Letters: Saving gas, the elephant in the jobs room

Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag

Kai Ryssdal: We spent a lot of time last week on the broadcast talking about jobs -- that thing the economy has to have before it really starts getting better.

The day after the president's big speech Thursday, we spoke to three economists about where things go from here, where those jobs might come from. Steve Elfelt from Altoona, Pa., said we missed the elephant in the room in that discussion: The impossibility, he says, of never-ending economic growth.

Steve Elfelt: We only have so many potential consumers, they only need so much stuff and we can only convert so much of our natural resources to supply that stuff. Nothing in any human or natural system grows forever in perpetuity, so is it rational to expect that from our economy?

Mitchell Hartman took us to a company that is hiring, despite the recession: Benchmade Knives in Oregon. Tony Davidson lives in Tuxedo, N.Y. He wants us to run upbeat stories like that every single day.

Tony Davidson: You know, if we start hearing more positive hiring stories, that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because the business owner that hears about another business owner doing well, might say, well, maybe things are not as bad as it otherwise would seem to be, and I can afford to go out and hire too.

Finally, my misadventures in hypermiling yesterday. Truck driver Paul Wood wrote from Panama City Beach, Fla., to say he's been hypermiling for years -- to the displeasure of others on the road.

Paul Wood: I'll get physical signs. I'll also get the horn quite often. It's quite funny that often times the people I offend happen to be the ones that display bumper stickers with "Save the Earth"-type messages.

We prefer emails to "physical signs," please. Send them our way.

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Paul Wood is also dead-on right: slapping a bumper sticker/magnet on your car is today's Indulgence purchase*.

*at dollar-store prices that would scandalize Tetzel!

Steve Elfelt's letter is a brilliant summation of the Limits To Growth any scientist understands, and NO Capitalist (or Communist, for that matter) can.

I second that AMEN. I don't mean we should put our heads in the sand, but perhaps the reason consumer confidence is so low and banks won't lend and businesses won't hire is because everybody in the media is screaming "The sky is falling."

I look around me and I see people struggling to make do with less, but still making do. I believe the economy is just righting itself as we discover we can't all buy everything we want every second we want it, and rack up enormous debt.

What purpose is served by your endless parade of sob stories about people who have had to give up lattes or move in with mom and dad? We were living in a fantasy world the last 2 decades...time to move on.

AMEN to Tony Davidson! Frankly, this is the first Marketplace I've heard in over 2 weeks because you've just gotten TOO DEPRESSING. I'm unemployed, my husband is a Wisconsin teacher who just lost his union...I really don't need to hear you hammering away at how awful the economy is night after night. There must be some GOOD news out there and if there is, please share it with us. I already know the bad news.

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