This collection of thoughtful essays weaves together economic and ecological issues.
While Eggert (Greenspan’s Anguish: Thoreau as Economic Prophet and Other Selected Essays, 2015, etc.) is an economist by trade, he is struck by the relationship between economics and ecology. “I believe these two households are becoming more interdependent,” he writes, “and their futures more and more intimately linked.” Indeed, each of the 20 elegantly written essays in this revised collection, originally published in 2009, has a strong eco-conscious component. The unusual title is derived from the author’s concern over the Midwest’s loss of meadowlarks; somewhat esoterically, he translates this occurrence into “meadowlark values,” suggesting that a “meadowlark economist” must “seriously try and incorporate an ecological consciousness and ecological values along with market thinking and market values.” Eggert’s essays are as soaring and aspirational as they are instructional and practical. For example, in “What’s Wrong with Capitalism?” he notes there is “a destructive quality in capitalism that often violates the ecological laws that can and should ensure life’s beauty, balance, health and long-term continuity.” In “The Coming Repair Age,” Eggert cautions about energy: “Common sense tells us there simply must be an end to our wastefulness, and that we cannot continue our gross consuming habits for the long run.” In perhaps his most novel essay, “Wal-Mart Pond,” Eggert cleverly combines ecology and economy by imagining a conversation with Henry Thoreau. The fictional dialogue moves from the famed naturalist’s concerns about modern society—“Believe me sir, you don’t need shopping malls”—to Eggert’s financial counsel about tax deductions: “You might argue that anything a poet, a philosopher, anything a writer like yourself purchases is part of what one might say: ‘operating their business.’ ” His final essay, “Quartet,” is most worthy of contemplation: “what is our part in the ‘music’ of the cosmos, what is our role in the harmony of nature’s variations on a theme?”
Erudite, well-wrought, and finely expressed in short bursts of creativity; at times poetic and philosophical, even as the author remains firmly planted on terra firma.