Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The insanity of "sane" growth

Lately instead of focusing on news analysis I've been instead focusing on the burden of infinite growth and in particular Justin Trudeau's unwavering support of such insanity. It's always interesting writing as a non-partisan in a hyper-partisan world and I take it very seriously and work very hard to ensure my posts fit that description. I think I've been quite successful at making this website a neutral ground for discussion of issues and not political parties. I'm one of the few blogs around where the comment section doesn't devolve into a series of political team sport trolls that write complete non-sense filled with childish partisan slurs (like "Libtards" or "RWNJ"). My blog has readers and my Twitter has followers from every political stripe because there is common ground and it's the common ground I try to stay focused on.

I've learned over the last few years that the terms "left-wing" and "right-wing" in modern day society really have no more meaning than the relevance of the city stamped on the identical corporate sponsored sports teams. Trading players in hockey, for instance, used to be a rare occurrence, a team's players once represented the city they claimed to. Not anymore though, today you cheer for the jersey and nothing more. This year you might hate "Crosby" but depending on who he's playing for next year you might love him. Political brand names have become just as meaningless.

For instance, many on the "left" see Harper as the "right", but I'm sure if you ask the MPs resigning from his government their "right wing" ideology hasn't changed, just the team they play for has. So is ex-MP Brian Jean no longer a self-identified conservative because he disagrees with conservative "growth" policy?

In my last post which I believe is a clear non-partisan response on the generational divide between the baby boomers and the younger generations (from the perspective of the younger generation) the author I was responding to decided to respond to me. Go ahead and read all the comments but one in particular I think illustrates the destructive nature of hyper-partisan politics.
I DON'T LOOK DOWN ON THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS. I like young people a whole hell of a lot better than middle-aged ones. My friends are in their 20's. I'm 64. This is not a youth vs.old debate. It's a right vs. left debate and what happens when the left fails. You blame me. That's OK.
 I don't even understand what he meant by "when the left fails". I have no idea how he came to the determination that it was a "right vs. left" debate when I clearly call out both past and future governments of both Liberal and Conservative stripes. I specifically name Justin Trudeau but only because he is the next likely Prime Minister and I expect no difference between his "growth agenda" and Harper's. Political ideology leads to irrational bias as a response on Twitter to my criticism of Trudeau clearly demonstrates.
"Sane" growth, if such a thing exists, is simply not possible in our infinite exponential growth world and banking system. It's really quite shocking how many Canadians don't understand what growth is, why it's currently needed, and how it works. To put it simply: If the "growth" we're doing today is "insane don't give a fuck about anything growth" and growth essentially translates to "more on top of what we already have", then any "growth" on top of "insane growth" must be likewise insane purely due to the exponential nature of growth. Growth is ever more ever greater and the greater it gets the more sacrifice we're going to have to offer to maintain it in a post peak-oil world. There is no possible way that "sane" growth (if such a thing existed) can be even larger than "insane" growth.

This was followed by another tweet in regards to "growth" and "green tech".
The world's existing problem is not "jobs", or "tech", the world's existing problem is that "insane growth" has actually been "ludicrous growth" since the Reagan era. Central banks are in their fifth year of "record low interest rates" and money printing and still "low inflation persists". You're probably not noticing this "low inflation"  at your gas pump or grocery store shelves though. We've reached the upper limits of insanity and growth and any return to "sanity" isn't "growth" at all. It's de-growth, it's contraction, a reversal from insane to sane. It's not going to be a future of more, it's going to be a future of less, and the very fact that even with unfettered "insane" production of fossil fuels "real growth" isn't materializing the notion is completely destroyed that any "growth" is possible by a switch to green tech, or at all. Fossil fuels represent the best in energy density mankind has ever encountered, growth and production is a direct application of energy, thus a switch to sparser energy forms will likewise represent de-growth.

We exist in a society today where corners are cut for "growth" and that's with the fossil fuel subsidy. We can pass all the laws of regulation we want but if the regulators funding is itself cut those inspections don't get made anyway. We're not making the full investments needed today to maintain current tech due to desire for "growth" nevermind expecting an open-ended investment in the future of green tech with unquantifiable returns. We live in a world where policy is reactionary and foresight extends into the next quarter at best. Our current policy model is all about preserving an unsustainable standard of living predicated on cheap energy which no longer exists at the expense of the future where as instead for a real transition away from rampant energy consumption that would need to reverse to a situation where the sacrifice is made today for the prosperity of tomorrow.

No matter how you slice it infinite growth is insane, unsustainable, and ultimately impossible. It is an impossible economic model that now exists purely to service the bankers and the "easy money" policies of the last 5 years which have no end in sight are a last ditch effort to maintain the house of cards. Trudeau's claim a "growth agenda" will save the middle class is nothing more than populist propaganda as it's been a free trade oriented easy money rapid growth agenda that has been destroying them in the first place.

