Manifesto of Thrift
Manifesto of Thrift: This is rough - and requires revisions. It was not included in the book
because it is too much an exercise in intellectual pontification - rather than a practical
Chapter 9: Manifesto of Thrift
1.1 Manifesto of Thrift
1.2 Economics of Thrift
Economic myths and realities
Costs, real costs, avoided costs
The theory of avoided costs
Application of the Theory
In this chapter I present a “manifesto” of thrift. In the dictionary a manifesto is described
as a public declaration of intentions, motives, and views and that’s what I’ll do here.
Many people might agree that the most widely recognized (and notorious) manifesto ever
written was The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx. Here, I don’t expect to inspire lofty
ideals, murders, social upheaval, revolutions, and endless debates about the meanings of
words and phrases. However, I do hope to inspire you to be frugal, and as we’ll see, that
can have sweeping consequences
In this chapter, I will begin with a short summary of the manifesto, and then discuss in
more detail certain aspects of the manifesto. In the next chapter I will consider thrift from
a historical perspective, going from the past into the future; from where we have been, to
where we are now to where we could be. In the following chapters, chapters 3 though 7, I
will consider methods and prescriptions for achieving ZCL.
The observations and statements in this chapter could be expanded to another book or
shelf of books, each with arcane statements, arguments, equations, mathematical
formulas and pages of nit-picking footnotes to support them as others have done. But in
this book I want to get on to solutions, and thereby avoid getting caught in webs of
You may be more interested in these solutions, in methods for achieving ZCL. If the topic
of this chapter don’t interest you, and you are anxious to get on with learning how to live
almost zero cost, skip it entirely and go on the chapter on “Methods”.
You’re going to read it? Well then, here is my ponderous, pontificating, pulchritudinous
manifesto of thrift.
MANIFESTO OF THRIFT:
A specter is haunting the world, the specter of thrift. All the powers of modern society
have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise the specter. Economists and bankers,
CEO’s and stockholders, congresses and presidents, Chinese industrialists and Saudi
Kings all fear the nightmare that folks might NOT BUY.
Not buying means masses of imported junk foisted upon people remain unbought on the
shelves. Oil prices plunge. Credit cards remain in wallets and bank accounts of common
folks grow, giving them greater freedom to be discerning in their purchases instead of
living paycheck-to-paycheck and buying day to day. Folks gain a measure of economic
independence. And if folks do not buy they need not earn, and therefore need not work as
employees. Certain obnoxious low paying jobs have no takers. Sales decline, profits
decline, stock prices plunge, recession and depression loom. Patches of the environment
that are still pristine remain undisturbed by bulldozers.
Heretofore NOT BUYING was involuntary. Loss of jobs, assets, income and credit
forced people to NOT BUY. In the future looms the specter of people NOT BUYING by
conscious choice by relearning and practicing old and new methods of thrift; methods
detailed later in the this book.
2. The Situation:
The economic world is in flux. Past centuries of no change or slow change have morphed
into a perfect storm of change today. These changes are all too familiar, broadcast in
news headlines everyday in stories describing outsourcing and off-shoring of jobs,
factory closings, floods of imports, hordes of illegal immigrants, relentless technological
innovations, inflation, unprecedented personal and national debt, and delcines in the
value of assets including homes and investments. The proclaimed positive effects of
economic change: economic growth, greater wealth for everyone, better jobs, lower
prices, have been drowned out in a sea of negative effects. Though some folks have
benefited from recent economic change, sadly, American working folks have been at the
receiving end of the negative effects.
The fact is no one can count on economic stability anymore. There is only turmoil.
Stability in the economy is continually undermined. Industries underpinning the
economies of entire regions are swept away. Cycles of boom and bust suffered by the
economy in the past are intensified and deepened and made more universal. In the
economic realm nothing can be counted on.
Folks work in jobs that are more specialized than ever and more unstable than ever. It
may be useless to invest in more education, in training and retraining for jobs that are so
unstable. Upon finishing their education students may find the jobs they trained for have
You may contemplate starting a business. But there is no certainty, no stability in business
either. Markets have become too volatile, prices too instable. Waves of new imports,
technological innovation, a competitive business hiring illegal immigrants or outsourcing
what your business does or makes may wipe you out.
Why all this change? If you want to know why this is happening as the old gumshoe
saying goes, “just follow the money”.
The Global Corporate Capitalist Economy:
The cause of all of this change is the global corporate capitalist economy, (the GCCE).
Like a computer or aliens taking over the world in some science fiction movie the GCCE
strives to take over the world today. Indeed it is far along in the process.
What motivates the GCCE? In a word: profit. Though they may give lip service to other
goals, for the GCCE making profits is all that really matters. Profit is power. Greed is
king. To make profits, bigger profits every day they continually strive to make products
cheaper and sell them for more. They strive to pay working folks less and charge the
consumers of their products more. And, they seek to get consumers into a position where
they have no other choice but to buy their products
In the GCCE economy the consequence of and validation of profit is economic growth.
The measure of economic growth is the Gross National Product or GNP. Though other
measures of economic and social progress exist in the GCCE GNP, like profits is the only
measurement that matters. All other measures of progress are suspect: health, safety,
leisure, freedom, the environment or social stability. Thus the GCCE can invest in the
most heinous regimes without any moral concern. And under the GCCE anything or
anyone that stands in the way of economic growth and profit is in the way of the GCCE
and therefore to be swept aside peacefully (and cheaply) if possible, by force (and
regardless of expense) if necessary.
The GCCE is a giant bestriding the world today. The whole intent of the GCCE is to
achieve unchallenged global domination, to have power over every aspect of people’s
lives. To achieve this they make folks dependent, helpless, and subservient to their
products, services, jobs, and wealth.
The Old American Economy strove for the opposite goal, to help folks become
independent and self-sufficient, giving away free land, relying on a modest and simple
government, keeping the military small and weak, keeping taxes low, avoiding foreign
entanglements, whether treaties or wars, and keeping a lid on the wealth and power of big
businesses. But the old economy was undermined and destroyed by the GCCE long ago.
