Comments/questions

13 posts / 0 new
Last post
Adam-S's picture
Adam-S
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 27 2008
Posts: 1
Comments/questions

I've been reviewing the chapters up to Ch 5 and, so far very interesting.  Regarding Ch 5, I have a few observations.  I agree growth does not equal prosperity but why can't available surplus be split in some proportional amounts across the two?  Also, what fuels the surplus?  Is it fixed (like the amount of oil on the earth,) or can it be created?  Finally, do some components of growth and prosperity become "fixed" once they are established, i.e. I can stop going to the movies but I can't "remove" a child from my family...  Thx.

Set's picture
Set
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 112
Re: Comments/questions

In the “Essential Articles Section” of this website is the following”

The End of Money

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

by Dr. Albert Bartlett

 

The transcript of a lecture given by Dr. Bartlett is well worth reading, however; I found that this lecture was video taped and is available on You Tube.  It is very interesting and combines slides and graphs similar to thee “Crash Course.”

The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See  

(part 1 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY

(part 2 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb3JI8F9LQQ  

(part 3 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFyOw9IgtjY  

(part 4 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQd-VGYX3-E  

(part 5 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-X6EpvWWu8  

(part 6 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3y7UlHdhAU  

(part 7 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyseLQVpJEI   

(part 8 of 8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoiiVnQadwE

Paull's picture
Paull
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 19 2008
Posts: 1
Growth versus prosperity
The Crash Course contains some excellent food for thought, but also some very confused parts. The Growth vs Prosperity section is simply wrong, and the example provided lacks logic. The familiy provider gets a salary raise. Now, where did that come from ? The answer is growth, the profits of his employer grew. So the surplus resulting from this growth can now propagate into the family to cause prosperity in a number of ways. The family can grow their number of children, or, e.g. the number of their cars, or the number of vacations taken. There is no fundamental difference between these choices of how to transform growth into prosperity. Growth increased the standard of living. This higher standard of living allows to have more children or more cars. If the growth would have been higher, it would have allowed both. Therefore, the very example provided does not prove that growth is not equal to prosperity, but the opposite, growth is the prerequisite for prosperity. Without growth, the standard of living cannot increase. Until recently, growth happened by increasing (labor) efficiency (through innovation and capital). As energy and commodities become scarce, growth in the future also requires increasing energy efficiency (or new sources of cheap unlimited energy). But that's it, if both can be achieved, growth can continue.
jkat's picture
jkat
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 27 2009
Posts: 1
Re: Growth versus prosperity

I just saw chapter 5 and I Totally agree with you Paull, Chris description on growth is not correct, .

/Johan

 

veerleke's picture
veerleke
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2009
Posts: 2
Re: Comments/questions

Adam S., Paull and J-kat all three express their doubts about chapter five. So do I. It just sounded all wrong (and way too compact and dangereously oversimplified IF it were right). It is unclear what you exactly mean with prosperity. You will have to define that more clearly, not only in your family example but also what it means in the 'bigger' picture. The way you presented it now just seems too much like : "if my pyamas fit in the cereal box, and i fit in my pyamas than i fit in the cereal box" -kind of logic.

Really you got me until film #4 but you lost your credibility on this one, i'm sorry.

Set's picture
Set
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 112
Re: Comments/questions

Prosperous means having more; particularly with regards to money; whether it’s used to purchase things that might be considered luxuries or saved to provide a sense of financial security. 

Did any of you who’ve deemed Chapter 5 invalid or just plain wrong watch the videos done by Dr. Bartlett that I provided links to?

I think the main point you three seemed to have missed is actually summarized in the last paragraph of the synopsis right above the film.  

“For the past few hundred years we have been lulled into linking the two concepts, because there was always sufficient surplus energy that we could have both growth AND prosperity. But what’s going to happen when 100% of our surplus money or energy is being used to simply grow? And what happens if there’s not enough surplus to even fund growth alone?

