“Thoreau, Gandhi, Schumacher... Over the last century or so, a number of original thinkers have had the audacity to suggest that economics is not only about how humanity satisfies its needs but also about what those needs should be. It appears that they were onto something, for, today, it is precisely excessive human needs that have brought the earth to a state of crisis. If there is to be a way forward, it will likely involve the exemplary rethinking being led by people such as Abhay and Jane at the Pink House.”—Robert Leonard, Intellectual historian and Schumacher scholar, Université du Québec à Montréal

“At a time when so few of us can envision a truly imaginative future, Pink House has found a way. I applaud these efforts and support them as best I can.”—Carol Becker, Writer/Professor/Dean Columbia University

Wealth and illth


Dear friends

In the realm of economics the only distinction that matters is between that which is used and that which is not used. What is used is wealth. What is not used is negative wealth, or what John Ruskin called illth. 

One of the reasons we find ourselves in a world that is in crisis is because the world's illth, the unused portion of the stuff of the world far outweighs what is actually used. 

Today illth, or negative wealth, far outweighs wealth itself and creates an ever increasing burden on life. 

None of the traditional distinctions between necessities and luxuries, capital and consumption goods, small and big scale of operations address this essential matter raised by Ruskin. All that matters is that everything we have we must use. 

Gandhi said, "If you use it you should keep it." And it follows from that that if you don't use it you should give it away. All the illth or negative wealth of the world can turn into wealth simply by people keeping what they use and giving everything else away. 

Contrary to a key tenet of modern economics, freedom is not the ability to consume and hoard freely. True freedom is net wealth, or

True Freedom = Wealth minus Illth

True freedom is in using everything that we own and giving away what we don't use, or

Hoarding = 0

One of my student projects in my economics classes involved making an inventory of all the wealth and illth that the student possessed and after due thought organizing a giveaway of their illth. 

My students uniformly reported feeling lighter and happier with their purposeful actions, and their illth went back into circulation, turning into wealth. 

Wealth, like blood, is of no use until it circulates. 

Pink House
Bohol island

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