Today, the GCCE moves American jobs offshore, thanks to free trade, cheap labor, low
shipping costs and stable sea-lanes. Prices fall for many products and services in
consequence and cheaper products and services would seem to make the consumer better
off. But, as jobs are lost, wages fall, so that relative to prices the consumer is no better off
than before. And these prices are temporary. Once America is stripped of manufacturing
capacity and capability, including the skills and knowledge needed, the GCCE can raise
prices rise without concern about American competition. Enter inflation. Inflation
formerly held in check by falling prices returns with a vengeance. Prices rise for
everything, and the value of the American dollar declines. The end result, American
working folks will find themselves working for unprecedented low wages in the near
future. Sure, the minimum wage will be up a little at $7 or $8 an hour, but these dollars
will be sadly depleted in their purchasing power. Thus the wages and incomes of most
Americans will fall to the levels of the rest of the world, levels seen in China and India.
Chinese labor will see little of the money drained from the American consumer. They
have no rights, no unions, an abundance of labor. China has a bottomless pool of
available workers, keeping wages there low for the indefinite future. Chinese wages will
rise a little, maybe, in consequence of the rise in value of the Chinese $ relative to the
American dollar. The GCCE, as the middlemen in the transactions between America and
China will take the money drained from Americans in the form of increasing profits, and
these increasing profits will be a larger percentage of the cost of everything.
The GCCE should be thought of as a mining operation continually stripping wealth out of
the hands of consumers/working folks.
To assure their continuing ability to strip mine working people the GCCE practices an
unrelenting assault on the freedom, security, health, and wealth of working folk. The
GCCE assault their standard of living by outsourcing jobs, cheap imports, inflation, and
illegal immigrants. The GCCE move economic activities offshore, outsource jobs to
places where labor is forced and paid incredibly low wages: to communist countries, poor
countries, overpopulated countries, countries without effective environmental or safety
laws or social safety nets. Then they flood America with cheap imports wiping out local
business and local production. Businesses that survive in America increasingly rely on
low paid illegal immigrants without the rights of citizens to do the jobs that remain.
For American working folks and working people the world over, there is no place to hide,
no economic stability anymore, and no relief from this incessant and pitiless attack on
their standard of living.
And, we see again ancient evils long thought expunged from the world raise their ugly
heads: child labor, sweat shops, slavery in all but name, industrial ‘accidents’, and new
evils never before imagined: climate change, global warming, ozone holes, chemical
pollution from the arctic seas to the Antarctic snowfields, and new diseases as our bodies
are assaulted by new chemical concoctions, and microbes adapt to the new global
Because the economy is global, supply disruptions are possible from myriad causes:
terrorism, rogue states, war, natural disasters. Globalization requires the United States to
be the world’s policeman to try to assure stability for the GCCE. Just staying home is
made impossible. We dare not let our guard down anywhere in the world or supply
disruptions, price spikes and shortages might result. Thus we are stuck with the
unenviable task of trying to impose our order upon the lawless nations of Africa, on the
remote valleys of Afghanistan, on the trackless jungles of South East Asia, on every
kasbah and mosque in the Middle East, on every place that shows signs of social disorder.
No place is exempt. We are stuck with a dangerous, bloody and thankless job.
With cruel and cynical irony corporations that rely for their security on the American
military and derive their income from contracts with the government of the United States
move their headquarters and operations offshore where they can avoid taxes and
regulations. Halliburton moves to Dubai. Company profits go up, costs go down, America
foots the bill.
The global corporate capitalist economy imposes an inevitable pattern, repeated over and
over upon the socioeconomic history of the modern world. The GCCE uses Britain, the
United States or whatever nation best suits its purpose as the military platform or base, to
impose its own version of social order on the world, whereupon it can move technology,
economic growth and development to nations where working folks are impoverished,
where they have no rights, where wage are low, and a desperate, servile population
eagerly executes their will. Economic growth in the base nation; America, stagnates
except in military occupations and the design of ever more deadly weapons; until the
GCCE finds another nation to serve as its new military base. Then, no longer useful to the
GCCE, the husk of the old base nation is abandoned to rot. Any jobs that can be
outsourced offshore will be outsourced. The people left behind; remembering affluence;
well educated and proud; now embittered become unsuitable human raw materials for the
requirements of the GCCE.
With sources of taxes dried up, the American economy will no longer be able to afford
the American military. But the GCCE is already finding other methods to maintain their
security. Corporations such as Blackwater get into the security business, creating private
armies for hire. These corporations pay their ‘help’ extremely well, while national
governments pay very badly. Military personnel will increasingly become mercenaries
for corporations and no longer be loyal to the United States or to any other nation. Private
armies will arise not tied to any nation but to the corporations that can pay the highest
price. Then the GCCE will not need to depend on any particular nation as a base of
operation. Nations will become irrelevant and obsolete.
Probably the greatest modern improvement over the technology of the 19th century is in
medicine. Today medical knowledge and abilities to keep folks well, and to care for and
cure the sick are vastly improved. Sadly, today our economy works hard to undermine the
health gains we have made. The economy promulgates pollution, pesticides, obesity, bad
food, unsafe vehicles, and stress from economic instability. Medical advances are
undermined by globalization and the free market: by new diseases that are mutations of
old diseases, and new kinds pollution.
Dynamic of GCCE domination:
With the advent of globalized production prices go up and wages drop. Prices for globally
produced imports may be cheap at first, undermining and destroying domestic
competitors. Eventually though, when the GCCE gets a stranglehold on the market, they
raise prices. They can get away with raising prices when working folks and local
businesses no longer have the skill or tools or will to restore local production or to go
back to earlier methods of production, which could provide alternatives to the products of
the GCCE, and thus competition and lower prices again.
Society is no longer organized to make it easily possible to go back to earlier and in many
ways more efficient ways of life: extended families do not live together anymore,
formerly compact cities are spread out over the landscape making it too far to walk
anywhere. Interurban commuter railroads went bankrupt long ago. Extensive suburban
areas have become too spread out to be effectively served by mass transit.
Working folks have become incapable of taking care of themselves and so must rely on
the GCCE for their sustenance and livelihoods. The GCC economy relentlessly strives to
undermine their independence and self-sufficiency. Technology is continually invented
that increases their dependence.
The GCCE embraces specialization. Each worker has only one skill, a simple skill, an
easily replaceable skill; like a machine (and s/he is frequently replaced by a machine).
Their jobs require skills that need little or no training, knowledge or education. Their jobs
are designed so that they learn nothing from them that could increase their value and thus
their wages. They are stripped of the opportunity to use their minds in their jobs and thus
improve their economic situation.
But the GCCE is vulnerable. In the changes it engenders it undermines itself. The GCCE
can assure no stability for itself either. Victims of the GCCE become conscious of the
cause their circumstance, and foment political and social opposition to the GCCE. Folks
newly enriched because of the GCCE such as the Chinese; seeing expanding industries
and new jobs are of course its most ardent supporters, at least at first.
And, sometimes the GCCE goes too far, becomes too greedy in their eagerness to strip-
mine the incomes of consumers/working folks. Then, consumer/workers buying falters,
threatening recession, possibly depression. And, the impoverishment of folks if allowed
to go too far threatens the foundations of the global corporate capitalist economic system.
The GCCE is a giant, but a vulnerable giant. Vulnerable to a stone to the forehead, a
stone called thrift; thrift applied consciously.
Thrift is the antidote to the global corporate capitalist economy.
Thrift is a monkey wrench in the global economic system. Hence economists are anxious
that the Chinese cease their thriftiness and become consumers like Americans thus
increasing demand for GCCE products (with Americans desperately hoping the Chinese
will buy something, anything made in America). So Chinese frugality, like American
frugality of the past; must be undermined and folks made into spendthrift consumers.
The whole impetus of the economic life of working folks must be to get out of this
turmoil, to escape the economic trap set by the GCCE, to build bastions of economic
security that insulate them from the GCC economy.
Economic security is difficult to attain for working folks, but easy for the wealthy. The
wealthy have a mote of money, a cushion of assets and resources and knowledge (such as
high priced and competent investment advisors). And, the wealthy everywhere welcome
the GCCE and economic instability it promulgates. In times of turmoil they can make
new investments, drawing from their cushions of assets. Instability may open up
opportunities for them to make profits or increase profits. Indeed the intelligent rich
welcome recession as an opportunity to buy assets; real estate, stocks, and commodities
at sale prices. Recession may cause them to suffer a temporary loss of part of their
wealth, but with economic recovery they stand to gain greater wealth in the future.
Of course working folks have no cushion and bear the brunt of a recession. Job loss,
income cut, no savings, no options, thrifty ways forgotten or never learned. But thrift
practiced as Zero Cost Living can become the cushion of working folks.
The benefits of spending have been set down ad-nausium by economists. Here are the
advantages of NOT BUYING. Here is what thrift can do.
Thrift can cushion the negative effects of the world economy. The not-so-simple practice
of thrift mitigates all of the bad effect of the GCCE. How? By reducing the need for $ or
$ flow; by reducing the need to buy necessities.
Thrift means folks can save $, and can build facilities and enterprises that can produce the
stuff they need, and then they might not have to work for others.
Thrift can make it possible for working people to refuse to work for others, and yet not be
faced with poverty and destitution.
Thrift can establish economic stability and price stability. Thrift can slay the dragon of
Thrift makes it possible for folks to reduce, eliminate and stay out of debt.
Thrift can mean armies of illegal immigrant labor will no longer replace Americans
because we do not require the services they perform, do not need to buy the products they
make or pick. They are no longer hired to do the dirty work of American society because
we can do those jobs ourselves.
Thrift makes it possible for folks to stand on their own two feet, to live with freedom and
If thrift is such a good thing why is it not widely practiced today. It is in small ways:
looking for the station with the cheapest gas, holding off buying stuff until it is on sale,
surfing E-Bay for the best deal. But, to gain the full positive benefits of thrift it must be
practiced at a new level of intensity.
And, practiced at the level of intensity that I call Zero Cost Living thrift can be hard,
requiring time and knowledge and investment. Practiced as ZCL thrift is not simple at all.
It is complicated. It is a struggle, a battle, but a battle that can be won. I believe that given
modern knowledge and technology such as the Internet thrift can be made, must be made
Corporations and government, pundits and leader talk about thrift. Sometimes they even
tell people they should save money. But really, they do next to nothing to encourage it
among working folks. The fact is they don’t want it. If working folks became thrifty,
buying less junk, profits would fall. Working folks might become more independent;
refuse to take bad jobs at low wages. Who would do the dirty work of society? And do it
for less money. The GCCE wants you to be maxed out on credit buying their junk,
thereby ensuring their profits, and work the longest hours possible at the lowest wage
Through thrift (practiced as ZCL) working folks can have power as consumers. .
Consumer power has always existing but has almost never been consciously used.
Folks NOT BUYING occurred in the past by necessity, not by choice. Not buying causes
or is caused by recession, when the economy contracts, GNP declines and folks cannot
buy because of lost or declining income and because of a loss of credit.
By building up a thrifty economy folks can buy or not buy as they choose.
Folks can become conscious consumers.
Conscious Consumers are folks who are aware and able to control spending because they
have built up knowledge and systems that make it possible for them to control spending.
It becomes possible for consumers to have conscious economic power. It becomes
possible to have a consumer strike. A consumer’s strike is the most powerful
manifestation of thrift. What is a consumer strike? It is a conscious choice by many, many
folks to NOT BUY. It is like the old Boston Tea party reinvented as a new American Tea
Party. It is not buying a specific product or possibly all of the products of an economy
thereby bringing on an intentional recession. Why bring about an intentional recession if
it only hurts working folks (as said earlier). Because with thrift established they have a
For example, to curb oil prices everyone (or at least a large enough minority to
significantly reduce demand) might refuse to buy gasoline, or alternatively might refuse
to buy all products; thus reducing demand for oil by bringing on an intentional recession.
The refusal to buy by the practitioners of a consumer strike is a conscious and deliberate
choice; rather than forced and involuntary due to recession, job loss, lowered income and/
or loss of credit.
(Here I want to mention that it would be a good idea for folks to establish a thrifty
economy while they still have some money - money to invest in systems/technologies
that make it unnecessary for them to spend money yet be able to live in easea and
And so consumers can initiate a “consumer strike” or not, buy or not at will - rather than
having to buy out of necessity. Thrift gives power and freedom. Thrift is the key weapon
for consumer power.
Therefore: Markets can be forced to bend to the consumer will.
The New Middel class and the new Economy:
Along with the establishment of thrift, a New Middle Class must come into existence that
can buy or not buy as it chooses. Then this New Middle Class (NMC) would have the
power to influence prices, wages, living standard and quality of life.
The Old Middle Class was and is dependent on the GCCE and its wealthy supporters for
jobs, products and services. It serves as the middleman between the wealthy/GCCE, and
working folks. The NMC will sever dependence on the GCCE. They will be in a position
to defy the wealthy/GCCE and not have to worry that they’ll lose their jobs or not get the
products they need. This new class must create or recreate a new locally based economy
not dependent on the GCCE and its imports.
