Monday, October 13, 2008

Economic Thinking is Job Number One

Source: Planetizen 

In the midst of this financial crisis, it is doubly important to understand the economic perspective on urban planning and real estate development, argues USC Professor Peter Gordon.

Photo: Peter Gordon

Is it the best of times or is it the worst of times? What do we know?

We know that life expectancies are longer then ever and keep on improving. And we know that humans have been on the planet for about 50,000 years with most living at subsistence levels (about $200 a year in today’s dollars) up until only 200-250 years ago. That’s for 99.5 percent of our existence. The last 0.5 percent has been amazing.

Look at the more recent past. When it comes to appreciating what we routinely consume today versus what was available to us not so long ago, page through an old Sears-Roebuck catalogue (you can get them for as far as 100 years back) or look at a 5-year old electronics catalogue. Who wants to trade places with our ancestors or recent predecessors? One cannot be anything but optimistic when looking at the long sweep of history.

At the same time, we read daily about serious financial and economic crises here and abroad. We are trying to figure out how we got into these -- and how to get out. Let’s come back to that and return to the good news story for a moment.

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