Simple Living Works!

Simpler Living Weekly Nudge

Posted on: November 9, 2019


In This Issue — Latest Podcast Episodes // Free Trade vs. Fair Trade // Collapse of Capitalism or Change of Business Model? // A New Way to Avoid the Military/War Tax // Getting Ready Early for an Alternative Christmas Festival/Workshop // FREE Daily NUDGE // Much More!

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Simpler OneEarth Living Podcast Episode 11/19: Lee Van Ham–The Liberating Birth of Jesus: A Birth Story Able to Reverse Our Planet’s Peril // Media Release

Simpler OneEarth Living Podcast Episode 10/19: Margaret Bullitt-Jonas–Are Faith Communities Mobilizing for the Climate Emergency?

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Free Trade vs. Fair Trade

Reflections from US Director and Founder Diane Nesselhuf, Sharing the Dream in Guatemala

Free trade and fair trade. They sound alike, but they are two different things. What does each of them mean?

Free trade has to do with the commercial activity across countries. Free trade focuses on the reduction of barriers and policies that favor certain countries or industries. This can be good in many ways but can be destructive because global companies may bring more jobs, but many of these jobs are outsourced because international workers can be cheaper to hire and are willing to work with fewer safety protections. There are many pros and cons to free trade. It can be beneficial, but there may be long-term consequences.

Fair trade is quite different. Fair trade’s focus is on the wages and working conditions of the people doing the labor. When we work with people in Guatemala we work with them on the price of an article. How much is the material, how long does it take to make it, how complicated is the pattern, what is the living wage for people in the community? This process can take a long time and must be done for each craft item. Sharing the Dream has an Artisan Development Team that works with the groups and individuals to make sure they are getting a fair price, learning skills, and have good working conditions. We make sure that the people doing the work do not outsource it to other families or people who are not paid a fair price. When you buy an article from Sharing the Dream it is not only fair trade, but we have spent hours with the groups helping them advance their techniques, their marketing, and their knowledge of working in a group. Fair trade for us is a way to keep people in their homes (where they want to be) and to help them sustain their families.

If you want to learn more about fair trade, join us on one of our trips.

Learning Trip to Guatemala with Director Diane Nesselhuf, 2/2-11/20
This people-centric trip takes you off the beaten path to experience the sights and sounds of Guatemala and leaves you with an understanding of the struggles that Guatemalans face and an appreciation for their vibrant culture. Throughout the trip, you will have the opportunity to listen to the hopes and dreams of the Guatemalan people that we meet with, and be invited into their homes to learn how they make their traditional handicrafts.
If you are interested in this trip, please contact Diane at

Artisan Wares and Gastronomy trip to Guatemala, 6/15-24/20
Experience for yourself the delight of the Guatemalan cuisine, which has evolved from Maya, Latin American, and western traditions. As part of this remarkable ten-day trip, the participants will learn about and participate in workshops on backstrap weaving, ceramics, basketry, and beading, techniques that the artisans have learned from past generations.
For more information about this trip, please email Lauren at

You can also learn more about our trips by visiting our website:

Personal Note from editor Jerry Iversen: Rita and I visited Guatemala with Diane over ten years ago and were so touched that we became volunteers for Sharing the Dream. We conducted numerous fair trade shows in churches and the profits were returned to the cooperatives of indigenous women. Fair Trade items make excellent gifts. They are both beautiful and educational. They reinforce the Life Standards of Living More with Less, especially, “Learn from the World Community.”

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Collapse of Capitalism or Change of Business Model?

We took a stroll though our local mall recently. It’s changed a lot since it was built and we lived nearby 30+ years ago. Sears is closed, many businesses replaced by tattoo, massage and nail salons. Also in this medium-sized midwestern town, K-Mart is gone, as are the regional chains of Younkers and ShopKo.

Elsewhere, Bed, Bath & Beyond’s are closing. You probably have your own local examples.

At the same time Amazon grows wildly, pays no taxes and is now competing with UPS and FedEx as a major delivery service. Most restaurants provide delivery and many grocery stores offer shopping service. Is such convenience a problem or a relief? A sign of efficiency or privilege? Expedience or laziness? A time-saver or. . . ?

