The Zen of Economics Poem

Silly poem with a side order of Tom Waits Underground (Robots) to Friz Lang's Metropolis.

Too often I hear environmentalists
Fighting and scolding the for profits
Free markets, exploitation, social inequity
Fishing for environmental followers
In a sea of economic indignation
And nouveau aspiration

By too often I don't mean
That I don't love the poor or share the hope
For equality and equity and living wages
Rather I mean that fighting and thrashing
Rather than studying and learning
From the beauty in free markets is a waste

We have only so many green resources
We must level our green capital fairly, and cannot afford
To wage false battles driven by distrust and jealousy
Destroying reuse value poor people exploit
Out of fear the unpoor will benefit
Is exhausting and unsustainable battle for its own sake

Ask where something green isn't happening
Why does the market steer it thus?
Before we declare exploitation, study the benefits
The win-wins go in the win column
If something doesn't work in the life cycle,
There is usually one victim

The victim is truly voiceless, not just unheard
Unborn, the future generations of people
Lose the resources, lose the affluence, lose the chance
To preserve what we could not
Mining and extraction costs may leave a longer scar
Than pictures of kids recycling at dumps.

Bend down on one knee and listen
Let's not charge into free market emerging markets
Like calvary or Bureau of Indian Affairs agents
Knowing better, bringing messages from the Great White Father
Which may have misunderstood, may have championed
A T-shirt sale, a shredding contract, or planned obsolescence.

Listen, look, and watch.
Don't fire half cocked
The perfect is the enemy
of the good enough market.  Tweak don't scold
Do unto others, even scrappers
As your great grand children would have had you do unto them.

- written as I sit at a booth at the NRRA municipal recycling conference in Manchester between gangs of schoolkids asking questions about recycling

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