Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Want a Bailout? Here's a Bucket.

I won’t pretend to have any answers but I do know this; if our country’s economy is going to recover and regain its once great status, it’s going to take a change in attitude and a lot of effort from each and every one of us.

No matter your politics, I think most would agree that our government is not going to be able to just fire up the mint and throw unfathomable amounts of money at our problems and watch them all disappear. After all, where has this 700 billion dollar bailout gotten us so far? Car moguls have flown to Washington without a plan, returned home and then driven back with little more. Banks have taken their piece of the pie and purchased posh, corporate jets and foreign banks. And now, home building associations around the country (of which I belong to three) want Washington to “Fix Housing First” through a variety of means including negligible interest rates, tax rebates and model home write-offs.

I think that it’s obvious to the most casual observer that at some point, we as a collective whole, threw common sense out the window. Two different discussions that I heard today stand out in my mind. The first was that some economists fear that Americans will save too much and, therefore by not spending, deepen or even extend the newly discovered recession that we’ve been mired in for the past few years. The second centered on the opinion that the wide ranging proposals to Green our infrastructure and effect climate change are too expensive and long-sighted.

I’m no political or economic expert and rarely do I even publicly engage in such conversations but I do like to talk about sustainability. So here’s what I think:

This economic turmoil that we’re experiencing didn’t happen overnight. We’ve worked hard at speculating and loosening and deregulating and all those other “ings” that translate into a lack of good judgment. We should not expect to come out of it tomorrow or next week or next month or even next year. Anyone with kids will understand that it always takes longer to clean up the mess than it did to make it.

The way forward is through common sense and sustainability. On a personal level, live within your means. Invest in your home, your family, your future and your community. Do things right. Renovate, repair and maintain and progress with quality and the future as your top priorities. At the National level we must do the same.

Sustainability means “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN Brundtland Commission – Our Common Future). I think by now it ought to be obvious that we cannot afford to lose sight of this definition.

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