Andersen: Tasch offers antidote to ‘Moneytheism’
Moneytheism is a thriving religion whose practitioners raise hosannas to holy mammon and make sacrifices at the altar of materialism. The worshipping of wealth has a long tradition that hasn’t changed despite the scold Jesus delivered to the money changers in the temple.
“Moneytheism” was coined by Woody Tasch, a featured speaker at Aspen Renewable Energy Day, where he will moderate a panel at 3:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11. If you care about communities and the food you eat, listen to what Tasch has to say.
Tasch is the author of “Slow Money,” a landmark book that preaches a far different gospel than moneytheism. His premise is that investing in local organic farming can slow the flow of money by refocusing investment responsibilities.
Rather than quantitative measures, like profit and acquisition, “Slow Money” suggests that investment choices should be qualitative, deriving from values deeper than the next fiscal quarter or the excesses of personal wealth.
One way to avoid the pitfall of moneytheism, says Tasch, is to value soil as the foundation of healthy communities, strong relationships, sustainable farming, and the quality of the food on our tables.
Tasch takes exception with today’s agri-business conglomerates which, he writes, “treat the soil as if it were nothing more than a medium for holding plant roots so that they can be force-fed a chemical diet.”
This has become acceptable as an industrialized solution to feeding humanity based on the profit motive. That overbearing system, says Tasch, fails to acknowledge the fragile nature of soil and the value of living communities that create healthy soil and live on it.
Tasch is more concerned with the growth of earthworms and organic crops than with the growth of global capital that exploits soil fertility and the health of communities.
“In a financial system organized to optimize the efficient use of capital,” he writes, “we should not be surprised to end up with cheapened food, millions of acres of GMO corn, billions of food miles, dying Main Streets, kids who think food comes from supermarkets, and obesity epidemics side by side with persistent hunger.”
“Slow Money” is a revolutionary tract that warns against outmoded Industrial Age thinking in the Anthropocene age of climate change and species extinctions.
“Buy Low/Sell High made sense as a cornerstone of fiscal responsibility when the Depression and World War II still cast their shadows over the soul of America,” he writes. “We do not have time any more to limit our discourse to the lexicon of unlimited economic growth.”
That cornucopian myth, writes Tasch, is based on a grave misconception: “Today we need to reexamine the conventions of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance … for a world whose social fabric is fraying and whose biological integrity is under threat.”
In a world driven by “moneytheism,” what seems financially prudent for disconnected investors may, in the long run, threaten universal, long-term security. Investments, when looked at as a willful act, are personal expressions of character and individual ethics that require accountability.
“Every investment we make is a statement of intention,” Tasch writes, “a statement of purpose, a speculation about the future of man and his role in the scheme of things, not merely a financial speculation.”
Tasch says that investing in small organic farming honors soil fertility, healthy communities and sustainability. The latter has become a buzz word as scientists realize that natural systems built over millions of years are being stressed beyond their capacities in a very short time.
“Slow Money” warns that the world of finance today routinely pursues economic benchmarks at the risk of incurring enduring environmental and social costs.
When I interviewed Tasch this spring, he noted that the same week the stock market broke through 1600 for the first time, a simultaneous breakthrough occurred with atmospheric carbon breaking the 400 parts per million (PPM) level. There is linkage in those figures.
Slow Money clubs are groups of investor who underwrite organic farms as an alternative to chemical dependency and exploitation. They support food production that doesn’t harm natural systems or its eaters.
One of those clubs — The Two Forks Club — is forming locally to nurture communities and the soil they’re built on.
Paul Andersen’s column appears on Monday. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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