The advent of the viral pandemic added to the climate crisis and the critical devastation of the earth’s environment needs urgent change of direction. One problem rises from the excessive growth in population. I know that orthodox economists promote the fantasy of growth being a goal as a matter of ideology. This basic fact that must be recognised. The economists target of GDP has no good meaning for the welfare of people. Growth means that the necessary infrastructure always lags behind. Much endless investment is required to catch up. A human and satisfactory life can be had in a no-growth stabilised equilibrium status. There needs to be a policy of de-growth before a sustainable population can be reached.
When such a society at equilibrium with a balanced infrastructure is reached, there will be no need to be always falling behind. People will find that dying people will leave houses at the rate that will supply the needs of people wanting to set up a family home. New houses will not be needed. There will be no need to build new roads, water supply dams, filtration plants, sewage systems, prisons, stadiums, power plants, transmission lines, factories, hospitals, hospices, conference centres, museums, playgrounds, parks, swimming pools, performance theatres, warehouses, office blocks, hangars, airports, ports, community centres, or clear new land for cultivation. The requirements of a steady state population will be met by a constant infrastructure balanced to the needs of steady population. To get there we needs de-growth.
The banking and finance centres will become obsolete and their parasitic nature will stop the wealth feedback loop that enables the unequal distribution of wealth upwards which has so many harmful social consequences. What will remain important is to keep up with maintenance of the infrastructure which often gets forgotten in the need to cope with the growth. We could all then have a good work-life balance without having to work too hard in always having to catch up. It is the constant trying to catch up with infrastructure construction that requires the activities that produce most of the excessive harmful polluting externalities.
We need to think in terms of being in a lifeboat and use lifeboat rules. Occupying a lifeboat means that some rules are needed. The important paradigm is to have everyone on an equal footing no matter what the past hierarchy and wealth provided. No classes, but everyone must share any work such as rowing and bailing plus accepting the rationing of supplies such as food. The supplies in the lifeboat must be looked after and ensure that there is no unnecessary waste but there may be a necessity to get rid of weight that will have no future use. The overloading of a lifeboat has to be considered and there may be a point where no further people should be rescued. If anybody threatens the survival of the lifeboat then it may be appropriate to abandon them for the survival of the rest. The rules can be harsh but they are necessary.