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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Ways of the World" on Its 5th Anniversary

This month, Ways of the World becomes five years old. Sixty months and 176 articles and features [the software the Farm uses counts them; we don't]. Some of you have been with us from the start, but others have only just got acquainted. Maybe it's worth pausing today and checking in with what we might be about here. What is an Episcopal Church-affiliated website doing with an old Wall Street economist anyway?

We've adopted a broad-based orientation. Yes, "economics" means the stock market and unemployment and government debt, and we talk about all of those. We've also covered energy and the environment and poverty and immigration. Economics, though, is at root an approach to the interpretation of how and why people make the choices in life that they do. What is there in art that we value? and how can the artist make a living? The same for church membership, even; what is there in "church" that we value so we devote time, talent and treasure to that institution. We've had articles about both of these and there are specialists who make those kinds of issues their entire career.

We're interested not just in individual decision-making, but in the interaction of people in society. So we've talked about terrorism, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolution in Egypt. Each July 4, we commemorate the American Revolution – not the war battles or even the Founding Fathers, but the actions of ordinary common people as they restructured their own government and their relationships in business and with their neighbors, near and far, reordering society as it had basically never been known. This year, we'll play with this notion relative to churches in America.

We also pray here about people and events of the world. We've offered prayers for Rogation Days, when the church intercedes for the coming farm crop growing season and also for business and industry. We remember those who have died: Geraldine Ferraro most recently and also Gerald Ford and John Templeton and Tim Russert, among others. We pray for people we might not hold in high regard: Ken Lay of Enron, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the gunman who committed the cold-blooded shootings in Tucson this past January, as well as their victims.

Two articles deserve special mention because they evoked deep responses from you. In early December 2008, we lamented the death of the Wal-Mart worker in a post-Thanksgiving Day shoppers stampede. Seventeen of you came back with comments that week in which you expressed grief and distress; you obviously needed to vent and I'm glad that we could provide such an outlet. Then, this past January, as we noted, we wrote about the rebellion in Egypt; we talked about Egypt's economy and how it functions – or doesn't – in providing for the welfare of its people. One of you responded in words that might make a mission statement for Ways of the World: "I always get so much out of your posts on world affairs. Clear facts in an easy to understand manner. But at the same time, no agenda and no dumbing down." Thank you for this, Laura. I could never have hoped for a higher compliment. A priest I know has said somewhat the same in different words: "You make me stop and think before I form a judgment now on all these things that go on."

It is hopefully clear that pursuing Ways of the World is a gratifying activity. Two years ago, we were added to the Geranium Farm website's "Subscriptions" menu, and since then almost 900 of you have signed up. Judging just from the email addresses, some of you work in churches and some in business as well as a potpourri of you who just want to understand more about how the world works and why that might be the way it appears to be. Probably, in that regard, no one has learned more than I have. We do try to make it clear and, obviously, we can't hide behind jargon. If we don't accomplish this, let us know!

Thank you all for your responses. And by all means, thanks over and over to Barbara Crafton and the others on the Geranium Farm crew. It's an honor to be among you.

So we move on now to the next issue, most immediately the struggles of states and cities to make budgets in these confused times. Other news doesn't stop while we research and write on any given topic. We see already today that the March earthquake in Japan has impacted industrial production in this country, especially in the auto industry, new home construction remains in the doldrums and there are efforts toward shifting big transport trucks away from diesel to natural gas for fuel. This last reminds us that even as the economy presents problems, it also fosters efforts toward solutions. A goal of Ways of the World is to keep that progress in your line of sight, as well as helping us all understand better the sources and consequences of the shifting and turmoil throughout the world. The only thing constant is change.

So stay tuned. I don't think we'll ever run out of material!


Anonymous Barbara said...

Blessings nag many happy returns!

5/17/2011 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Nancy Torok said...

Congratulations, and thank you. Keep up your fine work!

5/17/2011 9:38 PM  

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