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And The Next Big Thing Is... Degrowth?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

This is not doom-and-gloom for society--it is only doom-and-gloom for the current unsustainable arrangement (Plan A).

The Grand Narrative of the past few centuries goes something like this: from religious authority to secular authority, from agriculture to industrial, from rural to urban, from local to global, from periphery to center, from decentralized to centralized, from low-density energy to high-density energy (from wood to coal to oil/natural gas), from industrial to communication technology, from gold to fiat currencies, from linear to non-linear (complex/fractal), from local scarcity and high cost to global abundance, from islands of prosperity to continents of prosperity, from cash to credit, from collateral to leverage,from productive to consumerist and from sustainable to unsustainable.

Many of these linear trends are running out of oxygen or reversing. Rigid hierarchies are being disrupted by self-organizing systems, centralization is being disrupted by decentralization, lower density alternative energy is distributed rather than concentrated, commodity costs are rising globally due to demand outstripping supply and leveraged credit is destabilizing financial systems across the globe.

In the past few decades, the growth narrative has depended on "the Next Big Thing" --the new disruptive technology that drives wealth and job creation.

In the early 20th century, the next big things were plentiful, and they clustered around transport and communication: autos, highways, aircraft, radio, telephony and most recently the Internet.

The progress of technologies tends to track an S-Curve, with a slow gestation (experimentation that drives rapid evolution of innovations), a period of widespread adoption and technological leaps, and then a maturation phase in which advancements are refinements rather than leaps.

Air travel is a good example: the leap from open-cockpit aircraft of the 1910s to the long-distance comfort of the DC-3 in the 1930s was enormous, as was the leap from the prop-driven DC-3 to the greater capacity and speed of the 707 jet airliner.

But since the advent of the Boeing 727 in 1964 and the jumbo-jet 747 in 1969, very little about the passenger experience of flight has changed (or has changed for the worse): the envelope of speed is little changed, and efficiency has improved, but these are mostly invisible to the passengers.

My 1977 Honda Accord was extremely safe, reliable, powerful, efficient, comfortable, etc. Improvements in the past 37 years since have been modest in these fundamental technologies. (I actually prefer the smaller, older, less luxurious Accords.)

Once computers reached the Mac OS X/Windows XP level, improvements have been of marginal utility. The lack of blockbuster medications--and the skepticism regarding the efficacy and cost of existing blockbuster meds--raise the same question: maybe the low-hanging fruit of present technologies have all been picked.

What Happens After the Low-Hanging Fruit Has Been Picked? (April 2, 2014)

No More Industrial Revolutions, No More Growth? (December 27, 2012)

The costs of our lifestyle continue to rise, due to financialization, cartel/fiefdom skimming, higher energy costs, bureaucratic bloat and related systemic causes. At the same time, more of our collective consumption is being funded with debt, which is another way of saying that present consumption is being paid for with future income.

For the past two centuries, each Next Big Thing magically created more wealth and more jobs. The progression has been straightforward: production moves to lower-labor cost areas or is automated/mechanized, and labor moves to providing higher-value services.

What if we've run out of Next Big Things that generate more jobs? What if the next big thing is Degrowth, i.e. consuming less and doing more with less? This is a problem, as the Status Quo has optimized only one pathway: higher consumption, costs and debt.Any reduction in any of these three collapses the system.

TEDx Tokyo: The "De" Generation (8 minutes) (de-ownership, de-materialism, de-corporatism)

Degrowth, Anti-Consumerism and Peak Consumption (May 9, 2013)

The American Model of "Growth": Overbuilding and Poaching November 19, 2013

When Conventional Success Is No Longer Possible, Degrowth and the Black Market Beckon(February 7, 2014)

Labor-saving software/communication technology has chewed through much of production and is now feeding ravenously on the service sector. As costs inexorably rise, enterprise has only one real way to reduce costs: reduce labor. As a result, the current Big Thing--the world-wide web--is the first technology that is not creating more jobs than it eliminates.

Many smart people retain the faith that technology always creates more jobs than it destroys, but if we look at our daily lives, I see little evidence to support this faith. Thanks to technology, sole proprietors in information/design businesses can create the same output that took multiple people just 20 years ago.

Russ in Redding: The Human Face of The End of Work (September 2, 2011)

America's Social Recession: Five Years and Counting (August 28, 2013)

The Ten Best Employers To Work For (Peak Employment) (March 28, 2013)

The Python That Ate Your Job (December 11, 2013)

In my view, the Status Quo has no Plan B, not just from habit and the desire of those in power to retain power; we collectively have a failure of imagination. We cannot imagine a world that consumes less, generates fewer conventional jobs and reduces debt rather than creates more debt. The only strategy left in a systemic failure of imagination is to do more of what has failed spectacularly.

Why the Status Quo Is Doomed (June 27, 2013)

A Degrowth economy is not only entirely feasible in my view, it is the only way forward. The low-hanging fruit of Next Big Things have been picked, and wearable computing (Google glasses, etc.) is simply not a global growth engine. Robotic vehicles will eradicate millions of jobs without creating any more jobs at all; manufacturing self-driving cars will add very little labor to the manufacturing process.

Wages are no longer an adequate means of distributing the surplus of an economy. But this is not doom-and-gloom for society--it is only doom-and-gloom for the current unsustainable arrangement (Plan A). Plan B is actually a better plan, though few are able to see that yet.


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Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:28 | 4631766 JJSF
Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:39 | 4631781 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



The bigger cycle...


From bondage to spiritual faith,
From spiritual faith to great courage,
From courage to liberty,
From liberty to abundance,
From abundance to selfishness,
From selfishness to complacency,
From complacency to apathy,
From apathy to dependency, <----YOU ARE HERE
From dependency back again to bondage."

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:43 | 4631785 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

This is the same thing guys like Kunstler have been saying for years.

And so we're going back to a "less is more" way of life and get out from under these feudal assholes ruining us!

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:50 | 4631791 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



The bad news is.....we are they.


A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loss of fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship.