Do such signify the Collapse of Capitalism or Change of Business Model?

PeaceMakers and EarthLovers would hope that these indicate a shift toward No-Growth Economics—the way to live sustainably on a finite planet. Don’t count on it. The super wealthy and large corporations will do all they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. They strive that the growth line always goes up and to the right.

We cannot stop them legally. We can NOT comply, NOT co-operate, NOT concede. We can possibly slow the growth. Most of all we can be ready when the ecological implosion happens 2040-2050, both for ourselves, our families and our communities, AND for those elsewhere who choose to share instead of hoard, those who choose compassion over greed.

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A New Way to Avoid the Military/War Tax

Since the Republican Tax Scam of 2017 (RTS’17), peacemakers continue to search for ways legally to avoid paying the military/war tax.

The RTS’17 increased the standard deduction to 20% (from 10%) but also eliminated the personal exemption. While lowering tax rates for the ultra-rich, some of us normal people have paid significantly higher taxes. Under the Trump administration, most of the increase has gone to the military.

We have experimented with a method called “bunching,” whereby we take the new standard deduction and make non-deductible political contribution during election (even-numbered) years. And we double up on charitable contributions and take itemized deductions in odd-numbered years. See Weekly Nudge

That method has not worked out because the tax increase has sucked up all of the flexible cash we would normally give away.

We just became aware of a new instrument call QCD — Qualified Charitable Distributions. We will work with our financial institution, Thrivent Financial. Others may offer a similar plan.

It works for us because we receive RMD’s — required minimum distributions, payouts from annuities on which the taxes have not yet been paid. (Over against ROTH IRA’s on which taxes are paid in advance.)

In short, we send a list of charities and amounts to Thrivent. They send the funds to the charities instead of us. Since we don’t receive them, we don’t pay taxes on them. We take the standard 20% deduction. We still meet our minimum goal of 10% of our gross income to charities (called a tithe). And we can designate a QCD to any 501-c-3, non-profit organization. We can still give occasional, spontaneous contributions. We plan to update the QCD list, giving first to our most important charities and adding new ones later in the year.

We plan to receive some distributions from our ROTH IRA’s to make political contributions.

Your ideas are welcome.

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“Jubilee Circles” is now available also as an audiobook, at iTunes, Nook Audiobooks, Google Play, and, which offers a free sample. It includes 20 actions to take to help keep our planet livable. THAT’S THE LINK to the audio version of the little book “Jubilee Circles: Help Save Life on the Planet.” Please share this audio version with all who’d like to listen while jogging, walking, etc.

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Month 11/19 of the Simpler Living Daily Nudge

Send “Nudge” to to receive a free, brief daily email.

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Getting Ready Early for an Alternative Christmas Festival/Workshop

Refuse to be sucked into the fall hectics. Begin planning a less-consumer holiday season a little at a time. Use SLW! free online resources.

  1. Submit an item for the new edition of “Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?”
  2. Read a Festival Guide
  3. Read a Workshop Guide
  4. Peruse SLW! Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Article Index
  5. Unplug the Christmas Machine Workshop Leader’s Guide

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Free Subscription: Today’s Simpler Living Nudge

Receive a brief daily nudge toward Simpler Living, such as the ones here, at no charge. Simply reply to with NUDGE at the top. You can unsubscribe at any time by replying Unsubscribe Nudge.

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  • SLW! Blog Index | SLW! Podcast Index
  • SUBSCRIBE to SLW! Podcast for free through your favorite podcast service. Subscribe to SLW! weekly Blog. Click “+Follow” at lower right of blog post, enter a name and email address. Welcome!
  • Non-Conform-Freely Celebrations: Months 9-12*
  • Check out a few of SLW! thought-provoking, timely resources that might meet your personal, family or congregational/group needs. They’re all FREE. Visit Seasonal/Thematic Resource Index.

