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Mike Shellenberger+ Your Authors @ShellenbergerMD Author, “Apocalypse Never” : Time, “Hero of Environment” : Green Book Award Winner : President, Environmental Progress : IPCC Expert Reviewer : MD = my initials Mar. 25, 2020 3 min read + Your Authors

If Boomers are going to borrow trillions from Millennials to save an economic system they disproportionately benefit from, aren't Boomers morally obligated to accept more housing in their neighborhoods and cities?

Asking as a Gen Xer

All of these questions that people have been asking in subtle and rather not-so-subtle ways of why should we destroy the economy to extend the life of grandma by a few years have bothered me greatly

I disagree with that view. I don't that's how to think about saving lives

But a real question is being asked, and has to be asked, about this crisis, which is how exactly are we going to pay for this?

That question has to be asked at the same time that we ask how to deal with stopping the spread and reducing mortality from the epidemic.

At a practical level, people need income to consume and thus for society to function

On the one hand, this is a straightforward problem we've addressed in the past through Keynesian spending, from the 1930s to the Great Recession

The Fed particularly learned a lot

On another hand, this is a radically different problem from past recessions in its size and quality

We have effectively put a large share of the economy out of work, simultaneously, for reasons that are more similar to a war than to a bubble being burst

I have made the case for treating the coronavirus as an invading foreign enemy killing our people that must be killed and defeated while we also protect those vulnerable to attack 

I believe the war metaphor is a better metaphor for thinking about coronavirus' impact on the economy than past asset bubble deflation-triggered recessions

Decisions about the economy must be made in relationship to understanding progress in the war effort.

Areas cleared of the enemy are areas where the normal economy can exist as normal

Areas currently being contested by the enemy are areas at war and participants in that war — all of us — change our behavior in ways that removes our labor from the workforce

As such, Americans are all in this together. We have a shared interest in killing and defeating the enemy everywhere it exists within our borders, and some interest in getting rid of it outside of our borders, too. I think this has become clear to a growing number of us all.

The sacrifice of our wealth in the form of our labor and other assets will fall disproportionately on the young, as deficit spending always does

As such, I believe it is ethically right and fair for the younger generation to ask what they might get out of it?

Baby Boom NIMBYs were denying Millennials abundant housing long before this crisis

Shouldn't Millennials finally get the abundant housing & livable cities they've long wanted in exchange to lending trillions to save the system that Boomers most benefit from?

Without yet knowing the specifics of the Congressional economic package, I think it's fair to say that it will reflect outdated Left Right positions on bailing out people vs bailing out corporations and most everybody will be unhappy by the outcome.

Isn't what's needed a new social contract that is a win-win for a majority of Americans, not for one generation over another? Don't most all agree — from @BernieSanders to @TuckerCarlson — that we should fear the hollowing-out of the middle-class & the rise of new aristocracies?

Without borrowing trillions from the American people, everyone who was a billionaire before this crisis could simply not be a billionaire after this crisis

And without borrowing trillions from Millennials, Baby Boomers would not be able to save their retirement funds.

America's social contract was outdated and not working long before this crisis

The most important thing for Millennials is housing and yet there has been no successful effort to significantly increase housing in cities critical to the economy from the Bay Area, to London

Given how essential abundant and affordable housing is for well-being and economic growth, I would expect Millennials on Right and Left to increasingly ask how they money they are disproportionately lending to the rest of us might finally give them skin in the game.


You can follow @ShellenbergerMD.


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