No 2113 Posted by fw, December 4, 2017
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In this synopsis of Section 1, an Introduction to Chapter 9, “Towards a Post-Growth Macroeconomics”, author Tim Jackson appears to be heading back into some heavy duty, unfamiliar, economic territory. His goal in this chapter is to make the case that the four first principles outlined in Chapter 8 — Enterprise as service; Work as participation; Investment as commitment; and Money as a social good — “can be integrated into a coherent macroeconomic whole.”
Brace yourself for some heavy cognitive lifting.
Incidentally, as he does with all his chapters, Tim Jackson begins this one with this quote (1955) from British economist Joan Robinson:
“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”
So, is it any wonder that those of us who are not fluent in economics’ argot are so often being deceived?
(For my own purposes, I label this synopsis Section 1, and title it “Introduction”, neither of which is used by the author).
Jackson finds “something distinctly odd about our contemporary refusal to question economic growth,” pointing out that in 1848, John Stuart Mill saw the advantages of a “stationary state of population and capital” including development of “mental culture, moral and social progress.”
And in 1830, John Maynard Keynes, like Mills, wrote optimistically about a future where people would devote their time and energy to the pursuit of non-economic pleasures.
Few economists these days would dare think in terms of an economy without endless growth. An exception is former World Bank economist Herman Daly, advocate of the “steady state economy.” He defined “the ecological conditions for a steady state economy precisely”, declaring that economic activity must remain “within the regenerative capacities of earth’s ecosystems.”
Jackson credits Daly’s ecological conditions as the basis for the four first principles he outlined in chapter 8: Enterprise as service; Work as participation; Investment as commitment; and Money as a social good.
What’s needed now, says Jackson, is “a convincing macroeconomics for a ‘post-growth’ society,” the three defining features of which are:
1/ Neither economic stability nor decent employment rely inherently on relentless consumption growth;
2/ Economic activity remains within ecological scale; and
3/ Our ability to flourish within ecological limits serves as a guiding principle for design and a key criterion for success.
The goal of Chapter 9 , states Jackson, will be to make the case that the four first principles cited above “can be integrated into a coherent macroeconomic whole,” — that is, that the task is “definable, meaningful and achievable.”
In the next section of this chapter, Jackson will consider how Chapter 8’s “Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow” relates to Chapter 4’s “The Dilemma of Growth”.