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Is NoGrowth-ism possible?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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02 March 2019 11:13
 

It seems to me that we ought to be able to create a new economic system (“NoGrowth-ism”), with the following four basic characteristics:

1 - NoGrowth-ism can sustain a healthy economy without overall growth. (And that includes ZPG.)
2 - NoGrowth-ism can provide some flavor of UBI (universal basic income), but recipients would have to “grab a shovel” to receive income. Something like the CCC in the depression.
3 - NoGrowth-ism can provide basic services for a healthy society: healthcare, education, infrastructure..
4 - NoGrowth-ism can allow inventors and innovators to be financially rewarded. Wealth is possible.

I’ve always heard that economic systems require constant growth, but I’ve never seen a good proof for that claim, and it has never seemed intuitively true.

[ Edited: 02 March 2019 11:31 by icehorse]
 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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03 March 2019 08:17
 

The “proof” that I tend to hear is that the financial system is centered around interest bearing instruments.  The only way you can pay off more in the future than you borrowed today is if there has been some kind of growth in between.

I’ve heard some anecdotes about how some US states have rolled back their usury laws, probably after the 80’s, which has resulted in changes to the personal and commercial credit markets. 

Another potential idea would be to look st the Islamic banking sector and to try to find useful, secular, ideas in it.  many Muslims reject any form of interest, and thus need financial institutions that use different kinds of financial arrangements.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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03 March 2019 08:27
 
mapadofu - 03 March 2019 08:17 AM

The “proof” that I tend to hear is that the financial system is centered around interest bearing instruments.  The only way you can pay off more in the future than you borrowed today is if there has been some kind of growth in between.

I’ve heard some anecdotes about how some US states have rolled back their usury laws, probably after the 80’s, which has resulted in changes to the personal and commercial credit markets. 

Another potential idea would be to look st the Islamic banking sector and to try to find useful, secular, ideas in it.  many Muslims reject any form of interest, and thus need financial institutions that use different kinds of financial arrangements.

paying interest: I would guess that in a NoGrowth economy, individuals and individual companies might still charge or pay interest. And further, that individuals and individual companies could succeed or fail. We see this sort of ebb and flow in our current system all the time. cell phones get popular, phone booths fade away.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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03 March 2019 08:47
 

No growth in economics is going to be difficult unless you have no growth in population.  More people require more things to do, and they start looking for their niche in the system, and that requires innovation, fed by advances in technology, and that brings economic growth. Standing still just is not natural for us.

[ Edited: 03 March 2019 18:19 by EN]
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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03 March 2019 09:12
 
EN - 03 March 2019 08:47 AM

No growth in economics is going to be difficult unless you have no growth in population.  More people require more things to do, and they start looking for their birch in the system, and that requires innovation, fed by advances in technology, and that brings economic growth. Standing still just is t natural for us.

The condition if ZPG was in the OP.

The point of the thread is to imagine when we have achieved ZPG, and to speculate on what’s possible at that point. Another point of the OP is to see if it’s fair to dispute politicians who claim that continued growth is essential. A common theme I hear from the GOP is that if you’re against endless-growth capitalism, you’re a commie. I strongly suspect that that’s a false dilemma, and this thread is about exploring whether a viable third path exists.

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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03 March 2019 12:32
 

Can’t comment on what is possible or not, but I do think it woild take a signficant paradigm shift in current economic and financial thought to pull it off.

Who pulls those levers?
That’s where the movement would need to start.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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04 March 2019 09:31
 

One possible problem with nogrowthism is that it creates a zero-sum situation in terms of opportunity. If the economy grows at three percent, then in theory everyone can make three percent more. If the economy is stagnant, then in order for me to make more, other people will have to make less. My gain can only come at someone else’s expense.

There are good counterarguments to this, but nevertheless: at best, the illusion of opportunity-for-everyone is ruined without growth.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 March 2019 12:39
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 March 2019 09:31 AM

One possible problem with nogrowthism is that it creates a zero-sum situation in terms of opportunity. If the economy grows at three percent, then in theory everyone can make three percent more. If the economy is stagnant, then in order for me to make more, other people will have to make less. My gain can only come at someone else’s expense.

There are good counterarguments to this, but nevertheless: at best, the illusion of opportunity-for-everyone is ruined without growth.

While we forget it sometimes, we all live on the same spaceship. So yes, ultimately it is zero-sum.

 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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04 March 2019 15:42
 

In that big picture, all growth is just a bubble that hasn’t burst yet.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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06 March 2019 15:21
 
icehorse - 04 March 2019 12:39 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 March 2019 09:31 AM

One possible problem with nogrowthism is that it creates a zero-sum situation in terms of opportunity. If the economy grows at three percent, then in theory everyone can make three percent more. If the economy is stagnant, then in order for me to make more, other people will have to make less. My gain can only come at someone else’s expense.

There are good counterarguments to this, but nevertheless: at best, the illusion of opportunity-for-everyone is ruined without growth.

While we forget it sometimes, we all live on the same spaceship. So yes, ultimately it is zero-sum.

Which is why much growth depends on exploitation of the third world (or past generations) in some regard or another.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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06 March 2019 16:19
 
Jefe - 06 March 2019 03:21 PM
icehorse - 04 March 2019 12:39 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 March 2019 09:31 AM

One possible problem with nogrowthism is that it creates a zero-sum situation in terms of opportunity. If the economy grows at three percent, then in theory everyone can make three percent more. If the economy is stagnant, then in order for me to make more, other people will have to make less. My gain can only come at someone else’s expense.

There are good counterarguments to this, but nevertheless: at best, the illusion of opportunity-for-everyone is ruined without growth.

While we forget it sometimes, we all live on the same spaceship. So yes, ultimately it is zero-sum.

Which is why much growth depends on exploitation of the third world (or past generations) in some regard or another.

It has in the past. But the OP is meant to be forward looking. When we get to ZPG, we’ll have to find a no-growth solution, correct?

 
 
brazen4
 
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brazen4
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07 March 2019 06:52
 

I’m not an economist but I think that speculating on future growth like what the stock market is all about is also playing a big part in the need for “growth”.

 
Garret
 
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Garret
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07 March 2019 07:12
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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07 March 2019 08:06
 
Garret - 07 March 2019 07:12 AM

The math of cities and corporations.

Thanks for the link!

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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07 March 2019 18:00
 
Garret - 07 March 2019 07:12 AM

The math of cities and corporations.

Good information in that talk. But while it hints at the question in the OP, it does not address it directly.

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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08 March 2019 04:52
 

No-growth or even negative growth is absolutely possible, but the problem is that it’s hard to borrow money against it:

our economy operates on expectations, not current facts.
Our money is essentially a loan from our future selves and their descendants, and as long as their are going to be more of them than there are us now, we never have to pay it back.

A zero/negative growth society would in fact need a kind of Gold Standard to operate, some kind of fallback guarantee that cannot just get canceled by a capricious government. Otherwise you get stagflation.

The obvious work-around is that you re-define WHAT is supposed to grow: total happiness? Ecological balance? Level of education? the size of the Moon Base?
If we just pick something other than GDP as the measure for growth, we can adapt the current system, both economically and fiduciary.

 
 
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