Wendell Berry, “The Idea of a Local Economy
Orion Magazine, Winter 2001

The economic theory used to justify the global economy in its "free market" version is again perfectly groundless and sentimental. The idea is that what is good for the corporations will sooner or later - though not of course immediately - be good for everybody.

That sentimentality is based in turn, upon a fantasy: the proposition that the great corporations, in "freely" competing with one another for raw materials, labor, and marketshare, will drive each other indefinitely, not only toward greater "efficiencies" of manufacture, but also toward higher bids for raw materials and labor and lower prices to consumers. As a result, all the world¹s people will be economically secure - in the future. It would be hard to object to such a proposition if only it were true.

But one knows, in the first place, that "efficiency" in manufacture always means reducing labor costs by replacing workers with cheaper workers or with machines.

Jane Jacobs, The Economy of Cities
Random House Trade; (February 1, 1970)
ISBN: 039470584X
Page 89

Today, only two cities in all of Britain remain economically vigorous and prosperous. One is London. The second is Birmingham. The others have stagnated one by one, much as Manchester did, like so many lights going out. British town planners, ironically, have regarded London and Birmingham as problems, because they are places in which much new work is added to old and thus cities that persist in growing.

The British New Towns policy was specifically devised to discourage the growth of London and Birmingham and "drain it off." Birmingham's economy has remained alive and has kept up to date. Manchester's has not. Was Manchester, then, really efficient? It was indeed efficient and Birmingham was not. Manchester had acquired the efficiency of a company town. Birmingham had retained something different: a high rate of development work.