[p2p-research] The end of growth?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sun Aug 9 17:54:56 CEST 2009

Michel Bauwens wrote:
> This is really a must-read essay!
> and how prescient they were ... it took us 40 years to recognize their
> truth, and climate change is the price we paid for not heeding the call of
> material limits ...
> But it is only a particular kind of growth that has become impossible, the
> kind that neoliberalism and friedmanism promoted that refused to take into
> account any externalities.
> A steady state economy, that recognizes that any input has to recycled back
> into the system to the degree that it depletes physically limited resources,
> has tremendous 'alternative growth' potential.
> This paragraph is key, it points out the the real cause was not the subprime
> trigger, but that the trigger itself was caused by the oil price crisis:
> "Until recently, the Peak Oil argument has been framed as a forecast: the
> inevitable decline in world petroleum production, whenever it occurs, will
> kill growth. But here is where forecast becomes diagnosis: during the period
> from 2005 to 2008, energy stopped growing and oil prices rose to record
> levels. By July of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil was nudging close to
> $150—half again higher than any previous petroleum price in
> inflation-adjusted terms—and the global economy was beginning to topple. The
> auto and airline industries shuddered; ordinary consumers had trouble for
> buying gasoline for their commute to work while still paying their
> mortgages. Consumer spending began to decline. By September the economic
> crisis was also a financial crisis, as banks trembled and imploded."
> Michel
> On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 12:16 AM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This is terribly reminiscent of similar themes in the 1970s.
>> http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5638
>> Ryan

Yawn. :-)

Solar power. Wind power. Geothermal. Biofuels from algae and seawater. 
Passive solar homes. Etc. These are all ways to have abundance on Earth for 
even billions of more people right here and right now (if we wanted to grow).

Self-replicating space habitats built from asteroidal ore and sunlight could 
support quadrillions of people around the Sun in space. How is that for 
growth potential for you? :-)

The issue is, how do we get there from here in part (or whole) by using peer 
communities and a free commons? Or other sorts of peer-compatible technologies?

And that stuff about banks and jobs, I don't think anyone can blame oil 
prices, sorry. Money as debt has serious boom-bust issues. Automation and 
better design destroys jobs if there is satiated demand. The USA has a 
history as an empire pushing a war racket for insiders, and that is all 
falling apart and suffering from blowback (it's a surprise it lasted this 
long). Market economies can not function once wealth is too concentrated (so 
small businesses can not form or function or hire). A fundamental weakness 
of the market is allowing systematic risk that privatizes gains and 
socializes costs (as Alan Greenspan recently acknowledge in front of 
Congress). Market also suffer from negative pollution externalities that are 
literally killing us with cancer, etc. etc.. The market also ignores 
encouraging positive externalities like community. Prussian-derived 
schooling is strangling creativity and initiative in the young. Accumulating 
general social stress levels from decades of neoliberalism have reached 
enormous proportions. Oil? What's oil? :-) We have hundreds of years of coal 
if we wanted to continue burning fossil fuels.

Peak Oil is a convenient way to shift the blame from Milton Friedman and 
friends and all these other issues, isn't it?

But with that said, Milton Friedman supported a "negative income tax" that 
is related to a "basic income", so he had some good ideas, too. :-)

--Paul Fernhout

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