A new economy will be needed to support the new middle class. Simultaneous with the
growth of the NMC, the NMC must consciously build this new economy. And they must
not build a haphazard volatile vulnerable free market economy. Though independent
businesses might be part of the New Economy, the Core must be networks of private non
The New Economy must build up tools, organizations, facilities and services that can
provide locally made and homemade products. An economy ready to go into production
whenever global prices rise, or GCCE jobs leave your area, or supply disruptions occur.
(Even domestic production is made more expensive as transportation and processing
costs rise; for California and Florida produce for example. Thus local production
becomes more competitive even with other regions of domestic production).
A problem exists in the creation of the New Economy. Local productive resources:
knowledge, tools, machines, have been wiped out. Folks may require retaining, new
skills, or rediscovering of old skills. They may have to go back to earlier methods of
production, methods that have become competitive again. For examples: wooden toys
and furniture might replace imported plastic and particleboard junk.
The New Economy might aim to create a complete set of local economic enterprises
producing all the basic things folks need: food, health care, energy, shelter, mobility,
recreations etc. The New Economy might be oriented towards local production for local
use. Production for export, requiring specialization of labor (and the compromises it
requires) might be attempted as side enterprises relying primarily on surpluses of
products and services intended for local consumption.
Reduced to poverty and dependence and specialized beyond all humanity to robot-like
jobs; working and middle class folks must become conscious, learn to take care of
themselves as they never learned or could learn under the regime of the GCCE. And
under the Communist regime of China, now a partner of the GCCE, Chinese folks will
not learn independence either. These economic regimes are dedicated to keeping and
creating consumer/workers who are specialized in their jobs, and buy everything else. But
job losses and changes, and economic instability make specialization dangerous to your
economic security and therefore you must escape that trap.
The rest of this chapter elaborates on the ideas summarized in this manifesto.
1.2 ECONOMICS OF THRIFT:
ECONOMIC MYTHS and REALITIES:
People today are hobbled by economic myths. We live today encapsulated in myths as
potent as the religious myths that made the ancient Egyptians build immense pyramids so
the souls of their kings could join the gods. Our myths are economic, and are as
insubstantial as Egyptian religious myths, and the structures we build in consequence of
our modern myths are vastly more massive than the pyramids; and as useless.
Modern economic myths:
The myth of wealth: We all need money, the more the better, to be happy, right? Wealth is
good and great wealth is better. It lets you buy more stuff and more stuff is good. Poverty
is evil and not to be tolerated. Poverty is failure, want, need. Supposedly we are all trying
to be wealthier.
The value and advantages of wealth are foisted upon us ad-nauseum by our society with
every advertisement in our media and needn’t be repeated ad-nauseum here. Sitting Bull
said it best, perhaps: “The love of possessions…. is a disease with them”.
The reality of wealth:
Wealth can be an excuse to waste resources. Wealth can mean scarce natural resources are
wasted in the production of superfluous luxury goods while basic human needs are not
met. Wealthy folks use amounts of energy, materials, machines: huge houses, frequent
flying, multiple cars, big yachts (that sit unused most of the time). But we all have a cost
and burden on the resources of the planets. Shouldn’t you minimize that burden even if
you are rich. It is possible to imagine a wealthy person practicing a lifestyle that does not
waste. And a few do, regarded as cranks and eccentrics by most people. The world will
not long be able to afford the excesses of the wealthy.
Genteel poverty has a lot to recommend it: especially for health. It can be stress free. And
allow time to concentrate on healthy eating and living.
Wealth means you can live with profligate waste as most (and probably all) of the
wealthy do. If you’ve got it, use it right? Or why have it? So why not have enormous
houses, gas wasting cars, frequent flights around the world, exotic and expensive
entertainments and amusements no matter how destructive, wasteful or cruel.
Wealth means you can live without care, in fact without giving a damn, which is what
most folks with excess money do.
Wealth means you can cocoon yourself from life, the world and reality.
Wealth lets you build walls literally and mentally between you and others.
Wealth lets you waste time in dissipation and indulge in destructive vices: sports, games,
drugs, and makes it unnecessary for you to do anything practical or useful.
Wealth can make you distrust others and suspect their motives keep you from ever really
Wealth can encourages you to dominate others, to lord it over them, to surround yourself
with servants ands supplicants and flatterers, and give you false friends who only want
your money. And make you suspect the motives of any of your friends who are not as
wealthy as you.
Misspent wealth can undermine the freedom of others, destroy the environment, and
encourage envy hate murder and war.
Wealth can twist and corrupt everyone and everything it touches, make everything for
show and status, turn folks into selfish misers.
And wealth can divide people from each other in tedious and absurd graduations of social
status according to their wealth, the cost of their possessions, and the size of their bank
accounts, making their lives mean small and destructive.
But too little money can also result in waste when folks lacking enough food and other
basics consume without regard for the future. For example denuding the land of trees for
firewood or building materials, depleting soil fertility through unsustainable farming
practices, causing soil erosion, overfishing, hunting species to extinction, etc.
And too often, folks who are by no means poor waste resources: wiping out the buffalo,
or burning rainforests for pasture, or exporting food from Ireland, while the people starve.
The myth of economic growth
The greatest myth of economics in the modern world, the mother of all economic myths,
holy writ to every modern society is the myth of “economic growth”. Stated simply
economic growth is the idea that societies, nations, the whole world should, indeed needs
and must to become wealthier over time. The measure of growth by economists is the
“gross national product” or GNP. Rising GNP is always good, and falling or even static
GNP is always bad.
Depression, recession in which economic contraction, or loss of wealth occurs are the
great bogymen of this economic myth. And anyone or anything that might be construed
as causing recession and/or depression are also bad, wrong, evil bogymen. Anyone and
anything that dare stand in the way of the myth of economic growth can expect to have
all the forces of modern society arrayed against them.
Why is economic growth a myth? Isn’t it reality, a fact, like atoms, or electricity?
Here I will expose economic growth or GNP for the myth that it is:
Economic growth, growth in GNP really means continually undermining peoples ability
to take care of themselves: it means people becoming dependent and subservient. to the
The things people do for themselves are not counted in GNP measures. The GNP relies
on the flow of money as a measuring device so anything not increasing the flow results in
a drop in GNP. So saving $ and getting or doing free stuff can cause GNP to decline.
Buying bread at the store raises GNP. Making bread at home lowers GNP.
Buying junk food raises GNP. Making your own healthy food lowers GNP.
Eating more and becoming obese can raise GNP. Eating less, being thin can lower GNP.
