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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Learning and unlearning, again and again

PBS showed an archive film clip of the late, famous and renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith from some time ago, on economies, of course, and on housing bubbles and bursts. What he had to say was interesting.

Mr. Galbraith pointed out that there were virtually always about 20 years apart, to paraphrase him, because we never seem to learn our lessons, permanently, anyway, on housing and costs and prices and markets.

Naturally, the obvious thing to point out is that this is so unfortunate, first, and that you would think we would learn.

Sure it’s true but that’s not where I’m going with this.

Where I want to go is to say that I hope that, with the environment and our air, land and waters, as to polluting and not polluting, hopefully we will know better and permanently learn this stuff, as a people, all over the planet.

With our environment, we can’t keep “learning and unlearning” this stuff.

We have to have clean air and clean soil and clean water all the time, naturally (no pun intended), as a matter of course.

We don’t get “do-overs” on clean air or water or soil.

In order to live, we have to have these things all the time.

And we know this.

Just ask the people in China who are trying to live with filthy air or waterways.

These things are not luxuries. To repeat, we must have them.

So, as a country and as a world, we can’t be going through cycles of caring for our world and then not, for a period of time. Even our own generations, let alone future ones, are far too dependent on all that is around us to make those mistakes.

We have to be good stewards, so to speak, at all times.

It’s as the old saying goes, we don’t inherit our world from our ancestors—we borrow it from our children.

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