Wednesday, January 14, 2015
What has happened to the world's sanity - and how did we let this happen?
Let me start with a redefinition of terms. When I grew up, I got bigger, I did not expect to grow to be 11 feet tall and as it turned out, I didn't. My parents did not expect that of me either. It was known that growth has its limits. That was a no-brainer as it wasn't called then. It was a an unthinkable concept, it was too silly even to imagine.
Today, growth is open ended. Things like the economy and GDP, land use and the supply of raw materials are expected to grow and are never expected to either stop or shorten and certainly never to end.
Unlimited growth does have a name, it is Cancer. In the body, this has to be stopped - our bodies are limited in size, the design does not allow for us to get too large - we won't fit the airplane seats for a start. We won't be able to walk up the step to get in to the thing in the first place. Size does matter, that is what the real world tells us if we bother to listen. So, why do we ignore the nature of reality when it comes to money, or GDP for that matter ?
Statistics and experience - that's the answer. Statistics, which can be made to prove anything, are most simply utilised to prove that what goes up keeps going up - a straight line graph - reaching for the stars if we extend it far enough. Experience - that of watching a child grow year on year from birth to 15ish - that's a long enough sample surely - from that you can clearly see people will grow for ever. Yes, that is too blindingly stupid to even consider - and yet - we have based our entire future, and that of the world, on the assumption that reality plays no part in economic growth.
Worse - to say there are limits to expansion makes you look like a naif idiot, certainly it won't get you a job in a Bank or any business I can think of. It definitely won't get you votes if you say ' hang on a minute, this can't go on for ever now can it ? Lets stop now and have a think about this." No, even considering slowing down is dangerous to the great god of growth. If I slow down, you will over take me. Standing still is going backwards - being behind is bad. The Jones's must be kept up with at all costs. Even slowing down the rate of increasing growth is a very bad thing as people loose confidence in the great dream once they notice people starting to wake up a bit and twitch in their sleep.
Any lack of confidence in money, or future growth, is considered to be damaging, it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy of doom. The entire system is in danger of collapse. Even when systems do collapse, they are called 'too big to fail' and have money pumped in via 'Quantitative Easing' - printing money - inventing the growth you don't have.
Oddly, the world has not come to an end. Why ? because people still believe in it so much and have so much invested in it, they don't want it to end. This pulling yourself up by your bootstraps thinking only works if no one is watching. You can claim you are getting higher and higher, and, if no one says otherwise, then the lie is accepted and low and behold - new clothes for the Emperor.
And yet - somehow - we keep going. How is this and how long have we got ? Well, in reality, the planet still has some stuff left in it. 'Growth' can be emulated by imports from a place of 'under-pollution' to centres of over population - until recently only available in the west. That plan has work fantastically well for centuries and has now got so popular , the "west" has grown to cover most of the planet. Oddly the "East" does not like this.
In the "East" they can see though the lack of clothes covering the old empires and hate what is revealed. They can see the naked greed that has become invisible from inside a fully working and sustained capitalist system. They can see what is keeping this cancerous monster growing past its limits - it grows as it feeds off them - stopping them growing, stopping them even staying still, forcing them to die slowly though a lack of everything except our trickled down cast offs - pollution. Is it any wonder they get annoyed ? Best ask them what to do about it all before it's too late.