(#280)– A sustainable economy is the only kind of economy we can aspire to because by definition an unsustainable economy is one that fails the majority contained within it. An unsustainable community is one that lacks coherence, social order and civility, decency for its people and health for its environmental systems.
The United States is now in the 4th decade of a trend toward greater levels of non-sustainability, i.e., becoming a failed state. One of the most effective means of changing direction is setting fairness at the center of national policy promulgated by our two effective governing systems – elected, official government and privately appointed corporate decision-makers.
A lack of fairness is rampant at the local as well as at the regional and national level. A food service worker in our communities makes less in a week than a local attorney charges for one hour of service. The food service worker and the local attorney – we can add a lot of other job titles here – both require all of the daily life supporting services of transportation, food, lodging, energy, clothing, insurance, health care. These essential daily life support factors are not available or inadequate for the food worker. Many producers of food make even less income than food workers.
We have heard directly from Presidential candidates as well as some of our neighbors that this is the way it should be. People who are poor should make their lives better by making different decisions. The economic sufficiency or surplus income and wealth held by others is proof that they are more socially and personally responsible. Both deeply held ideas have more ideology than truth.
It is easy to see how clearly this is the case when it is recalled that we aspire to live in a democracy and claim its privileges and benefits. Equality is not a goal of democracy. But fairness and a social contract among the entire populace – and now we know this contract has to be extended to the natural world –must be at the very center of our democracy and the principles, organization and operation of its economy.
There are certain essential goods and services that are essential to a fair chance for human decency and a democratic economy. Fairness in sharing the results of economic activity is the number one rule for structuring and evaluating this distribution. The undeniable fact is that the local and national economy is far less fair than it was one or two generations ago. It is also clear that our culture is divided about whether this undemocratic and unfair state of affairs is acceptable. Com- pounding this sordid state of society, the costs of the basics of life have increased substantially.
Waiting is the wings for the will of the people to claim its many benefits are energy efficiency and renewable energy generation – the best economic oppor- tunities for fairness in all things necessary for a vibrant and just economy and good health to people and the natural environment. In the near future, we will build community controlled utilities offering substantially lower costs of living as homes, businesses, manufacturing and transportation become far more efficient. Such a commitment will generate thousands of jobs that are sustained at living wages and eventually lessen the immense cost of weather chaos. Let’s get started.