The Congress and the Chicken Coop

black hole, sustainable growthOp-ed by Mark Kneubuhl –

(May 27, 2012)  In reference to the economy, the political use of the words, sustainable growth is starting to turn my stomach; having become a buzz-word that is used irresponsibly by politicians while force-feeding it down the throats of a skeptical electorate.

And although sustainable growth can be maintained in the short term, all economists and politicians know that living on a planet with finite resources, such growth cannot go on indefinitely.

Renowned economist Peter Bartelmus calls sustainable economics a “hazy and complex subject.”

More often he discusses “optimal growth theory” with a practical approach that doesn’t include the combined words, “sustainable economic growth.”  He defines the latter in operational terms as the upward trend in environmentally adjusted net domestic product.

Many politicians like to ignore the value of natural resources spent on a growing economy.  Slow to modernize old notions that food, water, crude oil, timber, metals, minerals and even air are infinitely abundant.

If one owns a chicken that lays one egg a day, and you eat that egg, some would consider that as sustainable without regard for feed or the depreciating value of the bird itself.

I don’t mean to insinuate that our leaders are shallow thinkers, but in their campaign to promote the popular notion of sustainable economic growth, an environmentally adjusted net domestic product simply muddies the water; while the livelihood and longevity of politicians depends on the dissemination of popular and clear ideas.

On the contrary, it seems that our political leaders, especially the congressional country club, believe that their constituents are shallow thinkers.  This is the only way I can explain away their proficiency at being totally incompetence.

Sustainable growth: I’ve called it an oxymoron before. Your favorite ice cream can be ‘sinfully good’ as a play on words to describe something…  uh, well…  is sinfully good!  But growth, by definition is something that increases in size or value. To sustain that growth indefinitely would mean that someday it would engulf and smother all of mankind.

Bacteria in a Petri dish grows in the same way until all the resources (agar) are spent and the bacteria finally die off in their own waste.

Most Americans fully understand that further sacrifice will be required to get our economy going strong once again.  Most Americans can also grasp the concept that economic growth requires resources and that these same natural resources are limited.

We all understand that if you don’t feed a chicken, it won’t lay any eggs.

Photo “Black Hole” by Scott Murphy. A black hole is the only thing in the known universe that can consume an infinite amount of matter.

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Posted by at May 27, 2012
Filed in category: Economy, Environment, Politics, Society, and tagged with: ,

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