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Economic growth or quality of life?
Current socioeconomic experiment has run its course and we'll have to build a different future.
It goes without saying that the key policy objective of fiscal and monetary authorities the world over is to achieve and sustain economic growth. This imperative is ultimately the by-product of the fraudulent monetary system we’ve had in place for several centuries now. In that time, the system has shaped and distorted economic and social policy, economic theory, cultural norms and even the way we think of ourselves.
But living under this system has been a relatively recent socioeconomic experiment. It has proven highly flawed, unsustainable and even pathogenic. At present, it is in an irreversible decline, and it is incumbent upon our generation to rethink and reimagine how to build the future, as even the Davos set claims we must. But we cannot hope to solve society’s problems unless we diagnose the problems correctly.
The finite mathematics of growth
A while back, Jeremy Grantham made an illuminating projection. It went like this: suppose that in 3030 B.C. the total possession of the people of Egypt filled a box measuring 1 cubic meter. Suppose further these possessions grew at a rate of 4.5% per annum. How large would this hoard be 3000 years later, in 30 B.C.?
The answer: 10^57 cubic meters – something like 2.5 billion Solar systems.
People instantly grasp the point of this argument but often object that today, in modern times, economy is not only about material wealth, there’s intangibles, services, bla, bla, bla. But that sort of kneejerk reaction is merely an attempt to escape actually thinking. All of the economies everywhere exist to serve human needs for food, shelter, health, travel and communications, art and entertainment, and security. That’s basically it. All these needs ultimately depend on material things.
So we can get back to Grantham’s one cubic meter of humanity’s possessions. We can play with the rates of economic growth and time intervals, but the insight of the exercise is inescapable: defaulting always to economic growth as the unquestioned policy objective is patently absurd and unsustainable, and what’s unsustainable must inevitably end – it is only a matter of time. Building the future around a flawed objective will lead to flawed ends.
The answers are within
Thus, if economic growth isn’t the answer, we have to ask, what are the appropriate objectives of economic and social development? To answer that question, we have to start from ourselves and contemplate our real needs as human beings. Indeed, we must even contemplate what it means to be human. Even the Davos set, in pursuit of their own sinister Great Reset agenda felt that they needed to redefine what it meant to be human. It may suit their ends to see humans as hackable animals, but that’s on them.
The rest of us should ask ourselves: how do we want to live our lives? Full employment and price stability should not be the outer limit of our imagination in tackling these issues. If we imagined we were on our deathbeds, what might we regret about the way we live now, and what would we not regret?
Instead of employment and growth, shouldn’t we think more in terms of quality of life? “To laugh often and much,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson said it, and to win the affection of children? Perhaps the best way to look at the challenge would be to ask: what would we want our children’s lives to be like? How could our action today contribute to a better living for them?
I believe we that we must reject the limitations of the current intellectual and cultural orthodoxy and think about the future in holistic terms. Shouldn’t “the economy” be in the service of humanity rather than the other way round? If we fail to think things through, aren’t we a bit like hamsters running inside a wheel, exerting ourselves daily yet moving no closer toward a better, more beautiful life we’d want for our children and which most of us intuitively know is not only possible, but is our birthright?
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Alex Krainer – @NakedHedgie is the creator of I-System Trend Following and publisher of daily TrendCompass reports: daily commentary and trading signals covering over 200 key financial and commodity markets – probably the best trend following daily newsletter on the market today. One month’s test drive is always free of charge – no strings attached! For US investors, we propose an inflation/recession resilient portfolio covering a basket of 30+ financial and commodities markets.