Capitalism and Ponzi - 2008-06-30 09:58
Capitalism is a Ponzi scheme writ large.
It depends on growth at all times or it falls apart.
Imagine years of 0% growth in the United States -- there would be riots.
Growth depends on only two things -- both evidenced by the term productivity -- getting more from more, strip mining; getting more for less, people mining.
Think of a credit card that sits quietly in your pocket. Every year gets 4% added to the bill. That's capitalism. In order to work, there must be 4% more of something to get it balanced.
The way that the bill gets paid is productivity -- you either dig a finite resource out of the ground, or find a person who can do more work for less money.
Some good stuff happens with capitalism -- as the % grows, standards of living grow -- people have a more and better lifestyle in the commonly accepted way it's determined (health, diet, longevity, security.) But it's all based on continued growth.
This would work better if resources were infinite -- planets and stars were waiting to be plucked and abused. But we are getting to the point that we are functionally living in a closed system and a zero-sum game. If we take from one place -- another place suffers.
This is the mother earth concept that is seeming more valid every day. Our children can't be paying our bills for stuff they aren't going to get -- they are not that stupid or bovine -- they will figure it out at some point and make us pay our pounds of flesh.
What this seems to mean is: we need to pay our bills, live within our means, clean up our mess (see pay our bills) and get comfortable with less.
Or figure out a way to star travel.