(This post was originally published on TriplePundit.com on September 7, 2011).
Here are a few ideas:
Sustainable health. The conversation about nation-wide health care is an excellent start, but people need to ask fundamental questions about what it means to be healthy. Scientists and doctors already know that (1) nutritious foods, (2) a robust social network, (3) daily exercise and (4) rest and holiday are the best ways to manage stress and stay healthy. Yet current health care models focus on emergency and end-of-life care, when care is at its most expensive and least likely to qualitatively improve life over the long term.
A Sustainable Party should fight for a health care system that maximizes preventive and sustainable health. Things such as (1) a better food supply, (2) better advocacy and support for the mentally ill, (3) more opportunities to be outdoors and exercise, and (4) more time off from work would dramatically increase quality of life and reduce disease, all while saving costs.
Sustainable infrastructure. The economies of the future will not be coal or oil-based. Carbon emission models are simply too scary — and oil production too vulnerable — to suggest otherwise. Other countries are already way on top of this: Germany, for example, plans on being 50 percent reliant on wind, solar and hydroelectric power (and totally nuclear free) in just eleven short years.
A Sustainable Party should advocate for the immediate transition to sustainable energy sources in 10 to 20 years — not only as a way of creating desperately needed new jobs and technologies, but also as a way of staving off the worst effects of climate change. There is just no excuse for the US to sit around and let other countries develop the sustainable energy sources of the future.
Sustainable development. The growth model of the last 100 years — leave home at 18, find a spouse, buy a new home, rinse and repeat — has isolated and damaged families, communities, and individuals. A Sustainable Party should push for policies that encourage people to stay in one place and create thriving social ecosystems.
The options here are truly limitless. Governments can offer tax credits to encourage people to stay at the same address, grants to entrepreneurs who create local jobs, and direct investment in community centers and parks. And why not experiment with new forms of zoning so that people can live, eat and work in the same place, or with other people?
Sustainable labor. People fought and died for the eight-hour work day, laws against child labor and a weekend away from the office. At a time of unprecedented material abundance, the economy is nonetheless regressing to an era where labor rules were nonexistent or simply ignored.
A Sustainable Party needs to fight for an economy that promotes a lifestyle where people don’t have to kill themselves to enjoy a basic standard of living. I know too many well-educated twenty and thirty year olds who are stuck behind a desk for 10 hours a day (at least!). Society should reward people by giving them time-off to enjoy friends and family — or just to take a break.
What do you think? What should a Sustainable Party advocate?