Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Growth for the sake of growth is cancer



Exactly, you cannot have infinite growth. Consumerism and planned obsolescence depend on ever expanding growth.

Why can't we just have...enough? Why don't we create things that last decades instead of years? We can scale down, consume less, pollute less. We could have fewer factories that produce higher quality products. We could pay people more. We could have a minimum income so we'd get more art and entertainment instead of useless plastic shit.

It's not possible because our current heavily capitalistic world view is ingrained so deeply in the minds of everyone in high income countries.

I've mentioned it before, but Debt: The First 5,000 Years is an incredible book that goes into the history of money, debt and slavery. It's a life-changing book.


I concur with your description of the symptoms and your desired outcome. However, the current state of affairs has less to do with capitalism in general and more to do with the western world's addiction to short term results resulting from subscribing to Keynesian economic theory.


What does keynsiean theory have to do with building low quality goods?


I think there's a Keynsian economist who denies that the broken-window fallacy is a fallacy -- who believes that it's better to have to build and continually replace shoddy goods. Does anyone know the details on this?


There's Keynes himself on generating employment by burying money in the ground.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_General_Theory_of_Employme...

I'm not sure if that example is exactly equivalent to breaking windows and paying people to fix them (for example, maybe it matters a great deal for his view that it's the government which is paying for the demand stimulus).


Found it: it's Paul Krugman who advocates for this -- at least if this link (disclaimer: just skimmed the article, didn't check it or its context for their political views) is accurate: http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/12/lol-more-proble...


"He who knows enough is enough will always have enough" -Lao Tzu

Yes, I would agree that implementing a basic income is not a problem of technical feasibility or lack of resources but a problem of user buy in. I've read at least half of Graeber's book Debt: The First 5000 Years, pretty interesting stuff which points out some of the false assumptions at the heart of the mainstream sociopolitical game. For anyone interested, here is the pdf version:

https://libcom.org/files/__Debt__The_First_5_000_Years.pdf

It will definitely change the way you view "debt" which is such an ambiguous term in this day and age of trillion dollar debts.


Unlimited growth in capital is impossible, see the Solow growth model taught in intermediate macro classes the world over. Growth in human capital, education, productivity and ultimately technology is much harder to analyze. On one hand, these things are subject to decay similar to capital depreciation; on the other, we've escaped every Malthusian catastrophe through innovation and technological growth.


I'd also recommend Byron Tully's _The Old Money Book_; its main advice is to have _enough_, to buy things that last decades instead of years, to scale down, consume less, pollute less... In short, I think you'll agree with what it's saying.


I agree, but we still cannot afford may things we need, such as providing adequate health care to all people.


A society without growth looks like Mandarin China. You want growth for the sake of people, to provide a rising standard of living.


The average fortune is dissipated in three generations. (The average medieval noble family was back to being commoners in three generations; and the average Chinese noble family... well, Chinese noble titles degraded by one rank every generation, and every generation had to pass the imperial examinations to get a lucrative government job, so there was a _lot_ of churn there.)

Even without growth, you have a lot of social mobility -- downwards as well as upwards.


Sure - shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

Surely Europe between, say 1760 and 1900 looks different than China in the same period. Perhaps 100 years from now, it will be decided that the Chinese Mandarins were right after all , but that's not consistent with how we look at the world today.

And given some of the posts I've seen here, maybe it will be like that. You didn't have to explain why growth was of value 20 years ago - outside a few odd cases, it was assumed.


It's really about being able to match growth with sustainability.


Tell that to your VCs.


We cut the VCs out then?




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: