A consumer-based economy
Coupled very strongly with the idea that a growing economy is always a good thing is the idea that the growth should come from consumption. Consumers, buying stuff, create demand and then jobs. This morning Paul Krugman wrote a column in the New York Times, "When Consumers Capitulate", in which he, like all mainstream economists, believes a recession is always a bad thing and worries that the consumers are cutting back spending at just the wrong time — right when we are diving into a recession. He states:
"The point is that if consumers cut their spending, and nothing else takes the place of that spending, the economy will slide into a recession, reducing everyone’s income."Emphasis added.
In other words, Dr. Krugman buys the conventional wisdom from the closed-system model of economics. As I have pointed out, not every economist buys that per capita GDP represents or indicates income. Herman Daly, among others, points out the fallacies of using GDP for any meaningful measure of income. As long as values are denominated in dollars, no one can say what the status of income really is! As long as the dollar denominated GDP includes numbers that should be subtracted rather than added (e.g., defense spending) you will never have a clear understanding of what real income is.
Aside from the fact that growth is actually not a good thing — it is killing our world — the fact that it is the thing being touted as showing the health of the economy (and presumably the society) is perverse in the extreme. This is what scares me on this Halloween night! Why don't people examine their own assumptions? Why does everyone just accept something as being self-evident when it isn't evident at all?
In my prior blog I looked at the notion of what jobs really contribute to social good and which ones don't. By that criteria it should be obvious that consuming stuff just for the sake of creating jobs that do not contribute to social good should be seen as an evil not as a good. And, as I have indicated above, it is all predicated on a lie we continue to tell ourselves. GDP does not represent good. It is a phony number that politicians in power juggle around so that it sounds good. I'd sooner believe in ghosts and fairies than government numbers these days.
Personal and national thrift are the virtues (read Krugman's article) that we need to re-establish. Savings are required before you can either insure against future disasters or borrow a bit of for new ventures (honest capitalism). Our grandfathers understood this. How did we forget? Hmm. That is a good question!