Economic Growth is the
central Paradigm of our times. We are lead to believe that only
growth in our monetary GDP is the path to salvation. Growth is
ONLY GOOD! What if we told you this was a lie? What if you knew
the evidence proves the opposite? Astonishing isn't it?
Research by the
likes of the New Economic Forum and Economist Richard Douthwaite
show that growth in our income increases happiness to a certain
point only. Beyond that only our income, relative to other
increases happiness. Since we can't all be richer than each,
other none of us are any happier.
It gets worse.... If
you factor in the negative effects of Economic Growth, such as
Global Warming, Resource Depletion, destruction of countryside,
traffic jams, terrorism, family breakup, pollution, crime, etc.,
then our standard of living has declined whilst the monetary
economy has grown. Indeed we spend money to protect ourselves
from pollution and crime just to prevent further unhappiness.
The money we spend on bad things is counted as GDP so it looks
like Economic Growth. If you blow something up or kill somebody
it all leads to economic growth based upon a purely monetary
measurement such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The New Economics
Foundation has worked on a "Happiness Index" to measure various
non-monetary indicators of our well-being. The results are
astounding. Modern industrialised countries are unhappy places
and we are getting unhappier by the minute. Where do you have to
live to be happy? Try Bhutan. In fact some of the smallest and
poorest countries on Earth all score higher happiness scores
than those of us in the UK or America.
The message is
simple. Economic Growth doesn't make you better-off no matter
how you measure it. We simply don't need any more money. Since
our relentless pursuit of money, to buy more stuff, just increases
our Carbon Footprint then it is time to rethink what we really
need in life.