“Economic sustainability” is not in the America’s vocabulary. Instead, we focus on economic growth, measured in GDP, qualified by amount of money flowing through the system. The major fallacy at the root of the term “economic growth” is that it does not define for whom. So, GDP can be misleading, as it does not acknowledge issues of inequality. Sprawl was the goal for profiteers: the land was cheap for home builders, and auto-oriented planning greatly benefited oil and car corporations. But what are the consequences of such unchecked development? Today, people are struggling to keep up with their rate of consumption. Home and car related expenses are outpacing the salary of the average breadwinner. The middle class is shrinking; families can’t afford a house, car and family.  Low to middle income families also bear the burden of sprawl.  Euclidean zoning makes it hard to find an affordable home within walking distance of employment, schools, and basic needs. As a result, people who cannot afford cars are circumscribed to very few transit options, if any. The decentralized nature of our land use pattern has ossified the class divisions and widened the gap between the rich and the poor. This is not economically sustainable, and the housing crisis in 2008, leading to the great recession, has elucidated the argument for more judicious and responsible application of the term “economic growth.” Image

Advertisements