We hear it every day. “We must have growth for a prosperous economy.” Negative growth describes a recession, or worse, a depression. This rule applies to all of earths major economies regardless of the form of government in charge. For a nation to prosper it must turn out ever larger amount of goods and services, year on year.
This need for never ending growth gets brought up in the PushBack first chapter. Jim Reed, the lead protagonist in the book, is describing the current financial condition of the United States to his longtime girlfriend Linda Alonzo:
“The country is financed by foreigners; the trade deficit is through the roof, there entitlements coming due that we can’t afford. But not to worry−the president said in his last news conference that the economy is strong and is poised for a period of steady growth.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Linda replied. “That’s what presidents’ say, no matter what.”
Jim agreed. “But you know, as long as the economy keeps growing, it will eventually cure a lot of these problems.”
Linda wasn’t convinced. “There’s something about this constant growth thing that I don’t understand. How long can something like the economy keep growing like forever? How long can an obese person keep gaining weight?”
This excerpt brings up the question of how long the human race can continue to grow in numbers and the consumption of non- renewable resources needed to sustain economic growth before the limits of a finite earth are reached. It would seem that eventually an economic model needs to be developed that will not depend on growth to maintain an acceptable quality of life for all of the earth’s inhabitants.