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?