Growth analogies (bigger is just bigger)
- If a redwood tree reaches a height of 400 feet after 1,000
years of growth, what purpose is served by further growth?
Why don't we see 1,000 foot tall trees? Because nature
has intrinsic limits. The taller a tree gets, the harder
it falls. The same goes for economies that operate beyond
the limits of carrying capacity.
- Crabgrass and kudzu are considered a nuisance because
they won't stop growing. Why do we consider that a
negative attribute in a plant and a positive attribute in
an economy? Both operate in finite realms.
- Why do people cut their hair before it gets too long? Why
do we mow our lawns? Are these "anti-progress"
policies? Of course not; they are practical decisions.
Why should the expansion of human numbers and GNP be any
- If large cars are more comfortable than small cars, why
not make luxury cars the size of semi-trucks? Isn't that
a logical extension of bigger equals better? The obvious
answer is that anything driven to excess becomes absurd.
- The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA is a famous
attraction because its owner never stopped adding rooms
until she died. There was no purpose to the construction
except that it could be done because she had the
money. Why was that considered odd behavior when our
economy lists housing-starts (perpetual construction) as
a measure of progress?
- If a weightlifter isn't satisfied with his stature, he'll
keep trying to gain mass, but at some point he must put
his energy into refinement instead of size. Our
growth-addicted economy is like Arnold Schwarzenegger
trying to reach an indefinitely high body-weight. We've already got "bulk," and additional growth is mainly a function of population size. What's the point of making the scale larger every year?
- In order to gain fame, several people haven't cut their fingernails for decades, allowing them to reach several feet in length. This creates extreme inconveniences in their lives, which they mindlessly accommodate for the sake of growth. Most reactions to these freakish displays of keratin are "why bother?" So, why is it deemed rational to accommodate more crowding, pollution and noise when birth control could keep our "fingernails" trimmed?
- Cancer is something that tries to grow forever in a
finite space. Men can live for years with prostate cancer
and feel discomfort only in the final stages. Likewise,
economies can grow for decades and appear to work OK
until limits are exceeded. Is the process leading
up to those limits any less dangerous?
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