Resisting the Temptation of Growth at the County Level

by Daniel Giles

Across the USA, a battle for the souls of rural counties is being waged. The battle is fought not in major news outlets, but in local government meetings and the opinion columns of local newspapers. Despite the lack of national coverage, the cumulative outcome of these localized conflicts will change the American landscape for generations to come.

This monumental battle is between those fighting for growth—or “development” as some use interchangeably—and those who strive to conserve the current character of counties.


The New Herman Daly Bio: Confusion at a Critical Juncture and Other Missteps

by Brian Czech

No one in the sustainability business deserves a biography more than Herman Daly. But then, as a literary Clint Eastwood might say, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” If a biography needs to be shot out of the saddle—or shot down a peg at least—so be it. Remember, it’s not the fault of the biographee.

Let me shoot straight to the bottom line, then. If you want to know about Herman Daly’s economics for a full world—and you should want to—read Daly’s books and articles.[1] If you want to know about Daly’s childhood days,


Labor Day Reflections: Growth Doesn’t Solve Inequality

Labor Day, like other holidays of remembrance, is an opportunity to reflect on the past and critically consider the future. Our memory ought to include the foot soldiers of the labor movement, from the 10,000 coal miners who fought in the Battle of Blair Mountain to the steel workers who duked it out with the Pinkertons at Homestead mill. We owe our rights as workers to the bitter struggles of many who preceded us.

Despite the gains of the labor movement, it seems we still have a long way to go. It is well-documented that while the productivity of the American worker has continued to rise, our compensation has risen slower. All that extra surplus has gone right into the bosses’ pockets; Mother Jones would be up in arms by now.


Building Upon the Trophic Theory of Money: Preliminary Results from Canada

By James Magnus-Johnston

The human economy doesn’t just mimic the economy of nature; it is part of it. It is woven directly into the ecological system of producers and consumers. Due to the technological prowess of Homo sapiens, though, the human presence dominates, threatening other species and the life support system of the planet. Human dominance over non-human life leads us to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths, particularly for proponents of “green growth.”

The first pertains to the loss of biodiversity.


New Zealand Deprioritizes Growth to Improve Health and Wellbeing

By James Magnus-Johnston

Last May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released a budget to improve the “wellbeing” of citizens rather than focusing on productivity and GDP growth. And, not so coincidentally, New Zealand has one of the best coronavirus outcomes of any democracy in the world. Perhaps this provides a global model to make economic health cohere with health for all life.

To improve wellbeing, Ardern emphasized goals that focus on care for people and the planet.


Social Solidarity Requires a Universal Basic Income

By James Magnus-Johnston

Going forward in these uncertain times, a universal basic income could be the best way to maintain social solidarity—whether referring to health, wellbeing, or public order. “Solidarity,” writes Eric Klinenberg, “motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine” and prompts us “to knock on our older neighbor’s door.” It is a structure and a mindset that breaks down the barriers of inequality and improves trust,


The Triangular Economy: Behind the Circular Flows

By Brian Czech

The “circular economy” is a response to the environmental problems and resource shortages that arise as the human economy expands. The focus of the circular economy literature is on efficiency which, in terms of economic production, means more output per unit of input. All else equal, increasing efficiency means higher profits, too. That’s real motivation for the corporation.

Efficiency connects to the human propensity to innovate, too. From childhood on,


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.


Use and Abuse of the “Natural Capital” Concept

Herman Daly explains how we can use prices now as tools for rationing a fixed predetermined flow of resources, rather than determining the volume of resources taken from nature, or the physical scale of the economic subsystem.