QotD: May 30th, 2006 (Growth Fetish Week)

From “Growth Fetish”, by Clive Hamilton:

“Today, the benefits of growth are taken to be so self-evident that one has to search hard to find any reference to them in economics texts. Open any university text and the subject is immediately defined as the study of how to use scarce resources to best satisfy unlimited wants. These ‘wants’ are assumed to be those that consumption satisfies, and the first half of the text is occupied with analysis of the behaviour of consumers in their quest to maximise their ‘utility’. By subtle fusion, human beings have become ‘consumers’ and human desire has been defined in terms of goods; it follows that the only way to make people happier is to provide more goods. In other words, the objective is growth. The other half of the textbook is devoted to macroeconomics, a subject whose purpose is above all to understand how the government should manage the economy so that the growth rate is maximised over time.”

Perhaps a counter-point, perhaps not — Donald Luskin:

“The economy is strong, and it will stay strong right up until the moment that our elected officials kill it.”