Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green Capitalism and other Oxymorons

So, its time to shout about naked emperors again.

This time, my target is so called "green capitalism."

Green capitalism is, at its heart, an oxymoron.  Capitalism is predicated on consumption.  The more resources we consume and turn into goods, the higher our GNP and the more wealthy our system says we are.

The whole system is geared in fact to drive towards greater and greater consumption of goods.  Take, for instance, a dining set.  In my grandparents time that was something they saved half a lifetime for and handed down to the next three generations.  In our time, every married couple wants to buy at LEAST one of their own.  And they can because competition has driven price down to where they can do that.

Unfortunately, decreased prices leave the maker of that dining room set in an awkward position.  Some goods are by their nature consumable, such as food.  In order to produce dining sets that cost less, the producer must sell more of them over his life time in order to be able to continue to buy food for his family.  The market for non-consumables is constrained to the number of customers there are. This inevitably drives that dining set towards "consumable" status, because that is the only way to sell enough of them to pay for all the consumables the producer must purcahse to live.  (A related effect also drives the quality down since each dinign set must be produced more cheaply to produce a profit.   This further adds to the consumable nature of the product.)

In the end, Capitalism drives more and more resources to be used up faster and faster. This is inevitable.  Moving to so called "renewable resources" where possible reduces the impact some what but it will never be possible to have a capitalist economy based 100% on renewable resources.

The only way out of the viciuous cycle is to stop consuming things that can be non-consumables.  And the only way to stop that consumption is to stop having to pay for consumables in our lives.  And that leads to a totally different economic model.  One where real needs are met directly by society, not through an artificial mechanism of stored purchasing power.

No comments: