The Fallacy Of Growth

By Joshua Nelson

Oregon is an interesting state. It is one of the three states on the pacific coast, equally mixed with both liberal and conservative thought, and full of beautiful landscape. I spent my early years in Oregon, both Northern and Southern. There are some serious, progressive discussions going on in Oregon. A recent article on Oregon Live is probably one of the best I’ve read of the fallacy of growth.

Here’s a bit:

“In the short term, growth supports families, relieves social pressures that produce conflict and crime, pays for amenities such as the arts, offers opportunities for entrepreneurs and makes some of us exceedingly wealthy.

But growth is also an addiction. And, like most addictions, it threatens to destroy us. Not only does it clog our freeways, but it also paves farmland, wipes out open spaces, saddles taxpayers with ruinous development costs and crushes the quality of life that attracted us to our communities in the first place. Growth sucks irreplaceable resources out of the earth. It dumps poisonous pollution into our environment. It crowds out the planet’s other species and utterly fails to deliver the human happiness it promises…

It’s not as if nobody saw this coming. ‘The increase of wealth is not boundless,’ wrote John Stuart Mill in the mid-19th century. ‘The end of growth leads to a stationary state’…

Maybe it’s possible to get growth under control while keeping families fed and communities intact. The goal of steady-state economics is, after all, reasonable incomes for all human beings in a more humane society that preserves the planet and promotes human happiness. That’s a tall order. But we’ve satisfied tall orders before.

We can start on this one by questioning our near-universal assumption that growth is always good. And the next time a candidate promises unending growth, it wouldn’t hurt if somebody in the audience asked, ‘What for?’

After all, as Edward Abbey long ago pointed out, ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.’”

Originally published in August 2010. Find out more about the Post Growth Institute on our website.

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Guiding the way to a full circle, #postgrowth economy beyond capitalism.

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Writing by team-members, guest contributors, and Fellows of the Post Growth Institute (PGI).

Post Growth

Guiding the way to a full circle, #postgrowth economy beyond capitalism.