Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drive the Markets Green!

Upon retiring, the value of a budget looms large in my life. Suddenly, with a fixed income, how I spend each and every penny has become an obsession. No more: “want more, work more.” Now, I think “Do I really need it?” The Great Recession, this financial collapse we’re living though, has steeled my resolve to question all my purchases. I now equate the price of the stuff to the work I must do to pay for it. I now question whether the ‘stuff’ is worth it in the first place. It makes me wonder where our stricken economy is going if the majority are seriously pinching their pennies.

Previously, I thought that one of the ways our country was going to work itself through this financial disaster was to create a green market, whereby we create a new economic infrastructure that equates the health of our environment with how we extract, transport, consume, and dispose of stuff. People would get trained for jobs that would boost our economy and improve our environment. After listening to President Obama’s State of the Union speech the other night, I doubt we’re going to see anything from the top on green jobs work its way down to us who are looking for those new green jobs. Things aren’t really changing, except fixing up those old local railroad tracks for high-speed rail, which won’t be all that fast. The rich bankers are getting richer and the poor who bailed them out are getting poorer.

Naomi Klein (author & activist), when asked about her reaction to the Obama speech, said it all: “Well, I mean, we knew the spending freeze was going to come, but to me, it’s really striking. I think what this moment represents is the decision, which we all feared would come, to pass the bill on from saving Wall Street, from saving the elites of this country from their own mess, a bill worth trillions of dollars, to regular people in need in this country. I mean, that’s what a spending freeze really means.” ( Jan. 28, 10)

So, I guess one choice is to keeping doing the same thing, looking for the same old jobs, in the same old ways, hoping at least one of the political parties will stop worrying about their reelection possibilities or wallowing in their obsessive political partisanship and start using our money to get us jobs.

Or, you can drive the markets green. As long as you’re scaling down your lifestyle anyway, hoping for a better health option (other than the present one-health-issue-away-from bankruptcy option), and wishing for one of those green jobs you keep hearing about, why not force the markets to change?

How do you drive the markets green? Get on a tight budget. Track all your expenses, your vehicle expenses, food, entertainment—everything. Decide to buy only what you need to get by (lower your environmental footprint). Consider only buying from businesses that are green and proving it. Work only for places that are moving towards an environmentally healthier planet. Greenwashing won’t do. The public is on to that scam.

Rather than thinking of yourself as down and out. Think that you’re absolutely in charge. What you buy, where you work, how you vote, what media you listen to—all drive the markets. Of course, all this has to be done on a large scale to affect massive economic change. But, why keep doing the same thing, expecting different results? The economic cliff we are falling off is not sustainable anyway, so why not change our own behavior and force the government and the markets towards a more sustainable lifestyle?

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