The Steady State Path to Real Prosperity A Bigger Economy Doesn’t Mean a Better Economy

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  • The Steady State Path to Real ProsperityA Bigger Economy Doesnt Mean a Better

  • bymattyp

  • bytreehouse1977

  • The Nature of GrowthGrow \gr\ verbTo spring up and develop to maturityTo increase in sizeDesirability of growth depends upon...1. The entity thats growing: e.g., a human body2. The context: e.g., stage of life3. The rate: e.g., slow, normal, fast

  • Context: ChildrenRate: Normal

  • Context 1: Child Rate 1: Very fastContext 2: AdultRate 2: Slow

  • Growth of Economic ActivityFor economic growth to occur, what exactly is getting bigger?Production and consumption of goods and services (more stuff and more activity)Gross domestic product (GDP), the final dollar value of goods and services producedPopulation, consumption per person, or both.

  • USA 14,260,000

    Japan 4,924,000

    China 4,402,000

    Germany 3,668,000

    France 2,866,000

    UK 2,674,000

    Italy 2,399,000

    Russia 1,757,000

    Spain 1,683,000

    Brazil 1,665,000

    Canada 1,564,000

    India 1,237,000

    Source: CIA Factbook

  • GDP Growth

  • Context for GDP Growth

  • Context: Thermodynamic Limits to Growth

  • TimeGDPNatural capital allocated to theeconomy Naturalcapital allocatedto natureE c o n o m i c G r o w t hContext: Ecological Limits to Growth

  • Context: Disappointing Results of GrowthSource: Inglehart and Klingemann (2000)

  • Context: Disappointing Results of GrowthU.S. Percentage Very HappyReal incomeper personPercentage very happySource: Layard (2005)

  • Context: Disappointing Results of Growth

  • Context: Disappointing Results of Growth

  • Rate of Increase

  • Desirability of Growth

  • bymattyp

  • Steady State Economy: Better not Bigger

    Constant (or mildly fluctuating) population

    Constant (or mildly fluctuating) per capita consumption

    Constant (and sustainable) throughput of energy and materialsSustainable scale

    Fair distribution of wealth

    Efficient allocation of resources

    High quality of life

  • Right-sizedSmaller populationNew measures of successDifferent labor/capital mixShorter working hours/more leisureMore natureFewer status goodsHealthier food systemsBetter use of technologyMore locally supplied goods and servicesScience-based decision makingLess debtLess production, more maintenanceWhat Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • What Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • What Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • What Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • What Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • What Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • What Does a Steady State Economy Look Like?

  • bytreehouse1977

  • Start with given conditions.

    Employ gradualism.

    Change policies.Exemplary network of conservation landsCap-auction-trade systems for basic resourcesLimits on the range of inequality in income distributionEcological tax reformMove to 100% reserve requirementsElevate the commons sectorReform national accounts

    But dont put the cart before the horse.We need widespread public support.We need all those analytical economic minds working on the new paradigm.

    The Transition from Growth to a Steady State

  • Policy Change The Right Goal

  • Policy Change - Exemplary Conservation"Last year's introduction of Dentyne Ice Cinnamint gum, right on the heels of the extinction of the Carolina tufted hen, put product diversity on top for the first time.Copyright: The Onion

  • Policy Change: Technology

  • Appropriate Use of Technology

  • Bob Adelman, Magnum PhotosGetting Started

  • What Can You Do?1. Publicly voice your opinion.Sign the Position on Economic Growth.

  • What Can You Do?2. Get

  • What Can You Do?3. Get involved with CASSE.Become a member.Become an outreach volunteer.

  • What Can You Do?4. Think and act like a steady stater.

  • 5. Ask a lot of questions.What Can You Do?


