With the new national jobless rate at 9.5%, critics are saying that President Obama’s economic stimulus package isn’t working.
That’s highly debatable. It could be that it’s really not working. It could be that the federal stimulus is keeping things from being much, much worse. I’m not sure how you’d measure that.
Regardless of this argument, what is clear to me is that we have to start looking beyond the paradigm of jobs and consumerism. Our current economic system is not sustainable. It’s based on people making more money and buying more stuff, and given our limited resources, that can’t go on forever.
It’s also obviously not working, when the top one percent of earners in the U.S. are receiving 20 percent of all income, controlling 33 percent of the country’s wealth, and paying a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than many in the middle class.
So what’s going to happen? Although I think taking care of people without jobs is the right idea, having the government pour more money into it may not be the right answer.
My husband likes to give a radical answer: Abolish money, and everyone will be forced to take care of each other. Simple and drastic, but I don’t see it happening.
I think that’s part of it, though. Here’s what I think we need:
1. Downshift. Realize that we don’t need so much stuff, and that we can’t base our economy on the stuff. We have to lower our expectations of how we should live and simplify.
2. Community. Yes, we do need to take care of each other, and it’s probably best done on the local level. We can share in making sure everyone has food, clothing, shelter and more — companionship, entertainment, education, etc.
3. Get off the fossil fuels. Not sustainable. Enough said.
This isn’t going to be easy. We will have to either deliberately make sacrifices and change the way we live, or be forced into it by our own actions. Either way will be difficult, and perhaps dangerous. The old ways and old jobs will continue to disappear, and this will hurt. But if we dedicate ourselves to taking care of each other, it will work out. Our lives just won’t be the same as they are today.
President George H.W. Bush once said “The American way of life is not negotiable.” Well, Mr. Bush, it turns out that the American way of life is not sustainable. It’s time to negotiate for our lives.
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