by: Gabe Pastrana
So this is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while….a long while. Obviously our economy is in the shitter, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. After all, when the entire world is in debt, there’s no way anyone’s getting out of it. To the best of my understanding, not only are we all in debt to each other, but we’re all also primarily in debt to our “future selves” – the idea is that we borrowed time, rather than debt, with the notion that if given enough time, we’ll be able to make up the debt that we currently have. (I’m not an economist, so if I fucked up how future debt works, don’t shoot me. That’s just how I make sense of it.) The only problem with this future debt is globalization – whoops! NO ONE is going to get out of debt, no matter how much time we have, because NO ONE has actual capital to lend out anymore, just more debt.
The other thing about our current economy is that it’s built on a model of growth and ever-increasing profits. Well, guess what? In a finite world, with a limited amount of resources, eventually that infinite growth model will have to come to an end…. ideally (from the rich’s standpoint, it seems) when those finite resources run out. You know, oil, carbon, gas, timber, oh and water…. So this infinite growth model will only stop once the entire planet is depleted of its natural resources. Or at least, that’s what the rich/CEOs/those in power would have. Of course, some people are sensible enough to see it for what it is. As Mayor Bloomberg of New York pointed out, it’s CLIMATE CHANGE (stupid). Or climate reallocation, if you will. Far before we deplete these resources Mother Nature comes along and restores balance, and unlike our dysfunctional congress, she don’t give a shit how the budget is balanced, so long as balance reigns supreme…
Now what I’ve come to understand, after my stint as a hippie and an unsuccessful campaign to get people to return to a land-based economy, is that a lot of people are really not ready to give up their modern lifestyles for the sake of long-term self-preservation. Fine, I get it. God forbid you give up your car, your cushy paper-pushing job or your personal space. You’ve worked hard to get those things and you don’t want to give them up willingly – you’re entitled. Really. BUT, you must acknowledge that what we got going is not working. SO, hear me out.
If an economy that reasonably resembles our current one must be maintained to keep the current order, the least we can do is restructure it to the ends of long-term self-preservation, or what is commonly called sustainability. Let me say it again. SUSTAINABILITY. We must build a new, sustainable economy, in which the goal is not profit nor perpetual growth, but rather maintenance of the already established order with an eye towards sustaining a long-term existence. Seems pretty common sense, don’t it? It is. So then why aren’t we doing it? Well…. if you’ve paid any attention to me in the last year, I think you know why. Ok, so now that we’ve established that this is the best recourse given everything we know/are faced with – how do we get there?
First and foremost, cut back on the fossil fuels. Reinvest in our infrastructure with sustainable, replenishable power – solar, wind, water-powered everything. Green cities, with lots of foliage and rooftop gardens to feed the hungry (or those that can afford rooftop gardens). Oh, and speaking of Bloomberg…. Consume less, far less, or at least insist on durable, well-made products like they did back in the old days. You know, quality, American-made products, rather than Chinese-made-cheap, planned-obsolescence, disposable crap.
But wait, you say, what happens to production (and jobs) when everyone has all the crap they need and no one buys anything anymore? Well…. Bridges and the new sustainable power plants will still need to be maintained. People will still need to eat food grown on land, in restaurants as well as in kitchens. People will still need to be treated by doctors, nurses, and the like. Scientists will still work to make advances in medicine and (sustainable) technology. Recycled garbage will still need to be collected, houses and offices will still need to be cleaned, streets will still need to be sanitized, children will still need to be baby-sat, and I for one wouldn’t mind imparting my knowledge as a teacher for the younger folks that will still be around (or still entertaining folks on the big/little screen). Oh, and Banks will still be around. But they’ll function much more like credit unions – you know, not for profit? About the only thing that will change is the financial sector…their importance will probably lessen since there won’t be so much incentive to make shit-loads of money at any cost. But I get the sneaking suspicion the wealthy will still build wealth and the not-so-wealthy will still strive to live a decent existence.
And this perhaps brings me to the best part of a sustainable economy. People might actually be paid what their worth based upon what they contribute to society, instead of how much money they can generate. As a teacher, educator of our futures, I know I’m worth a lot more than what I would make on a teacher’s salary today. You know, ‘cause what I do has a lot more worth than say, bankrupting Twinkies Corp. As for the wealthy, well, they’ll be rewarded for their philanthropy instead of their greed, because they’ll actually be a valuable member of society instead of the piranhas pariahs they are. I know, I know, this all seems way too Utopian to actually come to fruition. But then I look at the very dystopic present we’re living in, and I have to ask – do we have a choice? Like Schwarzenegger said in that immortal T2 – Come with me if you want to live! Personally, I don’t care what you do ‘cause I know you’re going to do what you want anyway. But you gotta ask yourself, with the way things are going now, “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya?