Neither Growth nor Greed Is Good

One of the usual arguments I get after talking about *Flourishing*, is that economic growth is necessary for the health or a nation and of the businesses within it, and that my way to flourishing requiring an alternative to such growth is either flawed or simply impossible. Before attempting to clarify my reasoning, let me say, categorically, that I do not claim that growth is inherently bad. I argue that the state of the world is such that continuing growth is producing unintended consequences that outweigh whatever benefits accompany it. I am not attacking the neoclassical economic models that lead to the necessity of growth on ideological grounds although there… Read More

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The Real Affront to Privacy

The NSA may be snooping on me, but, at least, they do it quietly and without disturbing my conscious privacy. Whatever they may do **is an** affront to my right of privacy, but doesn’t affect my immediate solitude. It’s constant robo-calling that really intrudes. Not a day goes by without at least 3 or 4 calls from Rachel with her offer of lower interest credit or a nameless voice touting a “free” home security system. I have grabbed the calling number on a few occasions and reported them to the FTC “Do Not Call Registry” without any perceptible reaction from either the Registry or the caller. Just now I tried… Read More

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An Uncommon “Commons”

I used to get my inspiration mainly from two sources, my students and my books. These days, I have few if any students, so I increasingly rely on the written word. Sometimes my reading is a source for my ongoing critique of modernity, as my many posts aiming at David Brooks and other opinion writers attest to. Other times it is a light that illuminates my murky thinking and writing about what to do about the situation. Today was one of these latter instances. My work for some time has been largely critical, trying to understand why we have blown the opportunity for flourishing that seemed to come along with… Read More

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A Little Bit of Philosophy Goes a Long Way.

This corruption of the familiar phrase about the power of kindness is, perhaps, even more relevant to coping with unsustainability and the continuing deterioration of both human and natural systems. What I mean by philosophy here is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language (from Wikipedia). This list is not at all inclusive. I would make the definition more general by defining philosophy as the study of any serious, pervasive (in time and space), life-nurturing or the opposite issue, perplexing problem. I am careful in avoiding the use of solving because solving, that is, making the symptoms… Read More

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The Love of Stuff. Bluff or Guff?

A colleague sent me a link to a article from Aeon magazine with the above title (without the “enough”). The author, Nick Thorpe, sums up his thesis in a few paragraphs. > According to data aggregated by the Global Footprint Network, it takes the biosphere a year to produce what humanity habitually consumes in roughly eight months – a situation that is logically unsustainable. And yet we persevere with what the British psychologist Michael Eysenck calls the ‘hedonic treadmill’, holding out the unlikely hope that the spike of satisfaction from our next purchase will somehow prove less transitory than the last. In fact, the opposite is true. As the American… Read More

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The Paradoxes of Sustainability

I have been gingerly backing away from using the word, sustainability, for some months. The reasons are several fold. First, the word has become little more than jargon and is no longer an effective call to action. It means too many things to too many people to enable the kind of coordinated action it takes to combat growing unsustainability. This problem could be alleviated by a concerted effort of everyone concerned about the state of the world to come to some consensus about the meaning. Easier said than done. A little history of “sustainability” activities and programs reveals such diverse purposes behind corporate, individual, public, NGO, and other efforts that… Read More

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