Buying food at the store raises GNP. Growing a garden lowers GNP.
Buying a car raises GNP. Having no car and walking lowers GNP.
Buying a new house with a mortgage raises GNP. Building your own house and having
no mortgage lowers GNP.
Buying new furniture raises GNP. Foraging and repairing old furniture lowers GNP.
Getting a better paying job raises GNP. Quitting a job to live self-sufficient lowers GNP.
Wife (or husband) staying at home lowers GNP. Wife and husband at work (and paying
for day care) raises GNP.
In the south before air conditioning people sat on their porches to cool down - and talked
to their neighbors. No help for GNP there. Now, inside with the air conditioning running
and watching TV, GNP is raised.
Money flow means: you get somebody else’s money, then turn around and pay somebody
else. In the supposedly efficient modern economy you do almost nothing for yourself and
buy everything while everyone must pay you for your one activity, work that may be
tedious time wasting, and unhealthy.
GNP is a crude measurement of “good’ that is accepted as gospel by economists,
governments and society. It is useful only because numbers are generated, as if GNP is
measuring something real (like the velocity of light). Then economics can pretend to be a
science, and like a doctor, economists can make a diagnosis of the patient’s (economy’s)
health and then write prescriptions for economic ills.
In place of GNP, measurements that reveal the real economic (and social) condition of
society are needed. Needed are measurements of the quality of life, of the value of
leisure, of the value of health, of the value of services and products made in the home. By
these new measurements, a family with a lower income may be better off than a family
with a higher income. And a poor society may be wealthier than a rich one. For example,
the Hunza of Northern Pakistan and the Tribes of Vilcamba in Peru have no electricity,
cars, roads, or money, but live in robust health to an old age. Their per capita incomes are
low, extremely low by American standards, but their cost of living is also extremely low;
and if their incomes exceed their cost of living, they need not be considered poor by ZCL
The nation of Bhutan between Tibet, China, and India relies on a standard called the
GNH or Gross National Happiness as its measure of progress. Begun in 1972 the GNH is
a less materialistic measurement of national progress based on sustainable development,
environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good government. The nation has
made great progress in health, education, and “happiness” as measured by the GNH.
Bhutan has only 635,000 people in an area the size of Switzerland that is ¾ forest and as
of 2006 is governed by a constitutional monarchy. (Source: National Geographic March
The reality of economic growth: The myth that is ‘economic growth’, the belief that
economic growth is needed, and a ‘good thing’; because no measure is made of the real
value of anything; is in the process of ruining life in the world through profligate waste of
natural resources and human resources, pollution, environmental destruction and climate
The myth of capitalism:
ADAM SMITH and ZCL:
Here is the reality of the capitalist economy with its supposed efficiency as described by
Adam Smith in his book The Wealth of Nations. Let us revisit Smith’s needle factory. All
these men and children now must work long hours and do nothing else and therefore buy
everything else they need. Other talents, skills or abilities they may have must languish.
So when laid off they are helpless and unemployed. This is the unconsidered
consequence of specialized labor created by Smith’s capitalist economy.
Smith wrote; “I have seen several boys under twenty years of age who had never
exercised any other trade but that of making nails, and who, when the exerted themselves,
could make, each of them, upwards of two thousand three hundred nails in a day.” Wealth
of Nations page 14.
They make lots of pins, and nothing else, and so develop no other skills, and when a pin
making machine comes along they become worthless and useless.
In 1840 Edwin Chadwick, a famous British social reformer and colleagues were
investigating the slums of Glasgow, Scotland to find the causes of a deadly fever. He
…”ducked through a low doorway. …. “
“The passageway opened onto a courtyard…. In its center rose a vast dunghill, the
product of the destitute who crowded into the rooms around it. Relying on a strong
stomach and an unrelenting will, Chadwick made his way along a narrow path that
skirted the courtyard and passed through a second corridor on its far side. He walked
through it and found to his horror, a second courtyard, identical to the first with a second
immense pile of human feces. …the denizens of this grim world, clothed in rags and
tatters, crowded together for warmth, looked out at the intruders through hungry eyes.”
There were “…. vast piles of human excrement in every courtyard.”
“.… The desperate conditions inside the buildings matched the horrifying state of their
courtyards. In one room, they found a group of women, huddling naked beneath a
blanket. Their clothes, …were in use by their roommates. Without enough clothes for all
the occupants of the room, the women took turns using what they had to venture out in
the cold. …” from The Blue Death by Dr. Robert Morris chapter 3 ‘All Smell is Disease’:
This is the reality of Adam Smith’s economics. It is only an excuse to concentrate,
impoverish and exploit labor. It saves money for the manufacturer/owner, but avoids the
real cost of a product which is the cost to provide a living wage and compensate the
worker for the skills he must forgo to endlessly do the single task set before him. The
skills, abilities, and knowledge of an assembly line worker may never be used with his
working life spent on minute narrow tasks. Everything else, he must buy. If he is laid off
in this unstable competitive economic system he has no employment options except other
equally tedious single task jobs that are useless for any other purpose. He ought to be
compensated so if he is laid off he can still live in comfort, but he is not.
The myth of Profits:
(rewrite or omit?) Profit is good, very good, right? If you own stock maybe but in the real
world high profit means fewer dollars go to the working folks who actually did the work
of making the stuff. And, low profits means less investment and business expansion and
recession and thus unemployment for working folks. A heads I win tails you loose
circumstance for working people. High profits may mean money is being strip-mined out
of the pockets of working people.
The myth of free trade:
Then there is the theory of comparative advantage as described in the economics
textbooks. According to conventional economics, free trade and comparative advantage
merely achieves the most efficient geographical distribution of production. The reality is
that the theory, and the practice of it is cynically used to destroy wage rates in a high
wage country by shifting jobs to the low wage country.
The myth of the job:
Everyone needs a job, right. And most folks eventually get good jobs, or at least decent
well paying jobs someday in their lives.
Reality: Taking a job means you sell your time, your most valuable asset in life so
another might profit. Most, almost all people sell this asset too cheaply.
Taking a job means you are reduced to a servile and subordinate position to others. You
may be required to do stupid and unhealthy things for money, useless things, dangerous
and destructive things, boring, tedious, repetitious.
The world of jobs is a scheme in which almost everyone in the world enters into an
involuntary conspiracy to make each other mutually miserable.
