The Natural Wealth of Nations proposes a surprisingly simple, common-sense solution to get us moving quickly towards an environmentally sustainable economy that will preserve the earth for future generations.

First, we can stop throwing away an estimated $650 billion a year in government subsidies worldwide that fund actions that harm the environment and cost consumers and taxpayers - even as they slow economic development and reduce employment.

Second, we can shift taxes, easing up on activities we say we want more of, like work and investment, and getting the tax revenues we need by raising taxes on activities we want to discourage, like burning fossil fuels or producing toxic wastes.

Special interests have all too often had the power to block such economically and environmentally sensible changes in fiscal policy. But by being smarter about explaining the benefits of these changes, we can build a broad-based coalition of labor unions, consumers, service industries, and manufacturers of environmentally protective goods and services that can take on entrenched special interests.

Combining cuts in subsidies and tax shifting would free up $1.5 trillion worldwide, funds that could be used to cut taxes on wages and profits by up to 15 percent - without changing overall tax revenues.

In the U.S. a family of four would get a net income tax cut of $2,000.

Polls already show overwhelming support for tax shifting. Six European nations have already cut taxes on work and investment and shifted the tax burden to air pollution, fossil fuels, or landfilling.

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(Reprint, Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036)

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