Losing its oomph !

Even the New York Times is now waking up, it would seem. More exactly perhaps, identifying the dilemma of the economic doldrums sweeping right across the advanced countries of the world. In a thorough going article, “We’re in a low-growth world. How did we get here?”, it even hints that it may supply a solution. But then, at the end, it doesn’t, with a penultimate sentence ” . . . there’s a lot we don’t know about the economic future”. You can’t get lamer than that!

The author has evidently not been reading this blog! Had he or she done so then it would have dawned that, once the average person is able to possess all the goods and enjoy all the services that only royalty could in times past, then there are no more status items to save and work hard for. The industrial revolution lost its oomph at around 1990.

3 thoughts on “Losing its oomph !

  1. The “average person” is theoretical. There are perhaps 2 billion humans who would cut off a digit to live like you and I do. Demand exists. The earth (incl. non-human species) benefits with non-fulfillment of that demand. An overshot species in plague phase (us) will see the well-being of an “average person” continue to decline ceteris paribus. The planet’s well-being will also continue to decline in my opinion. A dramatic reversal of population growth is likely to occur unintentionally as resource and waste sink bottlenecks are narrowed, or WMDs are used.

    1. I agree with Steven.

      Even if we grant that the median resident of the planet in terms of standard of living is perhaps equipped with “status goods” (as Keith defines them), that leaves around 2 billion others who would be thrilled to have even half as much material goods as enjoyed by the median resident, let alone the goods we residents of advanced industrialized rich nations have. The point of satiation of any more consumption goods is so far off that it is not discernible from here.

      Present technology is sufficiently advanced that it can produce consumption and status goods to meet the needs of all humans, in my opinion. I also believe that the earth can support that level of production in terms of the source and sink requirements. Energy is a critical component of the production process but that too is available provided there is the will to use nuclear energy.

      The fear that any increased throughput of energy and materials could cause catastrophic climate change is also, in my opinion unfounded. The technology already exists — and more will come online — that will mitigate any effects of any kind of climate change.

      I have great faith in human ingenuity and the transformational power of technology.

      Here’s an example from Scientific American. Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here. One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs. (That’s a clickable link.)

      Fifty years ago if anyone had confidently asserted that Israel would be water-surplus by 2015, you’d have put him in a loony bin.

      The technology is here and more is on the way. The problems that humanity faces is entirely political and therefore man-made. It’s not anthropogenic greenhouse gases but rather antropogenic dysfunctional systems that we should be worried about.

      1. I don’t agree with Atanu’s optimism based upon human smarts. My view is that our reptilian brain ( emotions and biological drives) dominates the human being. Technology has enabled us to deplete large mammals, birds, pollinators, topsoil, fish stocks, aquifers, many river flows, plus pollute all of our needed natural wealth- air, water, soil, food chain. I will wager for charity at longbetsDOTorg that human mortality will rise, average longevity decline, and population cease growing before 2100.

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