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PaulS's picture

George Monbiot on Debt, etc

Here are some extracts from George's latest article:
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'So environmentalists seek to persuade us that we’ll love the green transition. Downshifting, voluntary simplicity, alternative hedonism – whatever they call it it’s presented as a change for the better. A new green deal will save the planet, the workforce and the economy. Energy efficiency will protect the bottom line as well as the biosphere. A less frantic life will allow us to enjoy the small wonders that surround us.

There is both exaggeration and truth in all this, but effective action also involves a change for the worse: regulation, rationing, austerity, state spending. “Little by little,” Livy wrote 2000 years ago, “we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them.”

Everything we need to do has been made harder by debt. Net state debt now exceeds £700bn. The RBS and Lloyds shambles will add £1-1.5 trillion to the bill(5). National debt is likely to reach some 150% of GDP next year: well beyond the point at which the IMF declares developing countries basket cases.

This introduces two environmental problems. The first is that there is no money left with which to fund a green new deal. The second is that we’ll be able to pay off these debts only by resuming economic growth. Greenhouse gases grow because the economy grows. The UK’s liabilities make the transition to a steady state economy, let alone a managed contraction, much harder to achieve. They appear to commit us to either growth or default for at least a generation. The debt crisis is an environmental disaster.'
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Absolutely spot on, ... except that he does not take into consideration oil depletion and thus the resulting economic down-slope we have entered just this year.

In any case, the estimated £2 trillion Sterling of national debt cannot be repaid through growth, since economic growth is no longer possible, but it also cannot be repaid through the type of savings George advocates, which simply do not add up to what is required, let alone allowing to finance the Green New Deal type of greening reconstruction of the economy.

All things considered, I would say the sooner the country goes bankrupt, the better. Nobody will export to a country in default, which means that we will be forced to a) cut back on just about everything and b) grow, build and assemble whatever we need ourselves, right here in the UK.

So lets borrow more, lets spend the lot and lets default as soon as possible!

Paul

The full article is here: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/06/23/stop-building-tanks/