Entries by Herman Daly

Terrestrial and Solar Resources in a Steady State Economy

By Herman Daly

Let us consider a different slant on the current discussion about the necessity versus sufficiency of renewable energy for a steady state economy at the present physical scale.

Pursuant to the pioneering economics of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (G-R), we recognize two sources of the low-entropy flow that sustains our lives: the solar and the terrestrial. They differ in their pattern of scarcity. The solar energy source is practically infinite in its stock dimension,

Sequence Matters

By Herman Daly

The main message of the controversial documentary, Planet of the Humans, is that unrestrained economic and population growth should be the target of environmentalists’ efforts, not technological fixes. Techno-fixes can be helpful, but belong in second place. If put in first place they are often dangerous (e.g., nuclear power, green revolution, biomass fuel, space colonization, etc.). Technocrats enjoy usurping first place and are not humble about it.

Reply to Troy Vettese’s “Against Steady-State Economics” 1

By Herman Daly

Steady staters are used to being attacked by right-wing neoliberals. Attacks from left-wing neo-Marxists are new and require a reply. To put the matter simply, Marxists hate capitalism, and they mistakenly assume that steady-state economics is inherently capitalist. Vettese is a Marxist; ergo, Vettese hates steady-state economics.

To spell this out, let’s begin by giving Marx due credit for emphasizing the reality of class exploitation under all heretofore existing economic systems,

Book Review: Falter by Bill McKibben

By Herman Daly

Thanks to Bill McKibben, not just for his new book but for 30 years of honest, eloquent, and insightful environmental writing and activism.

He begins Falter by pointing out that the human game we’ve been playing has no rules and no end, but it does come with two logical imperatives. The first is to keep it going, and the second is to keep it human.”

A Journey of No Return, Not a Circular Economy

By Herman Daly

The economic process is not a mechanical analog that can be run forward and backward, nor a circular process that can return to any previous state. Rather it is an irreversible and irrevocable process moving in the direction of time’s arrow of increasing entropy [1]. Finitude and entropy guarantee that the economic life of our species will be a journey of no return. Therefore even a stationary economy, in the classical sense of constant population and constant capital stock, is ultimately a journey of no return, because the metabolic throughput of matter and energy required to maintain constant stocks of people and physical capital, in the face of depreciation and death, is an entropic flow from ever less concentrated sources to ever filling sinks – and both sources and sinks are finite.

A Country of Immigrants

By Herman Daly

Historically, the U.S. is undeniably a country of immigrants. But why is this uncontested fact so repeatedly emphasized? Might the unremitting celebration of immigration as a policy (as opposed to the celebration of particular immigrants as people) obscure a dark side of our immigration history?

The Poison Beer of GDP

By Herman Daly

Disaggregating reported GDP growth to reveal the differences in growth by income class, as per the Schumer-Heinrich Bill, is a good idea. After all, telling us, say, that average income grew by 4% is not nearly as informative as telling us that the richest ten percent received the entire growth increment while the bottom ten percent suffered a decline in income.

Where Does Inflation Hide?

By Herman Daly

The talking heads in the media explain the recent fall in the stock market as follows: A fall in unemployment leads to a tight labor market and the prospect of wage increases; wage increase leads to threat of inflation; which leads the Fed to likely raise interest rates; which would lead to less borrowing, and to less investment in stocks, and consequently to an expected fall in stock prices.

What is Wrong with a Zero Interest Rate?

by Herman Daly

The stock market took a dip, so the Fed will likely continue to keep the interest rate at zero, in conformity with its goal of supporting asset prices by quantitative easing. What is wrong with a zero interest rate? Doesn’t it boost investment, growth, and employment?

There are many things wrong with a zero interest rate. Remember that the interest rate is a price paid to savers by borrowing investors.

Would the Steady State Economy Be a Miracle?

by Herman Daly

Many people think that advocating a steady state economy is like wishing for a miracle. I understand their reasoning and take their point—in the present era of growthism, it does seem rather like advocating a miracle. But that raises the question of exactly what is a miracle? And how many other miracles are we wishing for these days? Of course, science, by definition of its method, rules out the existence of miracles,