Let’s Be Less Productive

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to degrowth.]

By Tim Jackson , New York Times, 26 May 2012

Productivity — the amount of output delivered per hour of work in the economy — is often viewed as the engine of progress in modern capitalist economies. Output is everything. Time is money. The quest for increased productivity occupies reams of academic literature and haunts the waking hours of C.E.O.’s and finance ministers. Perhaps forgivably so: our ability to generate more output with fewer people has lifted our lives out of drudgery and delivered us a cornucopia of material wealth.But the relentless drive for productivity may also have some natural limits.

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The Fable of Growth

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to degrowth.]

May 25, 2012, The Other News, Robert B. Reich

Imagine a country in which the very richest people get all the economic gains. They eventually accumulate so much of the nation’s total income and wealth that the middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going full speed. Most of the middle class’s wages keep falling and their major asset – their home – keeps shrinking in value. Imagine that the richest people in this country use some of their vast wealth to routinely bribe politicians…

Imagine there is a presidential election. One party, called the Republican Party, nominates as its candidate a private-equity manager who has raked in more than $20 million a year and paid only 13.9 percent in taxes – a lower tax rate than many in the middle class.

There are two endings to this fable. You have to decide which it’s to be.

There’s another ending. In this one, the candidacy of the private equity manager (and all the money he and his friends use to try to sell their lies) has the opposite effect. It awakens the citizens of the country to what is happening to their economy and their democracy. It ignites a movement among the citizens to take it all back.

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The 20 something’s frugality movement – financial tips for “degrowthers”!

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to degrowth.]

by Shelly White, Globe & Mail, 22 May 2012

By now we’ve all heard that being a twentysomething today is no financial picnic. Higher tuition costs (and higher debt loads), higher housing prices, and poorer job prospects – as Rob Carrick wrote recently, young people really do have it harder than he did…But lately I’ve been wondering if these difficult financial times might create some sort of “new frugality” movement within the younger generations.

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Media “balance” unbalances climate debate

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant
to degrowth.]

The corporate-funded propaganda campaign designed to hoodwink the public and prevent any concerted public action on climate change has been remarkably successful… An article by Naomi Oreskes in Science in 2005 studying global climate change articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 found 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global climate change, ALL of which pointed to human-caused climate change… Although attempts were made by climate deniers to criticize Oreskes’s findings, no one could locate a single peer-reviewed science article taking issue with the global scientific consensus on human-generated climate change in order to disprove her results, since such an article did not exist… Yet a 2004 study by the brothers Jules and Max Boykoff in the Global Environmental Change, entitled “Balance as Bias: Global Warming and the U.S. Prestige Press,” demonstrated that in the four leading newspapers studied (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times) a majority of the articles (53 percent) between 1988 and 2002 presented a scientist on one side, and a corporate-friendly spokesperson (usually not a scientist, and invariably someone removed from climate science research) on the other.

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Gazette: Montreal to host conference on reducing growth

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant
to degrowth.]

By Michelle Lalonde, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER May 10, 2012 5:02 PM

MONTREAL – Just as events are forcing Quebecers to debate some fundamental questions about our economy and our future, five Montreal universities happen to be hosting a weeklong conference on “degrowth” – a movement that questions whether economic growth should be our society’s primary goal.

The Occupy movement, the recent record-breaking Earth Day march in Montreal, concerns over the push to develop northern Quebec and the continuing student strikes are all signs that many Quebecers are questioning the “business-as-usual” approach to economic development.
Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier , Gazette file photo

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An Argentine/Latin American Perspective On Degrowth

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of  the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant
to degrowth.]

Tierramerica, May 10, 2012
By Marcela Valent

The controversial concept of degrowth receives little press coverage in a region like Latin America. But the idea of a way of life that is not aimed exclusively at GDP growth does have its proponents in Argentina… “Whether the discussion of degrowth will achieve a greater impact remains to be seen. There are groups pushing for a different kind of development, which challenge the prevailing model of production, but they don’t have a favorable cultural environment,” said Argentine social scientist Julio Gambina. The pursuit of growth persists as the consensus ideology in the region, which is why the degrowth debate has not gained widespread support, Gambina stressed. He believes the emphasis should not be on “degrowing” but rather on “growing in a different way.”… “GDP only counts what is created, and doesn’t subtract what is destroyed,” he explained. “Perhaps there are cases where GDP is lower, as in Cuba or Venezuela, but quality of life or the distribution of wealth improves. Social well-being is not necessarily tied to economic growth,” he said

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IPS: U.S. Lifestyle Is Not Up for Negotiation

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to degrowth.]

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, May 1, 2012 (IPS) – Just before the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, some of the industrial nations, and specifically the United States, were lambasted for their obscenely high consumption of the world’s finite resources, including food, water and energy… Then U.S. president George H.W. Bush famously declared: “The American way of life is not up for negotiations. Period.”… Now, 20 years later, the United Nations will once again focus on population, consumption and the environment at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20) in mid-June in Brazil… A new 134-page UK Royal Society study, released on the eve of the summit, and titled “People and the Planet”, highlights the rapid and widespread changes in the world’s population and the unprecedented levels of consumption that are threatening the well being of the planet.

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GDP growth is no measure of societal progress

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant
to degrowth.]

Nick Marks, Centre for Well Being, New Economics Foundation, 27 May 2011

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has become virtually every society’s default measure of progress, yet it is neither fit for this purpose nor was it ever designed to be – and it is now long overdue that we find a much better replacement… Indeed, Simon Kuznets, one of the principal architects of what became the standard way of creating national accounting systems, declared as long ago as 1933 that “the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of the national income”… So, if one of the creators of GDP never thought it was supposed to be a measure of welfare, how has it come to be used as precisely that? The answer is probably due to World War II.

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Questioning Growth Assumptions

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to degrowth.]

Posted on April 28, 2012
by Mary Logan

Understanding the nature of our energy basis is critical to understanding where we are headed as a civilization. Unless people have received unusual education to break their conditioning to expect and desire growth, most people are so schooled and immersed in the growth story that they do not realize that there may be other possible futures, especially in the US where growth has been so consistent and rapid.

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A Prosperous Way Down: Our civilization can thrive in a future where we live with less

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At the U.N. Happiness Summit, A Coal Pile in the Ballroom

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to degrowth.]

by Charles Eistenstein on 27th April 2012

I spent Monday April 23rd at the United Nations by invitation of the Bhutanese government (along with about 600 other guests). The event was called “High Level Meeting on Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.”

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