11.16.2008

GETTING OUR HOUSE IN ORDER

Putting in a new deck or tricking out your living room may be the sexier home improvement project, but the biggest bangs for your buck are usually the more mundane things, like insulating your attic or putting in energy-efficient windows. And so it is at a national level, that infrastructure-enhancing initiatives like retrofitting buildings and constructing "smart" electrical grids are where some federal dollars might be prudently spent in terms of return on investment. Or do we need another bridge collapse, or Russia cutting off energy supplies to half of Europe, to remind us of just how dangerous and unsustainable our current way of life is, from a geopolitical and environmental standpoint?

I applaud CFO Magazine for banging on this drum for so long; and, for a rag that is for execs that are supposedly all about the bottom line, for banging on this drum at all. This month's issue contains an article called "The Great Green Hope" which references a recent study (click here - large pdf file) that proposes $100 billion in government spending over two years in six key areas.

To the extent that these projects are like the kinds of things we homeowners do to increase efficiency and save money over the long haul, I'm in support of this kind of green agenda. To be sure, many questions remain unanswered. This sort of thing creates lots of jobs upfront, but what do employment prospects look like in the long run? And where's the money going to come from when we're maxed out on bailouts and stimulus packages and two wars? But any good homeowner will tell you that if acting when money's tight is bad timing, waiting until it's too late is even worse timing. For the sake of our long-run prosperity and our childrens' quality of life, here's hoping we can get our house in order in time.
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