Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
Regular Contributors:  Herman Daly, Brian Czech, Brent Blackwelder, and Rob Dietz. Guest authors by invitation.

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You Betcha – We Need a Green Tea Party

by Brian Czech

As crazy as the Tea Party may seem, they’ve got one thing very, very right. The deficit spending has gone too far. Continuous deficits and the ever-expanding debt are leading the USA — and much of the world — into an unprecedented economic and social crisis.

Why “unprecedented,” you say? What about the Great Depression, or even the stagflation that came with the angst of hippies, race riots, and Vietnam? For sure, things have been bad before in this country, but this time there’s no growing our way out of it. At least not with regular old growing; that is, GDP growth, Dow Jones growth, production and consumption growth, you know… economic growth. Even if we could use this kind of growth again, it wouldn’t really be economic in the most important sense. Not in the age of uneconomic growth, when growing the economy causes more problems than it solves.

That’s why we need a Green Tea Party. The regular or “Brown” Tea Party doesn’t get this part. They’re as hell-bent on economic growth as the so-called “conservatives” they distinguish themselves from. They’re right about deficit spending, but right for the wrong reasons.

The Brown Tea Partiers also don’t get the supreme irony of their calling. They want to limit the budget, but don’t seem to recognize that the planet has a budget, too. To call for economic growth while demanding the death of deficit spending is like calling for a higher speed limit while demanding better gas mileage. The two goals don’t jibe.

The fact is, the Brown Tea Party is so pro-growth that, if they rose from their salt-of-the-earth stature and up into the ranks of economic policy making, chances are higher than Sarah Palin’s bun they’d resort to the same deficit-spending foolishness as the current foolish spenders. Economic growth is exactly what all the deficit spending is about. It’s just what the doctor — John Maynard Keynes, that is — ordered for a stagnant economy. As the Republican Richard Nixon finally acknowledged during that earlier crisis, “We are all Keynesians now.” Compared to the brilliant doctor, the Brown Tea Partiers are like witch doctors chanting “Uggamagummmba, uggamagummmba.”

But that’s as much fun as I’ll poke at the Brown Tea Party, because at least their glass is half full. The fact that they get it about limiting public spending bodes well for getting it about limiting private spending and therefore limiting spending in the aggregate; that is, limiting GDP, period.

Meanwhile, we already have a Green Party of the United States and various other Green parties around the world that formally acknowledge limits to growth and the need to establish a steady state economy. In my opinion, this is truly the greenest grain in the Green Party platform. If it weren’t for that, the Green Party would have almost nothing to talk about with the Brown Tea Party. They’re in a different political world. Tending to take one left turn after another, and harboring some of their own kinds of crazies, they might be more aptly called the Pink with Purple Polkadots Party. But that’s enough poking at them too. We should appreciate the crucial policy precedent these Green parties have set by calling for a steady state economy as a policy goal.

So what we need now is a Green Tea Party. We need the common sense and policy relevance of the Brown Tea Party coupled with the steady statesmanship of the Green Party. This would give us the best of both worlds.

Hmmm… a Green Tea Party?

“You betcha!” as someone might say.

4 Responses to “You Betcha – We Need a Green Tea Party”

  1. Iaato says:

    Brian, we have a green tea party. It is the Occupy Wall Street movement. Bottom-up, self-organizing, free of corporate influence, and started by the anti-corporate movement, Adbusters. What’s not to love?

    And a steady-state economy is not going to cut it. We can only reach homeorhesis after reducing at least 2/3 of the emergy in the US. Then, and only then, can we develop some sort of new resilient or steady-state type of society.

    http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/85/open-letter-ecological-economics-movement.html

  2. “like witch doctors chanting “Uggamagummmba, uggamagummmba.””

    Pity. Just as I was getting to like you all, you have go off half-cocked with some crude ethnic stereotyping.

  3. Podargus says:

    It is sad to see supposedly enlightened people with some knowledge of economics banging on about deficit spending just like all the neoliberal retards.
    A government which is sovereign with its own fiat currency (as is the USA) can spend whatever it likes in that currency without risk of inflation provided there are real resources available to purchase.How that spending appears in the national accounts is immaterial.There is zero need to borrow.
    When you have 10 to 20% unemployment among other social evils like unaffordable health care then there is a crying need for well directed government spending.
    To conflate the growth problem with this situation is not doing any favours for your case for a zero growth system. This requires,among other changes,a long term resetting of priorities.It is not going to happen overnight.Meanwhile,people are suffering needlessly and getting angrier by the day.
    Next thing you will be coming up with some sort of nihilist slogan like “burn,baby,burn”.

  4. Lee Van Ham says:

    Working with the “tea party” frame doesn’t sip well for me, Brian. Better to use a different frame entirely, I think, given how using frames of people we disagree with reinforces them. But, Iaato, I can go with Occupy Together. Each day something more impresses coming from the 99%.