Friday, November 17, 2023

#321 / Steady State


Back in July, I got an email bulletin from the Bay Area News Group, alerting me to an article from the San Jose Mercury News. The bulletin painted a pretty dire picture of the future, based on the fact that California's population is not "growing" in the way it has in the past. Here's the online headline associated with the article I am talking about:

California Exodus: Once growing rapidly, state population projected to remain the same through 2060
The state forecast comes on the heels of three years of unprecedented population declines totaling about 1%

The email bulletin made things sound even worse than the headline on the news story: 

When the Golden State stops growing: California’s finance department painted a picture of a stagnant population, and that could threaten the state’s economy. Flat demographics could shrink the labor pool, potentially resulting in a flagging economy that’s reminiscent of the malaise seen in the Rust Belt, an expert said (emphasis added).

Oh dear! A "Rust Belt" future for the "Golden State?"

Well, obviously, if the state premises its future on continued population growth, which then doesn't occur, the state's economy will be "out of whack," to use a scientific term.

However, premising the future of the state's economy on continued growth, ad infinitum, is to do our economic planning on an obviously unrealistic premise. The solution seems pretty clear. 

We live, always, in a world in which natural resources are "limited." That is the reality of life on Planet Earth. We have access to limited land, limited water, etc. 

California is no exception to the rule, and it is way past time for California (and the world entire) to begin planning for a future that is premised on "steady state" economics. If we fail to do that, we will definitely be in trouble. But what if we don't fail to do that? What if we design our human world to acknowledge our ultimate dependence on the World of Nature, with all its inherent limits? 

Well, in that case: no unsolvable problem!

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