The economist Tim Jackson, way back in 2012, wrote this essay for the New York Times – “Let’s be less productive.”
He’s a proponent of sustainable development, and the essay is a timely read. With the world being turned inside out, now is an opportunity to shape the future.
Jackson points to a significant blind spot in economic analysis – primarily using the quantifiable measure of total output (GDP) as a gauge of national economies. Inevitably, that leads to an emphasis on the unceasing increase of productivity, and the quest for “efficiency” drives economic development.
Here’s the limitation of that worldview that he points out: How would an orchestra become more “efficient”? By playing the Jupiter Symphony 20% faster?
The single-minded drive for efficiency, he says, leads to undervaluing human efforts in three main areas, what he calls the “three C’s”: culture, craft, and care.
Culture refers to the arts and similar humanistic endeavors that shape and enhance the meaning of life.
Craft pertains to the extra value (both functional and esthetic) of objects well and lovingly made as distinct from those cranked out through more and more automated processes.
And care has to do with the value of all the human effort that goes into caring for one another.
The value of “care” is one of the reasons I’m happy to be steering clear of insurance networks. I can offer my care to the best of my ability unfettered by the demands of arbitrarily-measured efficiency.
In some respects, my style of chiropractic practice is a throwback to a nearly-expired era of artisanal workmanship. What I hope is that it’s also contributing to a more sustainable and more humane future.e