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Permanent growth is a flawed concept

The Global Financial System is predicated on the concept of permanent growth; a concept that appears to be in conflict with the laws of the Universe. Is the Global Financial System sustainable?

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    Jun 13 2013: Permanent growth is like cancer, it can grow until we can no longer survive it and then when it's too big it kills us.
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      Jun 13 2013: it is so good that you joined us, after carefully reading and understanding all the staggering ten posts in the conversation.
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        Jun 13 2013: I sense sarcasm.

        Did this insult you?

        I didn't know that it was required to read all previous posts to participate.

        You'll have to elaborate on this.
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    Jun 13 2013: I don't think so, but finding it hard to assemble it logically.

    Growth depends on more people being able to pay for more things continuously. The world population will stop growing I hope. that leaves same people being able to pay for more things.

    but if one has the wealth to pay for more, it came from another person who is now able to pay for less.

    This still doesn't come close. Help!
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      Jun 13 2013: " if one has the wealth to pay for more, it came from another person"

      why? suppose two guys come together to make something they couldn't alone. then they share the stuff they have created. who they are taking from? your statement would be true in a world with a fixed amount of stuff in it. but the very question is about growth. you have successfully showed that unlimited growth is not possible if there is no growth. not a very groundbreaking revelation.
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        Jun 13 2013: Sorry, I'm not well versed in economics. And even with the following explanation I could be way off. There is a thought in my head about this, but I haven't been able to distill it. I don't plan on making any revelations, Was just using this thread to explore, clarify the thought, learn.

        I had assumed you meant monetary wise. The more money there is out there, the less it is worth.
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          Jun 13 2013: many people make the mistake of measuring wealth in money, but forgetting about how the value of money changes in terms of products, for various reasons. but if the amount of money is constant, and the amount of stuff increases, the price of stuff will go down as a direct effect. we need to measure growth and wealth in real terms.

          i recommend to watch this talk, somewhat related:

          disclaimer: has nothing to do with sex
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        Jun 13 2013: Thanks for the link.

        Sounds to me like he's talking about progress. To continue innovation and better human lives. That kind of growth I can see progressing indefinitely. When we solve one problem, the next one comes up to fascinate and engage our minds. As long as we don't leave anybody behind and don't ruin our home world.

        But I keep reading words like economy, market, global financial system, throughout the thread which led me to believe we were talking about money.

        I'm quite happy to ditch the monetary system and not measure anything with money. I would choose unskilled man hours instead. How long does an unskilled laborer need to work to support himself. Start with that as a base then work upto how much a new product requires in terms of the training and skill it takes how many specialists to make the components, and the time and training it took the inventor to put it all together, the marketing team, the retailer, the practitioner (in case it's not a new thing but a service instead).

        Instead we could talk about value but that is too subjective I feel.
  • May 17 2013: I am happy to be wrong about the idea that permanent growth; or to use David Attenborough's term, infinite growth; is not possible. Whilst others say they are able to see permanent (infinite) growth 'easily', I remain unable to; and I wonder if this means I am blind in some way to a possibility that I don't like the sound of because it disagrees with me.

    It may; of course; be a simple matter of different perspectives.

    The point I was really trying to make in my original question was to challenge the foundations of the loosely connected system of 'free' markets that some economists have labelled the 'global financial system'. It looks to me like the 'market' is based on a requirement for growth. And I am unable to see how economic growth can be sustainable; especially if viewed from the perspective of the Earth's boundaries.
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    May 15 2013: How does permanent growth conflict with the laws of the universe?
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      May 15 2013: Great question Thaddea. I don't know about the laws of the universe but about human development, personal growth needs time. The problem is that media, gurus and very impatient people are always ready to sell to anyone that 'we can grow and have whatever we want in a heartbeat'. As a coach, I'm always cautious about that so not to be part of this problem. People grow if they can and when they can. We must respect each individual's pace. I don't think permanent growth is possible or needed. Decades ago people had time to deal with their emotions on the long term. They had the time to faces issues and learn from their mistakes. That was called maturity. Nowadays it seems like we are urged to get to self-actualization immediately, which is not possible or healthy I guess. that can get people to new levels of frustration and gulit, which could be summarized by : 'I feel guilty and frustrated because I can't deal with my frustration and my guilt' ...
  • May 14 2013: David Attenbourough probably has had thermodynamics. The classical economists influenced biology. What went wrong? Biology and physics are sciences. These new guys have lost it. Marxism created a lot of problems. Hypothetically - Do the rest of you really want to buy a chain letter?
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    May 13 2013: here are my problems.

    1. i don't know what the "global financial system" is, honestly. however, it does not seem to matter much, because there is no such organization in charge of growth or the global economy.

    2. growth can be permanent, and it is easy to see. i believe this conversation is supposed to be about permanent exponential growth, and its impossibility, which is a little more of an issue.

    3. but there are no laws in the universe that would disallow eternal exponential growth. laws just say that such a growth reaches and exceeds any limit in a finite amount of time. as a result, if we have a hard external limit, growth can continue only up to that limit, which is only a matter of time.

    4. it does not seem to have any direct general relevance. there can be unlimited measures of the economy, like satisfaction, psychic value, knowledge, etc, that are not known to be limited to material things, or at least not in a straightforward way. and even the things that are material in nature, can reach their limits far far in the future, which does not have to concern us. why would i care for example if we run out of thorium in 1000 years? hydrogen in a million years? living space in hundreds of years? it is simply should not be a problem today. we will be in much better position to deal with these problems when they are due.

    in short, i don't think that this statement is any more than a "deepity"
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    May 13 2013: The impossible Hamster (and economic growth)
    Link :
    "Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad - or an economist." - David Attenborough.
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      May 13 2013: David Attenborough was not an economist...
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        May 13 2013: I know! :-)
        Yet he still said it.
        • May 13 2013: He's not mad either as he clearly doesn't believe in infinite growth.
          And whilst it seems obvious that others are able to see permanent growth 'easily', I remain unable to; and I wonder if this means I am blind in some way to a possibility that I don't like the sound of because it disagrees with me.
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    May 13 2013: Yes