I tend to make sense of the world by making analogies between large units and small units. So, for example, if a country can be equated to one’s home, then that reinforces my belief that the United States should keep its borders sealed from the free flow of immigrants. Even though I would want to help those less fortunate than me, opening my house – and by extension my country – to assist every person in need is not realistically feasible, and, actually, destructive to my own household. And indeed, the destruction caused by our country’s altruistic immigration policies is easily evidenced.
So, when I overheard the question on NPR recently “Can a country be healthy without economic growth?” in my mind I compared the growth of a country’s economy to the growth of a person’s body.
The presumption of that statement is that growth is always preferable to maintaining the status quo.
We grow continuously from youth into adulthood until a certain point at which we stop. A person who grows perpetually is decidedly unhealthy, suffering from an unregulated amount of growth hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.
André the Giant measured 7’4” and 500 pounds. His heart had to struggle to pump blood through his massive body, and the unnatural weight of his body caused him chronic, excruciating pain. His strained body succumbed at the age of 46. It suggests, to me, that constant growth, whether of body or economy, will be the death of us.
By extension, Americans as a nation are growing uncontrollably – laterally. This nationwide epidemic of obesity – uncontrollable growth – is destroying us. We would do well to maintain a certain status quo; that is, neither letting ourselves get too skinny (because that can be dangerous too) nor letting ourselves get too fat.
Inasmuch as we should curb our temptation to indulge and get too heavy, should we not also curb our instinct to grow our economy too much? Because at a certain point, does not growth become destructive?