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Time To Talk About Sustainable Development

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It is an utter absurdity that “sustainable development” is a proverbial four-letter word throughout our society. No, I’m not referring to the fact that “sustainable development” is actually a two-word, twenty-two letter phrase. I’m referring to the utter, logical absurdity of this attitude.

Proclaim you’re an advocate of sustainable development, and then just stand back as right-wing Neanderthals hurl their idiot-epithets at you. Environmentalist. Socialist. Communist. In fact, however, what advocating sustainable development really signifies is a basic understanding of economics, and the ability to perform arithmetic.

As any/every economy matures, economic growth steadily slows – literally toward zero. This is not a “theory.” This is empirical evidence, from every nation and culture on the planet, spanning thousands of years.

When an economy begins development, growth is initially rapid as economic opportunities abound. However, over time these opportunities dry up; as there are less new markets to discover and the old markets begin to become “crowded” with competitors.

Understand that if one is against sustainable development then ipso facto you are an advocate for “unsustainable development.” Unsustainable development – in a finite system – is not an “economic strategy.” Rather, it is conclusive evidence of either insanity or idiocy: seeking to do the impossible, or not understanding that you seek to do the impossible.

But we’re not dealing with simple idiocy here. We compound that idiocy, many times over. In addition to the inevitable slowing of maturing economies, we have piled insane amounts of debt onto all these mature economies – making them hopelessly insolvent. These massive, perpetual interest payments then (again as a matter of arithmetic) inevitably reduce growth rates further.

Put aside all of the obvious Western Deadbeats (led by the U.S.). Let’s look at Canada. A quarter-century ago when Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio soared above 70% it was universally agreed by governments, the media, and their esteemed experts that Canada was experiencing “a debt crisis.”

Today, with Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio above 80% it is hailed as a paragon of fiscal prudence by these same governments, media, and experts. Obviously the rules of arithmetic haven’t changed in the last 25 years, meaning you cannot re-define solvency. We are being lied to.

Nearly all Western economies are spiraling toward complete debt-implosion – at which time the more than $1 quadrillion in assorted banker, paper Ponzi-schemes will also implode. Want to get some idea of what that will look like? Think Greece.

Thirty percent unemployment (that’s the “official” numbers). A more than doubling of the suicide rate. An economy which is disintegrating so fast that even after the government defaulted on more than 75% of its debts it’s more insolvent today than when it’s own “debt crisis” officially began.

After Greece’s economy has been reduced to nothing but rubble, after ordinary (innocent) people there have been subjected to a level of suffering which no one in our societies can (yet) comprehend; what will we see? In rebuilding from the rubble suddenly there will once again be opportunities for growth. Then the whole “unsustainable development” cycle starts over again: an economic model where the only possible outcome is complete self-destruction. And soon it will be our turn to be “Greece.”

Why do we have an entire economic system which operates like a lemming in a sports car – where as it sees the yawning chasm approaching it steps on the gas? Because the people who control this economic system – the bankers, politicians, and Oligarchs behind them – are the people who prosper the most while our Ponzi-scheme economies create this massive bubble; and they suffer the least when it inevitably implodes.

 

To thus clarify this metaphor, our economies are like a bus full of lemmings – except when the bus goes over the cliff the driver of the bus is wearing a parachute. Having a lemming economy is truly exciting if you’re the bus driver. It’s not much fun at all if you’re one of the passengers.

Advocating sustainable development does not mean that one is an environmentalist, or socialist, or communist. It means that one is capable of performing arithmetic without needing the use of their fingers and toes and has an aversion to (repetitive cycles of) economic suicide.

But what does sustainable development represent, specifically? It means all sorts of things. One facet of sustainable development is something which we have (grudgingly) embraced: recycling. It has at least put us on the early stages of a path toward one facet of long-term economic sanity: economies which use no more renewable and non-renewable resources than can be sustainably produced over the long-term.

It means balanced budgets; not just once-in-a-blue-moon or even occasionally, but every year. Debt is the most obviously “unsustainable” aspect of our unsustainable development economic model. In turn, this means an end to obscenely excessive military spending, an end to corporate subsidies, and (of course) not one more penny in welfare for the financial crime syndicate.

Sustainable development means engaging in long-term planning (and budgeting) with the expectation of near-zero growth – i.e. sustainable growth. It also means eliminating the world’s most-egregious economic parasites: the oligopolies which have infested nearly every facet of our economies.

Regular readers are already aware that since the dawn of Capitalism that capitalist theorists have been in universal agreement that oligopolies (and monopolies) are entirely parasitic entities which can never be allowed to exist in any economic system – even one which labours under the delusion of infinite growth in a finite system.

Obviously in any sane economic system (i.e. one modeled on sustainable development) we have no room for economic parasites. Note that the oligopolies are also the primary villains for the massive, structural unemployment which grips all of our economies – the worst in our history. The one thing which oligopolies are efficient at is eliminating jobs.

For newer readers, understand that smashing the oligopolies doesn’t require creating “new laws.” It simply means enforcing laws which we have had for a century – laws which used to be enforced before our corrupt governments (and regulators) began serving the Oligarchs openly.