All of us carry around a burden of cost. The cost to keep us alive and comfortable and
healthy. For some it is enormous, for others very, very low. Look at a person and
determine the burden they impose on others, on the world. One person may cost under
one grand a year and another 20 grand and some sick or wasteful 200 grand a year.
Prisoners cost 30 grand a year to keep, a sum a person living ZC could live on in
comfortable ease while saving a lot of it.
A persons’ worth could to be measured not by his wealth but by how small his cost
burden is on the world verses his contribution. Not how much his net worth is in dollars,
or his annual income, or the dollars he adds to the bottom line of a corporation, or pays in
taxes, or contributes to economic growth, but how much he really adds to the real
enrichment of the world relative to his living cost Such a measurement of worth would
result in a calculation of the value of an individual completely different from the
calculations of ordinary accounting.
Consider Jesus. What work did he do? Teaching and healing. What did it cost for him to
live and what payment did he receive. His cost of living was low by any standard, and his
income negligible or nonexistent. He was homeless, frequently sleeping out in the open.
Sometimes he was invited to a “set down” supper (to use Jack London’s hobo
terminology). He had no house, no car, or beast of burden, the simplest clothes and food.
He was always among working folk; fishermen, farmers, shepherds. It is impossible to
apply the tired measurements of wealth used by conventional accounting to his life. But
by the standards of Gross National Happiness or Zero Cost Living he was wealthy
Your Costs: and Economic Life:
Set before you is an economic agenda that may rule your whole life.
Before leaving home you get the car and credit card. Upon leaving home or dormitory
you get the apartment. Later maybe a mobile home hardly better from a ZCL perspective
than an apartment; the owner of the site spared the expense of keeping up a building.
Later you get the house and mortgage. But you may have to pay for these using money
earned at low and inflation undermined wages. And then add all the junk you might buy
with your credit card, entertainment system, appliances, fast food. You have become
another American consumer: in debt, overweight, and working for a company anxious to
outsource your job.
This economic agenda is a complete and total drain on your income, sucking you dry.
You are boxed in, the American dream the Real American Dream is out of reach.
“Time is money” states an ancient expression. If you live by this expression then expect
to live as a slave to money making. Living ZCL may give you time, vast amounts of it to
use as you please instead of at the beck and call of others. Free of the need for money,
time is your own.
Questionable even, is the value of college if you don’t have a scholarship or supportive
relatives. You may have to spend years earning the money at pathetic wages to keep
going there and you may end your college education in debt with limited prospects thanks
These expenses eat your money your time, and your life. They make you a servant to
business as their employee and dependent as their customer. In too many businesses,
especially in the service industry where most recent job growth has been, you may learn
nothing that will make you more valuable as an employee so you can increase your
wages. The jobs are constituted to be that way. Businesses that may not even give you a
reference when you try to leave for a better job – company policy.
After several miserable and tedious jobs you’ll be anxious to avoid doing another and
thus inspired to achieve ZCL.
Try another way.
You may believe you need a fortune to pursue your dreams. You do not!
Difficulties and obstacles to ZCL:
Social pressure to buy to look good and have a good time to buy new stuff. Social stigma
to reusing stuff, clothes. How I felt wearing others discarded clothes Funny at first, but
washed and repaired, clothes are clothes.
Pressures: advertising, remarks of others, sometimes casual, attitudes and behaviors.
Under these pressures, keep in mind the flipside, you’re free of needing to buy and thus
free of demeaning and degrading jobs. Service jobs are a special incentive to live ZC
reuse stuff. And consider you are doing society and the environment a favor by reusing.
Natural systems have means for reusing everything.
Your reuse and not buying is not reflected in economic statistics. You didn’t buy stuff,
you didn’t have to work to get the money to buy it; revealing what nonsense economics
The fact is many millions of folks in this service economy will spend their lives earning
little more than $7 per hour, 2000 hours a year, $14,000 per year. They need to be helped
to set up ZCL lifestyles; not exploited and plundered. Ongoing costs new cars, heating
and electric bills rent, junk food alcohol, congenital illness.
ZCL Theorem: The real cost of any consumer item from the point of view of ZCL is
equal to the cost of the money that must be saved to pay for the item out of the interest
earned from that money, continually adjusted for inflation. Example: A one-dollar candy
bar, living ZCL really cost $20 because that is how much money you must have saved at
5% interest to pay for the bar.
But wait, inflation has the effect of continually eroding the value of a dollar. The U.S.
dollar is now worth less than one cent in 1846 dollars, the year Thoreau lived at Walden.
So cost of the candy bar is increasing each year. The purchasing power of the $20 saved
to cover the cost of the candy bar is continually eroding, so an additional amount must be
saved each year and added to the $20 to cover the increased cost of the candy bar. The
average rate of inflation in recent years has been 2 or 3%, so using an average of 2.5%
the cost of a $1 candy bar increases by about 2.5 cents each year after inflation is figured
in. To cover this 2.5 cent annual increase more money must be put into savings each year:
at 5% return, 50 cents more each year. But where is that 50 cents coming from? To add
50 cents to savings each year, even more money must be added to saving in the first year.
At 5% return, $10 more must be added to savings so the full cost of a candy bar becomes
Consider an annual living cost of $10,000. Using the method of cost adjusted for inflation
that was used for the candy bar, $300,000 must be saved to cover an annual cost of
You can quickly see that any step you take that reduces your annual living cost can have a
great impact on the amount you must have in savings.
Using the same methodology again, a million dollars in savings earning a 5% interest rate
with inflation at 2.5% yields an income of only $33,000 a year. Thus, you may have only
$33,000 a year to live on if you are a millionaire. So, even a millionaire may need to
consider some ZCL methods.
Maybe you believe you can get more than a 5% return on your money. Then you must put
your money somewhere else other than a bank, and your risks go up. The stock market,
commodity trading, starting a business, even real estate in recent years have considerable
From experience, stocks are volatile, too often pure gambling. Much time for research is
needed and still, too many unknowns exist, along with unexpected events and irrational
valuations. Investors too often really don’t have a clue as to the worth of a stock. A herd
mentality prevails, you try to be first in some herd trend, or stampede is a good analogy,
and first to get out of the herd before it runs over a cliff.
Rather than invest in the stock market or inflation eaten savings, it may be far safer to
invest in tools, equipment, facilities, and learning skills that lower your living costs.
For example, building your own house. You use your money to buy tools and materials,
and your time practicing skills. That can be a far better use of your time and money than
investing it. You might take 1 or 2 years to build a house and save $100,000, of the cost.
