The housing trend illustrates a deeper issue, with annual home sales that seemingly got us into the current economic slide as a simple case of supply and demand. Homes are always being built, but numbers over the past few decades show that they are not always bought. The question is do they not sell because people do not want to pay for – or more realistically cannot afford – them? On the other hand, is it because of a housing market continually oversaturated with annually new, and unnecessary, homes? A study published in the journal, Science, showed that the Earth’s “wilderness” – defined as an area untainted by human influence – is vanishing. Eventually, it will be gone altogether in the not too distant future. Like historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s proclamation in 1893 of the “closing of the frontier” in American history, we are in the midst of a broader context in world history. It does not take a scientific mind to realize the correlation between this disappearance and the vastness of human development, particularly over the latter part of the 20th century and into the current one. As the human population increases, so too must it expand further and farther outward beyond the line.
The question is, is this expansion necessary? Do we have to build mile-long strip malls to quench the thirst of consumerism, erect office buildings that sit vacant in perpetuity waiting for phantom tenants, or construct subdivision upon subdivision in once-remote areas while inner cities crumble and rot? As rhetorical a question as it is, the answer is resoundingly no. Such growth in terms of newness does not change the bottom line of diminishing return environmentally, socially, and ultimately, economically. However, that is not an answer in line with the capitalistic credo that "if you build it, they will come." In the end, though, I am still not paying my bills until the government bails me out – Mr. John Q. Taxpayer who drives the economy by buying the products of the companies they have and plan to bailout.
©2008 Steve Sagarra