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Following on from "In With The Young, Out With The Old", time to take on the 'degrowth' movement.

Degrowthers have decided that economic growth is somehow 'bad'. Therefore, they say, the only logical choice is to degrow ('shrink' couldn't get approval from marketing). It has become worryingly prevalent.

Now, there's obviously some merit to the idea that economic growth shouldn't be our only obsession. GDP is measured in different ways by different countries, and not all GDP growth is equal.

Somehow though, degrowth is promoted as a cure to all social ills. Except the unrealistic idea that everything should be equal for everyone, all of the time, which has somehow permeated modern society.

Degrowth is dystopian, but perhaps well-intentioned? 👇

Fifteen years ago, when I worked in the “social innovation” field, there was a world-view that was very popular among my colleagues about what was wrong with society and how to fix it.
The idea was that people and governments needed to stop seeing economic growth as a good thing, and that by doing so, we could build a world that paid more attention to important things like environmental sustainability and happiness.
The backbone of these groups is largely comfortably-off people who have no desperate need for economic growth, and who sincerely believe they are protecting nature and the environment.

Taken from this excellent, thought-provoking piece... 👇

Degrowth and the monkey’s paw
Notes on Progress are pieces that are a bit too short to run on Works in Progress. You can opt out of Notes here. Fifteen years ago, when I worked in the “social innovation” field, there was a world-view that was very popular among my colleagues about what was wrong with society and how to fix it.

Degrowth supporters (perhaps entirely innocently) are trying to pull the ladder up behind them, while simultaneously demanding more is spent on the things THEY think are important... such as raising the costs of housing (to others) via NIMBYism causing supply constraints...

It's an inconsistent idea... Where will future funding come from in a post-growth world?

Growing entitlements for the retired, all taken from an economy in degrowth?

Totally unrealistic. Without growth, it's just a war of wealth distribution.

If the economy doesn't rebalance itself, the next generation will vote in the politicians who promise to...

Speaking of unrealistic... this guy and his ilk are poster children of the degrowth era 👇

Highly 'educated', extremely confident, but very low on practical knowledge of how the world works...

Just Stop Capitalism

Perhaps not in the way he hoped, orange powder guy became a beacon. See, Edred Whittingham (esquire?) grew up in Cambridge, and you'll never guess what.

He studied politics, philosophy, and economics at university. Stereotypes are rarely more perfect.

His father is a Venture Capitalist, company director, & investment manager. His mother is a dentist

Here's Edred explaining his radicalisation to George Monbiot. He's just one obvious example. Degrowth is everywhere...

EU Commission President Von der Leyen & Vice President Sefcovic recently spoke at the Beyond Growth event. Topics included

  • Changing the goal: from GDP growth to social prosperity
  • Limits to Growth: where do we stand and where do we go from here?
  • Inequalities in a beyond growth perspective: taxation as an instrument of ecological and social justice
  • From the welfare state to the social-ecological state: how to organise and finance welfare without growth?

Strangely, they didn't discuss how to feed ourselves without food...

Two cows per field limit incenses Dutch farmers
Farmers in conflict with Mark Rutte, the country’s PM, over bid to restrict cattle to just a couple per football pitch-sized space
200,000 cows to be culled in order to meet climate targets | Newstalk
Internal documents reveal that a €200m budget is needed to cull 65,000 cows every year for three years to meet climate goals. Pat McCormack, President of t…

I'm sure they'll get to it. We can just eat all the plants right?

I have no idea how viable those plans are. That they're even being considered is scary enough.

To the point though... Since when was make life a bit more sh*t for everyone a viable political strategy?

That's the big problem with degrowth. It promises to make life worse, loosely based on some vague threat of future destruction and catastrophe.

