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TheStreet Open House

Time to Talk About Sustainable Development

Thirty percent unemployment (that's the "official" numbers). A more than doubling of the suicide rate. An economy disintegrating so fast that, even after the government defaulted on more than 75% of its debts, it's more insolvent today than when its own "debt crisis" officially began.

After Greece's economy has been reduced to nothing but rubble, after ordinary (innocent) people there have been subjected to a level of suffering no one in our societies can (yet) comprehend, what will we see? In rebuilding from the rubble suddenly there will once again be opportunities for growth. Then the whole "unsustainable development" cycle starts over again: an economic model where the only possible outcome is complete self-destruction. And soon it will be our turn to be "Greece."

Why do we have an entire economic system that operates like a lemming in a sports car -- stepping on the gas as it sees the yawning chasm approaching? Because the people who control this economic system -- the bankers, politicians and Oligarchs behind them -- are the people who prosper the most while our Ponzi-scheme economies create this massive bubble. And they suffer the least when it inevitably implodes.

To thus clarify this metaphor, our economies are like a bus full of lemmings -- except when the bus goes over the cliff the driver of the bus is wearing a parachute. Having a lemming economy is truly exciting if you're the bus driver. It's not much fun at all if you're one of the passengers.

Advocating sustainable development does not mean that one is an environmentalist, or socialist, or communist. It means that one is capable of performing arithmetic without needing the use of their fingers and toes and has an aversion to (repetitive cycles of) economic suicide.

But what does sustainable development represent, specifically? It means all sorts of things. One facet of sustainable development is something we have (grudgingly) embraced: recycling. It has at least put us on the early stages of a path toward one facet of long-term economic sanity: economies that use no more renewable and non-renewable resources than can be sustainably produced over the long term.

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