5 Reasons Why Prioritizing Growth Is Bad Policy
This essay based on the book, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, was a must for the Wall of Fame here at Growth Bias Busted because it gets right to the heart of why this website exists:
“One of the few things on which left, right, and center agree is that growth is good and more of it is needed. Here's why that is so problematic.”
When James Gustave Speth writes or speaks about our economy and our environment, people should listen. He’s been around the block a time or two. He was a Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law School grad, and Supreme Court law clerk before he really got serious about public life. Speth co-founded Natural Resources Defense Council, served the Carter White House for two years as chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. He later founded World Resources Institute and went on to head the United Nations Development Programme. He is currently a professor at Vermont Law School, but is working very hard on several initiatives to help our culture progress beyond economic growth worship.
For those who already realize economic growth has stopped serving us well, this is an excellent reminder and a useful primer to share with friends whose eyes have not yet opened. It's noteworthy that it drew only 2 comments where it was published on AlterNet, I presume because so many in its progressive audience have yet to realize that economic growth is in conflict with sound stewardship of our environment and resources. Kudos to AlterNet for sharing this important perspective. This essay (and the book) is highly recommended reading for the journalists we routinely shame here for letting their assumptions about the universal goodness of growth cloud their reporting.
The essay provides reasoning and detail behind these 5 problems with public policy pursuit of economic growth:
1. Growth doesn't work. It doesn't deliver the claimed social and economic benefits.
2. Our measure of growth -- gross domestic product or GDP -- is fundamentally flawed.
3. The focus on growing GDP deflects us away from growing the many things that do need to grow.
4. The over-riding imperative to grow gives over-riding power to those, mainly the corporations, which have the capital and technology to deliver that growth, and, much the same thing, it undermines the case for a long list of public policies that would improve national well-being but are said to "slow growth" and to "hurt the economy."
5. Economic activity and its growth are the principal drivers of massive environmental decline.
Check it out and share it (especially with journalists who write about our economy). We make it easy to share the pieces we fame and shame. Just click on the tweet or other sharing icons to the right of the story image. To share on facebook, share this story from the post on our GrowthBusters facebook page.
James Gustave Speth will be one of the interviews we share on the new TV series, Conversation Earth. Please support the launch of the series here.