Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Myth of the Infinite Growth Paradigm

“How does an economy produce all that is needed to satisfy a populace convinced that it is entitled to ever more resources? The common answer is economic growth. If desires are insatiable, the source needed to supply them must be infinite, with production graphs curving sharply upward ad infinitum. That leads us to what Gary North calls “the theology of the exponential curve.” Such curves always collapse after their meteoric rise. He cites the calculations of the biologist Garret Hardin who asks us to imagine the thirty pieces of silver that Judas received for betraying Jesus drawing 3 percent interest ever since that time. If they were silver dollars, there would now be more than $300,000 for every person on earth. Since that is far in excess of the real wealth on earth, the dollar wealth would be illusory.

In a world of scarcity, which is the one in which we live, compound interest without end and growth without end are in the same category as entitlements without end; they are illusions. But illusions in which people place their faith take on a sinister reality. When they are cashed in without sufficient resources to pay everyone off, then a process of allocation must be devised to settle claims. That process often is violence.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 108.)
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