Back to the index

Ethics - growth

Table of Contents

Ethics of growth

Not prioritising growth is immoral (confidence: likely)

I agree with the need to prioritize growth over most other considerations, as discussed by Tyler Cowen here:

The Principle of Growth: "We should make political choices so as to maximize the rate of sustainable economic growth, as defined by Wealth Plus

(This includes traditional measures of economic value, as would be found in gdp statistics, but also measures of leisure time, household production, and environmental amenities)

Over time growth overwhelms everything else, since the increases in wellbeing are so huge due to compounding.

Also, there are more people 'in the future' than in the present. This conclusion depends on what discount rate you use: If you discount heavily, you should concentrate less on growth and more on the present. If you discount less (Parfit) you should concentrate on growth, to the detriment of current lives. (For example, discounting at 5% means a death today is worth 131 in 100 years, but 39 billion in 500 years, which would justify sacrificing many earths in 500 years to save one life today, which feels wrong).

Additionally, it may be hard for people to truly care about future lives, we might need some concept of 'faith' for people to be able to stick to their choices.

Current political systems are short-term focused, maybe something like Futarchy which shifts incentives to be more long-term could be better.

TODO: add, importance of being careful not to reduce people's motivation to be productive in this case. eg. British people now comfortable and soft, no longer need to strive to succeed. Disincentivised from continuing to work harder as they reach higher tax bands, able to survive even if they do no work. Victorian hunger is lost. Need to balance this with charity, caring for those who cannot care for themselves, insurance against hard times, etc.

Back to the index

Last modified 2019-05-16 Thu 10:20. Contact max@maxjmartin.com