brni (brni) wrote,

the myth of eternal growth

The New York Times Magazine had a story about Ben Bernanke, current Chairman of the Federal Reserve. (if you need a password) It was brought to my attention by an LJ friend. There's certain fascinating tidbits in here, one of which I found necessary to comment on, and which I think I'll replicate here.

From the article: "His faith in modern forecasting models notwithstanding, he failed to foresee that the sudden rise in homeowner defaults, which triggered the crisis, would have such far-reaching effects."

Maybe the people who run things need to earn less so that they notice this sort of thing. I predicted this back in 2000, when I was shopping for my first house, and the bank pre-approved me for a mortgage that was well in excess of 50% of my gross income. And I said, "I'm not falling for that." But I knew that a lot of people would, and that when things collapsed, it would become a cascading failure. The only way that the current economic model is sustainable is through a spiral of eternal growth of the the rate of growth. As long as there's even one limiting variable in the equation (someday the oil will run out, someday the trees will run out, where are we gonna put all the trash?), you don't even have to be good at math to see where that leads.

I suspect that the (necessary) myth of eternal growth is what prevents people from seeing what might otherwise be obvious.
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