James Gustave Speth, 30 September 2013, Huffington Post
Not much in our society is more faithfully followed than economic growth. Its movements are constantly monitored, measured to the decimal place, deplored or praised, diagnosed as weak or judged healthy and vigorous. Newspapers, magazines, and cable channels report regularly on it. It is examined at all levels — global, national, and corporate. Indeed, one of the few things on which left, right, and center agree is that growth is good and more of it is needed.
There are only five problems with America’s growth imperative:
- Growth doesn’t work. It doesn’t deliver the claimed social and economic benefits.
- Our measure of growth — gross domestic product or GDP — is fundamentally flawed.
- The focus on growing GDP deflects us away from growing the many things that do need to grow.
- The over-riding imperative to grow gives over-riding power to those, mainly the corporations, which have the capital and technology to deliver that growth, and, much the same thing, it undermines the case for a long list of public policies that would improve national well-being but are said to “slow growth” and to “hurt the economy.”
- Economic activity and its growth are the principal drivers of massive environmental decline.