Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Invest in a new economy

In an article published this week in the Globe and Mail, Richard Florida warns that we may squander an opportunity to solve long-standing problems and move ahead to a new economy if we make the wrong kind of infrastructure investments.

During the last Great Depression, Florida reminds us, public investment in roads and infrastructure transformed North America from an aging agricultural economy to a booming industrial/consumer economy.

The investments we made "spurred postwar demand and primed North America for postwar global economic dominance, because the consumption embedded in our suburban way of life stimulated just the right kind of industrial production."

But we're past that stage now. The "old economy" is in overshoot. We are killing the planet and destroying our communities with overproduction, overconsumption and waste.

"We will begin to move toward a durable recovery only when we stop unnecessarily propping up the old economy," says Florida.

Florida says we should use public investment to stimulate a new economy ~ he calls it the "creative economy." Metro Vancouver called it the Zero Waste Economy.

This raises the question: do we want to put public dollars into "shovel-ready" waste incinerator projects that stimulate continuing production and consumption of throw-away products?

Or do we want to put public dollars into creative local ventures that preserve the value of products and materials instead of treating them as waste? Recirculating them in the local economy rather than blowing them into the atmosphere?

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