Growing weeds

Kiwiblog gave a list of 10 ‘axioms’ yesterday about economics.  The problem was that all 10 are true only in the sense that they are good for the economy because a good economy has been defined in such a way as to make the axioms true.

Take for instance the worst of Farrar’s ten, number 4; The best measure of a good economy is its growth.

Why do we assume all growth is good?  A growing tomato vine is good, a growing weed, not so much.  Yet we measure both as though they are the same. Even though top economists might not agree with me a growing economy is not necessarily a good economy.

Putting aside the issue that we currently use a measure of growth (GDP) that includes a whole lot of weeds on the positive rather than the negative side of the ledger, sometimes you can just have too many tomatoes.  A little bit of pruning, a little bit of restrained foresight, a little bit of diversity maybe better than the monoculture growth that economists want.

It’s self evident that you only need as much food in your fridge as you can eat – too much more would be wasteful rot.  And off course, any gardener will tell you what happens to the land when you push it too hard and try to get too much growth out of it too fast.

(Jackhumm, you seem like a gardener, you might like to comment on the analogy?)