Keynote speakers lay out an economic plan for sustainability at WEI’s 20th anniversary

Two keynote speakers laid out a comprehensive national economic plan at WEI’s 20th anniversary event.

This plan, detailed in “The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and Sustainability in the 21st Century,” was created by Joel Makower and retired Marine Col. Mark “Puck” Mykleby.

The event marked 20 years of fighting for environmentally sound public policy by the Wisconsin Economic Initiative.

Addressing a crowd of several hundred, Makower and Mykleby stressed the importance of coming together as one on national policy issues in order to sustain the new national strategic imperative.

“Right now we’re still stuck in this thing called containment,” said Mykleby, referring to the economic policies of the Cold War-era. “This is not working anymore.”

He spoke yesterday on the purpose of government in its most basic form, saying that “economies are supposed to serve the needs of mankind, not the other way around.”

To achieve this, he and Makower stressed that the greatest threat facing the nation today is not global warming or ISIS or civil unrest, but rather the obstinacy of those in power who are failing to push for sustainable practices.

“Today’s greatest challenge is not something we can point to on a map,” said Mykleby. “It’s all around us. We have an inability to do.”

Makower spoke on the specific pillars of their economic plan, highlighting several pools of demand that should be pursued for the goal of sustainability.

The first of which, walk-able communities, is supported by the idea that many Americans, both young and old, will be looking for residence in an area that doesn’t require a car to get to work or the grocery store.

This higher density pattern for human communities becomes more attractive, said Mykleby, as “baby boomers are downsizing and Millennials are converging on the same place.”

“The market forces are there,” said Mykleby. “It’s like a gift that’s been given to us.”

Another point of interest, regenerative agriculture, was emphasized as one of the most important features of a sustainable economy.

According to Makower, global food production must increase by 60 percent by 2050, and 100 percent of that growth must be able to restore soils, cleanse waterways and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

“We know how to do this,” said Makower. “This has the potential to transform entire industries.”

The challenge, Mykleby says, is fighting a system that is actually creating the damage to the environment. According to him, the ideologies of the left and right are not sustainable.

“This really is the best of the progressive agenda and the conservative approach,” said Makower. “This is the adult conversation we should be having.”

–By Alex Moe,