Obviously an economic system based on the premise of unsustainable development is no more plausible a strategy than proposing to power our economies with perpetual-motion machines. However, to operate a wholly unsustainable system, and then on top of that to allow our economies to be blood-sucked with gigantic, perpetual interest payments and by corporate mega-parasites requires a new adjective – a level beyond words such as “suicidal” or “insane.”

Naturally we hear none of this from the mainstream media, which is itself, one of the largest and most-odious of our oligopolies. Claiming to possess a “free press” while allowing the vast majority of these media to be owned and operated by a handful of Oligarchs is no more rational/plausible than basing entire economies on unsustainable development.

It’s too late to salvage our current system. The best we can hope for is that we throw out our (current) Traitor Governments and install honest representatives – who apply the brakes to our unsustainable economies rather than accelerating toward the chasm ahead.

After that inevitable (and imminent) “crash” is when we need to implement sustainable development. This means that the time to start talking about it is today.

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jimha
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written by jimha, January 08, 2013
I should also mention that the U.S. 60% figure you quoted probably simply excludes the intergovernmental debt such as Social Security.
jimha
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written by jimha, January 08, 2013
Outstanding market debt for 2004-2005 shown as 435.5 billion which allows for deficits since then. Also another website that makes the proper comparison between U.S. and Canadian debt.

http://www.fin.gc.ca/dtman/2004-2005/dmr05_2-eng.asp#I

http://topforeignstocks.com/2011/07/24/comparison-of-public-debt-u-s-vs-canada/

Sorry to belabour the point but you imply that the Canadian government is cooking the books which I highly doubt.
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, January 08, 2013
Jimha, for the last time, the debt-to-GDP ratio you toss out for Canada is IMPOSSIBLE. There's no way it could have cut that ratio in HALF with several years of RECORD deficits.

Your statement that "everyone agrees" that the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is over 100% is equally flawed. The U.S. government claims its debt-to-GDP ratio is under 60%.

Don't blame ME because more than one number is being tossed around here...and you chose the wrong one.
jimha
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written by jimha, January 08, 2013
LOL. The 80% for Canada figure you use is from a comparison chart of the various countries and yet wikipedia on another page gives the figure as 33.9%. I trust our governments(Canada) figures just as much as any independent sources. Your article would have more credibility if you had stuck to the US figure of 100%+ which everyone can agree on.
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, January 08, 2013
Jimha, as I already pointed out, the LAST source we can trust about debt-to-GDP ratios are the governments themselves. The U.S. government claims it's own debt-to-GDP ratio is 60%.

Everyone EXCEPT the government of Canada says it's debt-to-GDP ratio is over 80%. But DO THE MATH.

We had a debt-to-GDP ratio of 73%. We had about a decade of mild debt-reduction after tha. And now we've had four more years of record deficits. There is NO possible way that our debt-to-GDP ratio could be DOWN to 35% -- the numbers don't add up.

And if you're going to quote (lying) governments as your source for information you're going to be wrong a lot...
jimha
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written by jimha, January 07, 2013
On this wikipedia page they state that the public debt for 2010-2011 was 33.9% of GDP on 1.737 trillion so yes they along with the CIA and CMF figures are out to lunch.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Canada
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, January 07, 2013
Jimha, Wikipedia links their numbers right to the websites of the sources. You can see it for yourself. So you're call the IMF and CIA (Factbook) out to lunch too.

Note that there are TWO halves to a ratio. Obviously Canada's GDP isn't $1.7 trillion. That sounded a little high too...

jimha
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written by jimha, January 07, 2013
Wikipedia seems to be out to lunch on this one. According to the Government of Canada website the federal debt stood at 582.2 billion as of March 31, 2012. That is a far stretch from the 1.4 trillion to make it 80%.

http://www.fin.gc.ca/afr-rfa/2012/report-rapport-eng.asp#toc336524259
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, January 07, 2013
Perhaps you can clear this up for me Jeff. I often see this +/- 80% debt to GDP ratio stated for Canada. The cuurent federal debt stands at +/- 600 billion and the GDP is 1.7 trillion giving a ratio of 35%. Provincial debt is 515 billion so even adding this on would not bring it up to 80%.

http://www.debtclock.ca/



Certainly a fair question Jimha, as our OWN governments seem to have difficulty calculating their OWN debt-to-GDP ratios (lol!!).

This list from Wikipedia purportedly shows that SEVERAL institutions have calculated Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio as being over 80%. I've also heard the U.S. (and its propaganda machine) estimate its own debt-to-GDP at some laughable figure around 60% -- despite having MORE than $15 trillion in (federal) debt and LESS than $15 trillion in GDP. Lol!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

Personally, I had thought that Canada's federal debt had already swelled much higher...
jimha
...
written by jimha, January 07, 2013
Perhaps you can clear this up for me Jeff. I often see this +/- 80% debt to GDP ratio stated for Canada. The cuurent federal debt stands at +/- 600 billion and the GDP is 1.7 trillion giving a ratio of 35%. Provincial debt is 515 billion so even adding this on would not bring it up to 80%.

http://www.debtclock.ca/

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