You can’t eat money: the cost of unlimited growth

A woman stands at her collapsed house damaged by landslide along the Mekong river in Can Tho, Vietnam, December 17, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Kham

My latest essay for VNExpress International. The Vietnamese version will be up soon. Here are the first two paragraphs.

In a 1972 book chapter entitled “Conversations with North American Indians,” Alanis Obomsawin said something that applies to every country that has embraced the neoliberal economic order with open arms.

Canada, the most affluent of countries, operates on a depletion economy which leaves destruction in its wake. Your people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.

While many countries have a depletion economy, I focused on Vietnam because it is the place I have called home for 17 years.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

3 thoughts on “You can’t eat money: the cost of unlimited growth

  1. Comment on VNExpress International:

    A greatly appreciated masterpiece, Mr. Ashwill, and that is putting it mildly.
    Here is an example of one of the shreds of hope in Vietnam of which I am aware.
    When Formosa Steel wiped out the fish off Hà Tĩnh Province, plant management responded to infuriated Vietnamese that they had to choose either industrialization or fish.
    The Vietnamese responded, Chúng tôi chọn cá. We choose fish.
    Does growth, as currently measured, really increase wealth?
    The reason economists do not have any answer is that they do not measure costs. They only measure benefits. That is what GDP is.
    No factoring in the likes of great ecological harm. No subtracting for injuries and deaths caused by, for example, chemical pollution, etc.
    It is better to be richer than to be poorer. However, you truly and objectively want to be richer.
    Ever notice that the countryside of Vietnam has inspired great poetry, novels, photography, and art, including the worlds most beautiful and best lacquerware?
    Here is what the industrialization zones have inspired:
    That is right. There is nothing there.

    lewis_hitchcock… – 08:19 9/9

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