Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good and bad growth

"Implied in what has just been said is a recognition of the dangers of 'growth' as an unexamined good. Growth out of poverty, growth towards a degree of intelligent control of one's circumstances, growth towards maturity of perception and sympathy – all these are manifestly good and ethically serious goals, and, as has already been suggested, there are ways of conducting our economic business that could honour and promote these. A goal of growth simply as an indefinite expansion of purchasing power is either vacuous or malign – malign to the extent that it inevitably implies the diminution of the capacity of others in a world of limited resource. Remember the significance of scarcity and vulnerability in shaping a sense of what ethical behaviour looks like."

- Rowan Williams, Ethics, Economics and Global Justice.

I offered some reflections of my own on the dangers of pointless growth back here. Not all economic growth is pointless. Stupid poverty remains stupid. But there is such a thing as stupid wealth, and that is a far more relevant issue for most of us.