Not a bad annual income. Skills you learn you can use to get a job or start a business.
And when you are done(if you didn’t borrow $ to build) you have house you can live in
mortgage free forever.
Like house building, you can use your money to buy raw materials and turn them into
more useful items, things you can use yourself and thus avoid buying, or things you can
use to further reduce living costs such as homemade solar panels, perhaps.
Don’t buy consumer junk. The Chinese don’t. They save a lot, buy a little, and only buy
stuff that can make other stuff, or be sold to bring in income. China has a 43% savings
rate. Americans have a negative savings rate.
The real cost of Chinese imports is far higher than the number put on the price tag. The
real cost of any particular imported product does not include the cost of lost jobs and lost
or lowered incomes of the people in America who used to make that product. The real
cost is much higher. If the prices of imports reflected their real cost then they would not
be so cheap and fewer Americans would buy them.
“A penny saved is a penny earned,” wrote Ben Franklin in Poor Richards Almanac. But
in modern economic thought, avoided costs are not even counted in the economy. Instead,
money not spent is counted and is a loss to GNP.
Consider a mind experiment. Over a year, assume everything else in the economy is
stable and stays the same except energy conservation cuts 10% from costs. Then, the
Gross National Product would be lower, less stuff will have been bought or sold, and the
economy will appear to have contracted because of the avoided costs, or savings resulting
from energy conservation. Perhaps Ben Franklin’s saying should be modified, in the
modern world to “a penny saved is a contracting economy”. Repeat of GNP above?
Of course in reality, having saved dollars by conserving energy, folks have bigger bank
accounts, or spend more on consumer goods, or take more days off from work, or take
longer or more expensive vacations. Of course the bank accounts, consumer spending,
etcetera of folks in the energy industry go down.
ECONOMICS OF AVOIDED COSTS:
The Hunza of Pakistan have a healthy bracing climate and a stable and sustainable
organic agricultural system. They live on farms and own their land and houses. They have
good health into their 90s, no tooth decay , perfect vision; (from the book Healthy at 100
by John Robbins)
Other societies in odd corners of the world have similar circumstances. :Writes Robbins,
“Certainly part of the secret to the exceptionally healthy aging found in Aabkhasia,
Vilcabamba, Hunza, and Okinawa is the extraordinary amount of regular exercise built
into the routines of daily life.”
Consider all the costs theses societies have avoided: medical costs, rents. mortgages, real
estate, store bought food, automobiles, etcetera.
Until 1965 the Hunza did not use money, had no roads, electricity or modern
conveniences. Since the introduction of all of these their health has deteriorated.
Many a primitive, backward or stagnant economy may be wealthier than they seem when
looked at from American eyes. The Hunza of Pakistan have no cars and no need for them.
They live well without them, and avoid the cost. They stay healthy, and have very low
health care costs. By the criteria of conventional economics the Hunza would be
considered among the poorest people on Earth. But in reality, they may be among the
wealthiest people in the world They have an attitude of ease, well-being and happiness
according to Robbins. Recently they have had to endure the introduction of a money
economy, western food, roads, cars, and dependency on imports. These harbingers of
progress are in the process of impoverishing them.
In the poor villages of India the income per person per day may average spending only
$1. They live low cost by necessity. But, like the Hunza, their real standard of living
could be higher than conventional economics would calculate if avoided cost are added
There are no cars but they are able to get everywhere on foot
They have no heating cost, living in a warm climate, and no air conditioning cost. Their
buildings, with mud brick walls, stay cool naturally.
Many residents may have no rent or mortgage costs: They own their own land free and
clear. Their houses are built out sun dried mud bricks, material obtained free from their
property and naturally fireproof and not insured thus avoiding insurance cost. Homes
may be owner built and easily repairable by the owner.
They have compost toilets, no piped plumbing system, no plumbers and no need for
We may not be not much richer than prehistoric or aboriginal folks if the value of avoided
costs are added back in. Is a man richer who works in a factory all day rather than hunts?
Who will be healthier? Who will live a more interesting life?
Does sitting at a computer all day make you richer than a subsistence farmer? Who will
THEORY OF AVOIDED COSTS: (TOAC)
TOAC is the theory that in counting up the real wealth and income of people the costs
and expenditures that are avoided must be added in.
Dollars that you do not have to spend because of the way you live equals income. If you
own your house free and clear and pay no mortgage or rent the dollars you save are not
recorded or reflected in the economy or in your income, under ordinary GNP and income
accounting. If you pay rent or mortgage you must earn the dollars to pay these costs and
these dollars are included in your income. In fact, owning your home saves you $10,000
or more a year in interest payments. Your real income is higher by that amount according
to the theory of avoided costs.
Similarly, if you can walk everywhere or bike and own no car you can save the $2,000 a
year a used car you fix yourself might cost you, or the $5,000 cost of a new car per year.
Again the economy and your income reflect no evidence of this under ordinary
economics. But under TOAC accounting your income would reflect this savings.
To the typical service economy wage that is a lot of hours of labor: car and house savings
together = $12,000 or about 12 months work after taxes. Therefore, if your service
economy job pays you $12,000 a year, and you own your house without a mortgage and
need no car then your income really is $12,000 plus $12,000 = $24,000 a year or
Other expenditures, most expenditures in fact can be cut, or even eliminated by various
methods to be discussed later in detail in this book.
Effects and Consequences of TOAC:
By TOAC accounting prehistoric men may be seen as fabulously wealthy by modern
standards, avoiding every cost (and living in vast pristine wilderness). Avoided costs are
not even considered in modern economic theory, and that fact reveals the nonsense that is
Consider modern men living a primitive prehistoric-man-like existence: The Kalahari
bushman: By ordinary economic accounting Bushmen are distressingly poor. But by
TOAC accounting they are reasonably well off: Consider the costs they avoid: no houses,
mortgages, cars, food costs health care. Under conventional economics the per capita
income of a bushman vs. an American cannot easily be compared. But using avoided cost
analysis the income of a bushman can be estimated at around $30,000 per year.
The bushmen may suffer from lack of a secure food supply and from lack of modern
medical care. But they have compensations: They hunt. Hunting with primitive weapons
is a recreation in American society. The way they gets his food is a healthy challenging
pleasure. Compare this to workers stuck in a factory.
Can a bushman really be considered poor? Not by TOAC accounting. He can be made
poor by taking him out of his environment, or by destruction of the environment he lives
in. (A bushman or Native American living in a environment he cannot defend is a man
about to loose his fortune though very little value would be placed upon it by
conventional economic accounting).
