Blog #1
The next logical and inevitable step – a steady-state economy

Written by
Lory Kaufman

Many believe it is impossible to drastically and fundamentally change our current economic system. If you are thinking this, you may be the kindred spirit to those who lived during a slave economy in medieval Europe around 1100 A.C.E. That’s when some argued that all people must be free and your counterpart argued, “Impossible. This is just the way the world is.”
Of course, when the change did come about, the powers of the time ended up manipulating society so nobles had fiefdoms and the majority of the population became serfs, a type of slave or indentured servant. In some ways these nobles had it easier than slave owners. Serfs were responsible for housing and feeding themselves on the noble’s land.

As time went on, there were those who then argued the feudal system could never change. But again, it did. And over the centuries since then, although nobles became bankers and enslaved people by giving us mortgages, we modern serfs still have more freedom of choice and upward mobility than before. Yes, there still is this struggle between those who want to maintain control and privilege, and the masses who want more freedom, autonomy and more equal share of society’s resources. In the big picture, there seems to be a pendulum which has gone back and forth, seemingly in the favor of one group over the others.   Perhaps right now it seems that the

pendulum is swinging back in favor of the super-wealthy minority, what the world is currently calling the ‘tenth of one percent.’ But the difference now is that we no longer have years and centuries of natural resources left to consume to and feed the current style of growth economics prevalent around the world. This short-coming works hand in hand with the other reality that human population is so large that it’s totally out of whack with the biosphere that is supplying both it and all the other lifeforms needed to balance the planet’s resources meant for all life to share.

Put in this light, changing from a growth economy to a steady-state economy could be                    

be seen as humans just taking another incremental, logical and necessary step toward building a sustainable and long-lived society. Perhaps in this vision the pendulum swings back and forth much less, if at all.

If you can acquire this open-minded conviction, hopefully you will then be able to walk through the world and understand how the ways things are done today aren’t carved in stone. They’ve been different before, rules are always changing, and with enough people believing we need to make changes to accomplish a long-lived society, it can happen.

But how to communicate ideas of such fundamental changes to a broad audience,
where most know little to nothing about the realities of money, finance, economics, environmentalism and population, let alone how they all interact and affect everyday life? As mentioned in the opening paper of this blog series, most people have been conditioned to subconsciously believe that the current economic system is good and that their only part in it is to earn money to survive and to continue consuming. The answer to counter this is the same as with in everything in life — education.

You must be the change you wish 
to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Gandhi
And as always, this is the most difficult thing to accomplish, given that the system is designed to keep people so busy that they have little time … outside of earning their daily bread and acquire the toys advertiing has conditioned them to believe they need. This then is the job of ecological economist and steady-state advocates, to promote and educate, and to start the movement of building a critical mass of the public to demand a change to a long-term economic system. And it’s the job of the reader to understand that they must become part of the change they want to see in the world for themselves and future generations. If a steady-state economy is the answer, then it’s simply the next logical step in the development of the human economy.
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