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  • Writer's pictureJohn Chisholm

Uneconomic Growth - The Economics of Cancer

Continuing to grow the economy when the public costs are higher than the benefits is called uneconomic growth. The United Nations has classified five types of uneconomic growth:

  • jobless growth, where the economy grows, but does not expand opportunities for good paying, longterm employment;

  • ruthless growth, where the proceeds of economic growth mostly benefit the rich or little of the benefit remains in the community;

  • voiceless growth, where economic growth is not accompanied by extension of democracy or empowerment;

  • rootless growth, where economic growth squashes people’s cultural identity, traditional sense of community, or the things that made the community good to beginwith; and

  • futureless growth, where the present generation squanders resources needed by future generations.

After so many years of being told the same thing, it is barely surprising that we believe it. Economic growth is good, we are told, and essential to all we do. Growth creates work. Work creates wealth. Wealth closes the gap between rich and poor.

Once we have a stronger economy, the Ivanists say, we can tackle our environmental problems, our social problems, our transportation problems, our tax problems, and our sustainability problems.

The only trouble is, this is all wrong.

Growth without prosperity in an economy is like the logic of cancer. Yes, it's growth, but it's not a good thing.

1/ Economic growth doesn’t create jobs It destroys them. The whole idea is to increase productivity by increasing efficiency. That mean less jobs more machines, computers, amalgamations and so on.

2/ Economic growth does not reduce inequality Because the system is designed to reward those who already have money and assets, the free market economic model takes wealth from the poor and gives it to the rich.

3/ Economic growth is not the way to solve environmental problems and social problems Economic growth is the cause of them. It requires a constant increase in the flow of public wealth being turned into private goods, services and waste. The more we grow, certainly using current economic thinking, the more public wealth we need to use and the more mess we create.

Halifaxnoise and others have been sharing a triptych of the Halifax skyline and the comments are fascinating. It’s nearly eight years since the land speculators bought and paid for a new Halifax Mayor and a crew of passive in-on-the-scheme enablers, and the last possibility to keep development in check left city hall.

It’s only now that, we we can judge by the comments, about half the active citizenry are coming round to the realization that growth without prosperity is not a good thing. The other half still seems confused. Mistaking the symbols of success and prosperity - the tall buildings - for the actual thing they are supposed to symbolize.

But nevermind. Just keep pouring that F#$%ing concrete and putting up those 30 year glass curtains. The thing about debt-leveraged, money laundering building booms is they absolutely always end up exactly the same. No mater how tricky the land speculators are, how fervently the boosters believe, and how long the cornered market and shit shells of buildings hide the Halley’s Comet of debt and deceit. No mater how loose foreign ownership and investments schemes get played. No mater how much induced immigration is pushed. Real estate bubbles crash. That’s how it ends. When? There’s a ton of observed cycles that say about every 30 years. Which puts Halifax next hit a year or so out. Will it be catastrophic or just a calamity for the hucksters involved. That’s up to government.

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