The End of Growth

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” - Edward Abbey

During most of the history of mankind, average incomes across the globe amounted to somewhere between $1 and $2 per day, and income growth was only marginally above zero, averaging about 0.033% per year from year 0 to year 1868, and probably even less during the preceding millennia. In the hundred year period from 1868 to 1968, however, real per capita income growth suddenly increased forty-fold to about 1.43% per year, and when I was born average per capita income in the world had reached about $10/day. During my life-time, income growth has averaged 1.96%, implying that average per capita GDP in the world is now above $20/day. Growth rates have kept increasing steadily, reaching an average of about 2.94% per year in the first decade of this century. Such growth rates are unprecedented in the history of our species.[1]

The big question is: Will growth continue at these high, and perhaps even accelerating, rates? Or is the growth spurt experienced over the last 150 years just an anomaly, which is about to come to an end?

This is an incredibly important question. A world where growth continues at almost 3% per year for the next couple of centuries will look entirely different from a world where growth rates stagnate. In the continued-growth scenario average per capita GDP in the world would be above $5000/day by the year 2200 (unimaginably rich), whereas if growth stagnates by the end of this century, they would be earning only about $40/day (like Portugal now). The pressure on our environment would also be rather different in the two scenarios.

In a recent NBER paper, Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, argues that productivity growth, at least in the United States, might decelerate over the next century, reaching negligible levels. He notices that growth is driven by the discovery and subsequent exploitation of new technologies (such as electricity, the internal combustion engine, piped water, sewerage and communications technology), but that the growth effects of these inventions are one-off and that we have already reaped most of the benefits. For example, he notes that the speed of travel went from horse to jet speed, but has not improved significantly the last 50 years. And while the latest information revolution has brought us a large variety of enthralling entertainment and communication devices, the effects on productivity have been limited.

I will concede that perhaps the U.S. is looking a bit decadent at the moment, but I think the World in general still has plenty of growth potential, and that there are many revolutionary innovations and much growth to come (for better and for worse).

Innovations over the next couple of centuries are of course impossible to predict. But in this article I would like to present at least a few arguments in favor of continued, if not increased, innovation.

First, with the information revolution that Prof. Gordon didn’t think much of, we have basically managed to unleash and integrate the intellectual power of several billion people, who had previously been excluded from contributing to local and global development. One of the manifestations of this new democratization of knowledge is the TED talks: a brilliant idea presented freely to the World every day. Other initiatives with similar objectives and reach are: WikipediaKhan Academy and Coursera, where you can learn almost anything for free. This massive cross-fertilization of ideas across disciplines and geographic regions is bound to stimulate innovation.

Second, our recently acquired knowledge about how to read, understand and modify genes puts us on the verge of a genomics revolution.  While there are certainly some ethical and practical issues to be resolved, we will soon have the technical ability to make personalized cures for almost any disease, thus tripling life expectancy once again. We will soon be able to create tasty, nutritious foods that do not require the use of pesticides and which tolerate a wide variety of climatic conditions. And we will soon be able to use bacteria to make gasoline out of just CO2 and sunlight, thus providing a simple solution to a couple of major, looming problems (see Barry Schuler’s brilliant TED talk: Genomics 101).

I am convinced that we still have enormous potential for growth, but I also think we will have to redefine growth, so that it is not just traditional GDP growth, but a better measure of “real progress” that includes environmental impacts, human capital accumulation, happiness and other important aspects that are currently left out.
Perhaps the biggest revolution will be in how we make use of the upcoming productivity growth. If we are smart, we won’t just use it to produce and consume ever more stuff and create ever growing mountains of waste. Once we become so productive that we can easily earn $5000 per day, there is no need to work 40-50 hours per week. Maybe we will work just a few hours each morning, and then take the rest of the day off to study, play with friends, explore virtual worlds, practice a sport, be creative, volunteer for a good cause, do gardening, or whatever we really enjoy doing.

Given sufficient time, there is nothing quite as powerful as human ingenuity and the power of compound interest.

Notes

  1. This excel file has all the data used for these calculations (and more): http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/Historical_Statistics/horizontal-file_02-2010.xls

Comments

If productivity was so high, that people would only need to work a few hours a day, why would companies need unskilled labor? Who would take care of that swath of the population? What does average per capita income tell us about anything? Does it still hold true that when Bill Gates walks into a bar the average per capita income of the patrons jumps by a couple of million dollars? This article feels like a rosy look at the future, not based much on the fact that the monetary system will not be able to coincide with technological advancements in the near future.

