Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Scott Sanders on the recession

May 11, 2009
One of Indianaâ??s better-known living authors, Scott Russell Sanders, has spent most of his career writing about our relationship to the environment and our sense of place.

Sanders newest book, â??A Conservationist Manifesto,â?? published last month by Indiana University Press, argues that weâ??d be better off if we viewed ourselves as stewards and citizens rather than consumers, because weâ??re using so many resources that the environment canâ??t sustain the pace. Perhaps worse, all the consumption hasnâ??t made us happier.

In that light, will the recession change the way we think and act? In an e-mail, the IU English professor said the recession prompts both fear and hope.

Sanders fears the layoffs, foreclosures and other pain associated with the downturn will be used to justify greater emphasis on private wealth and less focus on such â??common wealthâ?? as human community, soils, schools and the justice system. Funding for education, the arts, public transportation and health care, are still at risk, too, he believes.

â??Our politicians and business leaders have historically favored private wealth at the expense of the common wealth, and that bias is very much in evidence at the present time,â?? he said. â??In short, I fear that the economic slump will reinforce our tendency toward selfishness and short-term thinking.â??

Sanders hopes the recession will trigger a rethinking of how we live and the â??â??free-marketâ?? ideology of unregulated greed and unlimited growth that drove us into this mess.â??

Much needs fresh thought, he said: Home building, electricity generation and travel. Medical care, food production, land preservation. â??My highest hope is that the current economic disarray will lead people to reexamine their priorities, and to move toward a materially simpler and spiritually richer life.â??

What do you think? Has the recession triggered your own introspection? If so, what have you concluded?
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