FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 39: The Growth Fallacy

“I meant no harm I most truly did not, but I had to grow bigger so bigger I got. I biggered my factory, I biggered my roads, I biggered the wagons, I biggered the loads, of the Thneeds I shipped out I was shipping them forth from the South, to the East, to the West. To the North, I went right on biggering selling more thneeds. And I biggered my money which everyone needs.” 
― Dr Seuss, from the Lorax

A key tenet in what I think is wrong with the world is the obsession with growth. This quote from the Lorax, and pretty much the whole book, gets at this sentiment. Where did we learn that growth is essential? Or that growth is infinite? Or that NOT growing = death?

Was it in economics courses in school? Maybe. That’s what I assume, but I can’t say I remember (I got a D in college economics anyway, so . . . )

Was it from our parents? Our first jobs?

I guess it doesn’t matter, but suffice it to say the concept of growth being a healthy and necessary thing is something many of us learned somewhere, somehow.

But if we look more closely, I think it’s just incorrect. And that’s what this episode is about.

Here’s the original post with links to the audio and YouTube. Please subscribe and peruse the back catalog of my other 50 Episodes and interviews!

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

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