Growth (GDP)

“We are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP”

Paul Hawken

Why do we pursue growth? How has economic growth become positioned as the sole criterion of success? How much longer can we remain sheltered from the consequences of the growth myth?

Pursuing growth simply for its own sake is irresponsible, wasteful and destructive.


The maxims of Western growth economics are:

To maximise self interest

To maximise profits

To increase wealth

To increase our desire for material things

To maximise instrumental use

To saturate markets with goods to the utmost that market price will bear

Bigger is better

We must pay any price and do whatever is necessary to grow (increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP))

The market is always right

In contrast a Buddhist Economic (BE) system would seek to:

Replace pursuit of self-interest with service to the needs of others

Replace pursuit of profits with minimisation of suffering

Replace never ceasing desires with contentedness and want for little

Replace the over production of goods with a focus on minimisation of harm

Replace bigger is better with small is beautiful

Replace growth of the economy with the growth of harmony and happiness (Gross National Happiness-GNH or Genuine Progress Indicator-GPI instead of GDP)

Sharing many of the undertones of a Buddhist perspective a Steady State Economic (SSE) system would:

Maintain the health of ecosystems and the life-support services they provide.

Extract renewable resources like fish and timber at a rate no faster than they can be regenerated.

Consume non-renewable resources like fossil fuels and minerals at a rate no faster than they can be replaced by the discovery of renewable substitutes.

Deposit wastes in the environment at a rate no faster than they can be safely assimilated.

If everyone embraced < = > many of the alternative objectives of both BE and SSE could be achieved.

Society would not collapse. The economy would simply be different. Our lives would become richer.

Traditional economists heavily criticise both of these alternatives as idealistic and unrealistic.

However, none of these very same critics cannot present a cogent or even rudimentary explanation of how we can pursue endless growth on a planet with finite resources and critical ecological limits.

If you like the sound of the alternatives become the change that you seek in the world. Your wallet is a powerful tool for change.

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