Wonder what parts of Obamacare are going to changed by edict next week? Stay tuned and find out.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:08 | 4631849 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

what we need is a set of large-scale investment projects that can spur the economy

things like aerial delivery of goods, right to your door

things like fast, efficient public transportation between and within every city and town

things like fusion energy for all humankind

things like the end of poverty

things like autonomous police and military 'helpers'

things like genetic modification and engineering

together, we can move forward together.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:16 | 4631872 DaddyO
DaddyO's picture

Bravo, but please don't think this will be the next big thing.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:19 | 4631876 new game
new game's picture

GZG is firing on all cylinders today! good day to get some work done in the back 40!

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:36 | 4631909 toady
toady's picture

I.have all my sprouts in the windowsill and see the first ones are coming up. Lottsa work this winter/spring,  trying to clear another acre so we have 3 under cultivation. It keeps the teenagers busy.

The two memes for me are ssustainable v unsustainable & independence v dependent.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:39 | 4632150 jbvtme
jbvtme's picture

read an article about a "farmer" who fed 150 people on 1.5 acres?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:55 | 4632224 DaddyO
DaddyO's picture

Start here for the most comprehensive method of market gardening.

I have been using his methods for many years.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:16 | 4631874 cro_maat
cro_maat's picture

Thanks for starting my day with a smile. You forgot to add:

things like actual drone fired missiles controlled by teenagers' video games

things like transgender / transhuman erector kits for pre-teens

things like full body scanners for all public and private buildings in the USSA

things like disintegration ray weapons for all traffic officers (eliminating impound lots and motorists)

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:30 | 4632114 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture


also: why not put a man on the moon and bring him back safely and do it in this decade

also: eliminate terror

also: a college degree for every man, woman, and child

no cost is too great, no opportunity too small

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:39 | 4632149 foodstampbarry
foodstampbarry's picture

Take your 'forward' and shuv it up your ass.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:41 | 4632403 Emergency Ward
Emergency Ward's picture

Shit like a 200 foot windmill in everyone's backyard?  I'll take two ha ha ha.....  Robocops, NSA helpers? No shit!

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:55 | 4631815 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

We'll we're already in a "pay more get less" economy so we're half way there :)


and it's not "less is more".

It's: "Less is good for you"

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:11 | 4631854 new game
new game's picture

thanks nixon and policy from lbj for final leg to dictatorship, with a war or two mixed in as war allows for new power structure-well on our way...

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:13 | 4631864 headhunt
headhunt's picture

Less is good for us and more is good for them (elitist politico's)

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:19 | 4632329 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Carter was big fan of hairshirt reactions to challenges of scarcity and growth, and we're now under Carter 2.0 or is the second term of this malthusian, less-than-zero-sum asshole technically Carter 3.0?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:19 | 4632586 Emergency Ward
Emergency Ward's picture

Put your sweater on and freeze to death for the good of the nation.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:29 | 4632397 Totentänzerlied
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"And so we're going back to a "less is more" way of life and get out from under these feudal assholes ruining us!"

Second term does not follow from first term. 10,000 years of perfect historical correlation indicate otherwise. Good luck.

PS: Feudalism is a defined term and has never been applicable to the US in its entire history.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:47 | 4631794 wallstreetapost...
wallstreetaposteriori's picture

Is it really apathy or just sheer ignorance anymore... I really think people are living in the "bubble".

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:57 | 4631823 BandGap
BandGap's picture

It's behavioral modification. Having gone round and round the past five years it goes like this - 1. don't worry, be happy, 2. so what if the world is going to shit, what am I supposed to do about it? and 3. I'm doing well so all is well.

No one sees anything as being "bad", we have no moral baseline and people are just choosing to ignoire crap and take.

Has to end, don't know when.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:10 | 4631851 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

I've called it "la la land" mentality for decades and it's getting a lot worse from what I can see as denial has become rampant.

And that's why we elected such an ass clown liar for president.

It's going to change abruptly when people get sick of the bullshit and want to know the cold hard facts.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:16 | 4631870 new game
new game's picture

usually hunger sets in and the provider of the free meal goes bust.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:56 | 4631967 nickels
nickels's picture

We elected a liar because we were sick of the warmonger. You can have phony wars or phony economy. Your choice. Don't forget to vote.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:18 | 4632321 Emergency Ward
Emergency Ward's picture

Obama would call that a "false choice" because he brings you both....

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:26 | 4632605 TMLutas
TMLutas's picture

The next big thing is driving the cost of knowing the cold hard facts asymptotically towards zero. We are very far away from that today. In the USA, our federal system means that local governments can (and are) defined by both a federal and a state definition and the two definitions actually do not agree with each other. Nobody has a comprehensive list of what governments are out there. The vast majority don't even know what governments claim jurisdiction over where they personally live, work, and regularly travel. There is no easy way to assemble what this unknown collections of governments that claim to rule you actually do. There is no oversight possible without these two things which means about 40% of the US economy (the government sector) is low hanging fruit.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:03 | 4632953 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Yes, but in the natural progression of things, what comes after denial is anger. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:58 | 4631825 caShOnlY
caShOnlY's picture

 I really think people are living in the "bubble"

It is an education bubble whereby academics are "dumbed down" to allow all to apply for loans and receive a "I'm smart" certificate at the end of 4 years. 

Education is one of our new TOP industries in America. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:07 | 4631845 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Education /= Training /= Certification

Certification is one of our (only relatively) new TOP industries in America.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:58 | 4631827 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

it's "don't be so gloomy! be happy! all will be fine! the good guys always win and we must be the good guys!"

Disney said so....

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:54 | 4631816 Gaurden
Gaurden's picture

yep. Although i dont think ill be making it to the next step personally. Im sure many will though.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:00 | 4631828 BandGap
BandGap's picture

Will repost this elsewhere, thanks. I have sent out at least three copies of The Fourth Turning in the past two years, this boils it down nicely.

I just wish there was a way to accelerate the process.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:11 | 4632018 Boxed Merlot
Boxed Merlot's picture

wish there was a way to accelerate the process...



What's old is new again.  Consider:


This is the foundation on which our last great awakening was based.  All change begins with the individual.  That’s the design.  We become apathetic, (and / or belligerent depending on our station in life), when we believe it’s everybody else’s responsibility to change but we exempt ourselves from this plain law of nature.



Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:18 | 4633002 OldBoy
OldBoy's picture

BM have you heard of this guy. His books speak to a present day awakening. Your post reminds me of his work.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:50 | 4631798 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

The Hubbert curve strongly resembles  a pulse rather than a cyclic curve.

If you want a cycle, look to an agrarian society based on the sun rising and sun setting every day in cycles, and derive your society accordingly.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:49 | 4631799 booboo
booboo's picture

The gravitational pull of reality coupled with re-entry without heat!!!

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:55 | 4631963 prains
prains's picture

here's a documentary on DE-growth out of Canada


it's only an idea still and has many warts to it that needs to be worked out by trial and error BUT it is the ONLY way forward.......there's is no more Rah Rah we're number 1


it's over

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:32 | 4631771 blabam
blabam's picture

"Many smart people retain the faith that technology always creates more jobs than it destroys, but if we look at our daily lives, I see little evidence to support this faith."


Maybe because the current economy is not allowed to restructure?... basic Ausrian stuff really.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:04 | 4631839 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

the cotton gin unemployed millions. are we the worse for it?

we sure produced a lot more...and a lot better cotton.

the one constant is more debt, and more debt, and more debt, and more debt, and more debt, and more debt, and more debt.

and everyone agrees this is an "unreserved good" need only look at interest rates and the fact that they have plunged to at or near zero and are to remain there "forever" to know this to be true.

Everything else is just background noise.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:35 | 4631772 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Give the status quo pleasure circuitry implants so they stop being so greedy. The rest of us can go to college and imagine a better reality. But I think you will still have to lock up people like Cheney and Rumsfeld because they will activate the pleasure circuitry as they kill people.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:36 | 4631774 Smegley Wanxalot
Smegley Wanxalot's picture

You don't need groath when yaz gotz da EBT, bayyybeeee!

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:37 | 4631776 eddiebe
eddiebe's picture

Same old. Greed as always is the great destroyer. There is however a big difference this time around. After we've destroyed what we have in our myopic frenzy, we hit the wall of NO MOAR. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:51 | 4631779 stopthejunk1
stopthejunk1's picture

The relationship between labor and wages has been weakening for some time, and eventually will be broken altogether.  Society can and must find another way to distribute rewards.


Eventually, the machines will be doing nearly everything, and the nature of profit and risk and reward will have entirely changed.  This is not news to any fan of science fiction or any person who has observed technology trends and extrapolated beyond the near-term.  Heck, even Shulamith Firestone wrote about this in 1970, at the age of 25.  It is the natural progression of human culture.  The patterns are not even subtle, they are obvious, unless you take an extremely short-term view of things.


There will always be a Malthus among the commentators, but he will always turn out to be wrong, and it will always be due to his lack of imagination, which is not shared either by mankind or by nature.  Evolution will continue; it began with biology, continued with culture, and furthered with technology, which is the final stage and which allows progress and refinement without bound, changing both culture and biology along with it.


The ones that will profit the most with the coming changes are certainly NOT those that fail to imagine or understand them.  Those types will be the reactionaries, soon deafeated and forgotten, that accompany every period of great change.  (Remember the Luddites?)


The most important events of the next 100 years will be the arrival of Kurzweil's "singularity," which will see machines exceeding human beings in many avenues.  This will be even more disruptive than the Enlightment and the Industrial Revolution, will require just as many changes, and will take most people completely by surprise.   Many will gape at their new surroundings the way that the Native Americans gaped at the horses and "thundersticks" of the European settlers: complete incomprehension, fear, superstition, loathing, worship, and ultimately a collapse of their outmoded culture/beliefs/worldview/philosophy, to be replaced with an improved paradigm better suited to the times.  One of the pillars of the new paradigm will be the absence of any relationship between labor and wages, and the final failure of the Old Testament dictum that you must "work in order to eat."

When this happens, profit, AKA "growth," will not be important.  Fortunately, machines are not motivated by profit.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:51 | 4631804 Bearwagon
Bearwagon's picture

Great words - according to experience to be followed by small deeds.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:06 | 4632270 zuuma
zuuma's picture

Agreed that the labor/wage thing will somehow reset.

Trouble is, how do we (or even should we?) distribute goods & services to useless, worthless takers-up of space?

The illiterete, lazy anchors of the economy, who's skill set includes converting free food into shit , oxygen into CO2, mating, and crime -- not neccessarily in that order.

I see no vast ditch digging projects on the horizon.

Perhaps an undersea tunnel to China.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:47 | 4633077 Its_the_economy...
Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

too much utility in a tunnel (even if it is almost none). better to build giant pyramids (by hand, no mechanisation) in order to allow time for reflection on a worthless endeavors.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:17 | 4631863 DaddyO
DaddyO's picture

While your post has some nuggets to be pondered, your summation has some holes.

Namely, there is no such thing as a free lunch, someone, somewhere has to work in order to eat.

The idea that machines will pick up the slack is misguided. The notion that people will be able to eat with out some form of labor input is pure fantasy and does not reflect reality.

Whose going to till my ground?

Whose going to plant my crops.

Whose going to build my shovel, my hoe, my planter, etc.

The sheer lunacy that machines will accomplish all this without human labor input just does not wash.

Overall, pfffft!


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:03 | 4632526 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Whose = possessive form of interrogative pronoun "who"

Who's = contraction of interrogative pronoun "who" + "is"

I'm a pedant, downvote me to oblivion.

As for your counterargument, automated plows and tillers are trivial, automated seed sewing is not exactly hard - given currently feasible technology - and fabrication of hand tools is already almost fully mechanized and automated. Currently that technology is not affordable, but large-scale farming has not been affordable in a century. Difference now is that toward the end of a debt supercycle, unaffordable things become unavailable things for all the well known reasons (debt saturation, credit unworthiness, rising costs, shrinking margins, etc.). The largest farms (those with the best access to funding) win again. Incremental debt has always been required in order to accomplish large-scale economic transitions - progress has never been able to pay its own way. From this point, everything depends entirely on one's personal predictions; technocornucopians must assume there will be enough credit available to enough people to actually buy and use their savior technologies. To me, this is rather silly, in reality it just means slightly lower costs and slightly higher productivity for the small portion of companies who adopt early - in exchange for their frontloaded cost, nothing more is properly entailed. Extrapolating utopian ideas from a marginally lower cost-structured future is precisely the kind of non-thought that gets us into predicaments like the current one, where everyone was wantonly promised free shit galore, but the fundamentals needed to actually permit the possibility of delivery on those promises never materialized (and never would have, as should have been obvious).

