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It’s Actually NOT Economic Growth, Stupid

I want to give Bryce Covert some applause for pointing out what I’ve long believed but never see mentioned: Presidents do not have much power over the economy. In Ask Not What the President Can Do for the Economy, published in the New York Times this month, Covert points out why promises of candidates to grow the economy are pretty much nonsense.

“THIS year’s presidential candidates, like all candidates before them, have talked endlessly about what they’ll do to boost the economy if they make it to the White House.”

You know the drill, as James Carville famously said during Bill Clinton’s campaign for reelection, “it’s the economy, stupid.” It turns out we are a bit stupid to believe the President (or ANY elected official, in my view) really has much power to influence how “robust” our economy is.

“The economy is the issue the public cares the most about, but perhaps the one that presidents have the least power over.”

Covert covers the subject nicely, so do check it out. There are, however, three critical things I wish he would have mentioned:

1) Economic growth is not actually a smart goal on a full planet (read all about limits to growth here)

2) No one, not even the President, can grow an economy forever on a finite planet

3) Elected officials, presidents included, actually do have the power to influence our economic HEALTH.

It’s time for some enlightened officials to be elected who will begin preaching the truth about what a healthy, sustainable economy will look like in the 21st century (hint: it’s not a perpetually expanding one. Google resilience, relocalization and transition). Perpetual economic growth on a finite planet is not possible, and its pursuit is a fool’s errand. I wish Bryce Covert and other progressive journalists would begin writing about this!

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Dave Gardner

Producer of the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. Dave writes and speaks regularly on the subject of growth addiction, including the pro-growth media bias that perpetuates prosperity-from-growth mythology.

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