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The Challenge of Endless Economic Growth

The Challenge of Endless Economic Growth

Nine years ago, I challenged myself to live for a year without the use of money. At the time, we were just coming out of a recession, and lack of money was a challenge for many people. Today, the challenges have expanded.

One of the greatest challenges is our incessant need to feed the voracious appetites of those who seek private luxury and endless economic growth. Having elevated self interest as one of our highest virtues based on the writings of Adam Smith, and releasing corporations from all responsibility other than increasing profits based on the words of Milton Friedman, we now find ourselves obligated to sacrifice everything in order to increase the wealth of a few.

Within this bubble of self-interested profit-making, we only see the reality we manufacture. Unfortunately, this leaves many of us unaware of how many of our natural resources are sacrificed in order to keep up the ruse. When we do get some insight as to the consequences of our folly, we are so overwhelmed by the destruction that has been left in the wake of our course of action that we are left stupefied and helpless to do anything about it.

Although some in the United States, where 5% of the planet’s human population consumes 60% of the resources, are recognizing that our supposedly chosen way of life is not sustainable and will force future generations to sacrifice what we will not, the majority do not have time to worry about such matters. Either they have to get to work in order to pay the owners of capital or they just feel inclined to support the tradition of seeking out only their own personal luxuries and endless economic growth in the hopes of one day being owners themselves so that they will no longer have to work. 

If there is any high point to the recent pandemic, I think it would be the realization of how much energy and pollution go into the commutes to our bullshit jobs and the reconsideration of the value of work. Whether or not it will be enough for us to reconsider the goals of our civilization in order to stop the ecological destruction and the decimation of our life supporting systems for the sake of endless economic growth only time will tell. While many realize that our current way of life is not sustainable, the unfortunate majority is either too inept or apathetic to do anything about it. 

Yet if we look at the natural world around us, it is apparent that things can only grow to a certain point before they begin to wane, deteriorate, and decay. Because our economic system is fabricated and more than ninety percent of the money we’ve created does not exist in the natural world, but only as numbers in a computer, there is no way to know how big it will get before it starts to collapse. Hopefully, we figure it out before it is too late and we are crushed by the fall of our own folly.

Let us pray for a revolution of wisdom.

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