What’s Happened

Solving the Climate Crisis with No-Growth Economics

To get a worldview very different from the greed and profit-oriented politicians and corporatists, visit these solution-oriented resources:

  1. GrowthBusters
  2. Post-Carbon InstituteSLW! Ep. 109–Richard Heinberg
  3. CASSE: Center for the Advancement of the Steady-State Economy — The Common Good Podcast Ep. 46–Brian Czech (use player)

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On-going Global Climate Strikes

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George S. Johnson’s new book, Silence Is Not the Answer is a collection of prophetic voices urging us to wake up, notice what is happening, and take a stand.

The book offers viewpoints from a variety of writers who call us to make our voices heard on critical justice issues. Walter Brueggemann, Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, Christine M. Smith, Larry Rasmussen, Jim Wallis, and others encourage us to break the silence—not by shouting down others but by starting a real conversation.

Here’s your chance to speak up, make better choices, and make your voice heard. Even one voice can start an avalanche of change.

We need to read and listen and then speak out for causes that we think are important.

His goal in writing this book and presenting a collection of clear, prophetic voices is to give people resources that will help them think and act critically in an age of confusion and conflicting voices. As we approach the 2020 elections, speaking out has never been more important.

You can read testimonials here.

You can purchase a copy of my book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore. George looks forward to hearing what you have to say about Silence Is Not the Answer. I hope you will consider telling a friend about the book, sharing the book on social media, and writing a review on Amazon.

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Offsetting the CO2 We Release in Our Lives by Planting Trees 

Here’s an Earth-Day-Everyday action OneEarth Jubilee recommends we all take to offset the CO2 we put into the air.

Some of us may be able to arrange life so that we use less energy produced by fossil fuels. Certainly, whatever way we can use less of that energy source is the way to go. But all of us have to travel some, heat or cool our homes, etc. Whatever amount we use, we can off-set the CO2 that fossil fuel puts into the atmosphere by planting trees to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. It’s not a perfect equation by any means. Trees take time to grow, and when they die they release CO2. But every day that trees grow they photosynthesize and remove CO2 from the air.

Here’s how it works. We use an internet calculator like to calculate our monthly or annual emissions. By the way, that site will calculate our emissions from other sources in our lives, not only travel. It’s an Australian site that is dedicated to helping us find best choices in this era of rapid climate change. We know that without massive mobilization, the disasters we’re now experiencing only multiply.

The calculator will tell us how much to donate to off-set our fossil fuel use. We invite you to donate that amount to Jubilee OneEarth Economics Tree Fund. Where you donate is important. Truth is, not all entities receiving these off-set donations are trustworthy. Every cent donated to the Jubilee Tree Fund will go to tree planting projects in one of three regions—San Diego (CA), San Mateo (MX), San Cristobal (MX). You see, the Jubilee Circles in these areas are all committed as deeply as possible to OneEarth ways. Each one is connected to at least one tree-planting or reforestation project.

We need lots of actions to reduce CO2 in our atmosphere. In 2019, CO2 levels globally are at 415ppm (parts per million), well above the 350 ppm which is where we need to be to keep our planet stable. The last time CO2 in the air was as high as it is today was 3,000,000 years ago. It was a time when oceans were also 50 to 80 feet higher than today. Hard to imagine the flooding that such levels would bring to the world’s coasts today.

OneEarth Jubilee looks forward to partnering with you to value creation in this way.

For more information, contact

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We will protect ourselves from Climate Crisis deniers, through such series as:

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Podcast Reminder

You can access all SLW! podcast audio and the show notes at (then click window #3). Complete Episode Index. Listen through your computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone (or equivalent).

SUBSCRIBE through or your favorite podcast service. To SUBSCRIBE to email notices, click Comments at the bottom of Show Notes, then check ‘Notify me of new posts by email.’ Please rate us in iTunes and leave a review.

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Peace, Gerald “Jerry” Iversen, Chief SLW! Activist

Copyright: Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share-alike license.

Through social media, we extend the mission and resources of the non-profit organization Alternatives, 1973-2011.

*We choose to use month numbers rather than the traditional names because the names are inaccurate (September means “7” but is the ninth month?!) and they honor gods and emperors from warring ancient Roman culture. For more, see Weekly Nudge, 8/8/18.

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