Monday, January 07, 2008

Are there limits to growth?

An article by Doug Saunders in this weekend's Globe and Mail touches on something I have always wondered about, and now has me wondering all over again: Do we always have to relentlessly pursue economic growth? Will the world necessarily grind to a halt without it?
The conventional wisdom has always been that constant economic growth, as opposed to economic stasis, is necessary, and that without it endemic poverty and mass unemployment would result.
The article mentions the Club of Rome's "Limits to Growth" report back in the 70's and Herman Daly's theory of steady-state economics. In the current climate of increased environmental awareness and increased worldwide democracy and health improvements, is it time to re-visit these concepts?
I am no economist, but I have always, since back in the 80's, questioned the assumption that economic growth (and as much of it as possible) is a given, mainly with the intention of encouraging equality in an ever-polarizing world, and to alleviate the environmental pressures which growth inevitably brings.
I know it is all tied up with increasing and ageing populations, free trade vs. managed economies, etc, etc, and I don't profess to have all the solutions. And neither do The Club of Rome or Herman Daly for that matter.
But I can't help but wonder if, in a changing world, we shouldn't be letting go of some of these perennial underlying assumptions, in much the same way as the once sacrosanct theory of monetarism had it's day and then was all but abandoned when it's drastic side-effects became too severe and untenable.
I will do some homework on steady-state and zero-gowth economics, for my own edification, but unfortunately I am not the one running the world.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dear Diary...

The worst possible reason for a blog entry is to assure people that I am still alive.
Clearly, given that my last entry was a full month ago, very little recently has caught my notice and/or exercised my imagination enough to galvanize me into putting index finger to keyboard.
I have absolutely no interest in the US primaries, no comment on the high-profile trials of Lord Black and the pig farmer from B.C., and the campaign to rescue Christmas from the grips of politically correct bureaucrats leaves me cold. Benazir Bhutto assassinated? Chaos and rioting in Kenya? Lamentable, but hardly surprising.
I think I have been a bit discouraged by the complete lack of interest in my blog. I wasn't exactly expecting a deluge of correspondence and a flaming, dong-dong, online discussion or anything of that sort. But I thought that maybe the odd indication that someone somewhere is actually reading these pieces might not be too much to expect. As it is, I have absolutely no evidence that anyone apart from me has ever come across these pages, which is a bit depressing. Does that sound pathetic?
Maybe I should just call it Dear Diary...