There are problematic disconnects between discussions of  the unsustainable nature of our western wasteful ways (for example, Tom Friedman’s recent NYTimes column) and the economic “stimulus” package, as it were, geared to put people back to work.  Clearly, it is not sustainable for the US, with 5% of the world’s population , to continue to consume 25% of the world’s resources.  There is indeed a wall there, if a somewhat plastic one that we may well get bounced off of from hitting it way too hard, to over-stretch the metaphor.

We are now cutting back on consuming of all sorts, out of necessity because a lot of money and jobs have evaporated.  A lot of people are out of work, and a lot more will be…something like 600,000 people a month are losing their jobs lately in the US.  Can we really stimulate things so that these people go back to work so they will earn money to buy all those things requiring resources that no longer are available to produce?  It does not seem possible.  Then, the question becomes, what do all those people do, and how will they feed themselves and their families?  We have to think about that in the near term, as we move into a new economy based on using less stuff, and it is not going to be easy.


ADVERTISEMENT