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The Politics of Simple Living
A New Direction for Liberalism
A Preservation Institute Publication
"With striking clarity and common sense, Charles Siegel offers a real way forward from our economic and environmental crises, one that can make America more fair, more liveable, happier, and more sustainable."
- John de Graaf, co-author Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
A Green Majority
Our political thinking has not caught up with the unprecedented economic change that happened in America during the twentieth century, the change from a scarcity economy to a surplus economy. We need a new politics of simple living, with policies such as:
- Work-Time Choice: Today, most people have no choice but to take full-time jobs, because most part-time jobs have lower hourly pay and no benefits. We need policies that let us choose part-time work, so people have the option of consuming less and having more free time.
- Neighborhood Choice: Since World War II, federal freeway policies and local zoning laws forced most American cities to be rebuilt as low-density sprawl where people cannot leave their houses without driving. We need to build walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods, so people have the option of reducing the huge economic burden of automobile dependency.
- Child-Care Choice: Today, we subsidize families who use day care, but we do nothing to help families who work shorter hours to care for their own children. We should give families with preschool children a tax credit that they could use to pay for day care or could use to work shorter hours and have more time to care for their own children.
The politics of simple living would help solve environmental problems such as global warming, and would offer a vision of a better future. These policies could give us a green majority.