There are political and economic reasons why companies "need" unskilled labor. In fact, unskilled labor is the first thing to be replaced by machinery. In China, for example, in the city where I live, I've seen the road in front of my building torn every year or so, and re-paved. When you take a look at the time, and labor used in this process, you realize, and people around here tell you, they just do it to keep people employed. Re-paving and labor involved is several times of that required in the US. One tar-gravel truck placing the material on the road, and a couple of other smaller machines to distribute the material to the edges of the road, and uneven spaces would be sufficient. Yet, there are dozens of people milling around following the truck, and re-shuffling the material, and another contingent just supervising. 

In the west, the only reason companies would demand unskilled labor, in most cases, is the fact that machinery to replace them is economically not as favorable to the bottom line. 

Agreed....this article hardly mentions the negatives of growth..too optimistic view and also assumes that monetary-market system continues to rule.

I think you are right,one thing's for sure. It's going to be very interesting.

Unfortunately, the NBER paper, by Robert Gordon is not accessible in its totality without a subscription to the National Bureau of Economic Research. If the author is basing some of her assumptions and numbers on Gordon's premises, it would be good if she were able to provide the complete paper.

Zeitnews audience is probably a bit more sophisticated than general public, in that the details and information provided in the article is of insufficient depth as to provide really new insights.

Case in point is the initial assumptions concerning per-capita income during a historical period starting at the year zero. Not enough information was provided to base the $1 per day, per-capita income. (The spreadsheet given at the end doesn't show numbers for that period of history, or it is assumed on bases not provided).

Of course, a reader could assume that there are no real numbers to reflect that period of history. However, some extrapolations could have been calculated from periods of time when the population count was known. The per-capita income isn't adjusted to modern values. So, as they stand, the numbers are unreasonable. Let's take for example (just for illustration; not to prove numbers) a Roman regiment that might have had ten thousand people. To feed that many people today, even if they were to be considered at poverty level, current values in dollars would produce a per-capita income significantly higher than the author provides: if today it requires, for example in the US, a poverty level of $12,000 per year, the per day income would be a little over $32.00 per day.
Numbers, however, in this context may be totally irrelevant, as they don't seem to add any intelligence to the idea of growth.

Better yet would have been to start the article with the proposition with which she finished it: “...but I also think we will have to redefine growth, so that it is not just traditional GDP growth, but a better measure of “real progress” that includes environmental impacts, human capital accumulation, happiness and other important aspects that are currently left out.“

We may further consider that to get a complete economic picture of the planet, we would have to consider several elements together:

Real wealth accumulation: Infrastructure, and things that are not perishable, and remain for the use of people, without any further investment than maintenance.

Productivity:  Those physical goods and services that are created in a given economic cycle, which maybe worthwhile breaking down in durables, such as phones, cameras, cars, and such items; and consumables, such as food, and other perishables.  This would have to be adjusted by the fact that sometimes things are produced to replace things which were damaged by natural events, of destruction by any means, which would also have to be reflected in the accumulated real wealth.

Productivity should NOT include trade of intangibles, such as stocks, bonds, and any form of gambling, as the resources in those type of markets are also imaginary variables based on speculation.

I would propose, however, that Dr. Andersen, as the Director of the Center for Environmental and Economic Modeling and Analysis (CEEMA), is better equipped to provide studies to arrive at better methods of economic measurements. 

Finally, I would like to present, although I'm sure there is an awareness of the publication, a study: “The Limits to Growth” by Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows. The original study was done in the early 70's and the update was published some 30 years later, in 2004.  They utilized System Dynamics (which can manipulate differential equations, and establish relationships between entities) software to calculate their predictions. An interesting thing to note is that the update showed that the 70's study was more optimistic than the 2004 study indicated.

Hi Boldhawk,

Thank you for your thorough comment. The NBER paper is freely downloadable for all people in developing countries (excellent policy, NBER!). I can send it to you if you provide me with an e-mail address.