What is going to happen to these surplus jobless of menially employed humans? Minimum income guarantees (to replace the welfare system)? I'd like to see one country that could afford such a thing even in the rosiest of remotely realistic predictions. The notion that structurally lower labor demands will free up people to do other things presumes that either everyone will be magically nigga-rich and have no need of income (in the contemporary sense), or that "other things" will somehow pay as well as or better than the jobs that were mechanized/automated/computerized/obsolesced. Briefly, how many underwater basket-weaving communications major can a labor market actually support?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:35 | 4632631 TMLutas
TMLutas's picture

One of the jobs of the future will be calculating and checking the promises of "free shit galore" so that when they exceed capabilities we nip that nonsense in the bud and don't let the politicians rob the future or shift money around so that maintenance and infrastructure replacement gets shorted again. This is a durable job and will absorb a lot of people's time and effort. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:24 | 4633019 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Remember poor old George Jetson, bitterly complaining about commuting to work at Spacely Sprokets to push a button? Most of the jobs of the past 30-40 years have involved mere paper pushing, Most of those were and are entirely unnecessary. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:23 | 4631886 Notsobadwlad
Notsobadwlad's picture

A population grows to the limit of its food supply.

Maybe that can be said for machine as well as biological entities.

I do not know.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:45 | 4632174 tahoe1780
tahoe1780's picture

"X" grows to the limit of its energy supply, be that food, fossil fuels, etc.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:52 | 4631950 gcjohns1971
gcjohns1971's picture

So long as living people decide to act on their needs, ambitions, and desires the machines will  not be 'doing everything'.

Machines are instruments of activity, not sources.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:02 | 4631982 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

"Evolution" and "progress" are not the same things.  Evolution is just incremental adaptation to change.  "Progress" is a mythical concept used to convince society at large that we're on some kind of upward trajectory.  It's a complete fiction.  

Instead of discounting Malthus by referance to science fiction, you might want to try talking to actual scientists.  Tainter and Bartlett might be proven correct long before Kurzweil.  

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:39 | 4631780 put_peter
put_peter's picture

Degrowth of debt?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:40 | 4631783 Kina
Kina's picture

the next big thing will be food and water.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:44 | 4631787 Bearwagon
Bearwagon's picture

Why not start a while back:
Exponential funxtion, and all that ...

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:45 | 4631789 Kina
Kina's picture

Coal will have to make a come is plentiful and cheap...if pretty dirty. And cheap base load energy trumps everything else.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:48 | 4631796 Bearwagon
Bearwagon's picture

Negative effects from rising pollution will trump all advantages of cheap base load energy eventually.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:52 | 4631809 Kina
Kina's picture

Negative effects from rising pollution will trump all advantages of cheap base load energy eventually.


It will, after it is too late. People will want their cheap energy and suffer debilating pollution...until they cant.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:54 | 4631814 Bearwagon
Bearwagon's picture

That's indeed very probable.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:53 | 4631811 BandGap
BandGap's picture

I'm no industry nut for coal, but coal can be made to use a lot cleaner. The technology isn't all that expensive, but retrofitting this into antiquated power plants is really what holds this up. And forget this in China as they literally choke people to death.

PS - remember "acid rain"? Not the end of the world anymore.

The market will dictate.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:24 | 4631887 Notsobadwlad
Notsobadwlad's picture

Or we can take energy from the torsion field ... or matter, for that matter.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:50 | 4631801 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

One thing this article omits is the massive growth in the wealth of the .01%, and the resultant mis-allocation of resources and investments.   Who knows what our society would look like without all of those gigantic leeches sucking the blood from the productive economy.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:46 | 4632182 SmallerGovNow2
SmallerGovNow2's picture

What about the massive growth in welfare programs of all kinds and the massive expansion of medicare and medicaide?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:44 | 4632447 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

That is just a symptom of the problems we face.  Our entire economy is a ponzi scheme.  Now that the ponzi has stopped growing, all of the wealth is whooshing to the top.  The next step is for the ponzi to collapse.  Or rather, you could consider the whooshing to be part of the collapse.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:50 | 4631802 Gaurden
Gaurden's picture

I dont think 99.8% of the worlds population is going to like "Plan B". People need to wake up the the fact that they are enslaved and the masters are psychotic megalomaniacs with an evil agenda.

Stop pretending that the world is run by good. It is not.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:17 | 4631836 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I like to think that the .01% won't like what the future holds for them as technology continues to disrupt their plans to centralize and control everything. Thirty years ago during the cold war 95% of the people in the U.S would have been waving flags and supporting .gov in their contrived actions against Russia. Thanks to the internet today is completely different. A large portion of the country knows what .gov has done and they are exposing them for the hypocrites that they are. I have far more conversations with people today asking the question ' what the hell are we doing over there? We helped stir the pot and now we are supporting an illegitimate government in the Ukraine" than I would have had this gone down during the cold war.

I can think of countless examples of time when TPTB couldn't get away with what they had hoped, whether it be the false flags of Sandy Hook and the Boston bombers, or the contrived war in Syria. Thanks to the internet these  people are being exposed.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:45 | 4632177 SmallerGovNow2
SmallerGovNow2's picture

Doc, no disagreement.  But I also get the complete opposite response from folks who spout the lame stream media version "Russia invaded Ukraine".  Idiots.  I also wrote both of my senators asking if they didn't agree with people's rights to self determination and they both came back with lame responses that Russia violated international law.  Just goes to prove that R and D are the same and these guys are all working in concert to bring us to the brink of WW3...

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:53 | 4632215 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I agree with you there. They are going to fight this tooth and nail. But, I do believe, as we are seeing around the globe, that it's not going to be easy for them. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 08:53 | 4631810 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

I  believe they should cancel all mortgages. You keep the house you have now. Then low paying jobs and destruction of pensions will not be the death of middle class.  

