Friday, September 17, 2021

The Mother Of All Bubbles - Are We In For An Unprecedented Crash? (Part III)

 …. continued from previous posts…

Part III - Permagrowth As A Runaway Reaction

Continuing from yesterday’s post, let’s put together all six points and apply them to our dominant Permagrowth socioeconomic model. (If you haven’t read my posts before, Permagrowth is my term for the incessant expansion of everything, from population and consumption to money supply and debt.)

Permagrowth is much more than an economic model. Above all, it is a way of life where “more is better” has become rigid and unquestionable dogma. It comes closer to the unshakeable faith in Heaven and Hell dominant in 16th Century Catholic Europe than, say, the economic theories developed by Adam Smith, Keynes, Friedman, or even Marx. In other words, Permagrowth is now a religion. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone why they buy the latest iPhone.

The Pope sold indulgences so that sinners could get into Heaven by paying a steep price in cash. Likewise, Permagrowth devotees are fundamentally convinced that everyone will be “saved” with more money, higher prices for assets, more wealth on paper. Our sins of raping the environment, depleting precious habitats and unleashing natural disasters (eg COVID) are all washed away by … higher stock or real estate prices.

Then came Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and within just one day in Wittenberg the world changed.

Only Faith In God Decides Who Is Saved, Not Money 

(Only You Can Change The World, Money Can’t 😜)

Change can occur with lightning speed when conditions are right. But it comes as a shock to those lulled into apathy by what they perceive as “normality” in the period immediately preceding change. It was “normal” for the Catholic Church to sell indulgences since the Pope ex cathedra was infallible and God’s sole representative on Earth. It was “normal” for the USSR to produce thousands of nuclear warheads but not enough toilet paper. Dogma and apathy trump common sense every time - until they don’t.

How “normal” is Permagrowth today? My thesis is that it is utterly untenable, that constant expansion has become a runaway reaction that can no longer be contained in its reactor vessel. Think Union Carbide and Bhopal, India writ on a global scale. Its deleterious products are spilling over: not only climate change and habitat destruction, but socioeconomic and geopolitical dislocations are just as rampant. And it’s happening fast - very, very fast.

I could give dozens of examples, but if you’ve been reading this blog you can easily identify them. The most ardent acolyte of the Permagrowth religion is the stock market, particularly in the anything-goes US. 

I’ll be focusing on that in the next post.

…. to be continued…


  1. Basically, the argument is that the invisible hand is invisible because it is non-existent...

  2. You’ve been reading my blog for too long, lol 😃😃😃😃

    1. it is a good way to phrase it.... things go wrong when idiots take empirical rules as gospel truth. Exactly like the scribes and pharisees. The bible is a good guide for life. Taking it literally and trying to determine the exact number of miles a person is allowed to walk on sabbath, leads to disaster.

      to be fair, I am not so sure about the change in an instant bit.... I don't think the reformation is a good example of instant change. =)

  3. the comment section of the video certainly seems to agree with you

  4. I was thinking about what you said; and perhaps I can add a little to how it is phrased. Growth itself is fine; in fact encouraged and sought for desperately. Defining growth in terms of dollars or consumption, that is what we do not want.

    The sabbath is holy... but we cannot define holiness for you... what is holy is between a man and god.

    It is a sad thing that in our age, we treat only that which is quantifiable as real. You need a degree to be educated; money to have worth; legal recognition to be married. After that, we took the next step. We said that if you had a degree, you are educated. If you have money, you have worth. If you have a marriage cert, you are as married.

    And so we have graduates who cannot think, wealthy man of no worth and marriages with no love. As you say, it is a disease, a folly.... so many people have spent so much of their lives chasing pieces of paper that they cannot now admit the error... So they bounce from party to party, place to place.... seeking people who sell them lies. They want the lies. They need it. They will pay money for it... pay their friendships for it... pay their futures for it... pay our civilization for it....

    I remember a story of a U.S. army procurement officer. She was going bankrupt, so the bank took everything from her house. She used the army credit card to refurnish the home. It bought her just another month of normality; but she was prepared to pay everything for it... As we are doing... There is a pathos to this, worthy of a Greek tragedy... We may be living through the last days of the greatest story mankind has ever written.

  5. And I feel, a lot of the problems in society stem from these demented souls... the people who scream that I have done everything asked of me, what do you mean I have no worth... I am a Professor of X... what do you mean I cannot think... I am a human.... that means I have rights... =)

  6. we are called to love them... but they are so hard to love... so unthinkingly selfish.... so determined not to see. What do we do.... what can we do? If we can get into their shells, there is hope yet... but many days I despair... If we go by history, things must be allowed to run their course... Perhaps this is as it should be...

    1. History almost always repeats/rhymes, if in a different context and on a larger scale. Human nature hasn’t changed in millennia, se we keep being buffeted by the same emotions and making the same mistakes. Greek tragedy in deja vu all over again 😀

    2. A wise man said: The more things change, the more they remain the same... Apparently it was in 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

    3. ...Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957) said something similar: If we want everything to remain as it now is, it is necessary for everything to change.

      ...change everything so that nothing changes.