If you ask voters, the 2012 Presidential Election was all about the economy. President Barack Obama believes we need a strong middle class to create demand and therefore jobs. Republican candidate Mitt Romney supported the importance of creating jobs through support for corporate and individual interests. Obama won the election but now faces a “fiscal cliff” created by Congress to ensure action is taken to either increase revenue, make cuts in spending or both. This is short-term thinking.
Sustaining an economy means more than elections and economic philosophy. It requires communities to consider the future – jobs that provide a living now and preparing people to compete in the job market years from now. Businesses that provide products and services that sustain and enhance life but don’t deplete our natural resources or pollute our environment. Companies have to pay enough, employees have to fulfill their obligation for that pay, and we have to leave a world where coming generations can live and work in a clean and healthy environment.
If we move ever forward meeting our immediate needs, we endanger the biological system that supports life. If we continue to exploit cheap labor and fossil fuels while we pollute our air, soil and waters just to provide us with “things,” we endanger everyone living on the planet today as well as destroying the future. We have to consider and take responsibility for the consequences.
The question is, how can you as an individual, help sustain your economy? First, buy local. Support local businesses: If demand is there, jobs will be there. Goods travel less, cutting energy costs and pollutants. Do everything you can to reduce your carbon footprint at work through re-use, recycling, cutting energy use, and using mass transit. Support “fair trade” instead of “free trade,” and don’t buy things you don’t need, helping eliminate demand for demand’s sake.
Economic sustainability requires business owners to plan and partner with employees to ensure there is more to success than profitability and the bottom line. People need to be compensated fairly and corporations must do what is right for all, not just shareholders. If we aren’t willing to preserve our resources, support local businesses, provide a living wage and clean up the mess we are creating, we’ll do more than go over that dreaded “fiscal cliff.” There won’t be any cliffs, and we won’t be here to fall.
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Source: United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, Green Party