Balancing growth and decline

What does the economy look like if you start to unwind it bit by bit?

Take Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, for example. The schools stop buying frozen chicken nuggets and make their own food from fresh. So manufacturers of frozen chicken nuggets go out of business. The conventional economy is short-circuited – and industrial capital is replaced by cultural capital. Cultural capital? Knowing how to cook, enjoying cooking, the good feeling of serving the school kids well, and so forth.

Then we start buying organic food. The economy of making fertiliser and pesticides is short-circuited. Industrial capital withers and is replaced by natural capital (the soil is restored) and cultural capital (the skills of farmers are rebuilt).

We rebuild our homes to save energy. In the short-term that doesn’t really unwind the economy; energy companies weaken but insulation and glazing companies thrive. Then, after a while, the boom in home building will subside. Eventually industrial capital will decline. I don’t know if there is a corresponding increase in other forms of “capital” when we start to save energy. It just makes more sense to do it.

It seems that there are a bunch of aspects of society which would benefit significantly from selective economic decline. In fairness, there are areas of society where economic growth is good, and there are areas of society where economic decline is good. Clearly growth for the sake of growth is an idiotic thing and influential people should start being brave enough to say this.

This entry was posted in Environment, society, politics and economics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.