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Great job, Alex. I know you didn't get the answer you wanted, but at least we can see the rationales of the thinkers trying to "lead" us.

Hedegaard's use of the developing world to argue that growth isn't sustainable is a straw man argument. We could raise the living standards in the developing world significantly if we really wanted to. The problem is the high living standards and resource/pollution levels of highly developed and rapidly developing countries. What Hedegaard is really saying is the we can't limit growth in those latter countries, using developing countries as a justification. It's perverse in that the highly developed countries are actually significantly holding back the development of poorer nations by loan tactics, forced privatization (thereby creating Western/Chinese control of much of their land and resources), and subsidization of developed country resources and products (we subsidize corn, forcing a lot of Mexicans out of agriculture, for instance). We're basically raping the poorer nations to prop up our own growth.

The real story behind the non-negotiability of growth (in addition to human behavioral characteristics) is the simple fact that most of the West's money doesn't actually exist. It's digits on computers and debt. You can't service debts and keep the value of non-existent money without growth. It sadly makes a steady state economy in this era impossible. If we honestly tried it, the banking sector would collapse, and the effects would shake everything down to the ground.

Those in true control of money (the 1% of the 1%) largely set up this system to benefit themselves, and now we're in a situation were we can't change it without collapsing it. The people on the panel are talking about keeping but tweaking the system to make it fairer, but it's farting in the wind, really.

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