The Growth Paradigm

We focus on growth—it’s everything. Our current economy is based on the ever-expanding growth paradigm. It does not work without it. Our monetary base grows every year. Valuations need to grow, as well as profits and revenues. The society is driven by this growth mania.

And how do we do this? By producing and consuming more, or should I say evermore, ever-expanding. And by consuming more we feed more needs to expand the business and acquire new resources to fulfil the needs of the growth. And so the cycle goes on and on—but not forever. Sole expansion is not natural, it pairs with contraction, in nature that is.

Seldom we start to question the basis of the assumptions and thinking underneath. What is the purpose of the growth and why is it needed? Some would say that it is because of money. And in many ways they are right. The fiat money system is built upon a hypothesis of ever-expanding promises of debt that are not paid back but rolled over. It requires more units of money to survive. As a result of this there are only raising prices and continuous inflation (expansion). For example US dollar has lost over 95% of its value since 1913 when the Federal Reserve was established. Does this create wealth for all the citizens using the legal tender?

But coming back to the question why the growth and what’s the purpose of it. More money does not answer the question; it only explains the way the current system is working. Actually money has nothing do with the real issue—it’s only a poor middleman that is often misunderstood to be the purpose when it can only be the means for something else. Money is used to obtain goods, services, or intangible needs such as security. We would not consume more simply because our monetary system requires so. There is something else underneath that feeds the requirements and keeps the wheels turning. And once again we are getting back to each and every one of us, individually. No company consume, buy, sell, manufacture, or invest—only people do. Structures are mere tools and vehicles for our purposes, ignore them long enough and they disappear. There is no one to blame but us. It’s not the economy, stupid—it’s us, the people!

We have bought the idea and assume that more is better. More money means something better, more consumption provides with something more and so on. Having more is the key and this having is the cause of the ever-expansion in our needs. But if you never consider why you need to have more you will never approach the real issue, you simply will act to gain more of something—forever and ever more.

Wanting is easy. Also having more is relatively easy, even though it takes its toll. But being happy has nothing to do with wanting or having. Confucius once said: “they must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” It looks that buying happiness does not seem to work despite all the consumption and material well-being. Maybe it is time to reconsider our assumptions and beliefs that define our current growth paradigm, individually?

1 Comment

  • Reply Aidan Kelly June 1, 2014 at 8:23

    you must have more to say that that? –

    The paradigm of economic growth drives the consumption of natural resources. It started a long time ago. Fish traps, water-wells, food production, building materials villages, houses, roads, quarries, ports. These were all essential to support the growth of human society. Generally, our contemporary society maintains its level of existence and builds on that and continues to flourish by increasing its ground disturbance and human footprint. Human society eats natural resources. The driver is a combination of increasing population. This leads consumption plus there is now more intense demand due to the drive for higher living standards world-wide. Intensification drives the exponential demand for the consumption of natural resources.

    How to resource a growing world and what is now a truly global appetite for natural resources – a lot simply just for building materials. The pressure is felt all over the world. Every country feels the pressure. Every environmental agency feels the pressure. Generally. governments see the pressure as an opportunity to sell its wares and to facilitate investment, profit and economic growth. Does the world need a growth plan? How should we manage the requirement for economic growth? I develop and grow therefore I am. Did people and families always need to make a living? Was there a time when people did not have to – take so seriously the requirement to make a buck? It is such an important driver in people’s lives but I think it is a bit forgotten. So basic a requirement that it is forgotten – like the part of the brain that looks after breathing and heart beat. I think it is time to deconstruct economic growth to understand how it can be managed so as to best manage the exploitation and allocation of natural resources and in doing so better manage investment and the ground disturbance footprint.

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