Austerity in a Recession Is a Bad Idea

Question: Why is austerity a bad idea right now?

Juliet Schor: What we really need to do as a society is \r\ninvest in a series of activities and areas that we’ve been neglecting. \r\nThe average American is working longer hours today than he or she has, \r\nyou know, at any time since you know, for many, many decades. 

What\r\n this mean is that as we have sort of over invested in money and \r\nconsumer goods and so forth, we’ve let other sources of wealth erode.  \r\nWe’ve neglected our communities, our families, and our planet.  So, \r\nausterity is really not addressing that issue.  We’ve got to actually \r\ntake our effort, our money, and our effort to investing in the things \r\nwhich we have eroded. Because hollowing out our communities, hollowing \r\nout our families, long-hour lifestyles and so forth, undermine \r\nwell-being and they undermine our ability to actually have a more \r\nplentiful and abundant future.  

One of the ways to think about \r\nit is that from the ecological point of view, it’s pretty clear we need a\r\n major shift to a whole new set of technologies.  The technologies of \r\nthe industrial revolution which took nature as if it were endless and in\r\n free supply and we could pollute the atmosphere without paying \r\nattention to it, pollute our rivers, cut down all our trees, and so \r\nforth.  Our technology, our economic system, the way we value things, \r\nit’s all based on that idea, which is a crazy idea and the sort of the \r\nchickens are coming home to roust on that as we’ve befouled the climate,\r\n run down our ecosystems and so forth to get to a new kind of production\r\n and consumption system which actually respects and restores the Earth, \r\nit means we’re going to have to do a lot of investing. 

But \r\nthat’s investing at a local scale; at a smaller scale.  It’s a whole \r\ndifferent economic model than the one we’ve been using.

Recorded on June 2, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

As a society, we need to invest in areas and activities that we’ve been neglecting: our communities, our families, and our planet.

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