Reality Blind - Vol. 1

The “Pie” and the “Slice” – GDP/per capita

“ We now have in our hands - really in our libraries - the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next seven billion years .”

– Julian Simon, Economist

Summary: If you watch, read, or listen to the news, you know the current goal of mankind - the one that everybody agrees upon, which supersedes morality, healthy environment, fairness, political correctness, health, and security – is economic growth . Our candidates promise it, our politicians claim credit for it, our stock exchanges and retirement funds rely on it, and our economists predict it can continue forever if we just do what they say. But what the heck IS it? “Growth,” when used in this context, is short for “economic growth,” which in turn is short for “the increase in GDP,” which in turn is a sort of ad hoc way of placing a dollar price on everything we do and adding it up to keep score. GDP is simply a tally of the total amount of goods and services created during a period, either for a city, or a country or the entire world. If we imagine the human aggregate enterprise as a slice of pie, then for the 2000 years preceding 1800 CE, the size of the global GDP pie grew by 1/10 of 1% annually- basically flat (a tiny increase from the previous 100,000 years when growth was essentially zero). For the next 150 years from 1800 to 1950, the pie slice grew on average about 2% per year. And


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