Blackspot

The Last Boom-Bust Cycle

Can our planet sustain an economic recovery?

All eyes are on the economy as startling statistics are released daily: the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 35% this year, jobless claims are at a 26 year high in the United States and over twenty-five banks failed in the US alone in 2008.

Given the constant litany of bad news, most people now understand that years of unsustainable growth based upon overzealous money lending and rampant financial speculation have pushed the world into a major economic depression. In other words, the capitalist roller coaster ride has reached the summit of a period of economic boom and we are now racing to the bottom of an economic bust.

Cries for help resound from all sides. But all these urgent calls seem to have one common assumption: that what we need is an economic recovery. Is this necessarily the case? I wonder whether an economic recovery is really in our collective best interest or whether it will simply mean the resumption of a period of unsustainable growth in anticipation of another (even worse) economic collapse.

And then there is the question of whether our weary, devastated planet can even sustain another period of economic growth.

Is it time we stopped calling for an an economic recovery and started demanding an economic rethinking?

Micah M. White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters Magazine and an independent activist. Micah is currently writing a book of philosophical meanderings into the future of activism. He lives in Binghamton, NY with his wife and two cats. www.micahmwhite.com

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30 comments on the article “The Last Boom-Bust Cycle”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 30

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An Earthling

Here is an alternative to monetary based economy. www.thezeitgeistmovement.com - a society without politicians/bankers/military. But how many years it will take us for the transition is dependant on you and me.

An Earthling

Here is an alternative to monetary based economy. www.thezeitgeistmovement.com - a society without politicians/bankers/military. But how many years it will take us for the transition is dependant on you and me.

mauricec

It's hard to say what the solution is, but the problem seems quite simple and fundamental actually. My experience is from a US perspective, but I think the situation is largely the same in any industrialized nation these days. Our world economies ground to halt because of a credit crunch, which hit us so hard because the global economy is driven now by the fundamental premise that everyone must buy more and more things they do not need and cannot afford. Absent credit, that relentless consumption dried up. I agree with the original premise that "economic recovery" simply initiates another cycle that takes the roller coast up the next hill higher than the last and the next trough lower than the last. I see two issues that make our current economic model unsustainable. 1) We long ago lost the notion of working for a living. Today, we work for wealth. We start businesses or careers with the goal to accumulate as much wealth as possible. Hence, businesses need Y2Y growth that is unsustainable. And, we've maxed out most of the industrialized nations. Even tapping into emerging markets is just one more trip up and over the roller coaster. 2) Further complicating matters is the fact we are all living longer. Which means we work like crazy to accumulate enough assets to retire and enjoy life. But, with life expectancies hitting 80 and beyond, that takes A LOT of assets. Which means we all try to accumulate a lot of wealth. Which takes us back to #1. Like I say, no easy answers. But, it gnaws at me that there is something fundamentally wrong here. And that some day, sooner or later, we'll hit the mat and not get back up.

mauricec

It's hard to say what the solution is, but the problem seems quite simple and fundamental actually. My experience is from a US perspective, but I think the situation is largely the same in any industrialized nation these days. Our world economies ground to halt because of a credit crunch, which hit us so hard because the global economy is driven now by the fundamental premise that everyone must buy more and more things they do not need and cannot afford. Absent credit, that relentless consumption dried up. I agree with the original premise that "economic recovery" simply initiates another cycle that takes the roller coast up the next hill higher than the last and the next trough lower than the last. I see two issues that make our current economic model unsustainable. 1) We long ago lost the notion of working for a living. Today, we work for wealth. We start businesses or careers with the goal to accumulate as much wealth as possible. Hence, businesses need Y2Y growth that is unsustainable. And, we've maxed out most of the industrialized nations. Even tapping into emerging markets is just one more trip up and over the roller coaster. 2) Further complicating matters is the fact we are all living longer. Which means we work like crazy to accumulate enough assets to retire and enjoy life. But, with life expectancies hitting 80 and beyond, that takes A LOT of assets. Which means we all try to accumulate a lot of wealth. Which takes us back to #1. Like I say, no easy answers. But, it gnaws at me that there is something fundamentally wrong here. And that some day, sooner or later, we'll hit the mat and not get back up.

Ali B

The solution is this: buy less, work less. Buy less because everything we buy uses resources and creates pollution to some degree or other. Work less because if we all buy less, there will be less work to go round, so we need to compensate by reducing our working hours. We won't need to work so long because we are buying less, so need less money. Our newly gained free time can be productively spent with friends, family and community, caring for children or elderly relatives, or on activities that make us happy such as art and sport. Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton (2003) outlines these ideas in more detail, as does the Work Less party (Conrad Schmidt).

Ali B

The solution is this: buy less, work less. Buy less because everything we buy uses resources and creates pollution to some degree or other. Work less because if we all buy less, there will be less work to go round, so we need to compensate by reducing our working hours. We won't need to work so long because we are buying less, so need less money. Our newly gained free time can be productively spent with friends, family and community, caring for children or elderly relatives, or on activities that make us happy such as art and sport. Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton (2003) outlines these ideas in more detail, as does the Work Less party (Conrad Schmidt).

Brian Whetten

This is a great thread. Thank you. "Every great strength comes with an equal challenge." The great strength of capitalism is its capacity for economic expansion. The great challenge of capitalism is its ADDICTION to economic expansion. For more on this, see: http://ecoaching.corecoaching.org/?p=48 and http://ecoaching.corecoaching.org/?p=53

Brian Whetten

This is a great thread. Thank you. "Every great strength comes with an equal challenge." The great strength of capitalism is its capacity for economic expansion. The great challenge of capitalism is its ADDICTION to economic expansion. For more on this, see: http://ecoaching.corecoaching.org/?p=48 and http://ecoaching.corecoaching.org/?p=53

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