Sunday, April 26, 2009

A rare post about economics

The main thing I've learned from this depression is how dependent our economy is on people buying things they don't really need. The automobile industry is the perfect example. The carmakers are going under, and this is a catastrophe. Tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs, billions of dollars will disappear from the economy, and this is all a very bad thing. (Really. No tongue in cheek. Who wants to see their friends, neighbors, and countrymen lose their jobs?) But no one is saying that people are going to have to do without cars. As far as I can tell, almost everyone who wants a car already has a car or two, cars which are perfectly serviceable or which can easily be made so. The car industry is in dire straits because people aren't buying cars to replace cars which don't really need to be replaced. So, we are told, we have to fix this.

On the other hand, the pundits say, our global ecology is in imminent danger of collapse because we are such wasteful, profligate stewards of our planet. We must not flush our toilets every time; we need to recycle the aluminum foil in which we grilled our streaks (which we shouldn't be grilling) (or eating). But we need to buy cars (and stereos and computers and televisions and houses) we don't actually require, because the global economy will disintegrate if we don't. Leaving aside the minor improvements in efficiency made in each automotive model year, what could be more wasteful of resources than buying a car you don't need?

In my heart I believe that nothing could improve this situation but a population 1/3-1/2 as numerous as it is now; but the means of reaching that end are too awful to contemplate.

So all we can do is to buy as many cars as possible made entirely of recycled aluminum foil.

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