Are we so utterly misguided?


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Jason Ghionis, February 24, 2019. Original article published on Feb. 6 2019.

If someone were to announce that that which causes them ecstasy is to detonate nuclear bombs in densely populated cities, including our own, would we applaud them? Would we support them? Would we supply them with a nuclear arsenal and the corresponding fuse?

This scenario is hypothetical and exaggerated. In the economic domain however, we function precisely in this manner, as odd as this sounds. Some experience extreme ecstasy by watching an extra zero being added to their bank account and are willing to raze everything to the ground, in order to accomplish just that. And all of us in a peculiar way, participate in this game and reinforce it.

How can this be explained?

Everything has to do with the following: We accept the myth of economic growth as divine law. At the core of all of today's problems rests this blind, bordering on religious, dedication to this myth.

If we were to look for a common thread across the political spectrum, it is precisely this adherence to the dogma of economic growth. Across the democratic and non-democratic board. Throughout almost the entire course of Western History and not only, from Ancient Athens and Ancient Rome, to the period of colonialism, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, all the way to the post-modern (?) absurdity of the new millennium.

We have been and remain bound to a paranoiac, debt-based system, with the notion of interest at its core.

It is interest which creates this need for perpetual economic growth, or better, a growth imperative, because without such growth, how would all the interest created by previous debt be repaid? Interest upon interest accumulating over time, resulting in each and every one of us running around in circles, like demented neurotics, in our attempt to contribute to this “growth”. And when the numbers no longer add up, which they do not, rationally or mathematically, we end-up with phenomena such as:

1) More powerful nations trampling all over weaker nations, even though they are their allies and within the same economic zone, in order to prop-up their own finances.

2) Rapid amplification of social inequality.

3) Acceleration of environmental degradation because living in a healthy "home" is not a priority; that which is more important is that the growth equation is sustained, regardless of the consequences.

4) Increasing discontent progressively triggering more violent instincts and emotions.

5) People assigning blame for point 4) to austerity, while simultaneously endorsing the dogma of growth, which is responsible for the crisis leading to austerity in the first place.

Not to mention the supposed "green growth" fix, which is an oxymoron. It is the equivalent of saying that we will treat obesity with a daily menu of 10,000 calories, comprised of dietary food, however.

What is the prescribed antidote then, in the economic domain, to the pathogenesis this single-minded commitment to economic growth creates?

Reverse everything with one move.

Interest rates can become negative, -12% per annum for example, and additionally, be redistributed to the adult population as universal basic income. This may sound revolutionary. It is the only thing however, both from an economic and an environmental standpoint, which is prudent, for the following, among other reasons:

1. Growth-driven absurdity ceases ruling over us, freeing-up time for more essential and productive, in the broadest sense, things.

2. All economic models are reversed, making natural resource depletion and environmental degradation unprofitable. Instead, that which becomes “profitable” is environmental preservation (1).

3. Inequality is reduced.

4. A rapidly increasing percentage of the population will cease to struggle to just merely get by.

5. The problem of tax-avoidance, of multinationals in particular, is solved with one move.

There are many additional points I could enumerate, historical precedents with corresponding characteristics I could cite, technical details I could analyse in terms how this could be applied.

A short article however, is not the right place. That which is important to begin with, is the core idea and its intent.

What is our intention then? To become poor in every single regard and completely miserable, just to satisfy our addiction to “growth”? If the answer is yes, then, we are completely and utterly misguided.

(1) Over time, reference to what is and what is not "profitable" becomes irrelevant.