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Tomato Economics: Shifting Economies from Scarcity to Abundance

Tomato Economics: Shifting Economies from Scarcity to Abundance

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Tomato Economics: Shifting Economies from Scarcity to Abundance

199 pages
2 hours
Nov 24, 2015


Olivia Saunders presents her challenge boldly, and in no uncertain terms. In clear language even the most inexperienced layman can penetrate, Saunders presents a lucid, reasoned argument for a new way to see the worlds resources, and particularly the people who use them. Through the economics of abundance, Saunders seeks to reorient the way we as human beings relate to each other, our communities and our world. By denying the prevailing view of scarcity, which forces a paradigm of dehumanizing competition, and embracing what one might loosely term tomato economics, Saunders dares us to see the truth: there is enough, and more than enough. There is abundance.
Nov 24, 2015

About the author

Olivia Saunders is a citizen of The Bahamas, educator, author, public speaker, and consultant.

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Copyright © 2015 by Olivia Saunders.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Rev. date: 11/23/2015






Tomato Economics

In Gratitude




Chapter 1:  Our World of Economics: The Compelling Deception of Scarcity

The Moral Code

What Has Been Produced?

How Has This Been Produced?

For Whom?

Crisis and Collapse

Opportunity for Alternatives

Chapter 2:  The Scarcity Paradigm

Scarcity’s Progeny

Emblems of Scarcity





Chapter 3:  The High Cost of Scarcity

Measurement Matters

Gross domestic product versus well-being

Employment: Best with low wages


Millions Are Excluded


The Separating

Wealth and the rest

People from people

Separation from our souls

Separating people from their humanness



A Paradox

Chapter 4:  Other Perspectives


Harm to the Environment


Local currencies


Indigenous financing

Challenges to Theories

Chapter 5:  The Alternative of Abundance

The Abundance Assumption

A Tale of Tomatoes

Lessons from Tomatoes

What Is an Abundant Economy Organised to Do?



Facilitate sovereign connections


Abundant Business

Ways of Expressing Abundance

Allow imagination

Circulation and flow

Valuing the physical and the non-physical

Appreciate our relatedness

Accept differences

Chapter 6:  Shifting from Scarcity to Abundance

It Is Shifting












Economic Progress


Chapter 7:  The Shifting

Notes for shifting from scarcity to abundance

Epilogue     Voices of Scarcity, Abundance Responses


To my grandfather Ulric Jason Mortimer Sr who is the beacon for me on this journey, and to my three-year-old grandson Christian, who represents the possibility of a world liberated into abundance.

In Gratitude

This book has come from a lifetime of searching, experiences, and contemplation. It was not until the book was completed that I fully came to the realisation that I was being encouraged, guided, and supported every step of the way by a host of people, individually and collectively. It is embarrassing to say that in too many instances I did not express gratitude to them. In fact, there were far too many occasions when I did not, could not comprehend the love that was being bestowed on me, and neither could I appreciate the lessons that were being taught to me.

In this book, I try to convey the idea of shifting from an economics of scarcity to an economics of abundance. This is a shift in consciousness. It reflects my interactions with so many people and experiences over the years. This I now know is where my soul has been guiding me.

Thank you, all, for helping me along the way.


E verybody knows that economics is about how to allocate scarce resources. Disagreements between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ theories have been over allocation, not over the idea of scarcity. Economics has been called the dismal profession because it is based on the belief that there is just not enough to go ar ound.

In the face of scarcity and the competition it demands, we are drawn to the ideas of comparative advantage, efficiency of markets, affection for speed, joys of convenience, dominance of scale, and belief that the greatest good for the greatest number of people on the planet is achieved by an unfettered marketplace.

In 1776 Adam Smith, a moralist, associated God with the invisible hand of the marketplace. He (Adam Smith) was convinced that the butcher would not cut your meat unless it was in his self-interest to do so.

Regardless of the economic crisis of the moment (and there is one on a regular basis as Olivia explains), economists have generally agreed that the solution to the crisis will arise within the bounds of scarcity, variously managed ‘free’ markets, and self-interest being the nature of humankind.

In this book, Olivia fundamentally questions these beliefs and does so for good reason.

Some of her good reasons are:

- There have been eighteen financial crises since 1900.

- The existence of violence, terror, conflict, and injustice are persistently present and treated as inevitable.

- The fate of the planet is increasingly in question.

- Wealth inequality is growing.

