Whoa. I’ve been trying to make the case that policy folks need to be thinking about the long term costs of some of our development strategies and not just the instant boost to tax capacity of new growth. I’ve been thinking about the local sunk costs of late 20th century horizontal growth, but Foreign Policy’s Patrick Doherty takes it global with a New US Grand Strategy:
In the United States, the country’s economic engine is misaligned to the threats and opportunities of the 21st century. Designed explicitly to exploit postwar demand for suburban housing, consumer goods, and reconstruction materials for Europe and Japan, the conditions that allowed it to succeed expired by the early 1970s. Its shelf life has since been extended by accommodative monetary policy and the accumulation of household, corporate, and federal debt.
The upshot: the current path is unsustainable as the planet tries to accommodate 3 billion new middle class members (and the consumption that comes along with them), depletion of natural resources (see my previous post), “contained depression” (and not just a down business cycle or two), and a “resilience crisis” (the drivers of the US economy, crumbling infrastructure, and the soft infrastructure which connect us to markets is fragile).
So, we need a grand plan and the sketch provided includes reforming government, addressing climate change, and vastly improving resource productivity. It’s a top down vision of national change, but I’m more curious about what state and local efforts can accomplish. Atlantic Cities picked up on the walkable urbanism part of the solution, but what else could we do?