The Limits of Capitalism

An exchange between the PushBack’s main character, Jim Reed, and his long time girl friend, Linda Alonzo, has not gotten a lot of attention from reviewers and interviewers. Jim and Linda are talking about the US 2033 economy: 

Jim is saying; “As long as the economy keeps growing, it will eventually cure a lot of these problems.” (Referring to the national debt financed by foreigners and unsustainable entitlements.)

 Linda wasn’t convinced. “There is something about this constant growth thing I don’t understand. How can something like the economy keep growing like forever? How long can an obese person keep gaining weight?”

 The question is; can there be infinite growth in a finite world? Capitalism as it’s currently practiced requires growth to make the economy work. The United States needs GNP to grow at least 2 or 3 percent in order to maintain full employment and a healthy economy. The earth’s major nations have adapted the capitalistic model and depend on constant growth to drive their economies. Is this sustainable or does the earth need a financial system that will work in a steady state fashion? Is such a system feasible, or like perpetual motion, improbable or impossible?

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