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:13 | 4632301 Emergency Ward
Emergency Ward's picture

Just give me your house instead, I like it better than mine.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:00 | 4631829 dcj98gst
dcj98gst's picture

Jobs do not = prosperity.


Abundance of goods made efficiently with best allocated use of resources = prosperity.



Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:01 | 4631833 Rising Sun
Rising Sun's picture

Big fat fucking goobermint needs growth to hire useless people to do make-work jobs.


When deflation kicks into high gear, goobermint revenues are going to tank.


Big fat fucking goobermint, already with maxed out credit cards, will have no choice but cut - they will try to expand, further driving down their own revenues.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:53 | 4633095 Its_the_economy...
Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

there will be no cut, only take. you get ready to cut, not government.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:02 | 4631835 caShOnlY
caShOnlY's picture

MOAR credit for growth!!  as long as the dollar is the reserve currency and the FED is at the helm you can rest assured that at least once a month a new credit card application will be in your mailbox!

(don't forget to visit your local GM dealer for some snazzy deals on $40,000 4x4 pickups!!! 8 year, 0 interest loans go by so fast, don't they!!)

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:08 | 4631848 Solarman
Solarman's picture

You already answered your own question.  That which cannot continue, will not. You are seeing the seeds of revolt.  Khan Academy in math, and we will see it in Healthcare.


These abuses require a break and public conscienceness to desire to act. Just like what we are now seeing in HFT, and with Snowden, and the Captain America movie.


I, actually am optimistic, we just need to pull the bandage off and get it going.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:10 | 4631852 AdvancingTime
AdvancingTime's picture

The crux of our economic woes lay in the fact that over the last several decades we have created entitlement societies on the back of the industrial revolution, technological advantages, capital accumulated from the colonial era, and the domination of global finances. Promises were made on the assumption that those advantages would continue.

In both Europe and US the plan was that ever greater prosperity and entitlements would be sustained through debt financed consumption growth. In that eerie fantasy world, debt fueled consumption was to be the catalyst to bring about ever more growth. Now reality has begun to come into focus and it is becoming apparent that this is unsustainable.  More on this subject in the article below.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:13 | 4631855 Notsobadwlad
Notsobadwlad's picture

Very good.

IMO, the way they screwed it up is that globalization and mass production should have allowed for lower cost, less debt (slavery) and more for everyone... including more free time for valuable pursuits.

Instead, in a environment of abundance, we got higher cost, more debt, more for some and free time being consumed by mind-numbing entertainment, advertising and propaganda.

Instead of being able to eliminate war through abundance, they created war as a means to provide false-purpose (I mean, like really, what is not false purpose in an environment where abundance is possible???).

The growth paradigm is only an artifact of a debt-based money system. It is not a core element of reality. The two main factors contributing are debt-based inflation masquerading as growth and the population's ability and willingness to consume... both through population growth and access to affordable goods.

IMO, the centralization phenomenon/drive is the most destabilizing current factor. Through centralization they will try to force the unwanted on the unwilling. And in an attempt to correct perceived past mistakes they will try to alter the nature of humanity to suit their desires.

Good luck with that. IMO, there are better ways... but maybe not for them.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:46 | 4631933 centerline
centerline's picture

The growth paradigm is what allowed debt-based systems to get as far as they did.  And when organic growth (re: population growth, globlization/industrialization fueled by cheap energy, etc.) rolled over (which is not in absolute terms, but in nominal terms relative to debt) synthetic growth was invented!  Leverage, bubblenomics, and so forth.  A debt cram down per se which really skews the wealth to the 0.01%.

Centralization is the expected outcome.  It is forced redistribution.  The final leg towards a Malthusian reality (yeah, Malthus missed the mark - but had the right idea in general).  The only way for the party to continue.  And, believe it or not, more people than not are for it!  lol.  A lethal combination of parasites on both sides of the income spectrum voting one way or another to have someone else pay.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:07 | 4631993 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Unforseen, high EROEI sources of energy have served to push Malthus' date for the implications of over-population back - but that's all.  

After oil, what's the next source?     

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:01 | 4632517 centerline
centerline's picture

Nothing really.

I have heard some here argue that we will "find" the next thing as soon as it become paramount we do so.

I agree in principle.  But the timing factor is where this argument gets ugly.  There is nothing we can do quick enough that solves the EROEI problem.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:11 | 4632765 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Yeah - my big problem with the "science will save us" crowd is that most of the folks singing this song are (1) Not scientists; and (2) Are engaging in an invalid argument that goes something like this:

a, Necessity is the mother of invention;

b. We are in great need of some serious inventing;

therefore c. We will soon by saved again.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:25 | 4631889 waterdude
waterdude's picture


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:37 | 4631914 kenezen
kenezen's picture

The first step to a surviving society is work that produces income necessary to survival for a vast majority.  America in 1860's became a net producer and exporter using industry as its engine. It was supported by a Constitution unique to the world and, back then unfettered by stupid readings that since changed much of it,  We prospered until the very early 1970's.  At that point Japan, taught by Deming learned capitalism they exploded and prospered outsourcing industrial labor and building subsidiary plants. (It was learned from us). S. Korea followed, then China under Deng Xiaoping. Our middle class now relying on "Services" jobs had their wages flattened to this day.

President Thomas Jefferson predicted this back in the late 1700's. he warned that if a Federal Government became too dominant over State Government there would be destruction of our Democracy. It took a while, but, here we are! Let's Revive power to the States and small down Federal Government rapidly and radically. We must now learn what we taught others. Become fiercely "Competitive Internationally" and take back our heavy Industry that left us. Recreate a Capitalistically sound and prosperous middle class. Notice please! I did not single out criticism for a party. That's close minded. There have been bad and good presidents on both sides. The goal of becoming once again an industrial exporter of manufactured goods in America is vital and our bloated and corrupt federal government for the last 50 years has been an impediment.      

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:13 | 4632773 bluskyes
bluskyes's picture

"Democracy" is the corporate media/state education system's bull-shit.

