Volume 94, No. 3, Spring 2022
By Christopher P. Guzelian & Jeff Todd [PDF]

Despite its laudable goals, sustainable development has been criticized for its discursive aspects. These include that the vagueness of the term combined with the lack of embodiment in law allow numerous private governance standards to support almost any company or project as “sustainable”; that the positive of bringing numerous stakeholders with divergent interests together becomes a negative because it is difficult to set and enact specific priorities; and that generalized agreement with the goals of sustainable development can mask the causes of problems and the potential for novel solutions.These criticisms suggest that commentators should explore discrete areas of law that have not yet been considered in the context of sustainable development. For example, no one has considered the role of money (and laws about money) despite the considerable attention paid to issues of finance and investing. This Article is therefore the first to survey money laws like gold and silver bans, relaxed usury laws and extensive government incentives for lenders to charge interest, fractional-reserve banking, legal tender, and functional currency.Collectively, these laws render money into inflationary governmental credit so that modern money itself is unsustainable and therefore contributes to harming the economy, environment, and society. The Article closes with recommendations for additional study.