New Economic Engines For US?

How can we put American workers back on their jobs, become forceful in global markets, make us all healthier, and quit going deeper into debt?  *By adjusting our perspectives!*

Let’s start with Deferred Maintenance of our Infrastructure. Our bridges, roads, utilities (gas, electric, internet,water, sewer) and public transit lines all need upgrading.  Why not put our idle laborers, tradespeople, and engineers back to work, doing it now?

What if $3 Trillion in money markets and non-financial funds was leveraged (several private dollars for each federal dollar) into an “Infrastructure Bank” financing such projects?  Banks and private investors could get locally funded future revenue sources in return.  And, billions could be saved repairing and maintaining now, rather than needing much more expensive replacements later.

Our economy of mass consumption, supplies and demands is changing. Needs became confused with our hopes, desires, and dreams.  Over-supplies of items few of us need or want must be rebalanced.  Over half of our population (Generation X’s and Y’s) now favors smaller families, homes, lots and cars, in urban communities with walkable services, social, economic and recreational opportunities.  Many more seniors would like similar lifestyles.

In early 2010, the Fed announced Location Efficiency will be considered in $3.25 billion of  HUD housing  grants.  But federal housing funds alone can’t cure our problem.  Local zoning codes need changes to allow more affordable urban housing units to be rehabbed and built.

Imagine the boost our economy from changing suburban sprawl to core cities revivals!  Dropping one car from a typical family’s budget would allow it to afford a $100,000 higher mortgage!  More public transit systems could serve more compact neighborhoods.  Carbon emissions would be reduced.  The U.S. Green Building Council estimates new sustainable developments could reduce water consumption 40%, energy use 50% and solid waste 70%!

We can reap these economic, health, and environmental benefits if the real estate sector is allowed to follow current demand preferences voiced by consumers. Governments, Local and National need to realize rules and incentives they set over 50 years ago don’t allow the preferences of today’s world. To meet these broad new demands entire metropolitan areas need to work together, forming new common visions for their communities.

Many urban societies have already begun to respond, but federal policies still hamper the market’s ability to meet changing needs and preferences for housing. If they really want to revitalize our nation’s economy, our representatives and congressmen must begin serving our needs, realizing America is in a War against Poverty!

Our road to sustainability only begins on how we build and rebuild our communities. There is much more to do, by addressing the energy and material intensity of our economy to produce better jobs, higher wages, reduced deficits, and greater national security.  Despite liberal and conservitive fiscal policy protests, now is an opportune time for a new economic engine for America, to set us on a secure, properous path for years to come.

Acknowledgements: Patick C. Doherty, New American Foundation, Barry Brooks.

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