"Republic" is what's being destroyed.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:37 | 4631916 centerline
centerline's picture

+1 CHS.  If there is one single word that sums it all up, it would be "growth."  Everything else is a subset of this.  Same as saying "follow the money."

All just cycles though.  This one is the mother of all cycles.  For that reason, I believe it is entirely plausible to realize sudden and dramatic changes along our new trajectory.  Overshoot is a bitch.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:44 | 4631931 gcjohns1971
gcjohns1971's picture

"Many smart people retain the faith that technology always creates more jobs than it destroys"


Technology increases productivity.  Period.

Jobs are not "created".   Productive work is performed  and engaging in this is called "having a job".

There is an unlimited amount of productive work for people to do,  The extent to which people don't do many "jobs" is the extent to which the marginal cost of doing them has been artificially raised - i.e. by regulation and other arbitrary demands.


Additionally, the 'revolutionary' developments the author speaks of are not beneficial to the status quo, and therefore actively supressed by well-established organizations - usually by means of government. 


Traditionally, these 'revolutionary' technologies have come from individuals and small businesses for whom the risk-benefit calculation is favorable.  The problem is that cartelization and regulatory inertia to freeze the world in status quo largely suffocate the individuals and small businesses who could innovate  - or at least raise marginal costs to a degree that the risk-benefit calculation for innovation always (BY DESIGN!) raises small operator risks and reduces small  operator benefits such that innovation ceases to be economical.


You can have rapid leaps in productivity from technology or you can have cartels.  You can't have both.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 09:56 | 4631965 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

1977 Honda Accord safe?  A deathtrap is a better statement.  The early Hondas had a high power to weight ratio because they had the lightest possible frames. No passenger protection at all. The cars crushed flat in a roll-over, and split into two pieces when T-boned.  A new Honda would drive right through an old Honda.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:01 | 4631980 FreeNewEnergy
FreeNewEnergy's picture

Here are some ideas based upon accepting CHS's argument for paradigm shift:

Co-op or community gardens. No wages. You work, you eat. Period. No middlemen, no grocery stores, no taxman. Fucks the system up royally.

Appraisal services for lowering baseless assessments. Fair market value assessments, right. Here in NY state, especially, most residential properties are over-assessed by 20-30% or more. Appraiser comes in, does honest, fair market appraisal, submits to municipality, resulting in lower assessment, lower taxes. Homeowners are beneficiaries, appraisers make nice fees, taxing authorities will be pissed and try to change the game, though the public, now informed, will dump them.

Solar power, small hydro, wind, geothermal energy NOT connected to the grid, powering individual homes. The scam with connecting to the grid is the power companies pay SHIT for your energy, so, while seeing your meter run backwards is nice, just seeing lower utility costs overall - because you've rewired half or more of your domicile to you own power source(s) - is better. Think about it. If everybody was wiring into the grid and turning meters backwards, they'd eventually bankrupt the power giants and that's not a desired result. We want to big power companies as BACKUP. Reverse the equation.

Repurposing - tons and tons of scrap metal, wood, plastics are available virtually for free. Many imaginative people are turning pallets into raised beds, fences, furniture and more. I'm not a plastics or metallurgy expert, but I can imagine the same is being done in those fields.

Cable TV, phones? Downgrade that shit. Get a basic internet connection (hell, share it with your neighbors via wi-fi. Fuck 'em). Get netflix or whatever. Do we really need 500 channels of shit. Why did CBS give up the Final Four games to TBS? When over 1/2 of the country can't see those games, maybe they'll reconsider (assholes). Basic internet $14.95. Netflix $8.95. Done. Cell phone. Pay for use. Period. Fuck the plans, etc. $20-40 a month for plenty of use. Texting? Waste. Smart-phones. Candy for idiots.

The article is correct in pointing out the direction. Now, we need to develop actual plans to diminish the impact of banks, power companies, multi-nationals and government.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:25 | 4632084 Its_the_economy...
Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

FNE, I like your "snap".

I jumped from Verizon to Republic wireless.  WORKS LIKE A CHARM and I'm in the backwoods! CHEAP! NIce smartphone to boot. Payback in 6 months then $300/yr in my pocket...bitches.

Cable? Long since dropped that rock (15 yrs).

Next up, raised beds, barter for beef. One and DONE!

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:49 | 4632467 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

Solar, hydro, wind and geothermal are every bit as renewable as the equipment used to harvest them.  That is to say, not very without liquid fuels.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:03 | 4632527 centerline
centerline's picture

The tide will change soon enough.  Already in motion actually.  Just moves slower in the beginning than some of us prefer.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:10 | 4632012 Vin
Vin's picture

If most of the necessary production in the world will soon be done by machine and computer, what will the world's 7 billion people do to earn a living?  Does everyone need to begin growing their own food again?  How will the masses be productive?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:21 | 4632063 messymerry
messymerry's picture

Hey Vin, this is a good question.  I was just going to say, [OBTW, thank you oftwominds for an excellent article] that there is just one small problem with this model.  The up and downs, these cycles take the form of a "driven" oscillation, drive by the twin muntains of population and technology.  Placed together on a chart, these two effects show a distinct exponential growth.  For all intents and purposes, it looks exactly like an asymptote We are on the vertical part of the asymptote.  Whatever happens in the near future, will be much bigger and nastier than predicted.  Humanity is facing a collective catharsis.  Gird your loins kids, we're in for a bumpy ride...


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:43 | 4632167 pipes
pipes's picture

'Everyone' wouldn't need to grow their own food again...but a whole lot more growers locally are neccessary.


'Productive' is, as 'productive' does. 'Productive' to what end? is the question.


Globalism is dying a deserved death whether it knows it or not.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:51 | 4632473 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

We're just now starting to figure out what a bad idea globalism really is.  We're just waiting for the masses to figure it out.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:05 | 4632733 bluskyes
bluskyes's picture

How did those that lost their jobs to the mechanical cotton gin continue to survive? What about machinists to CNC machines? Box makers? Type setters? Type casters? Buggy makers? Threshers?

Every invention, and technological development frees up human resources, and capital that can be focused on creating even more wealth, and technological developments.

