Song of the Meadowlark
by James Eggert
Ten Speed Press,
1999, 164 pages

In this gentle and disjointed collection of essays, economist James Eggert pushes his quantitative impulses aside and puts his ecological consciousness front and center. A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, he argues in Song of the Meadowlark: Exploring Values for a Sustainable Future that classical economic values should play second fiddle to what he terms “meadowlark values,” or priorities that esteem the natural world over indiscriminate growth. Eggert propounds that along with environmental impact statements, we as a society conduct “grandchild impact statements” to evaluate how our actions will affect the quality of life for generations to come.

Eggert’s musings on the shortcomings of classical economics comprise the most compelling parts of the book, and the reader would have been better served if he had delved deeper in this area, which he, with his straightforward style, certainly could have done without frightening off the economically disinclined. A few essays on living a good and simple life also deserve a nod of acknowledgement. But for the most part, Eggert wanders too far and wide, touching lightly on subjects such as the requisite characteristics of a good boss, and lingering far too long on his own version of world history from the Big Bang to the present.

This earnest ramble through the mind of a good-hearted economist may be soothing to peruse over a cup of tea, but it lacks the coherence and focus to deliver a real thought-provoking punch.