    Im going to hit you with some facts about the economy and economic growth. Its not necessarily an easy story to hear, but we need to face facts. Im also going to give you the good news that we dont need a bigger economy to have a better one, and I hope to inspire you to embrace the change thats coming.*I have three take home points. Point number 1 is that there are limits to economic growth. These limits stem from the way the world works founding principles of physics and ecology explain why these limits exist. People who talk about the limits to growth are often marginalized as doom and gloom pessimists, always seeing a storm on the horizon. Lets see if we can get beyond pessimism, have the courage to face whats in front of us, and use our smarts to chart the right course to get through it.*So point number 1 is that there are limits to growth. Point 2 then is this: there is a better way to way to run the economy and its called a steady state economy. There are only three possible conditions for the size of an economy growing, shrinking or remaining relatively stable. Continuous growth isnt sustainable and neither is continuous contraction, so a healthy and prosperous economy over the long haul is a stable one. This is a positive message it allows us to see and experience a break in the storm clouds swirling about us.*Point one is that there are limits to growth. Point 2 is that theres a better way to manage the economy. The third take-home point is this: The transition to a steady state economy wont be easy, but it represents an opportunity to make a better world. In my previous work in environmental science and conservation biology, I grew weary of hearing about the litany of problems we face (climate disruption, widespread poverty, species extinctions). The concept of the steady state economy provides a positive solution to these problems it addresses the underlying cause of these problems, the obsessive pursuit of economic growth, and it represents the calm after storm or the silver lining in the clouds.*Next I want to give you some details about my 3 take home points, but before diving in, I want to talk more generally about growth for a moment. Here are Websters top 2 definitions of the verb, to grow. Notice that the first definition implies an end to growth the reaching of maturity. The word growth itself tends to have a positive connotation. We use it in phrases like personal growth, or spiritual growth. We may have confused growth with development in such cases. But of course, it can have a negative connotation as well like in the phrase malignant growth. What is growth really? Growth means getting bigger. Its about increasing size or scale. In and of itself, growth is neither good or bad. Whether growth is desirable is dependent on 3 factors: (1) Whats growing, (2) the context of that growth, and (3) the rate at which that growth occurs.*Lets look at the case where whats growing is a human body. If you have children who are growing at a normal rate then all is well and growth is desirable.*This is an old photo of Robert Wadlow taken in 1931. He holds the record for tallest human being in medical history. At the time of this photo, he was 13 years old and the tallest boy scout of all time at 7 feet 4 inches tall. Theres an old video of him standing with his legs straddled and the other member of his boy scout troop are running under his legs. Roberts ultimate height was 8 feet 11 inches, and he weighed 490 pounds. He suffered from hypertrophy of the pituitary gland, a condition which produces very high levels of human growth hormone. He was still growing at the time of his death.It is clear that Robert's phenomenal growth provided benefits. He became quite famous but his growth took a toll. He needed leg braces to walk, and he often lost feeling in his legs and feet. His circulatory system and other bodily systems had a tough time keeping pace with his growth. He died young at the age of 22 years. During a public appearance at the National Forest Festival, he developed an infected blister on his ankle, caused by irritation from his leg brace. He was treated with a blood transfusion and emergency surgery, but he never recovered.

    This man standing next to him provides another case. He could continue to grow, perhaps not in height, but in weight. Even at a slow rate over the years, he could end up wrestling with obesity. In both cases, continued growth is an undesirable condition.*Economic growth means increasing production and consumption of goods and services. It is measured by tracking gross domestic product or GDP, which is the dollar value of goods and services produced in an economy. Increases in GDP occur through increasing population, increasing consumption, or both. *Growth in GDP is an interesting phenomenon. Although never intended as a measure of progress thats what it has become. We check the rankings, as if more economic activity somehow means more merit. Certainly there are benefits to GDP growth. Lets suppose each of us gets a share of GDP growth (and thats a big if), that means more money in our pockets, and the added purchasing power that comes with that. Thats something most of us understand and desire, but there are also costs.*The fastest way for me to increase GDP when I leave this room is to crash my car, preferably into a tanker truck. The medical bills, cleanup costs, lawyer fees and other dollar exchanges associated with this fiasco get added to GDP. So the real questi