Election time is often when we start hearing about growing the economy. We have heard this for years. The economy has become a creature that we are obsessed with. We are always hearing the mantra that we must “grow the economy”.
Speaking of it in these terms makes it sound like a living thing. In a sense, it is a kind of creature that we keep feeding in the false belief that this is good for everyone. So we must consume more and we do so at an ever increasing rate. We buy things we do not really need but somehow feel we need to have. It is ironic because we are growing the economy at all costs.
Another fallacy often touted as a surefire way to grow the economy is that some new, large industry is going to help lower taxes, provide jobs and lead to something better than what we have. The problem with this thinking is that it considers quantity over quality.
Quite often, the long term effects of large industries imposing themselves into a community lead to a lower quality of life. Of course if you don’t consider the future your concern then you are already disagreeing with this letter and nothing I can say will change your mind. For those who are open to other points of view, what we do not see, as we blithely “move forward”, is that as we consume we are consumed. Can anyone name a product we buy that is not made by using and/or burning finite resources?
The more we consume the more the economy grows and sure some people are better off in the short term and the corporate elite are usually well insulated from financial harm, but the true long-term costs are never part of the choice making process and never duly accounted.
Let’s challenge political candidates to help create local economies that are to scale with our quality of life, those attributes that make us want to live where we live. Our children and grandchildren and generations into the future will live healthier, and I believe happier, lives if we can begin to change the premise of our “grow the economy” belief system.
John G. Pincince lives in Lincolnville