The existential climate crisis rests on apocalyptic forecasts by the same breed of academics employed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

In January, the IMF saw the UK economy contracting by 0.6% in 2023
In April, the IMF saw the UK economy
contracting by 0.3% in 2023
In May, the IMF saw the UK economy
growing by 0.4% in 2023

Five months. Humanity hasn't even figured out how to accurately model the economy of a single country, but we're oh so confident about the global climate?

David sums it up perfectly here 👇

The silent majority is noticing this clusterfu**ery. Whatever your thoughts on Brexit, Trump, or the Culture Wars™... All are signs of disorder. A rejection of the status quo.

And the silent majority stays silent. Precisely because articulating these views in public is scary. Perhaps they simply don't have the confidence, the emotional control, the vocabulary, or they're just fearful of being vilified or cancelled.

Perhaps they're the kind of people more interested in being roughly right than precisely wrong.

But that doesn't change how they feel. And, if you speak to pretty much anyone, they feel there's plenty wrong. Then the political 'shock' occurs when their preferences are revealed at the ballot box...

Low interest rates are (still) to blame

When rates are zero or negative, there's no cost for bad ideas, terrible execution, lack of originality, failure. No price discovery. No immediate consequence. No need for lessons to be learned. Everything is tolerated, and has been. For a LONG time.
As with anything that persists, those effects compound. Eventually we get to a society that doesn't work well for anyone. Economics and society are, to my mind, one and the same.

Low interest rates allowed the degrowth rhetoric to really prevail. Why? Because there was less of a tangible cost to mediocrity. The kind that's allowed a bloated, political class of bureaucrats, NIMBY's, and generally 'in the way' people to flourish...

Even in 'Tory' Britain 👇

One thing I really want to point out is that this is nothing new. It's all been done before. Bizarre self-hatred and yearning for totalitarianism is nothing new.

Have a read of this snippet and see if it sounds familiar 👇

There's plenty more gold in there that applies today too. Highlights by Noah Smith from Orwell's Notes on Nationalism, written in 1945(!)

So, where are we heading? Have a read of this to see where the Overton Window now rests 👇‌

A New Foreign Policy | Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay
To beat China you must become like China

There's a lot going on (well worth reading the whole piece). Two paragraphs sum things up 👇

The report set out a shift away from laissez-faire trade, liberalization, and globalization, yet was at pains to insist it was not pursuing a Trump-style America First retreat.
Trade itself was not the problem, it argued, so much as the breakdown in the social contract between business, government, and labor to mitigate the effect of a world shaped by global corporations and labor-saving technology.

Granted, this is about US trade/foreign policy, but the breakdown in the social contract getting a mention here is... interesting?

Labour-saving technology is undoubtedly part of discussions (made all the more relevant with AI), but this has been a permanent feature of developing societies for centuries now. Agriculture is the most obvious example... 👇

Or this...

So which social contract are they talking about? 👇

Specifically, relative to older generations, the young haven’t shared in the immense prosperity the nation has registered over the past several decades. Yeah, their life is better in many ways, but when it’s much better for an older generation, who keep voting to give themselves more money… young adults get justifiably pissed off

Perhaps. See, the degrowth agenda rests on 'concerned' interests making it harder to get anything done.

Too many 'in the way' grasshoppers making demands, until the ants finally flip...

Which is why I asked last week if these are the seeds of a cultural revolution. I'm genuinely not sure if they're seeds or simply the fertile grounds, but change seems inevitable.

Maybe it starts again politically with Trump in 2024. Seems unthinkable, but the only guy ahead of him the polls is Biden, who's already 80 years old, and the odds of the US hitting recession before the next election are decent...

Maybe it starts elsewhere. But degrowth and/or austerity is sure to be rejected by the younger generations, exactly as 2050 net zero has been rejected by developing nations.

If the stability of ever-more globalisation does lead to a slightly higher rate of inflation becoming normal (either via deliberate policy or market economics), and the costs of degrowth (supply instability, inflation, social costs) become apparent...

Will economic growth become appreciated & 'great' again?