Post Growth News Roundup — August

By Sharon Ede

A round up of selected stories that have caught the attention of Post Growth’s eyeballs in August:

FEATURE: Who Killed Economic Growth?

Animated clip from the Post Carbon Institute on the end of growth:

30 August 2011

Economist Jeff Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, on ‘America and the Pursuit of Happiness’ in The Huffington Post. Sachs discusses the corporatization of America, how inequality within a nation impacts on national wellbeing, and cites the example of Bhutan’s ‘Gross National Happiness’ indicator as an alternative:

America is a country of vast wealth and vast anxiety. America’s high Gross National Product per person, around $50,000, and its vast net worth, around $500,000 per household, are among the highest in the world. Yet growing numbers of Americans are unhappy, unhealthy, and increasingly pessimistic. America fought for independence to secure the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, but today happiness seems out of reach to tens of millions of Americans.

However he also still maintains the need for ‘growth’:

Yes, we should of course support economic growth and development, but in a broader context: one that promotes social trust, compassion, business honesty, the environment, and ultimately our happiness.

…yet “growth” as measured by GDP is the very thing his article says is what’s contributing to the malfunctioning of American society. The language used to convey meaning is critical for finding humanity’s way forward on this.

27 August 2011

Duane Elgin reveals Four Misconceptions About the Simple Life in the Huffington Post

Four misconceptions about the simple life are so common they deserve special attention. These are equating simplicity with: poverty, moving back to the land, living without beauty and economic stagnation.

Of course, simple living can indeed be about moving back to the land, just that it doesn’t have to be!

26 August 2011

Naked Capitalism interviews Economic Anthropologist David Graeber in ‘What is Debt?’, in which Graeber reveals that the first recorded word for ‘freedom’ in any human language is ‘amargi’, a Sumerian word for debt-freedom!

Transition Voice interview with Post Carbon Institute’s Richard Heinberg on how to talk about the end of growth.

25 August 2011

Center for Economic Stability membership is now open to anyone around the world who wants to help develop a realistic alternative to neoclassical economics. The Centre’s President is Australian economist Steve Keen, who in 2010 received the Real World Economic Review’s ‘Revere Award’ for being the economist who first and most urgently warned the world of the coming Global Financial Collapse. The Center, which has been formed by members of Steve Keen’s Debtwatch blog, is about:

Reforming economic theory and policy; developing economic theory that acknowledges that capitalism is unstable, and developing policies that limit the dangerous instabilities and promote the creative ones.

The first Annual General Meeting of CfESI will be held on Wednesday September 7th 2011, 6pm-9p at The Sydney Mechanics School of Arts (1st floor), 280 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

23 August 2011

Transition Voice review of Post Carbon Institute’s Richard Heinberg’s new book, The End of Growth.

22 August 2011

UK Guardian columnist George Monbiot weighs in on the growth debate:

How much of this is real? How much of the economic growth of the past 60 years? Of the wealth and comfort, the salaries and pensions that older people accept as normal, even necessary? How much of it is an illusion, created by levels of borrowing — financial and ecological — that cannot be sustained? …To sustain the illusion, we have inflicted more damage since 1950 to the planet’s living systems than we achieved in the preceding 100,000 years.

17 August 2011

Adelaide Now on how parents are fatigued from ferrying around over-scheduled children:

Almost half of Australian parents battle “family fatigue” because their children’s lives are overloaded. Mums and dads who spend hours ferrying children to formal, extra-curricular activities are feeling the pressure. About 90 per cent of them would like their children to spend more time on unstructured play, a survey has found.

10 August 2011

Shareable article on creating jobs by revitalizing local manufacturing:

In a time of layoffs and outsourcing, something surprising is happening in San Francisco and New York: manufacturing jobs are on the rise.

Just a hundred years ago, these cities were industrial epicenters; over time, factories came to be seen as relics instead of resources. Now, America’s rich manufacturing history is returning in the form of small, high-end production lines that proudly proclaim they’re locally made.

8 August 2011

Harvard Business Review suggests a Six Step Extreme Makeover for the Economy

I believe we stand on the cusp of a great turning point in human exchange: a quantum leap from opulence to eudaimonia. A shift from the pursuit of more, bigger, faster, cheaper, nastier, to the pursuit of lives lived meaningfully well.

Shareable on how home sharing programs offer longer term housing solutions in the US — the ‘matchmaking services’ provided by a community nonprofits is helping:

  • Home seekers in need of affordable home-sharing arrangements with home providers who own their home, but who require rental income, special services, or companionship in order to remain in their home
  • Renters who are seeking other renters to share a home, apartment, or condominium

6 August 2011

The Big Think on the psychological and economic damage of overwork :

We live in a culture that valorizes over-busyness. In so many workplaces, the hero is the one who is putting in the long hours,” says women’s leadership coach Tara Sophia Mohr. “Why isn’t the hero the person that actually can get amazing work done and leave at a reasonable time?”’

1 August 2011

Andrew Simms of the new economics foundation on why the relentless pursuit of productivity is socially divisive, environmentally destructive and doesn’t make us any happier:

Last week, on the same day that we learned economic growth in the UK was running at a miserly 0.2%, the Office for National Statistics launched a new programme of work on measuring human well-being.

The latter was the result of a month-long survey in which the public were asked what mattered to them. To barely disguised yawns, the answers that came back were, “family, friends, health, financial security, equality and fairness in determining well-being”, according to national statistician Jill Matheson.

So we were caught on one hand between a low-grade, generalised fear that people weren’t buying enough stuff to keep the economy going, and being told on the other hand something we already knew deep down: that a better quality of life stems not from consuming more, but from a range of mostly immaterial things. Crucially, in a society like the UK, enjoyment of these does not correlate in any positive, straightforward manner with economic growth. On the contrary, some policies used to promote growth can directly undermine a range of the factors that do contribute to well-being, such as the time we need to spend with family, health, equality and fairness.

Originally published at on August 31, 2011.

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