Questions For Conventional Economists
Professors of economics around the world rarely consider the ecological consequences of the theories and policies they teach. Worse, many have been taught incorrect methods for evaluating the long-term financial consequences of those theories. The field of ecological economics, the study of an economy’s impact on the environments, is gaining a foothold in many universities around the world, but the outdated “bigger-is-better” economists still control the vast majority of classrooms. When you have the opportunity, we encourage you to ask these economists some tough questions.
The point of the following questions is to start discussions that will begin to shift the classroom tide from traditional, growth-based economics to one that centers on how negative environmental effects can lead to negative economic and financial effects.
- Conventional economic models rely on perennial growth. How can we continue to use these models when we recognize that we have a finite planet?
- When does the philosophy of limiting consumption in order to accommodate more people end, and how does it affect our quality of life?
- GDP, one of the most-used economic indicators is a measure of the total value or “gross” value of all goods and services produced in the country. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use a metric that also considers the cost of producing all goods and services, in order to determine the “net” value?
- Given that the size of our population and the size of our economy far exceed the levels recommended by the U.S. Government, why is it so widely accepted that an economy based on population growth is desirable?
- In economics, we are taught that financial validity is determined by subtracting costs from revenues to determine profit. Why do so many of the economic metrics used by conventional economists, such as GDP and housing starts, only look at the revenues and not costs?
- We are approaching the point where more energy is spent to obtain a barrel of oil than we get from the oil itself. Isn’t it possible that we have reached a point where the costs of maintaining our current economy are greater than the revenues our economy produces?
- Why is the Federal Reserve allowed to simply create money in order to increase the money supply, but not made to retire the government debt they purchase with that money?
The Better Not Bigger Alliance would like to thank the Center for the Advancement for a Steady State Economy for providing the framework for these questions. To learn more about CASSE, visit their website at www.steadystate.org