The Excel file provides data from year 1 for the whole world as well as for each continent. In later years it provides details for each country. You have to do a bit of processing to arrive at the numbers expressed in the article, but it is all doable based on the information provided.

The numbers are standardized to modern values in order to make any sense at all. Specifically, they are expressed in 1990 International Geary-Khamis dollars.

And yes, developing a better measure of real progress is indeed one of our big challenges at CEEMA.

I fully support David's comment above. 

The median income is considered by many statisticians to be a better indicator than the average household income because the median is not dramatically affected by unusually high values [such as Bill Gates' income, etc] or very low values. The Wikipedia article on Median Household Income describes this in some detail. 

Once the Median Household Income is used, the picture that emerges is considerably less rosy.  

Examining median-to-average ratios and trends therein could be useful.

It is particularly important to include the top tiers in analyses of wealth (net worth) because monetary capital -- when invested in things like social and physical infrastructure that improves life ground -- is still and will continue through transitional periods to be an effective tool.

I agree with you but I also notice some hurdles that could hinder what you speak of. The main one was that with the growth of production, population control would be something that would needed to be looked at not in terms of there are too many people but being not enough space. I think I read on this site before something about how a RBE city would work and from that it is easy to see that our current citys around the world are not the most efficient at housing people. The other thing I noticed was that with the expanded growth of technology, with a flawed monetary system and of course larger population it seems that work would be something that was hard to obtain. While we would only need as you say a small time in the morning, this would become so sought after I can't imagine there would ever be enough to go around. I also see a problem in the sense that with the technology comes the automation of the workforce. I work in retail (I'm still young :P) and am already seeing aspects of my job slowly disappear since I started only 3 years ago.

While I agree with you I can see some problems primarily because of our flawed monetary system which would have to change to be a more equal system. But I have read on here also about how a monetary system could work very well.

Another amazing site for free education is; edx.org A collaborative of Harvard, MIT and Berkley

Hello everyone!

I'm new here so please bear with me...:)

I read the previous posts but I could not find answers to my questions.

If everyone work few hours in the morning who's going to ensure hospitals, fire stations and other vital services will complete their tasks in time? Also,who's going to clean the streets after a Saturday night? And the list can continue.

I agree with most of the movement's ideas but there are some questions I could not find answers in order to make the system work.

Who's going to take care of vulnerable people? Are there any viable ideas to reverse the advantage taken by corporations in the way the world is lead? What will be the continuation process if the movement will be successful?

Based on Zeitgeist 3 Moving forward movie the towns seem to be boring locations. Is there any plan to make them interesting? What is the future of tourism? What will make people live in those towns?

There are too many questions to be answered. I'd be grateful to have some answers to my questions. I like the idea but I feel it needs improvement before being presented to the large public. However, I'm sure most of my questions will be answered shortly so my confidence is still at an acceptable level.

Best wishes in the new year!

you can add me on facebook, i can answer all questions related to tzm

How can anyone add Anonymous to one's list anywhere on internet? There are more anonymous than can be counted even here... Cheers

I would say instead of a fireman working 200 days/yr in they might work 20 days/yr. Same with police and really any other job like that. Trash could easily be automated...we already have autonomous cars happening, and robots could pick up the cans to be delivered to the yard. Maybe we could just get rid of the police force and arm and train every citizen to take care of "business"? ;) If all homes were required to have fire suppression systems not just fire/smoke detectors house fires would be 0%. With large fire breaks between developments and forests, we could just let nature do it's thing and let forest fires burn.

All of this hinges on creating a world where everything is done by robots. Japanese inventors already have robots that can make burgers, sandwiches to order. Self check-out in stores are already here.

I think the towns were a simplistic model for the purpose of demonstration. There are there are some things in the models which would probably not happen i.e. the lawns around all the homes would use way too much water and fertilisers / pesticides unless a genetically modified version could be manufactured, but that sort of detail will need to be worked out in a pilot project.

I would actually like to know what would become of some of the really beautiful towns on Earth, like some of the villages in Spain, France, Italy etc many of which are built on hills and in small bays. There are certainly questions about heritage that need discussion.

The Vulnerable people can be looked after by their families, or others. Don't forget that with full automation there will be time to care for others, and there is also the human need to be useful to society (a main cause of chronic depression for unemployed and retired people) so people will still do vocational things.