This book outlines how much the violence, injustice, and suffering in the world are intimately related, even caused, by our core beliefs about economics. This is what makes this book important.

It argues, persuasively, that scarcity economics is something we constructed and therefore can be deconstructed and reformulated to create an economics of abundance, which in turn can create a more humane and just world.

She is not alone in her perspective. There is a growing conversation about alternative economic systems. Mark Anielski speaks of an economics of happiness, Edgar Cahn writes about an economics of generosity, and Peter Barnes about creating dividends from reclaiming the land, air, and resources that have always been a public trust. Wendell Berry and Jonathan Rowe speak for the common wealth. There is a movement for this commons, for building local economies based on cooperative enterprise, co-housing, local food, local investment, local living, social investment. These are all in concert with this book.

Olivia comes from a unique perspective. She is Bahamian, which means she has directly lived the effects of both colonisation and supposed decolonisation. Her life and studies have navigated the fault lines between the interests and dominant thinking of the major world powers. Most of what we hear about the ‘new economy’ is from the mind-set of economists embedded in rich countries. Not so for Olivia.

As a professor of economics at the University of The Bahamas, she has been on the front lines of the colonialism of the twentieth century as a teacher, a citizen, and a deeply engaged member of her community. She is an intimate witness to the fact that while political colonisation may have ended, economic colonisation is still in force.

This gives Olivia a special perspective on what needs to shift in our economies. Beginning with scarcity, the underlying premise that guides mainstream economics, she questions the idea that there are insufficient resources to fulfil the unlimited wants and needs of people. In her mind, this belief is the antithesis of God. ‘Any teaching of scarcity as a universal law of how the world and the universe are designed and works is spiritual dishonesty. We are spiritual beings living in a spiritual creation of abundance.’

Shifting economics thus begins with a matter of the spirit. It holds that there are enough land and water and food for all inhabitants of the earth. If you believe in a god, it is a god of abundance, not scarcity.

‘To accept the tenets of the dominant economic system, which demands the destruction or withholding of food in order to keep supply low so that prices and profits remain high while people in the world are dying because of lack of food, is a matter of morality. It is a moral decision and a moral choice to consent to an economic system where gaining more and more profits is the primary objective, while improving the conditions of humans is an uncertain side effect.’

Not necessarily so.

Enjoy this book. It leads down a trail from which there is no retreat. No matter your faith or your knowledge of economics, it is written for us all.

Peter Block

Cincinnati, Ohio

May 2015


I t was in high school when I was introduced to economics and the study of ideas about how the economy works, particularly the sacredness of the market and its laws of demand and supply. At university, the mathematics, graphs, and charts fascinated me. They made everything in the economy simple and deterministic. The theories held ‘proof’ of how economies ought to function. The universality of economic theories provided straightforward solutions for any economic pro blem.

I soon came to the realisation, however, that the established theories and policy solutions clearly did not incorporate the circumstances of a small archipelagic nation situated in a hurricane zone with a population of less than half a million people. In other words, these theories were more or less blind to the place that is my home. This led to some anguish on my part.

Another aspect of economics that began to occupy my mind was the premise that poor people ostensibly ‘earned’ their status in life because they were not living correctly. That is, they were not following the laws of economics. I also began to take note of the tendency for moral issues to generally go ignored during discussions around the efficacy of economic policy prescriptions. Economics was said to be a fair and amoral discipline. The moral code governing economics—and economies—is found in textbooks on principles of economics, which usually begin with a definition of economics, ‘the study of the allocation of scarce resources’.

After many years of teaching economics, a bolt of lightning floored me: I was a liar! I did not—and I do not—believe the very basic assumption of economics. Economics is founded on the principle of scarcity or the ‘certainty’ that there are insufficient resources to meet the needs and wants of all individuals.

This realisation came as a result of my spiritual journey and understanding of God. God is not scarce. God is not limited or insufficient. God does not create scarcity and does not perpetuate scarcity. God is abundance and is all there is! It took a number of years until I was able to coherently articulate my thoughts, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that these ideas have resonated with quite a few persons.

I am suggesting in this book that economic systems over time have subjugated people, communities, governments, countries, and the natural environment. Economic laws and dogmas have usurped the sovereignty of people and chipped away our humanity. I believe the dominant economic system is a perverted paradigm. In this book, I propose that we move towards an assumption of abundance in designing systems and structures for serving humanity and fostering healthy communities, particularly those related to the economy.

The long time between my coming to that realisation and the publication of this book can be accredited primarily to the fact I really did

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