The real obstacle to wealth creation, and commerce at this point in history is trust. This is because too many people have sold their integrity for personal gain, and are leaching off of the system. It isn't until fire of public scrutiny is applied to the system, that gold really begins to shine.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:20 | 4632053 Its_the_economy...
Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

Local economies....bitches. soon to be followed by local rule.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:28 | 4632102 libertysghost
libertysghost's picture

While CHS leans macro...I would go more macro (long term historical trends).  You have to compare the Internet to the printing press IMO.  Industrialization arguably required centralization...or at least it appears to have worked out alright with it generally.  But as a system it has overstayed its usefulness.  Continuing the systems that surrounded industrialization that grew over the last two centuries reveals diminishing returns.  Power is being challenged even less by people than by the exponential developments in communication speed, connectivity (tying 'the planet' together with less gatekeeper roles), reduced costs, etc.  With regard to the same occurrence when the printing press was developed (16th c.), you saw complete transformations of political and religious power over the course of next couple centuries.  Markets decentralized rapidly and economic growth flourished in the west (especially) leading to a western colonial domination (forms varied of course).  The Enlightenment  Europe permanently settled the western hemisphere (when would that have happened if not for the refugees of the Reformation...who knows?).  

People who lived in the "Enlightenment" didn't really know they were living in it.  That's important to remember, along with the relative chaos such massive social, political, economic and religious changes bring.  

A "World Government" is not a done deal...and appears increasingly unlikely to me despite the interests of the status quo to promote one.  All the forces seem to be decentralizing everything else but somehow we are supposed to believe centralized global government will still emerge (and be of any real relevance)?   I don't think so.  We are living the emergence of a "global identity"...with all the forces of different size and forms competing to define what that identity will be.  That it is occurring isn't debatable...but liberty, IMO, is winning even if it is likely by default due to a level of technological advancement that is ushering in the decentralized era.  Some elements of "the status quo" (not as monolithic as it sounds) will adapt and survive in different forms...the rest will succumb to the outcome Darwin theorized.  What a fine time to be alive (again, IMO;-).  

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:04 | 4632256 Remington IV
Remington IV's picture


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:12 | 4632300 Ancestor
Ancestor's picture

Some really solid commenting on this post.

There is definitely a polarisation occuring, but despite being surrounded by many supposedly smart people (Oxford), the vast majority are still asleep. It is telling that 'world scale' problems are still discussed taking the growth paradigm as fixed and until the context changes, and people begin to understand that technology is like giving a dog a bit of extra leash (he eventually takes up the slack and strains again for more), we are still heading down the wrong path.

The de-growth paradigm recognises that the better idea is training the dog so it behaves itself - i.e. reigning in the voracious consumption that continually absorbs every advance of technology with the 'need' for more.

What will be most interesting to see is if and how the transition from dependency on credit creation occurs. I don't know much about economics but it seems ridiculous that we're stealing so much from the future to fund excess in the present. If policymakers keep going as they are, the sheer amount of malinvestment and distortion is going to create a world I wouldn't want my children to live in.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:35 | 4632409 libertysghost
libertysghost's picture

Last on.  And I think it speaks to why "policymakers" will fight "de-growth" to the bitter end.  There isn't much power or financial reward built in to the dying corporatist system to encourage sociopaths to embrace decentralization in the larger sense...and that system was built on a dependency matra as a result. 

An aside...I was visiting Oxford (well, the Cotswalds actually but went to Oxford for a couple days) for the city's 1000th anniversary in what, 06/07.  Pretty cool...the festivities were very Pagan which seemed both surprising and logical at the same time. ;-)  In my experience, the "supposedly" smart people hanging around research universities in the U.S. don't sound any more ineterested in understanding the changes occuring than those there...unfortunately.  To their own detriment I suppose...but it reflects that dependency mindset and the malinvestment of both human and financial capital that "modern higher education" as a corporatist system is suffering under as well. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:27 | 4632383 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Once again DEMOGRAPHICS aren't explicitly mentioned, whereas that is the beginning and end, cause and effect of "degrowth."   Depopulation brings weird challenges of the type seen in Detroit (wild animals, both domestic and not running rampant, abandoned structures and streets) or East Germany (they had to redo the sewers to adjust for the lower flow rate from reduced use) or Japan (cat petting cafes, man pillows, robot geriatric companions etc).   In psycho states like Iran and Russia and Egypt, whose demographics are of the terminal deathbed type, but where there is some kind of hubris at work(religious, ideological, nationalist, racial) together with the severe cognitive dissonnance of seeing it all imploding before their eyes, the reactions could be violent and willfully self destructive.    Iran wants nukes and sponsors terror organisations and psychostates openly and massively, as does Russia.    Live near a harbor or other container ship nuke target?    Might wanna rethink that.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:18 | 4632580 RMolineaux
RMolineaux's picture

This comment is uninformed, illogical and propagandistic.  How could anyong with his head on straight claim that Iran, Egypt and Russia share the same demographic problem?   This is a post by an ignorant person who is ready to believe any nonsense the government or main stream media are trying to propagate.   

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:33 | 4632413 Orwell was right
Orwell was right's picture

A well done article, that nails the root of the philosophical problem that plauges the US....specifically that "growth and more growth" is the only answer.    Mankind can NOT maintain the "growth" model as currently practiced....too many people, finite resources.    At some point we must move towards a "balanced" model.    As for Technology (capital "T") always almost always removes more jobs than it creates.   The nasty little secrect with technology job replacement, is that we've reached the point where fewer and fewer "white coated wizards" run technology and get paid handsomely, while everyone else suffers with slave-wages.    Unfortunately, any practical solution to this problem will immediately be labeled "socialist" or "communist" (even it if is not) if the solution dares to limit the extreme up-end money that only a few can reap.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:51 | 4632471 libertysghost
libertysghost's picture

I'm not much of a "peak" anything proponent...I think the examples of "peak" predictions being wrong far outweigh them being right.  But there is a point to what you say.  None of this is predetermined though...and that a system more closely resembling socialism or communism being are the only "practical" options seems a Great Leap to me (the dual meaning is intentional there:-).  A system resembling either of those would be to go backward rather than forward IMO...and quickly result in manifesting the worst that decentralization of everything else otherwise is offering humanity.  I don't see it happening not because people will ideologically reject it out of course but because in the end, the great majority is just interested in how they will have a roof over their head and food on the table...and redesigning one of these old forms of social, political, economic organization will quickly reveal that it won't provide either of those with security (not police...personal/family needs). 

