Bamboo Homeschool

We are developing topics for Home-based Enterprise… it’s a good opportunity to partner with some local families and help them to find an alternative source of income during these times when the hospitality sector is shut down…. Starting with partnering with Pak Kadek Artika, teaching traditional bamboo crafts – we would like to develop classes to share the traditional lifestyle skills of Indonesia, and create more opportunities for sharing local knowledge and culture in a fairer way: Creating partnerships and opportunities for our local community to co-develop programs which are mutually beneficial and enable us to Grow together.

It’s an interesting time to reflect on the economic structure of the world… What can we teach our kids at these times? Can we talk to them about the economy and think “deeper” into finance and money… What I find interesting and sad is the way local wages are just barely $10 a day here. That’s probably Why we (“westerners/bule”) can come here to Bali and have ‘cheap holidays’ (or anywhere in SE Asia).

I have to wonder how that came to be this way economically… I recall the Orient (in History) being a rich place… The Silk Road, The Spice Islands (not girls); India… the East was a place of great riches… there was a thriving network of trade spanning south-east Asia (prior to “Colonisation” or basically being made into “Colonies” of workers for the West) …

Let’s learn about this amazing culture that was left out of our history books… India, maybe China, the Philippines, through to even Northern Australia and the Macassan Trade Routes. It’s no wonder the “West” WANTED what they had. Their riches were plundered, resources exploited; their economies taken under (what exactly) and currencies devalued… you guys gotta fill in the gaps here… do some research. To the point where now, we “the westerners” (or bule/foreigners etc) are the dictators of ‘their’ economies … from our lounge-room amazon desks, and through several generations of poverty… “we” drip money to local people in these countries – while reaping vast benefits from their resources.

Though the lives of common people in the East were simple, and natural; they were RICH in local trade and harmonious with nature… Java (Indonesia) still boasts (in my books) local knowledge permaculture systems, traditional medicines and recipes for health tonics from plants every household grew… Prior to a “world bank”, each local economy had decided VALUE that reflected fair trade and work/standards. These economies traded and Thrived. These were RICH nations… Look at their cultures… their costumes, how they made clothes and the artifacts of culture… 

Let’s think back to the “old trade” days for a moment: even back to bartering… If I have something I’ve worked a day to make, it would probably be of around equal value with/to someone else’s product which took around the same amount of time to make (not taking the cost of materials into account)… just roughly. Same with factories… maybe a fridge would trade for near to the value of a dishwasher; a jug for a rug etc. 

Parts for a motorbike… What do you think they cost to make? Or rather for a person in a western country to buy? Well, very little because people who now work in the factories that make them work for very little (in comparison to western standard) wages. Lucky though, remember, their currency is devalued right down – so at a local level they can sustain themselves; trade and sell and buy … but they can never compete with western markets or AFFORD products from western markets.    Effectively, they’re working at a tenth of the wage rate that we do… it’s a very CONVENIENT global caste system that’s been created that lets us westerners have ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL these great products from the “East” at a fraction of the price of what they cost in real terms of human labour. The setting of global exchange rates (and all that) effectively solidifies this skewed “reality”.

So, we come and enjoy “cheap” holidays in these SE Asian countries and buy their products at a fraction of what it cost to make in REAL terms… and because of that lack of reciprocation in terms of fair exchange or trade, we can see, for example, that it would take around 40-70 years of savings for a local person working here in Indonesia on “local” wages to be able to take/afford a similar kind of holiday in Australia.

It’s sad actually that we lost the ability to make all these things for ourselves in ‘western’ countries… If you ask your grandparents what jobs there were when they were young… hang on, maybe your Great Grandparents… oh no no no no… Grandparents should remember… the picture might look a bit like the modern Indoneisan society. Here, businesses are BUSY! … There are so many small shops, barber shops, little cafe’s/warungs, mechanics, tailors, curtain-making shops, welders, so many businesses of a society that can sustain itself… for me it’s like the America of Fonzie and 1960’s and 70’s… Streets are alive; everyone has a job and people mingle in streets, marketplaces… everywhere (ordinarily) pretty much. Except they can’t afford the “western” items so easily as our cultures could. So effectively locals are not “saving” for any dream Americans or Australians were brainwashed by; They are at a broad scale just surviving day to day and earning “daily bread” – However there is a ‘new’ middle class emerging and gearing towards living the “western lifestyle”… which has interesting connotations for global resource use and climate change. An interesting cultural aspect of the East is not in “Acquiring” like what we have in the west but of “Contributing”… The Essence of Co-operative Cultures and personal happiness – I believe – is in asking not “What can I get?” but “What can I give?”!

Today’s question… Why do you think that “Western Country” Currencies have such a high value? 

For example, Why, when I exchange $10 Australian, do I get what is equivalent of $100 in local economy?

Email your answer to: Subject: Social Studies Homeschool

If you have an interesting Social Studies/Regenerative Economics homeschool subject you’re working on, we’d love to hear about it – please share on our Facebook page!

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