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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Why Do We Need An Expanding Economy? 
11th-Jul-2006 10:15 am
There are those who oppose economic growth because they favor "sustainability". I've read it. I'm not impressed. Essentially, you're longing to kill people, and drive people into poverty. As it turns out, we've got a fiscal problem in the economy for the next 20 years, called "Boomer Retirement" to look forward to. As might be expected, the Boomers' retirement will help trash the economy almost as much as their antics in college and after trashed the culture.

The problem?

The projections are that the Social Security surplus will peak in 2010, and diminish every year thereafter, so ultimately, instead of collecting 5 cents on the national dollar and paying out 4 1/2 cents, we will continue to collect 5 cents and pay out 7 cents," Holtz-Eakin said. "And that's the good news. The bad news is Medicare. The demands on the Treasury go from 4 cents on the national dollar to 22 cents in the next 50 years."

The Solution?

Grow the economy so that the problem is smaller, proportionately, and it won't bankrupt the rest of us. Allow in boatloads of immigrants willing to work, because Boomers apparently only have children accidentally, and we need people in those jobs. Anyone who has flown in this country knows we are not only not overcroweded but suffering from a dearth of population.
11th-Jul-2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
Sustainability is a HUGE issue in the architecture industry as well right now. It used to be the case that sustainability was equated with extreme ugliness as well as obscene cost and was universally disregarded as a bad move. In the last five years sustainable options have become SIGNIFICANTLY more affordable (and more aesthetically pleasing) to the point where in the long run, sustainable design is more cost efficient. (In a very few number of cases, it is even less expensive in the short run, but these cases are rare.)

I think sustainability is a great idea, but that you cannot expect people to prefer it when it is not economical. In fact, I think they should not prefer it, because the cost outweighs the benefits if the expense is outrageous. That's why I'm excited that sustainable options are becoming more affordable, because it's like being able to have the cake and eat it too. Helping the environment and the economy at the same time. We're not there yet, it's true, but it looks very promising for the near future.
12th-Jul-2006 12:05 am (UTC) - Sustainability
But there are some solutions that do work short term: and they work because of the economics. Every time I take over an apartment building to manage, I replace all the 60 watt bulbs in public areas with screw in flourescent lights at 100 watt equivalents. Result? Lower electrical bill (about 1/3 the old cost), five times less frequent replacement, and brighter (hence safer) places for tenants. Result? The owners think I'm a genius, and are happy they hired me. Not bad.
12th-Jul-2006 02:50 pm (UTC) - Re: Sustainability
Yes! These are the kinds of technological improvements that make me happy. I think they occur more frequently at the light-bulb level of cost than at the building-project level of cost right now, but progress is progress!
2nd-Sep-2006 12:07 am (UTC) - Re: Sustainability
Here's the source for the best incandescent replacements I know: the funny thing is, I tend to replace 100 watt equivalents for 60 watt bulbs, and the owner is thrilled because his bill is less, and the tenant is happy to get more light. Win-Win.
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