A bushman moved to a city is made instantly poor. His skills are useless; he cannot hunt
but must buy food. He is vulnerable to a host of new diseases and must have modern
health care. He may need a car to get around. He has no property and cannot legally sleep
in a public place in many cities.
A teenager leaving home is like a bushman leaving his environment going from an
environment where he has no expenses to one where they are likely to be larger than his
income; from well off to instantly poor. Unless he can live with low or no expenses
(ZCL). In our society he must somehow then work his way back to well off.
Real Poverty: The poorest man is the one who must work long hours at the most
miserable job in society - a job he hates that requires no skills and has no future prospects
- to cover his expenses regardless of his wealth in dollar terms. Another words: Adams
Smith’s pin factory workers. A poor man is one who lives in the suburbs and must have a
car house and mortgage and has to buy everything - and has a low paying job and
therefore must work long hours or go into debt to pay for constantly consumed kinds of
expenses such as food, gasoline, electricity, medical costs, taxes, etc. This is the situation
of many working Americans.
And poor in the extreme is a man suddenly unemployed with high expenses and no ways
to cut down his expenses. (But there are always ways to save).
Avoided costs are not counted as part of the equation of the GNP of an economy under
conventional economic accounting. These costs can add a considerable boost to the GNP
of a nation. They may even be much larger than the dollar amounts reflected in ordinary
GNP accounting. Like the dark matter in the universe that affects gravity, they might
hugely skew the real circumstance of an economy, the real GNP, the real wealth. For
example, consider a society where everyone owns their home free and clear and pay no
mortgage vs. a society where everyone is fully mortgaged. By conventional economics
the GNP of fully mortgaged society will be higher. But by the TOAC the society where
everyone owns their home will be higher. Most real societies fall somewhere between
these hypothetical extremes. Where some homes are mortgaged and some are not, the
avoided expenditure must be added to the GNP.
Application of the Theory:
Avoided cost analysis:
Applying the theory of avoided costs to economic and social situations I call avoided cost
Using avoided cost analysis we may calculate the full cost of an economic change to the
individual, family, society and the environment. As a result of economic growth, new
factories and other businesses costs that were previously avoided now might have to be
Applying TOAC to a real case: Adam Smith’s pin factory again.
According to conventional economic accounting the pin factory mass produces pins
making cheaper pins than ever before, society can buy cheaper pins, the company
undersells the competition, sells many and makes a profit. Everybody benefits
But what costs that were previously avoided now must be paid:
Small scale locally made pin makers are wiped out. These pin workers are now
unemployed. Their lost income is a cost of the pin factory that must be determined.
Factory pin workers are unskilled and low paid; they require little training and anyone
can do it. Unskilled work means children may be employed with cost to their health and
psychological well-being, and the social costs may result because they have an
incomplete education. Also, mothers may be employed so childcare must be paid.
All the pin workers do is make pins. They have no time or skills to do anything else. Plus
workers must live near the factories in cities where they have small homes with small
yards and therefore no space or facilities to make or grow anything themselves.
Therefore, they must buy everything and their living costs go up.
One or a few centralized pin factories increase transportation costs because distances to
raw material and markets are greater. More roads, railroads, ships may be needed along
with associated costs.
Pollution and trash from the pin factory formerly dispersed in home workshops or small
factories and perhaps once recycled and reused may now be concentrated and not used.
So there are increased costs to dispose of and clean up (or as industry usually does leave
toxic messes that have health costs).
A cost should be assigned to the loss of freedom and independence workers suffer when
they become a small cog in a large-scale army-like industrial organization.
A cost should be assigned to the loss of economic security workers suffer when placed in
a situation of constant intense competition against fellow workers, against other factories
and against factories in other countries. Living with increased stress, the health of these
workers may decline.
And, because large numbers of workers are employed in close proximity for long hours,
diseases may be more easily spread, exacting another cost to workers which should be
So the supposed savings of the pin factory are much less than imagined by conventional
economics, and could in fact be negative.
The problem of more accurately determining the wealth of a society (other than the
Bhutan style GNH) might be solved by applying the TOAC and therefore by adding
avoided costs into the total. The median family income in the United States was about
$48,000 in 2007.
Consider the Hunza, by conventional economics they are distressingly poor. Because they
rarely use money in transactions and money flow cannot be counted, conventional
economics might calculate their per capita income at a few hundred dollars a year by
assigning a value to the crops they grow, farm animals raised, firewood gathered,
Applying the TOAC and adding up avoided costs per year and assigning a cost for each
category that an American family of 4 might expect to pay.
Category and Avoided cost per year:
Staying healthy into their 90s: avoided medical costs = $10,000
Perfect teeth and vision = $2,000
Growing almost all of their own organic food = $5,000
No social security tax and no need for it = $2,000
Almost no other taxes = $5,000
Remaining productive all their lives = value of their work: $1,000
Owning their own farms no mortgage costs = $10,000
Building their own house = $5,000
Owning no cars; going everywhere on foot = $5,000
No utility bills: compost toilets, hand
pumped wells = $2,000
No electric bills: natural light, oil lamps,
firelight = $1,000
Homemade clothes using wool from their
own sheep = $1,000
Free recreations: family and community games and sports = $1,000
Vacations visiting relatives (rather than Disneyland) = $3,000
So I estimate their family income at over $50,000 per year. They don’t have all of the
junk owned by a typical American family. But some of what they have is priceless: peace
and quiet, low stress, close families, a pristine environment, pesticide free organic food.
Using the accounting of the TOAC the Hunza may be considered well off, not poor.
The thrifty society will thrive. The wasteful society will decline. Once America was
thrifty, perhaps the thriftiest society on Earth, and they thrived. Once, in America, there
were no wealthy folks wasting resources, no masses of poor living day to day without
thought of thrift. Today, the Chinese are probably the world masters at thrift. They
produce much, buy little, save 43% of income. American savings is negative. But the
Chinese will change as more and more workers become dependent on their single task all
day jobs, have no time to practice thrift, and must buy for convenience, must buy
everything and make nothing on their own.
So is it all so simple? Just be thrifty and we’re home free (funny expression).
Unfortunately practicing thrift is not so easy to do. Many practices that on the surface
may seem thrifty are not. They turn out to be expensive, in time or money or both or
require great skill, and years of training, education or experience. “Expensive thrift”, now
there’s an oxymoron, so in this book I’ll just use the term “false thrift”.