The other questions I don't know how to answer. I am concerned about the way a financial collapse will go down, but after all the effort that has gone into seizing power, I can't see them giving it up willingly, so it will be a miracle if things don't get pretty ugly.

The real hope I have for this program is that there will be some thought put into alternative models so we don't go and do the same thing again when the dust settles.

floculetz , the reasons you couldn't find answers is because you never asked the questions before. But anyway, the questions are almost self-answering, in that, almost anyone could come up with answers. Unfortunately, today's answers may not be the ones applicable in a future some decades away, right?

The conversation topic was limited, and didn't seem to me to cover the areas you asked about. But I trust you can come up with answers as good as anyone's. 

I am new to the movement. I am just an ordinary guy who likes what I here but has a problem with the implementation of the ideas presented. I think a monetary free system is great but I don't believe it would be a smooth transition at all. In fact if this idea of a monetary free society were to become a reality it would have to be a violent process unfortunately. Unless something very dramatic were to happen those in power would not give up there power. I believe that even in a monetary free society the powers that be would still try and take advantage of the system. It's going to take a complete paradigm shift in our beliefs as human beings. We have to come to the real realization that we are all one. I mean really understand that and demonstrate it to each other. There would have to be regulations put in place to stop the powers that be from doing it all over again and also a power to physically stop them if need be. Just my two cents. I'm down for the cause. It's just going to take a lot of thought on how to implement. Good luck to us all.

good to see you on zeitgeist by you should also check out

http://www.occupystreams.org/item/occupy-wall-street-global-revolution

im on there alot. - its a good chat, we have some zeitgeist members here too . i go on all postivie movements, also check out zeitgiest blog too

Which is why we went from growth to development. There is a human development indicator which takes into account more than just economic growth although I don't think think it counts happiness (it is, after all, subjective). Just pointing it out.

Now. Income itself is meaningless unless you also take into account what that income translates into. While income has increased, the cost of everything has also increased, while the relative cost of certain products has been reduced thanks to technological improvements. Will we be able to buy with those future 5000$/day the same we would buy today with 5000$/day? Etc.

I also share the idea that eventually humanity will have to stop growing as a species until we colonize another planet, and thus it doesn't make sense in such scenario that we would need to have more income, but instead everyone should be able to live well.

Just my thoughts, I am not an economist, and I may have misread the article.

A few reflections:

I remember when computers where replacing humans decades ago. The promise was that our productivity would increase and employees would have more time for leisure. The result was more wealth for the employers and even more work for the underpaid employees.

Why do we measure growth in GDP? It doesn't reflect happiness or health. Matter of fact, the more sick people that have to pay medical bills and the more prisoners that have to stay in private prisons increases GDP. How about GPH (Gross Domestic Happiness) as a measurement of growth, like they have in Bhutan.

Remember that at 3% growth the amount of consumption or whatever we are measuring will double in just 27 years! This means that we will use just as much oil in the next 27 years, as we have in all the preceding years.

Alaska is introducing legislation that will outlaw GMO Salmon. Because of the lack of proper science, and other risks to the environment and health.

Yeah, Social Tinker; that was the promise I heard when I was going to high school in the 50's. We'd have the same salary, but work much less, because the machines will be doing the work.

But the bosses kept the benefit, and left us to pay the debt.

The GDP is calculated based on some financial and economic fundamentals, which are often more political and intent on redefining things so the rules of government are can be applied to elements of GDP.  Like, for example, sale and manufacturing of ammunition and war materials are counted in the GDP... GDP implying increase in wealth and production. But the spent ammunition is not deducted, nor is the war destruction caused by these things are deducted off the GDP... maybe because the destruction takes place elsewhere than the US? Funny.

And yes, it's like you say... we are counting negative things, as growth, and as positive products. 



Therefore, groups like one headed by Lykke E. Andersen: 
CLIMATE CHANGE, DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS, ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS will have a hell of a time trying to define something that from the perspective of those on the ground should be a simple thing:

Does the thing counted create wealth for the population, or does it diminish it; does the product bring about an improvement to the world, or will it cause further destruction... such as things that polute, and make the planet less habitable?

