The case for un-building America.

Author:Morris, Jane Anne
Position:Essay
 
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Today, as many hundreds of billions of dollars are flying out of federal coffers to bail out and bulk up The Economy, it is instructive to review a few of the places we have not put enough money in the last decades. Universal single-payer health care; living wages for all; effective and affordable public transit systems; facilities and programs for all disabled persons; worker safety measures in all industries; community gardens; bike paths; and renewable energy-powered off-grid public buildings, to name but a few.

In addition to those community-oriented needs that we just could not fund, we also lacked re-sources, it seems, to protect and restore our environment. Cleanups of Superfund sites, and many other terribly fouled areas, are incomplete, stalled, or not even begun. We lacked funds for state-of-the-art pollution controls on all power plants, factories, and refineries; for cleaning up our lakes, rivers, and aqui-fers; and for healing the habitat destruction, degradation, and erosion wrought by corporate agriculture, mining, clearcutting, and the like.

Yet now, after repeatedly finding that it was always too expensive--for government, for corporations, for taxpayers--to take care of Community and Environment, suddenly the care and feeding of The Economy trumps all. What is this creature Economy that is more important by far than Community and Environment, and so must be "saved" at all costs?

The state of the economy

A vast calamity has befallen our Economy: People are buying only what they need. They are wearing out old stuff before throwing it away and buying new stuff. They are driving only when necessary. They are spending more time with nearby family and friends. They are borrowing as little money as possible, and only when it is important. They are reusing things. I hear on the radio that such "cutting back" is devastating The Economy.

In what kind of world are such moderately pru-dent practices calamitous?

Advice comes at us from all sides: Don't slow your spending, borrowing, or consuming, or things will get even worse. Instead, borrow money, take a trip to the democracy theme park, and buy some plastic flags shipped in from Asian factories. Shop early and often. Our Economy's slogan might as well be: Don't fix that flat--buy a new car!

Evidently, matching consumption to needs will wreck The Economy. This state of affairs is at once absurd, and true: it would wreck our Economy.

What humans made can be re-made

If an economy were a shoe, the little tag inside inside would say, "All man-made materials." Our current Economy did not spring fully formed from the primeval slime...

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