Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our National Sustainability Crash Course

We all keep reading about that Keynesian chestnut, the Paradox of Thrift - the theory that if everyone cuts back simultaneously, it results in the economy contracting even more. All kinds of good behaviors have unintended outcomes - if people all stop smoking and drinking, tax revenues plummet. So even if the contracting consumption causes economic contraction, I'm all for it. I love that the newspapers are reporting on sensible behavior, which they find noteworthy. A recent article highlighted a booming Recession Biz - vacuum repairs. If more people discover how to live more sustainably, and therefore lower their overhead, it just can't be a bad thing in the long run.
A few years ago I read about the six-hour day, championed by Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan. Workers loved it. They had time to garden, be with their kids, and involve themselves in all kinds of civic activities and organizations. It seems to have balanced out - they needed less childcare, spent less on groceries, and had lots of homegrown entertainment and great quality of life. Probably not so much in the way of consumer high-end stuff.
What killed it? The escalating cost of healthcare, for one thing. It became too expensive to offer benefits spread over more workers, so the hours were increased to extract more labor per healthcare contract.

logo from 6hourday.org

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keynesian theory is nuts, everyone spends all their money and we all prosper! Weeee!