Does Internet’s destruction of locale wreck idea of local economy? No

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Above, Michael Shuman talks about developing local stock exchanges.

I am willing to concede that perhaps we are wrong about the idea of local economy and are perhaps overestimating its power. I concede the nation’s counterfeit currency — private Fed banknotes masquerading as money — make Noogacentrism appear detached from reality. I admit that so-called public schools also turn the idea of local economy into so much silliness.

These two monopolies — one issuing fatuous paper bills, the other fatuous paper diplomas — are two lynchpins of centralized control. One controls 99.5 percent of the economy. The other, 80 percent of families, all of whom remit the rising generation to the state, for better or worse.

I have been reading a book that gives me conflicting sensations about localism and the prospect of developing the idea for friends and people in my hometown. The anxieties have hit me in a second reading of the 1997 book Sovereign Individual[;] How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State, by James Dale Davidson and Lord William  Rees-Mogg. The principals in the famous investment newsletter Strategic Investments look to the future macro-economic horizon and explores the demise of the nation-state in the era of decentralization propelled by the Internet. The book gives great attention to the change from industrial economy to the information economy and the virtual world of the Internet. The Web is breaking the 300-year-old grip of the state of its monopoly of violence, which is premised on physical assets being within its jurisdiction and subject to its extortions, rules, permissions and taxes.

Mr. Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg make me wonder if developing a defense of local economy is retrograte, archaic, outdated. Their analysis of falling communication costs, the continuing abstracting of money, the rise of profit in systems and information, increasing ways a person can escape the “protection racket” all make me wonder if my interest in lococentric economic concerns are pitiable and irrelevant. Am I making the sort of mistake Curtis Bowers does in the video, “Agenda: Grinding us Down,” about the alleged muscle of Marxist communism as a geopolitical threat today? (Marxist communism is not planning to take over the world.)

Am I showering care and esteem to a relational and personal economics which is fading under the glories of the Internet and Wal-Mart, of which there are seven in my county?

Locale dies with the Internet

“Cyberspace transcends locality. It involves nothing less than the instantaneous sharing of data everywhere and nowhere at once.” It has the potential to create such intellectual and economic liberty as to undo any authoritarian power. The Internet allows for profit centers to escape the trap of physical location. The Sovereign Individual is one who can run his enterprise everyplace and no place because it is on the Internet. In Chattanooga, businessman and benefactor Carey Brown is a close approximation of the sovereign individual described in the book. Mr. Brown runs a large number of related companies and, among them, in jurisdictions alien to the U.S., an Internet payday loan operation. Mr. Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg explain how the industrial model in the West gave rise and encouragement to the totalitarian democratic welfare state, which they see as having coming to its terminus.

Physicality gave the state control over factories, plants, ports and mines. The “tyranny of place” forced businesses to submit to the shakedown of unions. Fixed industrial assets allowed both the state and big labor to balloon their spending. Unions are now shriveling. The state worldwide faces an unpayable mountain of debt and populations demoralized by dependence.

Now money can hide in the network and can escape state attempts to trap or tax it. Currency itself can be abstracted, and private forms of money could defeat governmental currencies riddled with inflation. Virtual companies can have virtual staff at desks around the world. Locale was, in the old economy, a tyranny. With the Internet, work can be readily dispersed. Once, profit was stuck in a jurisdiction, and could not escape the effects of state and union extortion. Now, business might be able to escape, especially if its product is knowledge-based, not a physical gadget or part. Teleconferencing and telecommunting cross geographical boundaries, making place irrelevant.

Start with always-local basics, work your way out

Virtual marketplaces and production destroy locale. While people can get payday loans on the Internet and find work assignments at sites such as Flexjobs.com, other aspects equally as important to making a living cannot take place there.

Start with a fundamental. Worship. When I start with what God has given us, and work my way out, I am able to breathe a sigh of relief. Local economy is not a crock.

God expects his people to gather on the Lord’s Day for worship, sacraments, teaching and fellowship. The church cannot be virtualized. You may hear a sermon through your computer or TV, a form of private edification and grace. But absenting yourself from corporate worship denies you a greater means of grace, receipt of which is part of your commitment to God in His service. The Lord’s supper is not done online. Neither is baptism. The sacraments take place among people sharing the same room. Cool water is poured on an infant’s head; in the Baptist church a convert is submerged in a tank of water. Real bread and wine are served to God’s people in a solemn and joyous occasion representing Christ’s supping with the friends and sons for whom He died.

Clearly other things remain outside the network — marriage, childbearing, reading the newspaper, eating out, books, grocery shopping.

Whew! Local economy is safe.

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