PEAK MONEY: a permanent change
Mark Robinowitz • Peak Choice: Cooperation or Collapse • www.PeakChoice.org

--We are past limits to growth; this is not a cyclical recession--

Some of the media, government elites, and the financial world knew the financial crash was imminent but feigned surprise in public while planning their exit strategies and wargaming how to manage and manipulate the crisis to protect their power (not just more profits). The financial meltdown is not a cyclical recession, it is a permanent economic shift. The End of Growth transcends ideologies and partisan politics.

Now that we are at Peak Everything we need to move beyond Peak Denial and Peak Blame to equitably share the shrinking economic pie. Even if transnational corporations were converted into democratic, locally owned cooperatives, we have still overshot Earth's carrying capacity.

--Steady state economics for an ecological society--

The dominant paradigm teaches money is the most important value, energy conservation and ecological sanity are nice if we can afford them.

Most of the environmental movement has embraced the concept of the Triple Bottom Line, which suggests that the economy needs to consider ecology and social justice issues. While it is good to factor these into economic decisions, the deeper truth is the environment makes the economy possible. Energy creates money, not the other way around. No jobs on a dead planet.

It is probably not a coincidence that many of the political voices calling attention to the problems of fiat currency, the Federal Reserve and other structural problems rarely mention the underlying ecological limits - and worse, some of them seem fixated on Jewish bankers who allegedly run the world.

We need to weave together social justice advocates with understanding of how fiat money is created and that we have reached the limits to infinite growth on a finite planet.

Recommended reading:

•Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy http://steadystate.org/
•Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute -- “The End of Growth” http://www.postcarbon.org/
•Chris Martsenson -- "The Crash Course" (energy & money) http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse
•“The Recession That Will Not End in Our Lifetime” http://www.oilempire.us/peak-money.html

"This is not so much financial bad weather as financial climate change"
-- James Kunstler

"Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problems of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together."
-- Martin Luther King; August 16, 1967; “Where do we go from here?”

"Awareness of Climate Change by the media and general public is obviously running well ahead of awareness about Peak Oil, but there are interesting differences in this general pattern when we look more closely at those involved in the money and energy industries. Many of those involved in money and markets have begun to rally around Climate Change as an urgent problem that can be turned into another opportunity for economic growth (of a green economy). These same people have tended to resist even using the term Peak Oil, let alone acknowledging its imminent occurrence. Perhaps this denial comes from an intuitive understanding that once markets understand that future growth is not possible, then it’s game over for our fiat system of debt-based money."
-- David Holmgren, a co-originator of permaculture, "Money vs. Fossil Energy: The battle to Control the World" www.holmgren.com.au
________________________________

[Editor Beal's note: By "communism," MLK was referring to Stalinist state capitalism. The US epitomizes corporate-statism, in which individualist (and racist, classist, sexist, etc.) sentiments are manipulated as distractions -- a key element of what Robinowitz calls Peak Denial and Peak Blame.]

These calculations have no economical foundation. I will freely admit I haven't read the full article and haven't checked the excel sheet everybody did.
But to compare the income from one year to the other, without factoring differences in the currency used, the political system, the wars that occurred during these periods, the social and cultural values and needs makes this happy prognosis nothing but propaganda material.
If i will ever make 5000/day and work the same number of days i will make 100.000 dollars a month. If we all do so ..... where are the money coming from? Doesn't this scream inflation?
Isn't it actually all that happened? inflation driving our revenue up through continuously printing new money?
If, by the other hand, I would make 5000/day, but work one or two days a months, due to mechanization and the cost of living will stay the same (never happened yet in our history) this would be real progress. (but she doesn't mention that, is it?). Would you see these companies making the money pay me to this comfortable level of living? Or do you see them pocketing the money and keeping us to the same, or worse, level of living?
Just wondering......

atheist_thinker, I've read the article several times, and that one point keeps coming back as a sore item.  Dollars in a page, don't compare to the cost of staying alive today, as it might have costed in the 'earlier' times suggested in the article.  The article suggest we have more now, per capita to live x number of times better than the hypothetical person/family back in earlier times.

The other element is that averages in this context are meaningless, when the wealth and income is in the hands of the 80% plus of the population.

Some things don't quite make sense. Another point is the idea that the author talks about growth as an acceptable condition, yet her institute hasn't defined what growth, suggesting it's a daunting task. That may be, but how can we talk about a word that hasn't been defined, at least a partial definition applicable within context of the article.

