Sorry, Barack, but Our Lifestyle Is Going to Have to Change

An interesting statement by Barack Obama, courtesy of Joe Klein writing in Time Magazine ...

"The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20. That was consumer spending. Basically, we turbocharged this economy based on cheap credit." But the days of easy credit are over, Obama said, "because there is too much deleveraging taking place, too much debt." A new economic turbocharger is going to have to be found, and "there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office."

This emphasis on a new “green energy” economy is, in my opinion, the best argument the Democratic Party has made for governing in recent memory.

But the reality is that the relentless push for ever-more “growth” — the idea that we simply need to find a new economic “supercharger” — misses the larger challenges facing the global economy. At some point, we need to envision — and articulate — an economic model based first and foremost on sustainability and meeting human needs, rather than growth for growth’s sake.

We live in a world with an expanding population, finite resources and a relatively fragile ecology — at some point, we’re going to have to face up to those realities.

On the campaign trail, of course, even suggesting that the lifestyle to which Americans have grown accustomed over the past half-century is negotiable is a sure-fire way to lose an election. But I think it's important that those of us who aren’t running for president keep an eye on the bigger picture.


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