The costs of growth

Meredith Williams writes: Re. “Economic growth shocker as GDP goes negative” (yesterday). So our economy has gone backwards for once. Thank goodness for that! Australia’s fourth negative quarter in the past 25 years is only bad news for those of us who worship the economy. For those who look to social cohesion and sustainable living on a planet with finite resources this is much to be desired.

Economic growth is a delusional distortion of reality: very advantageous for some of us, but for others an injustice by which they are systematically exploited and deprived, and the earth robbed and abused. We need to be emphatically berated and urgently reminded that ‘economics’ is at its root about management of the limited resources of the ‘household’ – for us, the planet on which we live, the environment that sustains us all. It’s time we abandoned the destructive economic model of perpetual growth and moved to one based on sustainable engagement and just distribution, before there is no ‘household’ left to manage.

On Frydenberg

Paul Hampton-Smith writes: Re. “Well, that didn’t take long: Frydenberg flips on climate review“. Tepid air escapes from our leaders’ lungs and drifts desultorily into some air conditioner duct, having vibrated their vocal cords in a politically, but not nationally, beneficial way in response to climate change. But take heart: a consumer-led revolution that I coin the ‘dolphin friendly tuna effect’ is gathering momentum.

To explain: a remarkable upheaval of the tuna fishing industry happened during the late 80’s, driven by people almost overnight switching tuna brands because they didn’t want to feel cruel for killing dolphins. Paraphrased, people can change their buying habits rapidly when a moral issue is at stake, even if the price is slightly higher, simply because it makes them feel better.

The dolphin friendly tuna effect is fast approaching for electricity generation, cars, storage batteries, hydrogen, whatever. Whenever one of them hits a comparable price zone and the consumer avalanche starts to occur, which in some cases will be only a couple of years away, we’ll want the government to stand aside from the change itself and have a plan for the social upheaval as jobs disappear and others are needed to take their place. That’s what we should hold them to account on now.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey