I've been hearing a lot about a potential government bailout of General Motors. Of course my first thought is, "We are winning!", but I don't actually think that is true. While I think that the vast majority of car drivers should be on their bikes far more often than they are, I do not think that cars should be completely eliminated from 'the system'. Even more importantly, I recognize that GM going under would not only mean that lots of jobs will be lost by car builders in Detroit, but car lots and mechanics across the nation may feel the impact. I don't like the idea of people losing their jobs, even if I think the products of their job is destroying the health of the world and it's people.
This is quite a situation we have here. The American automobile industry provides a lot of jobs, that is good. Evidently the American automobile industry is unable to provide a desirable product because they have been in financial distress for a decade or more (companies with desirable products are generally not in financial distress because they can sell them and make money). Is it worth pouring tax payers' money into a company to prevent jobs loss so they can continue producing a product that has a decade of demonstrating that they produce a less desirable product? You may find this hard to believe, but I would prefer that my tax money be used for something else. Lets convert Detroit into a city producing solar electric cells.... and then they can sell them from car lots around the country. OK, maybe that's not the answer. I don't have an answer.
This leads me to bigger concerns for the economy. One of the big messages going out is, "BUY, BUY, BUY!" That will help the economy. Well, I understand that more money going through businesses will improve the economy. I understand that. BUT, that happens to be against what I stand for. People don't need a bunch of junk that they don't need (That is the profound statement of the day). While the economy is tanking, I am glad to see more people out on their bikes and saving money rather then spending it on stuff that they don't need. Sure, it's contributing to the economy tanking, but isn't frugality a good thing? Isn't living within one's means a good thing? Isn't conserving resources rather then meaninglessly buying them and disposing of them a good thing?
So here's what we've got:
People buying less- Good
Less Waste- Good
Job losses- Bad
Increased frugality- Good
More bikes- Good
overspent people- Bad... although it's their own fault
I'm going to call it a push. I think that we need to take advantage of this financial crisis and change the economy in this country. Lets run all of the little shops selling disposable goods out of business (Just to be clear, those shops would include Dollar stores, Circuit city, Wal-Mart, much of what is in grocery stores, and most of the other stores at your local strip mall). Remember that I really do care about people and I want them to have jobs that pay sufficiently. We need to replace those stores with businesses that sell durable goods. While we're at it, I think we need to redefine durable goods. $200 Dishwashers that will break in two years are not 'durable goods'. Appliances that last 50-100 years and then can be repaired are durable. Yes, durable goods cost more, but they also last longer. Since people will need to buy fewer things, fewer stores will be needed, but we will need more repair shops to keep these durable goods in tip-top shape.
I know, I'm dreaming; and that's the problem. People have become more conservative with their money so instead of investing in long lasting items, they are finding the cheapest (and most disposable). How do we move to an economy of durable goods and repair instead of disposable goods and growing landfills? Hopefully someone out there is better at economics than I am, but I see that we are in need of some drastic changes for the sake of the people, for the sake of the economy and for the sake of the environment. Our current economy is quite troublesome.
This is the first of a six part PBS program from quite some time ago. It's worth watching ( you know, like all six of them).
I'm done. This whole economic thing just keeps me in a state of confusion. I know about milk and my dissertation is moving forward (I hope), but economics isn't my thing. This entry was intended to flow much more smoothly than it actually did. Oh well.