In the end, given that we are on a planet with limited resources, how can unbridled growth end up being good for all? Maybe it worked statistically, so they think it's good... 

Dear Atheist-thinker,
All values mentioned in the article are "real" dollars, meaning that inflation has been taken out in order to make units comparable over time. The progress to date is real, and if such rates of progress continue, we will indeed become unimaginably productive and rich within a couple of centuries. You have just proven that "unimaginable" is a very good term for it, as you clearly cannot imagine it.
The numbers have complete economic foundation, but they may lack other foundations. Particularly, the averages used ignore distributional issues, which are very important. It might have been better to use median incomes, but unfortunately this data is not available.

Dear Lykke,
I will thank you for answering me, and I will admit that my imagination is not that rich.
However, I used to be an economist...... None of the models I ever studied came to this conclusion. The closest that comes to mind is communism, that on paper is a lovely utopian model and promised a rich and equal world. But we all know how it eventually worked out. So, having so many variables, using our historical experience and considering greed a constant of all monetary based systems I can only think that your prognosis will never come true. I hope to be wrong.....
Now you mentioned that this would come true in a few centuries. At the rate at which we use our resources and harm our environment I doubt we'll have the material base to build this rich world. Let's say that in 200 to years water becomes the hottest commodity.....because there is not much left.....what do I do ? Pay that fortune the society gives me on water! And if it is not water then it will be something else. And whoever controls that resource will be rich. We will still work hard and pay our last penny to be able to exist.
Welcome to Dune!

I'm looking at this article by Lykke E. Andersen, and I'm also looking at another post by Ryan Salisbury here:

http://www.zeitnews.org/viewpoints/ryan-salisbury/computer-science-resou....

I notice that the series of commentaries on both articles connect sometimes tangentially, and other time directly.

I've decided to post this one to both articles, in the hope that readers, by practice will post in such way that the conversation/commentaries will sort of 'merge' into one or the other article!

Since the Salisbury article has what I judge to be higher volume and greater latitude of discussion, that comments be added to the Salisbury page.

Regards


Growth, at the end of the road!
As I, more than twenty years ago used to say, that money and power no longer holds the solution to the problems of mankind and that they in fact are the root causes, preventing us from ever being able to create a better world for all. I was laughed at and ridiculed en mass. I have since then been using the same thesis over the years and noticed a gradual change. These days no one is laughing any more. Now most people nod quietly with a sad and concerned expression on their face…

But still, almost every political party, from left to right, adhere to the notion that growth is the way to salvation and a brighter future, which proves that money and power no longer is the solution...
I often say that a thousand years ago, we used to make things that lasted a thousand years. Some hundred years ago we used to make things that lasted a hundred years, like machines and light bulbs… Then the manufacturers began to reduce the lifespan of their products on purpose. Soon thereafter Dupont followed, making the nylon thread weaker… Ask any woman how she likes that… thus opening the flood gates to what is now called “planned obsolescence”, where highly paid engineers are making sure that no product lasts longer than decided by the company owners, all in the name of good business. If you doubt this, you might remember that only some ten years ago, most products lasted around ten years, but today you will probably be surprised if any of your gadgets lasts longer than a year after the warranty expires… In the meantime the environment is slowly collapsing around us…

This trend could be seen as an inward spiral, at which we now have reached its inner point. This tells me that we have reached the end of the road… or if you will, the end of our civilization…

If you are wondering how this relates to growth, it’s quite simple actually, if you know what growth is and how it works.
If yoy don’t know how it works, I’ll try to give you a short explanation and don’t feel bad about this, because the vast majority, even high up in government and banks, there are very few who really know the workings of growth.

Most people think that growth comes from refining products and services, but there is only a redistribution of money within the existing monetary volume! Growth can ONLY begin through debt!!! National debt shows up as growth. Companies taking up loans, or when you and I go to the bank for new loans enabling our consumption, this will create growth. Then your bank, with your promissory note can call upon your Central bank to create the amount out of thin air, like the magician pulls his rabbits out of his hat… Abracadabra, the monetary volume has been inflated and THIS ONLY, can create growth and this only, is why we constantly are urged to buy more and more and why things are made to brake as soon as the warranty expires and why everything is getting more and more short sighted… Then you might realise that the politicians, not only are bought, but more or less owned by strong lobby groups...

