competitive' and 'to make American agriculture more competitive'. Against whom, we must ask, are our farmers and our agriculture to be made more competitive? And we must answer, because we know:Against other farmers, at home and abroad. Now, if the colleges of agriculture 'serve agriculture' by helping farmers to compete against one another, what do they propose to do to help the farmers who have been out-competed? Well, those people are not farmers anymore, and therefore are of no concern to the academic servants of agriculture. Besides, they are the beneficiaries of the inestimable liberty to 'seek retraining and get into another line of work'.

In the essay "An Argument for Diversity" Berry describes how the best use of things in our lives should be determined. "If we wish to make the best use of people,places, and things, then we are going to have to deal with a law that reads about like this:AS the quality of use increases, the scale of use (that is,the size of operations) will decline, the tools will become simpler, and the methods and the skills will become more complex. That is a difficult law for us to believe, because we have assumed otherwise for a long time, and yet our experience overwhelmingly suggests that it is a law, and that the penalties for disobeying it are severe."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars uncommon sense from a sage for our times, July 28, 2013
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Wendell Berry speaks with a clear voice about the cause of many problems we face today. And his solutions to those problems are common sense ones. Unfortunately, he does not have the ears of society's power brokers. The wealth he advocates is one of community, relationships, caring for the health of one's surroundings, and the peace to be found in the simple joys of life. We would all do well to listen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yay Wendell!, February 26, 2012
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This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
Book was in fine shape; just as offered. Wendell Berry's words are treasures. He offers much to think about in regard to what is really important and valuable in today's society. This book should be read by everyone, particularly every businesswoman and legislator.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Already have hard copy, May 1, 2014
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Anything by Wendell Berry is worth multiple readings. He is insightful, thought provoking and writes beautifully.
A collection of essays over time and from varying points. A must have if you are serious about being sustainable, want quality of life or just realise the current economic views are neither realistic nor sustainable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, April 11, 2014
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This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
Filled with insight wisdom and the importance of respecting not only people but the land we walk on and farm as well. Berry speaks from the heart and from his brilliant mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Words for the USA, January 21, 2014
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This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
great. great book, discussing what is really important in our culture and our society, that we have the wrong goals and focuses in our economy and we are hurting ourselves physically, socially, mentally and emotionally.
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4.0 out of 5 stars should be required reading, December 5, 2013
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Depressing that many of the unsustainable practices described here are unlikely to change until we are forced to do so out of desperate necessity
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Health Economy is Concerned With More Than Just $ Profit, December 3, 2013
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This review is from: What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Paperback)
Excellent book that clearly defines a lot of what's wrong with our economy and by extension our society. Berry draws parallels between an unhealthy ecology and an unhealthy economy and discusses how the two are linked.
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What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth
What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth by Wendell Berry (Paperback - May 18, 2010)
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