"Economics is really clear," say the economists (see "Hey Guv: Stop Slashing!" by Lance Tapley, January 2). The same economists who couldn't see the crash coming. Like their kindred ideologues — the politicians, the state agencies, and the overgrown business community they serve — the economists are wrong. Lots of us saw this crash coming.
The source of our economic problems is our economic success. We have ground up the planet, mined the most valuable resources, and turned those resources into money — money that represents a future claim on yet more resources. Money that must be "paid back" in a future of ever fewer resources.
This economic crisis is a deep ecological crisis. Nature — the web of life on which we depend — has never been paid. "Enough," she says.
Liberal economics — "the rising tide that lifts all boats" — is at a dead end. Broken. Let's talk not only of allocation — the "free market" — but let's frankly address the distribution of wealth and the scale of our economic activities.
The pie is shrinking. What is fair and who will decide?
I want to extend Tapley's four prescriptions farther. 1) We need a general "recession surcharge" taxing the wealthy — both income and wealth. 2) We need to refocus our entire economy to build a green Maine. 3) We need the broadest sales (or carbon) tax to dampen business activity. And 4) we need to end not only the tax breaks, but the power of those rich, out-of-state corporations — those engines of permagrowth that leave Maine as they leave any other plantation economy. Stripped.
In no case can there be more borrowing. Not from Nature, not from our children, not from the future. It's time to pay it forward. To put back.
I doubt Governor Baldacci and the legislature can see this. They will cut taxes and spending. They will borrow. They will leave us with bigger debts, fewer resources, and ultimately a bankrupt, wasted, and cannibalized Maine.
Christopher F. Miller