Technology will continue to eliminate jobs...and that will increase exponentially (as it already has).  So what...really.  "To hell with the kind of work you have to do these days to make a living" (line from Slacker if anyone remembers).  Followed by "you are all products of your own death" (!!!!) ;-)  This was/is supposed to be the point of just doesn't jive with maintain a comfortable power structure for most of the power elite.  Or at least the lazy ones (most).  WE DON'T NEED A GRAND PLAN!  I argue that's where are creative minds are failing us...and it speaks to the mistrust many people have in people without power while they (at the same time) claim to want to help save them all during this time of change.  Sometimes the best thing to do is allow it to settle itself out...while limiting the damage worn out power will attempt as they try to convince people they are still needed (crisis/reaction/solution in the corporatist model).  It's decentralizing whether we want it to or adapt or know.  And what makes some grand centralized political organization the "practical" soluition amidst increasing decentralization of everything else?  I haven't heard a convincing argument for it yet.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:22 | 4632797 Clowns on Acid
Clowns on Acid's picture

It was a good article, but I don't think you really understood it. Negative real interest rates and now QE money priting by the immoral US Fed has produced "growth" in asset prices far exceeding that of "growth" in wages, creating a mountain of Gov't and private debt. Practical solutions that you do not specify could indeed be labelled socialist as they probably will be in order for the tribal 1% to mainatin their structural (banking) advantage over wage earners.

The solutio was there in 2007 / 08 for all to see, the TBTF banks and GS, MS, etc...had to go bankrupt. Exces in those companies would lose all their wealth as the equities for the banks and GS would go to 0, and the corp bonds getting a severe hair cut. The Fec wold / could have provided repo window liquidity. New mgmt would have taken over the banks and a new re-structured GS and MS would have been financed with private money. But of course the opposite happened.


Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:57 | 4632500 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

I would do more with less.  Change the rules so that I can.  No property tax.  No SWAT team coming to raid my place because I dared to sell some produce.  No crony capitalism where the big guys make rules squashing the smaller guys.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:05 | 4632539 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

"A Degrowth economy is not only entirely feasible in my view, it is the only way forward."

Then let's hear your plan, Charles.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:08 | 4632547 SmallerGovNow2
SmallerGovNow2's picture

Read one of his very many EXCELLENT books on the subject...

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:10 | 4632554 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

While I'm not Charles, the trend should be back towards the local production of basic necessities.  This means that the sheep will have to give up a lot of conveniences, such as McShitters.  Look up Joseph Tainter's work on complexity and complexity collapse. 

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:49 | 4632881 RMolineaux
RMolineaux's picture

I compliment Hugh-Smith on his very perceptive post.  He is right in saying that we suffer from a lack of imagination about other possible economic structures.  Whatever labels may be applied, it is certain that coming generations will be more decentralized and much lower consumers of energy and other resources.  They will have no choice.  Hopefully, future value systems will re-discover the affective, non-economic facets of the human psyche.  They should be characterized by greater family and community solidarity, affection and respect for all ages.  The heroes will be those who put their talent at the disposal of all members of the community - recognizing the fact that if they are granted talent through no merit of their own, they are therefore indebted to those less lucky.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 15:37 | 4633236 Creepy Lurker
Creepy Lurker's picture

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, eh comrade?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:57 | 4632932 Old Skeptic
Old Skeptic's picture
There is a lot more to this story line.  Over the past 250 years we have seen a move from a point in which 97% of ALL people were engaged in a desperate struggle to feed themself.  We were all agrarian.  Today in America we need less than 2% to raise all of our food and there is talk that American farmers can feed the whole world.   Technology is nice and very important ... but it of a nature altogether different from the everyday requirement to produce and distribute food.  Whether I have a horse or a Honda, or snail mail or email is of a nature “elective.”  There is no choice in the requirement to feed myself


As the blessings of technology move us farther and farther from the urgencies of being feed, clothed and warm, there arises a real possibility that the world simply does not need all of its population.  We are looking at a time when there will be no meaningful employment opportunity for vast numbers of people.  And in this unfolding world, talk of sharing the wealth and similar liberal gibberish will dominate affairs (especially political affairs).
Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:04 | 4632954 gcjohns1971
gcjohns1971's picture

"there arises a real possibility that the world simply does not need all of its population. "


When did the world need any population?  As an inanimate object who does not suffer mortality, how can it be said that the world 'needs' anything?

Physical needs are finite.

Wants are infinite.

Most of everyone's income, since the beginning of time, has been spent on the wants.  The closer you are to subsistence, the more the spending balance tilts towards paying for needs.

What of it?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 14:38 | 4633056 UrbanBard
UrbanBard's picture

There is "creative destruction" in marketplaces, if governments will allow it to happen.

When the government won't, they merely ensure that the destruction be more comprehensive later. Buggy whip manufacturers and government boondoggles such as Solyndra need to be cleared out of the market. We cannot know what SHOULD replace them, either. That depends on consumers being presented with alternatives. Everything the government does decreases competition.

What is happening now is that productivity is improving, without increasing jobs. Jobs require a capital investment and only a fool would invest in the current regulatory environment. How can you dare to hire someone unless you know that you can fire them later if things don't work out?

What if the regulators won't allow your new investment to succeed? Or they demand an extra investment to satisfy the  bureaucrat's political agenda? Six new Wal-mart's were prevented from being built in Washington D.C. because the bureaucrats demanded above market wage rates be paid to the new employees. This was while Wal-mart was besieged with offers for employment.

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 17:24 | 4633589 viator
viator's picture

Meanwhile, China is planning on building a high speed rail system from Peking to London, with stops, among other places, in Moscow and Berlin. There will be a southern leg that stops in Istanbul. They expect to be finished in ten years.  Do you think the world is going to buy this cultural Marxist bullshit? Don't bet on it.

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