A new currency?

Red maple leaves Wild asters White morning glory flowers on fence

I took these photographs on Monday morning, Bode took me for our daily walk. It was hot and humid, shirt sleeve weather, when the morning fog finally broke.

Morning mist on Allegheny River
I took this picture yesterday morning, the leaves are starting to turn but it is still mostly green.

Since the last post complaining about people who pose as “martyrs” at work, I have had some discussions. For example, lets say one person in an office of ten decides to bank their sick leave and come to the office with a communicable disease. One of their co-workers has chronic respiratory problems and as a result of catching the virus ends up having to take two weeks of sick leave to recover. The net result is a loss of productivity in the office. I am thinking that pooling sick leave for communicable diseases would be a better way to give workers incentive (peer pressure) to look out for the wellbeing of the group. If you pass on a virus that results in someone else taking time off, everyone pays.

I have been thinking for a while about how money is not always the appropriate currency. Politicians will readily say that protecting the environment is a good plan IF it doesn’t interfere with economics. Time for a reality break.

Economics is an artifact of human culture, humans are a part of the physical universe. So, what we have is not a case of the tail wagging the dog. It is a flea on the dog’s tail wagging the dog!

The idea of a carbon tax to address the problem of global climate change is a step in the right direction, but probably not nearly enough. Many retailers put stickers on appliances estimating the costs of yearly power consumption, but unfortunately the sticker price is most often the determining factor for people who live paycheck to paycheck. Same goes for product packaging, the feedback of higher landfill costs for some kinds of packaging comes too late in the purchase cycle.

Maybe the new currency could be called the Enviro?

Say you want to buy a pair of slacks at your local department store. The price in dollars will probably be quite reasonable, but that is only part of the story:

Is the fiber from a petrochemical feedstock or an agricultural product?

If the item is made from agricultural products, what was the energy requirement for culture and shipping and did the crop require intensive pesticide application or result in loss of habitat?

Can the item be composted when its life cycle is over or must it be burned (with special scrubbers to remove toxic pollutants) or put in a landfill?

If the worn item is donated to charity, will it be sent to another country (more energy costs) and undermine local manufacturers?

Was the item made in a third world country to cut labor costs but shipped half way around the world, using more fossil fuel than if made locally?

Was the item made in a third world country to lower costs by evading local environmental protection laws, only delaying when the pollution reaches the consumer?

What were the working conditions of the workers who made the item?

There are more questions about the cost of an item, way too many for busy consumers, so the idea is that the many environmental and social factors would be assessed and totalled to the universal Enviro currency.

What I am getting at is that price (money spent in the market place) doesn’t really reflect overall cost. To the folks who say let the market take care of that, my reply is to check out carefully who is allowed to manipulate the market, legally and illegally.

About Kathy

Perl, MySQL, CGI scripting, web design, graphics following careers as an analytical chemist and educator, then in IT as a database administrator (DBA), programmer, and server administrator. Diagnosed with Mitochondrial Myopathy in 1997.
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