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Sustainable Economics was part of my thinking before it was vogue

Sustainable economics starts at home … in that it starts with homes. It stands to reason that, if the economy can only grow through housing expansion, we will someday have nowhere left to stand.


On February 9th, 2011, I wrote to my friend Stan about sustainable economics:

The entire government is failing to learn. If it had learned, it would not be trying to revive the real-estate-driven economy that just crashed. For many decades I have publicly decried the idea that we must always develop more land in order to keep the economy going. I decried it on the basis that it was not sustainable, even though that word was not in circulation so I was not using that word at the time. I simply said that it was obvious we cannot keep a good economy going (sustain it) on the basis of endless development because land is finite.

I argued many times that, if a good [sustainable] economy means we always have to get bigger, then clearly that will ultimately fail. I argued that you cannot expand forever because you are limited to just the earth. I don’t happen to believe space is a viable alternative [as Newt Gingrich apparently does]. I also argued that clearly the economy could not continue to be based on (be sustained by) the need for housing to rise in value — that sooner or later people would reach the limit of debt they could take out — would hit a natural debt ceiling — and would not be able to go any further.

These things [the nuggets of sustainable economics as a philosophy] I wrote in letters to the editor as far back as my college years. The biggest thing I critiqued in articles back then was the excessive deficits of the Reagan years. I argued that the government could not keep (sustain) increasing its national debt, or in twenty or so years it would go broke. Well, it has taken about thirty years to hit that mark, but we made it! Governments all over the world are now beginning to go broke for this exact reason. The U.S. will go broke, too, unless it manages to pull itself out by the shenanigans of inflating its debt away. In which case, it has put all its debt on the backs of citizens, making them pay for it in endlessly high prices.

The government has no ideas for new economies, so they are trying everything to keep the real-estate market propped up to gain more mileage out of that. No one in government or banking has listened to me for years. Only ten years ago, Ray Gilkerson, as a retired banker, argued vehemently with me that the government could take on all the debt it needed to in order to pay for the services it needed to pay for — that the government is not like the rest of us because it creates money and regulates it so does not have the same limitations that individuals have. I argued just as vehemently back. He got to die before the big collapse came or just after. (Maybe that is what took him down? The crashing of his ideals. Don’t know, but God rest his soul, as he was still a good friend.)