Nuclear Economy

Our current American Economy is analogous to a nuclear power plant.  Nuclear power is one way to produce large amounts of energy in the short-term with very dangerous long-term consequences.  While the fuel in a nuclear reactor produces a lot of energy for the amount of material used, the fuel rods are spent when only 5% of the energy has been harnessed.  After that, the remaining fuel has to placed in some kind of storage where it will be dangerous to life for more than 220,000 years.  I seriously question the cost/benefit ratio of this transaction.

Unfortunately, our economy has been built up to its current state by similar short/long-term cost/benefit ideologies.  To create the rapid growth that we have seen in our economy since WW II, we had to drastically increase consumption of products and services on a regular basis.  The solution was debt.  By sacrificing the future of our children through ever-increasing personal, corporate, and governmental debt, we have created an economic juggernaut.  However, like nuclear fuel, there is a penalty.  One, as debt loads increase, they become less efficient since people become wary of loaning into a sinking ship (law of diminishing returns).  Second, as we learned in 2008, large amounts of debt are toxic to an economy.  Finally, similar to spent nuclear fuel, we really aren’t dealing with the long-term hazards of debt.  As a nation, we continue to seek short-term band-aids to cover the enormous ditch of toxic debt we have accumulated from our current economic model.  The half-life of this debt may kill our children and civilization in the long run.  When will we understand that the way we use debt needs to change.  Lines have to be drawn that can’t be crossed and we have to learn to sacrifice some of our wants for the good of our country and our children, you know, patriotism.

References:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nuclear-waste-lethal-trash-or-renewable-energy-source, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste

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