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Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan: Make More Babies to Grow Economy to Balance Budget – FAIL

House Speaker Paul Ryan yesterday staked his claim to our Wall of Shame with a couple of very misguided statements showing he skipped science class during the lessons on sustainability, overshoot and overpopulation.

Discussing entitlement reform at a news conference in the U.S. Capital, Ryan resorted to politicians’ usual fallback position about the solution to all problems:

“faster economic growth, so we can get more jobs, higher wages, bigger paychecks”

Clearly he is not aware that at the current level of global economic throughput we are using resources faster than the planet can regenerate them. Economic growth – fast or slow – is an easy political answer, but its long-term consequences are fatal. I would point Paul Ryan to some of the resources linked at More About Limits to Growth.

Our obsession with economic growth and our failure to stabilize human population before it outgrew the planet’s carrying capacity are slowly crippling life-supporting ecosystems and actually reducing the number of people the Earth can support. This makes it all the more tragic that a U.S. political leader thinks GROWING the population even further beyond all reasonable limits is necessary to get that economic growth.

“things we’re trying to do right now to get this economy humming to reach its potential”

“still gonna need more people.”

“I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country.”

The era of growth is behind us. It’s time to focus on finding ways to meet people’s needs with a healthy, sustainable economy, and it’s time for population contraction. We need to be okay with falling birth rates. In fact we need to encourage them to drop faster. Otherwise there will be no federal budget to balance.

Speaker Ryan, here’s a crash course to make up for those days you skipped class:


Limits to Growth

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

The End of Growth

Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth (film)

I do want to give a shout-out to Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress. In reporting on Paul Ryan’s statements in Paul Ryan Says American Women Need to Have More Babies, Rupar offered a nod  rarely seen in economic reporting to the fact that economic growth is not necessarily the universal goal it is generally assumed to be. Thank you for that breath of fresh air. But while he wisely pointed out one way in which declining birth rates is good news, he did fail to mention overpopulation as a good reason to embrace fewer births.

“While it is true that birth rates in the U.S. have been declining, that’s not necessarily bad news — for instance, birth rates for teenagers hit a record low last year. Ryan’s comments also overlook the possibility that people may not share his belief that economic growth is a goal to be pursued at any and all costs.”

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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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