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Draft policy development document - open ended economic expansion - Printable Version

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Draft policy development document - open ended economic expansion - ReadingLib - 01-07-2018

The idea of questioning the need for open ended economic expansion originates from environmental campaigners and first came into the public domain at the end of 2016 but had been simmering for some time.
 
The core idea is that open ended economic expansion at a national level may not be either viable long-term or even desirable. It has impacts on the environment and quality of life, and promotes the depletion of natural resources.
 
Such a view point could well be viewed as ill-liberal, and diametrically opposed to the basic tenant of capitalistic and economic growth which concern themselves with investment and use of human, financial and physical capital.
 
The assumption behind this idea is that there is an optimum level of economic activity and above that level humanity is causing more and more damage to the environment and creating more and more social problems
Each step up in activity consumes more natural resources, more energy and sucks in human labour into an unbreakable cycle of expansion.
 
It could be argued that both the driving force behind the obsession with fracking, and over exploitation of water resources in this country is the ever increasing demands for natural resources.
 
Perpetual economic expansion is driven by the needs to trade both internationally and domestically, to provide employment and raise taxes. A rising population needs employment to keep people economically and socially engaged. A mature economy also needs economic activity to care for and pay for retired generations and to service the national debt.
 
However, each new factory consumes land and generates a need for energy, water, transport links, labour and land consuming housing and roads.
 
The issue does not restrict itself to physical goods but also services. Financial services are labour intensive and suck in a disproportionate number of foreign works, as incidentally does the NHS in the UK.
 
One presumption of such a policy is that a static economy will be able to self-fulfil all its employment needs domestically, without resorting to sucking in external labour as can be argued has happened with the UK.
 
This in turn touches on the policy of full employment, by which the maximum UK nationals are found fulltime employment.
 
There are estimated to be approximately 3 million EU citizens living and working in this country, and it remains a contentious issue how many if any could be legitimately displaced by domestic labour.
 
Economic expansion puts pressure on housing from increased immigration, although demography and an aging population arguably are equally important.
 
Adopting such a policy would mean abandoning of the de facto way of running an economy which is ever increase economic activity and open-ended wealth creation.
 
Such a policy should not be seen as a retreat from expansive capitalism but as a mature response to both national and global over exploitation.