The End of the “Growth” Road, by Charles Hugh Smith

Economically, don’t count on the future being even remotely close to the recent past. Be prepared. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Everyone caught by surprise that the infinite road actually has an end will face a bewildering transition.

The End of the “Growth” Road is upon us, though the consensus continues to hold fast to the endearing fantasy of infinite expansion of consumption.

This fantasy has been supported for decades by the financial expansion of debt, which enabled more spending which pushed consumption, earnings, taxes, etc. higher.

All the financial games are fun but “growth” boils down to an expansion of material consumption: more copper mined and turned into wire which is turned into new wind turbines, housing, vehicles, appliances, etc.

There are three problems with the infinite expansion of consumption “growth” paradigm.

1. Everyone in developed economies already has everything. The “solution” is planned obsolescence and the obsessive worship of marketing, which seeks to manipulate “consumers” into buying stuff of marginal utility that they don’t actually need with credit. This is sold as “fashion.”

The reality is many consumer goods are of far lower quality than previous generations of products and services. Some of this can be attributed to lower quality control and the relentless pressure of globalization to lower costs, but it’s also a systemic expansion of planned obsolescence: product cycles, low-quality components, designs intended to be unrepairable, etc. have all been optimized for the LandFill Economy where products that once lasted for decades are now dumped in the landfill after a few years of service. (As for recycling all the broken stuff–that’s another endearing fantasy.)

Bright Panels, Dark Secrets: The Problem of Solar Waste: Generating photovoltaic electricity takes more than sweetness and sunshine.

The purchase of “fashionable” replacements and marketing gimmicks are the only real driver of “growth” in developed economies. Life is not being enhanced with better quality or utility; it’s supposedly being enhanced by “new” stuff, the only benefit of which is that’s it’s “new.” The claimed benefits are marginal.

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