The world has become a monumental ponzi scheme…

OK, we all know that this behavior is unsustainable, but when will we begin to think about and discuss alternatives… It’s not enough knowing this notion of growth isn’t working anymore…

And I say, as long as we choose the notion of having a monetary system as our base for human interaction and letting everything circle around money in one form or another, we remain at square one.

I agree that eventually we will live in a world of no money...but that time IMO will only happen once labor except labors-of-love is no longer done by humans but by machines. A world without trade is not going to happen. Ferrari will only build so many cars, and yet the demand will be higher than ever if there's no exchange for that car even though the cars value will always be high.

It's not money itself that's bad, but that money has no real value anymore. Once it was tied to a universally valued commodity but now it's based on futures and potentials. The USA being the worst of the bunch and why it has the largest military spending -by far- to ensure that it's value in the world market is upheld, even though it's true value is less than many "poor" nations.

So, as someone who pines for a future with no growth or money...what is your solution? Or, like many politicians, you just proffer forth complaints of what's bad, yet make no real solutions. For instance, the republicans demand for a smaller government, yet they don't offer an idea what that government would look like.

Thanks for your input!

I think that trade between only two parties won't solve the problem, with or without money. Because for as long as we trade in money, pearls, furs, or what have you, we still are stuck in the system of giving everything a monetary value, and as long as we need to value things in monetary terms, we're stuck in the present value-system, we're still competing and fighting each other for wealth and power, which means nothing is changed.
Our present value system, will not be affected, even if we have a global/total political and economical "meltdown". We would simply "reboot" our present system and continue in the same old ruts as before... and we wouldn't have learned anything... and we would remain on square one...

The problem is, that it isn't for me to tell or dictate any changes. It's for everyone to find out for him/her self that our present "toolbox" isn't working anymore and trying to find out what might work...

I myself, think that we ought to find ways to help each other unconditionally, instead of competing and fighting each other to the last drop of blood...
I mean, if money and power doesn’t give us a just and friendly world, perhaps we should urge each other to build up a society beyond money and power. The choice is always ours. Do we want to leave friends or foes behind... Do we want to live with love or fear?

What I'm longing for is humanity Ver. 2.0, because change won't happen until critical mass wants to move in any kind of different direction.

One person can NEVER change the world... That would imply that I'm Jesus or something, which I'm not. So, please don't ask of me to provide the answer for everything. Rather ask yourself how long you think it will take before our civilization breaks down under the current doctrine and how urgently we need to find an alternative.

If you're interested, you can read my freely/unconditionally available book online "Holistic evolution" at web comhem, where I have tried to visualize an alternative world beyond our inherently destructive money and power structures.

The first step is to recognize the problem and then try to move away from the problem, preferably along with many others, if they share a similar direction...

I don't believe in complaining about the thing that are broken. That doesn't lead to answers or progress. One person can and have changed the world several times over. Having a dream, a vision and a path is what is needed.

The biggest problem I have for this utopian future I've read in many sci-fi books like Thea Alexanders idea about Macro philosophy or about the Culture in Iain Banks books is that it shows the end result.

The problem lays in the conservation of energy principle. People will not do more work than someone else without some added incentive. No one wants to dig ditches, yet ditches are needed. Rotation of work only works if everyone has the ability to do everything. So until all "work" is done by machines, and those machines are built by other machines, and the only "work" is what is done by choice and desire, we are stuck with a give and take system.

So pining over a system that no one has an idea how to make happen or even how it will be is just wishes.

It's like the republicans wishing for a smaller government, yet have no idea what that means, how to achieve it, so that it remains an idea on the edge of consciousness.

What is wrong with todays society is not the monetary system of reward, but that the reward is not substantive and is based again on ideas. Ideas are nice, but problem solving is better. Bring back a gold based system. Money that is backed by something instead of just the fiat economy we now have.

You just discredited your whole critique of a resource based economy with your last statement. If society were to go back to a gold based currency the money supply would shrink so fast it would make your head spin. Credit would contract, the velocity of money would invert and you'd probably be out of job. No a resource based economy isn't just an "idea" it's an eventuality. Get used to watching technological unemployment ravage countries until we as a species will finally get it.