This, then, is the greatest challenge of our times – properly recognizing where we want our remaining surplus to go and getting that story out. We place a great deal at risk if we allow ourselves to do what is easy – that is, take the path of least resistance and simply grow – instead of doing what is right, which is directing our surplus towards a more prosperous future”

I’d be interested to hear your answers to the two question posed in the first paragraph of the quoted material.  

"But what’s going to happen when 100% of our surplus money or energy is being used to simply grow?"

"And what happens if there’s not enough surplus to even fund growth alone?"

DavidLachman's picture
DavidLachman
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 4 2008
Posts: 153
Re: Comments/questions on Growth/Prosperity

I have had trouble with the example that CM uses in the growth versus prosperity discussion.  I think those terms also need to be defined better.  So, leaving aside the example in the crash course, does it make sense at the philosophical level that given a system that generates a surplus, the surplus can be used for growth, prosperity, or some combination of the the two?  

In my opinion it does, and here are my thoughts on that:

I think it would help if Chris made clear that he was not refering to economic growth, but physical growth of the population of the system (ie a bigger population with needs that have to be met by the system) and prosperity defined as more benefits going to the existing members of the population, whether more toys or food, or more time used for something other than work--basically more resources from the system to the members (call it prosperity growth).  The converse example also helps clarify this, imagine the same system, this time with no surplus, say the exact amount is created as is needed to maintain the current level.  That means there isn't the food available to feed one more person and there are not the resources to give anyone more time off (because production with fall) or give anyone more toys or food (because all of current production is already spoken for).  Now imagine that a small increase has occurred in the productive level of the system because of some inovation in farming and now more food is being produced.  The society in that system has a choice, it can grow in population because finally there is more food to actually feed another mouth, or it can choose prosperity, and all the farmers can work a few minutes less and enjoy a good book and food production will still be enough to feed the population.  Or another way to have prosperity is that the number of farmers can now be cut back and those former farmers can now work in the mines and factories to make more manufactured goods (lets say TVs) and now more TVs are available to distribute to households and finally the kids can watch cartoons, while the adults watch CNBC (we'll call that prosperity).  So the choice is there if there is a surplus: the society can use it for population growth, or for prosperity growth, or if there is a lot of surplus the society can use if for both population growth and prosperity growth.

That is my take on it after having had trouble with the Crash Course version of this concept.  What happens when the society produces no surplus and in fact produces less (economists would call this a negative surplus)?  The negative surplus would have to mean a choice between reducing the population or reducing the prosperity.  I suspect this is what our society faces as the bank account of fossil fuels and fertile farm land and high grade ores, etc are no longer available to us--this actually has begun on some level and we have made the strange choice of increasing population while decreasing prosperity (unequally) so that now as population increases the percentage of the worlds population in poverity increases as well.

Ccolon7's picture
Ccolon7
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 2 2009
Posts: 1
Re: Growth versus prosperity

Your analysis will be true only if our resources were infinite. But the fact is that we live in a limited planet. Sure, we can grow for some time and enjoy both growth and prosperity, but at the price of consuming from future generations. I personally will like to see that my children and the children of my children can also enjoy life on this planet. To do otherwise will be to act very irresponsible. Instead of destroying the planet and the opportunities of future generations, we have no choice than to move away from growth into development. The carrying capacity of planet earth have a limit beyond which we cannot grow but decay, and we are reaching such level. Growth is similar to prosperity only on a limited case and under limited circunstances. For Bill Gate, Warren Buffet, and others, growth still means prosperity, but not for billions and billions of other human beings. From were I come (Puerto Rico), growth meant prosperity once upon a time, but not any more. The consequences of looking only at growth as the economic mantra, is the contamination of our rivers, the killling of animals and trees, the contamination of the air and increase in social chaos - crime, drugs, political corruption, etc., etc.

