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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Limits to Growth

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a scary book; not because of its predictions but because of its recommendations. Seriously, a global environmental collapse does not sound all that bad if the alternative is some communist dictatorship led by the kind of people (victims of the Fatal Conceit as Friedrich von Hayek would say) who wrote this book.

All the arguments in the book are based on a computer model. (This is the fatal conceit: that these Ph.Ds think they can first model and then guide the world with their expertise.) The first 200 pages are pretty tedious, going through various scenarios with a bit different variables and values each time. After this the book gets scary. The real agenda is revealed to be nothing but an attempt to control the world by controlling consumers via central planning. They never of course say it out loud but what else could they mean?

From page 240:

But what if the world's people decide to moderate not only their demand for children, but also their material lifestyles? What if they set tehmselves a goal of an adequate but not excessive standard of living? ... To achieve this change would mean that the globe's people establish their status, derive satisfaction, and challenge themselves with goals other than ever-increasing production and ever-accumulating material wealth.

Okay, it is very hard for me to believe that the authors believe even for a second that individuals around the world would somehow just choose to "moderate" their material lifestyles. Accumulating stuff may very well be a part of our biological makeup. This may be because, at least to any single individual, more is better since those with more are better positioned than those with less. This is hardly news to anyone. In this respect greed is an emotion that serves a biological purpose just like love, hate or some other emotion. Only a totalitarian dictatorship can "remove" this desire and it can do that by making it impossible to accumulate stuff. Remove restrictions and the people will tell you to go fuck that Little Red Book of yours.

... figure 7-2, shows a simulated world again with a desired family size of two and perfect birth control, and now also with a definition of enough. This world has decided to aim for an industrial output per capita level for everyone that is about 10 percent higher than the world average in the year 2000. [Boldface mine.]

This is their definition of an adequate but not excessive standard of living. Once again we're given a taste of the left's tendency to define what people really need. Shortly after this the authors try to convince the reader that "It does not necessarily mean that the population and economy are static or stagnant. They stay roughly constant in total size, the way a river stays roughly constant in volume, even though water is always running through it." Seriously, how are you planning on maintaining a certain level of income without extremely coercive measures? The authors would destroy the very mechanisms that could save us from environmental problems. Since the market economy would be the first to go in their new world order, market dynamism would no longer be the primary source of technological innovation.

In the authors' utopia the only place for innovation would be the government:

A sustainable society would be interested in qualitative development, not physical expansion. It would use material growth as a considered tool, not a perpetual mandate. Neither for nor against growth, it would begin to discriminate among kinds of growth and puposes for growth ... Before a sustainable society would decide on any specific growth proposal, it would ask what the growth is for, and who would benefit, and what it would cost, and how long it woud last, and whether the growth could be accomodated by the sources and sinks of the earth. Such a society would apply its values and its best knowledge of the earth's limits to choose only those kinds of growth that would serve important social goals while enhancing sustainability. Once any physical growth had accomplished its purposes, society would stop its pursuit.

By now you should get the idea. No doubt the authors would be among those making the decisions, consulting their computer models and "experts". Free market capitalism would cease to exist since growth is an automatic result of competition. To end competition, you must first end consumer choice since whenever a consumer makes a choice between two similar products, he encourages competition. What the authors seem to want is some kind of a huge gosplan responsible for resource allocation.

Here is some other creepy stuff from page 261:

Creativity is needed here to get beyond the narrow idea that some peple "create" jobs for others, and the even narrower idea that workers are simply costs to be cut. What is needed is an economic system that uses and supports the contributions all people are able to make, that shares work, leisure, and economic outputs equitably, and that does not abandon people who for reasons temporary or permanent cannot work ... People don't need enormous cars; they need admiration and respect ... Trying to fill real but nonmaterial needs - for indendity, community, self-esteem, challenge, love, joy - with material things is to set up and unquenchable appetite for false solutions to never-satisfied longings.

Once again you can see how the left (this includes the green/eco movement) always knows what we really need. (An enormous car can, by the way, give you plenty of admiration and respect. Not that I'd know.)

The people who wrote this book are dangerous. The green movement is filled with people who believe that drastic measures must be taken to save the earth from man even if that means sacrificing individual liberty. Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update is nothing but a gigantic call for central planning and collectivism. The book is a bible for the eco movement just as Mein Kampf was/is to nazism.

But here's some funny-not-in-a-scary-way stuff from the book:

... Interior Secretary Donald Hodel [of the Reagan Administration] said in public [in 1987] that the ozone layer would be no problem if people would just wear broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses when they went outside.

Or just put on some Sunblock 5000:


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