KEW Episode 39: The Growth Fallacy

With respect to economics, people often say that you have to grow to stay in business. I heard this a lot when I tried to run my business at a static level of production (i.e., no growth). I found that we actually HAD MORE MONEY left over when we controlled expenses and held production at the level of demand. I discovered that we spent so much money on growth that we were more profitable when we didn’t have those line items. Imagine that!

So it bugs me when people adhere to that mantra: Grow or Die! It not only doesn’t make sense, it can be detrimental.

Take human population size. The more people, the more resources are consumed, and the more damage is done to our home. Now, we could certainly do this differently, but there is a concept called Carrying Capacity that says any population in a given area can only be as large as the resources available to support it.

So growth can be bad.

Now, I’m only talking about growth that consumes resources here. Personal growth. Learning. Musical ability. There are many types of growth that are healthy and, I believe, essential to humanity. But when considering consumptive growth, we absolutely have to start accounting for true resource use – after all, accounting is a critical part of business, right? And I argue that we have done some pretty poor accounting when it comes to big business and the environment.

Podcast download: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/7398811-kew-episode-39-the-growth-fallacy.mp3?blob_id=32331385&download=true

Or, I’m on most of the podcast servers like Stitcher or Apple Podcasts.

YouTube video link: https://youtu.be/n2rGWiVQx3c

Preview KEW Episode 39: The Growth Fallacy

For whatever reason, it is popular to believe that growth is necessary for capitalistic businesses to succeed. I don’t know how pervasive this belief is, but I have heard it multiple times.

I’ve never understood this philosophy. As a business owner this drove me crazy because I observed, time and again, that the expenses associated with growth never realized a return. In other words, growth was not only unnecessary, it was detrimental!

In ecology there is a concept of carrying capacity, which states (briefly) that population size (the number of individuals of a given species living in an area) is limited by the availability of resources. This means population size will be constrained by local resource availability, and can only grow as big (numerous) as those resources allow.

Now, some growth is good; personal growth, musical ability, intellect, and other accumulations that don’t take up any space. Of course, money doesn’t take up space, but economic growth does have multiple other consumptive uses that drain resources.

In the end, I have seen little evidence that growth, especially in the economic sense, but also in the population size sense, is necessary for success. In fact, I see much evidence that it is harmful.

Preview video here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=771622536777502

Full Episode Friday!

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 17: S.U.C.K. in the U.S.A.

In this Episode I discussed what I think is ‘wrong’ with living in the US as of late 2020. This isn’t a rant against political parties or an attempt to argue for a particular political position. Rather, I question some of the basic beliefs we have about how our ‘system’ works. Why do we make the decisions we make? Why do we accept that ‘government is inefficient’ or that ‘capitalism is the best economic system’?

I guess I just tire of the ‘you can’t turn a battleship’ argument that says we can’t change anything because it’s ‘too hard’ or ‘unfair’ or that ‘if we switch from coal to solar all the miners will lose their jobs’. I’m tired of the cop outs and would much prefer pushing our collective comfort zones toward change rather than believing that the ‘same old, same old’ is going to produce different results.

Link to preview here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=718755388826234

(hopefully facebook won’t prevent me from posting this, given the title 🙂 )

Link to full Episode post here: https://chrisburcher.com/2020/08/14/kew-episode-17-s-u-c-k-in-the-u-s-a/

KEW Episode 38: Faith and Trust

Because I grew up without religion, I always thought faith was something you only had for religion things. Later I came to understand faith is something we have when we don’t have enough information. Or we don’t know the outcome, but we desire a certain outcome. Faith is believing.

When I was becoming a scientist, I realized that faith even had a place in that world. Because science rarely proves anything, the people must decide whether scientific evidence means anything or not. We have to believe the evidence. We have to have faith that the evidence means what we say it means. It’s a collective effort.

So I define faith as something individuals and groups have for things or ideas. That is, faith is the belief in things or ideas.

When I ran a small business I assumed every phone call or email was trying to get me to buy something. I didn’t trust people very well. I assumed they had hidden agendas disguised as a sales pitch. I lost trust and became very pessimistic with respect to human relationships. I began to think everyone had a hidden agenda and didn’t trust them.

I still struggle with trusting other people and wondering whether they have a hidden agenda (conscious or otherwise). But I have learned that trust is belief we have for individual people.

This week I try to pick these two words apart and see what comes up.

Podcast audio download: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/7289098-kew-episode-38-faith-and-trust.mp3?blob_id=31681690&download=true (or on any of your favorite podcast apps)

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/u9IGHaI1eHU

Preview KEW Episode 38: Faith and Trust

I have been wondering a lot lately about trust and faith. I realized years ago that faith played a much bigger role in science than my academic colleagues were willing to admit. And I also struggle a bit with ‘trust issues’, both with respect to people and businesses.

So, like most things that interest me I decided to podcast about these elements to better understand them.

I consider faith to be belief in things, or phenomena, and trust to be belief in people. We NEED to believe, so we need to trust and have faith. The more I think about them the more I realize humans need some sort of stability and/or mechanisms to reduce fear of the unknown – enter faith and trust.

Here’s a preview of this week’s episode: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=445014700023525

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 16: Who Tells your Story?

You may recognize this title form the hit musical Hamilton. I was inspired by this piece to think about what remains after we are gone. I think we remain in other people’s memories through time, the length and intensity of which is determined by the impact we made while we were alive.

In as much as our DNA has memory and facilitates a kind of immortality as we pass our genes into future generations, so do other people’s memories of who we were.