What solution has Trudeau proposed to solve your devaluing savings? Remember when this country used to have a penny? Remember when that penny used to be made of copper? What's Trudeau's solution for an entire generation that's already priced out of the housing market? The devaluation of your currency and housing bubble buoyed by "cheap money" policy is a direct result of an attempt to "return to growth" how exactly is more of the same going to result in something different? According to Einstein that is the very definition of insanity and yet that represents "sane" growth policy? I don't think so. Justin Trudeau hasn't said one thing that leads me to believe his "growth agenda" is sane while the others are insane, they're the exact same agendas. Literally Trudeau is advocating we do the same thing over again and expect different results but because of such a deep hatred of Harper this fact seems to be lost on the Canadian people.

It's not "right vs left", it's not even "old vs young", it's us vs the banks and monetary policy and overcoming the false and arbitrary divisions and identities we've come to trust. It's the needs of the people vs the needs to service debt because our monetary system is one in which every dollar of currency has debt and interest attached which means there is always more debt than currency in existence. It's a fight against indebting our children ever more and ensuring longevity of the species and the nation. What is Justin Trudeau offering to solve that? Does he even have any interest in solving that? Do you, or is your own immediate gain and comfort more important?

At the end of the day no politician can run on the type of platform that needs to be run because it would require the truth of our situation to be told and wouldn't be all rainbows and lollipops and ultimately who wants to hear that? nobody. Instead what people want to hear is that the booms in growth we've experienced in the past will return and that the party isn't over. People want to hear that the "middle class" will return to it's former glory even though the single family income is never mentioned and a "wage race to the bottom" brought on by free trade and global wage competition is the accepted reality. This is called cognitive dissonance, they are completely opposing viewpoints which can not be simultaneously true and yet people seem to believe that both are possible. The only "problem" being that only one is currently and can possibly be true.

No tweaks to growth policy can change what growth policy represents and as such I don't see this upcoming election as "left vs right" or Harper vs Trudeau". With the "fair election act" passing I barely even call it an election anyway. All it is a vote for growth more growth and an elaborate propaganda campaign to maintain your confidence and convince you that's what we need. It's a vote for the status quo. It's a vote to continue doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Today's dialogue is seriously lacking any talk of personal responsibility for the present situation but is filled with grandiose promises that if we just borrow enough we'll be able to spend the growth into existence. It just doesn't work like that especially when we already artificially inflate growth so far above and beyond what it really is.

When you see companies creating crap so that it can be tossed and rebought shortly later, planned obsolescence, know that that is the "growth" you're voting for. That's where we're already at, that's what has been required to maintain this illusion, and it's only going to get worse, not better, so long as growth is the pursuit. The other day while I was out for lunch I actually heard someone refer to a "tablet" as "disposable". "they're so cheap," he said, "that you just throw them out and buy another one.". Of course they're only "so cheap" thanks to third world labor exploitation granted to us by the very free trade that's destroyed local wage competition, even Justin Trudeau can admit that and he's extremely pleased with it. Never mind all of the rare-earth metals, fossil fuels for the plastics, etc, etc filling our landfills as a result. That's "growth" today and it's fucking insane.

If you don't like where we are headed today then for you it is not "Harper" that must be defeated, it is this growth mentality. Growth is not in your best interest, it's not going to provide more jobs as automation becomes a cheaper path to "profit growth". It's not going to provide higher wages as "global wage competition" provides a cheaper path to profit growth. It's not going to result in safer communities as more and more safety nets are destroyed and corners cut in the name of balanced budgets which just don't make sense in a debt based economy and really represent nothing more than paying more for less.

It is selfish desires and the belief we'll never have to pay the piper which makes it so easy to burden younger generations with the cost of our standard of living. The complete lack of guilt, and in fact sense of entitlement we have while doing it is simply appalling as we rationalize it away with meaningless debt-to-GDP ratios without considering that the GDP is an estimate and the debt is absolute and will have to be paid regardless. We really have no idea what sort of resources and production capacity will be available in the future - but it's a good bet it won't be anything compared to the past -  but we're sure spending like we do.

Unfortunately though we can't spend water into existence. We can't spend ever cheaper oil into existence. Somewhere along the line we've lost sight of the fact that currency itself is not wealth, it is a symbol, a representation of wealth and this is something no political parties wish to discuss. No political leader today could possibly offer something approaching responsible policy because we don't have a responsible mindset required to objectively evaluate it. It's all "me me me". "My portfolio". "my house". "my job". "my future" and the political parties prey on that spinning the banker's agenda into what you want to hear absolving us of responsibility and when we don't like what's happening we just blame the current political party and replace them with another promising the same impossible shit. Real change will come when we accept real responsibility, until then expect more of the same regardless what political sports team you cheer for.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.


  1. Hi Richard. I noticed the scuffle you were having with another blogger the other day. I don't want to meddle but I sense your antagonist has been going through a rough patch lately and is quick to perceive offence. Maybe it's the time of year or something in the air but there does seem to be a bit of that going around. Best to just let it slide.


  2. Richard, you and I have had many really good discussions. I always knew you were a good bit younger than me but I never paid it much mind. There never seemed reason that I should.

  3. Ha.. yep. Im relatively young. No reason you should though. :)