Musings of An Old Man

by Brian K. Moore


Growth! Automatically considered good! Like Mom, Apple Pie, 4th of July, The Flag.

But growth isn’t just automatically good! Growth can be just what we need in some cases and a growing burden after we have had enough of it.

Early growth has benefits as in the case of the Colonial United States where most of the necessities of life had to come across the Atlantic Ocean in sailing ships, or in the case of early Victor Valley when almost every family had to send someone “down below” about once a week to get supplies that were not available here.

Growth enabled the early United States to become self sufficient by enabling it to produce most of what it needed and to produce exports to be traded for the things that were not produced in the U.S.

Having sufficient numbers of us made the building of transportation and communication systems, and other infrastructure viable and affordable.

It enabled us to build and maintain a necessary and sufficient military establishment.

Growth has made it so that Victor Valley residents can supply most of their needs locally without the trip “down below”.

But when growth has done all the above, it has done its job.

Although growth has been a major provider of employment locally and nationally, growth cannot continue in this role indefinitely.

An economy based on growth must continually expand, because as a growth based economy grows, ever increasing growth is required to sustain it.

A sustainable economy must be based on meeting the needs and wants of a stable population, rather than on ever increasing growth. Even the most avid advocate of growth will have to admit that growth cannot continue indefinitely. There simply isn’t the room or the resources for it.

This will be considered to be bad for business, but business is going to have to accept the role of supplying the needs and wants of a stable, sustainable population and economy, rather than depending on ever increasing growth. Once a community or a nation has reached the point where the needs and wants of the present residents have been met, this point in growth is the ideal state for the present residents of a community or of a nation. If growth continues beyond this point, its bad aspects: congestion, pollution, water and power shortages, overcrowded schools, reduced quality of life, increased gangs and crime and on and on, grow out of proportion to its benefits.

I emphasize “present residents” because the present residents of a community or a nation should understand and defend the situation that is best for their wellbeing, not for the wellbeing of future arrivals.

Growth also reduces each individuals “share” of the locality or nation. My “share” of the United States is now s about 1/300 millionth. When I was born, my “share” was about 1/100 millionth. My “share” has been reduced to 1/3 of what it was.

Throughout my life, I’ve had the “use” of a greater share of the assets of this country, the air, water, mountains, deserts, national parks, the value of my vote, etc, than I presently have, and my share and every one’s share is decreasing!

An unavoidable effect of, even moderate, growth is that it puts all of the Mom and Pop enterprises out of business. I recall Proux’s market, Doyles’s Market, Weldy’s Market, Arnold’s Men’s Store, Apple Valley Hardware, Apple Valley Lumber, Victorville Hardware, and Shaw’s Hardware. The Breeze Café, the Desert Grill Café, Carl’s Pharmacy, many of these businesses were put out of business by medium sized businesses, like Builder’s Emporium and H and E which in turn were put out of businesses by Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears, Longs, Wal-Mart and big malls and shopping centers.


A No-Growth, Steady-State Economy Must Be Our Goal
by Donald Mann, President NPG

1. Economic growth in a finite world, which is the only world we have, is not sustainable. Sustainable economic growth is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
2. In order to create a sustainable economy we must first discard the goal of macro economic growth and replace it with the goal of a no-growth, steady-state economy.
3. Even a steady-state economy, however, would need to be of a size relative to our ecosystem that would allow it to be in balance with our resources and environment, and thus be sustainable indefinitely.
4. Even if growth were halted now, the size of our present economy is too large to be sustainable. The scale of our economy needs first, therefore, to be reduced to a sustainable size and then maintained at that level.
5. The only way to reduce the size of our macro (aggregate, overall) economy while maintaining or even increasing per capita income is by a reduction in our numbers to an optimum, sustainable level. An optimum population size might be defined as that level which would permit the creation of a sustainable steady-state economy with an adequate standard of living for all.
6. Macro economic growth requires a growing labor force so that GNP can increase constantly. A growing labor force is only possible if population grows, and population growth in the U.S. depends largely on massive immigration. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that we will ever reduce immigration drastically (which we urgently need to do in order to achieve a smaller population) until we renounce the goal of economic growth and replace it with the goal of a steady-state economy.


So please try to understand that growth is not always good. Taken too far it can turn your town into a place where you don’t want to live.