In our lives we owe it to our ancestors to remember them, and to build upon the gifts they leave us. And we also owe it to the future to remember our own stories.

Link to preview video here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=315855623091288

Full Episode link here: https://chrisburcher.com/2020/08/07/episode-16-who-tells-your-story/

KEW Episode 37: Currency of Life

One of the things I think about most often is how we have to have a job to earn money to buy the time we want to live our lives. It’s like the life we’re born with is secretly conditional upon participating in this loop.

I’m not angry about it anymore, but I used to be. This forced agreement seemed unfair. Not that I didn’t want to work, I just felt violated having my life be conditional upon participation in someone else’s system.

So after I calmed down, I started thinking about how we measure the value in our lives. Which led me to money. We see money as the ultimate indicator of all of the important things. Of all the THINGS in life that can make us happy, we see money as being the most important. But it isn’t just about money. In fact, I was using money to leverage the other things I wanted. Most notably, TIME.

To me, time *should* come before money. It’s part of the universe (or at least we think it is, as we understand what it is). It was here before us. It wasn’t invented by humans. Time asks nothing, is consistent, and fairly equally distributed among species. And when it isn’t equally distributed, awareness of time is enhanced instead of taken for granted. All I can really do with time is try and understand I only have so much of it. Which becomes painfully more and more obvious as I age. . . .

In addition to TIME, I also value LOVE in similar ways. As in, if I had all the time in the world, and no loved ones to share it with, time would have less value. So some measure of love in my life is also important. So it’s also critical to my happiness to have love in my life.

And, sadly, if I had to rank my understanding of, appreciation for, and effort spent in pursuit of, I would have ranked money much higher than time or love for most of my life. It’s only lately that I’ve realized I want to prioritize time and love over money. For the rest of my life (time).

Unfortunately, that deal we make at birth about money doesn’t just go away. We still need a certain amount of money (and therefore lose a certain amount of time) in order to meet our basic human needs. There is a reason we rank money more highly than other things and that’s because it is ESSENTIAL to meeting your basic human needs. There are fewer and fewer ways to meet your basic needs without working and earning money. So life becomes this game of either needing less money or earning more money to hopefully meet your time and love (and other) needs. Personally, I’d rather need less money than lose more time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these currencies, and others that you may value.

Podcast audio link: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/7175626-kew-episode-37-currency-of-life.mp3?blob_id=31009066&download=true

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/SuSOjGAVFB0

Preview KEW Episode 37: The Currency of Life

Money is important. You need it to get the other things you need. Once you have enough money to meet your basic needs (food, shelter, safety) you can think about other things in life. People use money to measure their success and their ability to have other important things. Money is like the gateway.

But there are other currencies we use and spend every day. For me, two important currencies are Time and Love. Without Time what good is the money? If you were to die tomorrow, how much could you spend? And how much time would you have traded for that money? See, it takes time to make money and to enjoy your time you need money. It’s weird.

And, really, if you have ‘enough’ money and time (whatever ‘enough’ is), what good is it without other people to share them with? Love is another form of currency, but it obeys a different set of rules. In fact, Money, Time, and Love all play by a different rulebook.

I’ll get pretty deep into this in this week’s Episode. Here’s a preview!

KEW Episode 36: Narcissism & Codependency

After my divorce I did some serious soul searching (and therapy) to figure out what happened. I accepted that both parties played a part in the divorce and wanted to understand what happened. Multiple lines of evidence support that my ex-wife became narcissistic and I became codependent. Now, I’m not saying ‘she is narcissistic’ or ‘I am codependent’, but our relationship brought out these personality traits and made them pretty severe. I think many people are affected by narcissistic and/or codependent tendencies, and the combination of the two in a relationship can be detrimental to both parties.

Narcissism is said to be an expression of selfishness, but self care is an important skill. Codependency has been described as prioritizing others’ needs over one’s own, but boundaries are important. While making this Episode I realized that a ‘healthy’ person probably has a little of both characteristics. In other words, a healthy person can practice self care and get their needs met, but also be empathetic towards others and accommodate their needs.

We tend to say or think things like, “He’s a narcissist” or “They’re a codependent’, but it’s probably pretty rare to encounter someone who is entirely one or the other. Sure, there are exceptions out there and I think we’d all agree that an extreme expression toward either condition is not good. At the very least extreme cases of narcissism or codependency we usually don’t want to be around or deal with.

My extreme codependency ended up with me being a door mat. And my ex-wife did end up being pretty narcissistic and self-serving (she had an affair and gaslighted me). But I think it was the combination of personality types in a struggling relationship that brought out the worst in each of us. I don’t really know if she is a narcissist, and I am not a ‘natural codependent’.

Since I can only really speak for myself, I will say I have codependent tendencies. I think this comes from how I grew up, some beliefs I formed as a child, but it’s also a result of my empathetic nature. I tend to have pretty weak boundaries and am very aware of how other people feel. This often leads me to feel like I need to take care of people (and that’s not really a good thing).

I don’t really know what it’s like for narcissistic people, but I can say that I am a bit jealous of people who know how to get their needs met – because I struggle to do that for myself.

I hope you enjoy the episode and get something out of my stories, my experiences, and observations.

Podcast audio download here: https://pdcn.co/e/https://chtbl.com/track/CGDA9D/www.buzzsprout.com/530563/7055506-kew-episode-36-narcissism-codependency.mp3?blob_id=30164812&download=true or via your favorite podcasting app.

YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/qeYmUsIbQmI