RayTomes's picture
RayTomes
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 20 2009
Posts: 67
Re: Comments/questions

I just came across this site and chose Chapter 5: Growth vs. Prosperity to listen to first because my views on this are very different to the conventional "wisdom". So it was delightful to hear it said that growth is not prosperity. I am of the opinion that there is a "Green Economics" that is vastly better for everyone than the policies pursued by most nations. Limiting growth is the first step towards that.

 

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2606
Re: Comments/questions
RayTomes wrote:

I just came across this site and chose Chapter 5: Growth vs. Prosperity to listen to first because my views on this are very different to the conventional "wisdom". So it was delightful to hear it said that growth is not prosperity. I am of the opinion that there is a "Green Economics" that is vastly better for everyone than the policies pursued by most nations. Limiting growth is the first step towards that.

Hello Ray -

Welcome to the site.  I dropped by your site tonight - very interesting.  I'll be spending some time there tomorrow.

Might I suggest you take the time to watch all of the Crash Course?  I'd interested in your take on the contents.

RayTomes's picture
RayTomes
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 20 2009
Posts: 67
Re: Comments/questions

Thanks Dogs_In_A_Pie, Thanks for the welcome. I have done the first 6 videos so far and made the odd comment where appropriate as I go. I must say that Chris Martenson is a clear speaker and thinker and I find much to agree with here (and I don't get to say that very often). Once I have been through all 20 videos, I will look to perhaps put some material from my blog and youtube in here as references for other people also.

RayTomes's picture
RayTomes
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 20 2009
Posts: 67
Benefits of a Stable Population in Housing

This is from my blog, and about New Zealand conditions a few years back.

Benefits of a Stable Population in Housing

The New Zealand Government are holding an Inquiry into housing affordability in New Zealand and invited submissions from the public and interested groups. The price of houses in NZ has risen spectacularly in the last 5 years and young families trying to buy their first house must feel that they are getting further from their goal.

I have made a submission to the NZ Government, making a few small alterations to a paper that I wrote a couple of months ago and then sending that. My paper is called Benefits of a Stable Population in Housing (450 KB pdf file) and looks at wider issues than those that the Government is looking at. There would be many additional benefits including assisting in sustainability which the Government has also stated as a major goal this year. This is to assist in achieving out objectives under the Kyoto Protocol, and also reflects the delicate balance in NZ Parliament after the Fields affair, and the possible dependence on the NZ Green Party.

From the paper:

"This paper suggests that existing economic wisdom, particularly with such measures as GDP, does not recognise the huge benefits to all people living in NZ of limiting the rate at which the population grows, even apart from fixing population limits. It is suggested that large net immigration flows since 2000 is mainly responsible for the huge house price increases in the same period.

The main benefit of limiting population growth rate is the large reduction in costs of providing adequate capital intensive resources including housing, business premises, schools, hospitals and distribution systems for services such as electricity, water and sewerage. To make the case for such benefits the following matters will be addressed:

1. The disproportionate extra costs of a growing population.
2. Statistical evidence of the detrimental costs of population growth.
3. The capital drain of people reaching adulthood.
4. Past population growth bursts as the cause of depressions.
5. The inappropriateness of measures such as real GDP per capita.
6. Is a stable population bad for business?
7. Relationship to other policy areas.
8. Suggestions for practically implementing the policy."

I make the claim that if NZ had a policy of limiting nett migration to 5,000 people per year for the last 5 years this would have assisted in the Government inflation objectives and also meant that house prices would now be 40% lower.

For more information on the Government inquiry and other reactions, please see the Scoop article Inquiry into housing affordability in New Zealand.

 

deggleton's picture
deggleton
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 250
Re: Comments/questions

Say what you will about the example in the chapter, CM was only trying to make for you a distinction between purposes.

My take (staying in the box):  Prosperity is an achievement I'll enjoy, if not celebrate.  Growth is a calculated (best case) risk for a different prosperity.  I can't have the party if I'm moving on by investing with hopes for a bigger and better party later on.  I must choose.

If we loved simple parties, we could party more.  Reminds me of Dave Mason:  Things could be lazy if they weren't so crazy.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments