My name is Barbara and I survived college coursework in economics. Barely. I was a midlife student. I got good grades in my economics classes. I absolutely don’t know why. I prefer to believe it was relationship anguish and not my utter inability to grasp economic principles that left me an empty vessel, economically speaking. That is my full “I’m not an economist” disclaimer.
LeftyMN surfaces interesting stuff. Which is what set me in motion today. He sent a counter-culture piece originally penned for UK’s The Guardian by George Monbiot. It’s titled, “Bring on the Recession.” Monbiot is a UK journalist, author, academic, and political and environmental activist. Read his full bio here. Interesting guy.
Monbiot says he hopes the anticipated recession materializes. (Make that materialises.) He says he understands that hardship accompanies recession. But he also says he believes pending hardship is “the avoidable result(s) of an economy designed to maximize growth rather than welfare . . . Beyond a certain point, hardship is also caused by economic growth.” (Emphasis mine.)
Okay, Republicans. Sit down and put your heads between your knees, which is anatomically easier than where you've been putting your heads lately. Breathe and read on.
Monbiot cites the impact of unrestrained economic growth and spending on the environment, housing, individual and societal well-being, and the growing economic gap between the rich and the un-rich.
He says that “governments love growth because it excuses them from dealing with inequality.” Amen, brother, ain’t it so?! And then he says, “Growth is a political sedative, snuffing out protest, permitting governments to avoid confrontation with the rich, preventing the construction of a just and sustainable economy.” He says that “the rich are having to spend more and more to distinguish themselves from the herd . . . .To ensure that you cannot be mistaken for a lesser being, you can now buy gold and diamond saucepans from Harrods.” Take that, Pampered Chef!
Monbiot believes there comes a point where growth must stop because it cannot be sustained when the marginal costs exceed the marginal benefits. He believes that point has been reached. And though I admit I’ve not given it much thought until now, I’m inclined to agree with him. Which I guess makes me one of those left-wing, tree-hugging socialists. Actually, though I’ve grown weary of labels like those, I’m more weary of inequity and a world controlled, as Monbiot describes them, by “people who put the accumulation of money above all other ends.”
I've lived that life, back in my Republican-rooted young adulthood. It is not a good thing. Not by any definition. It is a narrow, self-centered life, lived in the metaphorical counting house, focused on how to make those piles o'money large, larger, largest.
Long ago, in the day, I studied just sufficiency. Attended national conferences. Wrote about it, exhorting people to consider seriously what is enough, what is sufficient. It was probably a hypocritical endeavor since I was living the good life, striving for more at the side of a man who defined himself by "more." Odd how sometimes we cannot or simply refuse to see our own complicity in the scheme of unraveling things.
Read Monbiot's article in its entirety. If nothing else, it's food for thought and fodder for argument.
Got economic theories?