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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Limits to thought

Paul Krugman is probably the best known "leftist" economist in the "U.S." today. He provides insightful analyses in terms that the average person can understand, and has been most effective in exposing the fakery of the "policies" of the Bush criminal regime. His approach can best be described as "progressive." In Economics that term has a slightly different meaning from what it has in politics. It mostly applies to taxation, where people with higher incomes bear a greater burden, but can be broadened to describe an overall approach of increased responsibility required of those who receive the greatest rewards for living in the society. The other aspect of a "progressive" economic system would be an emphasis on distributive justice, where the state uses various means to make economic and social benefits more universal and equal.

Like anyone else, though, Krugman has his limits, as he revealed in his latest New York Times op-ed. It is a tenet of orthodox Economics that output can and must grow as a "secular trend." According to this unquestioned (except by a few) axiomatic truth, it is the prospect of growth that produces innovation, entrepeneurship, and increased "capital formation," leading to increased employment, income, and profits. Without growth, supposedly, none of these things can happen.

I don't read Krugman's column on a regular basis, but found a link to his screed in Salon. Both Krugman and Salon columnist Andrew Leonard decry the lack of alternative energy development.

Exposing the fallacy of infinite growth is one of my favorite pastimes, and I responded to both articles. Here's the one I posted to Salon:

If we pray really hard

I don't read this column very often. This offering doesn't inspire me to read it any more often. Too shallow.

Predicting the future, as anyone who has done so and failed will attest, is tricky business. Predicting the future of humanity is supremely tricky, as the author of this column will find out.

It is easy to predict that technology will save our way of doing things, and our species, but this belief is more conventional wisdom than sound analysis or reasoning. As such, it is in the realm of religion. The religion of materialism.

Even a mild sense of intuition would give pause to advocates of endless expansion. Not this author: "Synthetic biology and nanotechnology, alone, will offer humanity almost unlimited power to rebuild nature and the physical world. "

Almost unlimited power. Almost unlimited power. You cannot have almost unlimited power!!! (Think Jim Morrison in The Soft Parade. See it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNplOezgI9M)

What few economists or anyone else are willing to realize is that we have a worldwide infinite growth economic system operating on a finite planet. By its very nature this system must grow in order to survive. This characteristic is known as the growth imperative. Without a promise of increase in output, and thus profits and income, the economy dries up, and goes into decline.

All of world human history has been a growth trajectory, with various indigenous tribes being isolated exceptions. Once they are "integrated" into the mainstream culture, they join the grand trudge to infinite growth.

Or oblivion. No amount of the king's economists, pundits, or other assorted know-it-alls is going to be able to put this Humpty Dumpty together again, I predict. We have to chage our way of being on this planet if we wish to survive as a species. This is a tall order, but the option - increasing everything - output, population, pollution, species extinction, global warming - is no option at all. That is, unless you pray at the church of materialism.

-- HappyJack [Read HappyJack's other letters]

My reply to Krugman's article didn't make it past the censors, but I can post it here:

Limits to growth and related stuff

This is a curious offering from Paul Krugman. A better title would be "Limits to thought." While Mr. Krugman offers great insight into the workings of our economic system, and the Bush criminal regime's destruction of it, it is all within the conventional wisdom of modern economic thought.

What virtually no (employed) Western economist is capable and/or willing to admit is that the body of thought has its own limits. The chief limit is in recognizing that we have an infinite growth system on a finite planet. Much as we try, the planet is not an infinite supply of resources. Neither can it have an infinite growth of human population. Or garbage. Or fumes. Or melting. In this sense, the belief in infinite growth is a religion. A religion of materialism. Like the biblical loaves and fishes myth, the myth of infinite growth is adhered to by fundamentalists of materialism, of which Paul Krugman is a high priest, maybe even a monsignor.

The prospect of a future without growth of output is not a particularly attractive one, but the longer we delay facing it, the harder it will be to create a viable alternative. So the real question for humanity, or at least one of the three or so top questions, is do we, as a species, have the capacity to even contemplate a future without infinite increases in output?

The legendary horn of plenty. Source: John HamiltonBased on all currently available evidence, the answer is no. It is too unthinkable. We will continue on, desperately grabbing at anything that promises a continued horn of plenty, a cornucopia of resources, products, markets, and wealth.

That is, until the ecosystem says otherwise, which could happen tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. Or...

Here's a song that can change minds.

Here's another.

Los Lobos, one of the great bands of all time.

A great song by the Waterboys. Feel free to ignore the video.

And, of course, Bob Dylan.

Neil Young.

Remember the Guess Who?

Talking Heads.


For this one I could only find words.

A bit of John Prine to soothe the soul.

Richie Havens.

And finally, the Beatles.


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