Growth and de-growth in the moral maze
Is stagnation really the progressive option?
On this week’s BBC Moral Maze, my colleagues and I discussed economic growth. Some conservatives think the government should do much more to generate greater economic growth. Until this is done, they say, we can’t get any richer, wages can’t increase and public services decline.
Some, however, say economic growth is an obsession and neglects what should be the real priority: people’s contentment and happiness. Government policies, they claim, lead us to work harder and for longer than we want to. They suggest it creates a culture that values economic activity — earning money and spending it — over other important roles such as caring for children and elderly relatives, maintaining our community, or doing charitable work. Some believe that endless growth is unachievable without doing irreversible damage to the planet.
So has growth become a false god?
My fellow panellists were Anne McElvoy, Mona Siddiqui and Matthew Taylor. Our witnesses were Beth Stratford, an ecological economist who works for the Social Guarantee, an organisation campaigning for universal basic services; political commentator Ross Clark; Kate Raworth, senior associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and author of Doughnut Economics; and financial commentator Matthew Lynn.
You can listen to the programme on BBC Sounds here.
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