An economist’s point of view in preservation has great value to our field at this time when market-centered thought processes go hand in hand with social and cultural contemporary values. The fact is, the realm of American Preservation (and most every field for that matter) is highly concerned with the idea of money, profitability, funding, and tax exemptions. Nothing can happen in this profession without some sort of monetary action.
There are benefits, of course, to thinking about preservation from an economist’s perspective. Gauging the value (both monetarily and culturally) a heritage site might gain by undergoing restoration or rehabilitation is a good perspective to take, especially when numerous courses of action are up for debate. Additionally, economical perspectives take on a substantially higher fact-based logic being a quantitative review process. Likewise, however, there are faults to this system. The utmost being the short-term thinking that drives the economy. What is in demand today may be over-supplied tomorrow and much like the kitschy nature that is the Antiques Roadshow, monetary and heritage value may not fully coincide with each other depending on who you ask. So, perhaps, as Mason suggests in his writing “Economic Valuation and Heritage Conservation” an air of caution and critical thought is needed when considering the economical values of a heritage site.
However, might there be a time when society is no longer driven by the market? A time when the social values of a people is not completely dependent nor hindered upon by the burden of finances? Some might call this train of thought fanciful but with growing concerns evolving around climate change and wide-spread diseases obliterating the population, one has to argue that it is a possibility. Tax credits and subsidized expenditures cannot ideally thrive in a society that lacks the bounds of monetary gain, therefore could a time such as this negate the value of the preservation field? What kind of preservation might be relevant in this hypothetical tomorrow when money no longer drives production, use, and value? Moreover, can we as a preservation community foster value despite the decreased or obliterated nature of the dollar that enables our existence?