Development vs Growth

In a steady-state economy the focus is on development versus growth. As Herman Daly puts it, growth refers to “physical scale of the matter/energy throughput that sustains the economic activities of production and consumption of commodities.”  In other words, growth is the increasing of production and consumption of goods and services. This is a quantitative increase in scale. Development is a qualitative improvement of the same scale. A contained system (the Earth, for example) can develop inside but does not significantly grow. (Daly, Beyond Growth)

econecosystemWe live in a contained system, of which our economy is a large part of and, currently, the largest driving factor in changes within that system. In our system, we can choose to develop or “grow,” but our growth is limited by the constraints of that same system (e.g. Earth’s natural capital). If we change our focus to development, we will increase the quality of our lives (qualitative development) instead of the amount of production and consumption (quantitative growth).

As our system is right now, we are increasing the production and consumption, but decreasing the quality of our lives.

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The New New Deal

When Franklin Roosevelt initiated the first “New Deal” he pushed through reforms in the banking laws. Today we are faced with one of the most dire financial crises since the depression. Why? Because our system is broken. Most of us know this, but many feel as though it is still the only or best option we have for an socioeconomic model.

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The Liquidating Class

Brian Czech, in his book Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, emphasizes the importance of assigning the most wasteful, destructive people in our gluttonous economy with both a name and a stigma. This portion of our population, generally the top 1% in the economy, are given the title of the Liquidating Class. This title comes from their actions – as they use up, or liquidate, vast quantities of natural capital for frivolous and extravagant things. This natural capital could be use to feed other people now, put clothing on our own children, and sustain our grandchildren’s lives as well.

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