Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Innovation

Now for another heresy.

Maybe new isn't good and we just might have to learn to make do?

One of the ends that we always hope for in our minds is that our intrepid scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs will use good old American know-how and think us out of the pickle we are in. I hope for it too. As I have stated before, fat, dumb, and happy is just where I like living my life.

We, as Americans, have been conditioned to dismiss the idea that an an existing system is good. New must constantly move in and displace the old, leaving the world better by the mere presence of the new. But most of the new that we have generated in the past fifty or so years seems to be somewhat suspect.

Life expectancy increases can be far more attributed to decent food, clean water, sanitation, and basic antibiotics not the "miracle drugs" that the current incarnation of the patent medicine salemen are hawking.

Finance "innovations" are being revealed as new-fangled Ponzi schemes with MBA's as the hustlers and the shills.

Globalization is an artifact of cheap oil and a transient, overweening empire. The bulk of the products developed from this frenzy are cheap, unnecessary consumer trash.

So the "new" that we have been conditioned to worship and that we have structured out lives around appears to be little better than the statues of l'Molech.

Maybe what we are seeing now is the truth as revealed by the Club of Rome a couple of decades ago. That there are real limits to growth. The hard part of this is that if we accept that there are limits and that we have a defined role, and that our mythos of infinite progress and the ascendancy of the new must wither.

What we will define to take its place will be interesting to see.

3 comments:

Chris said...

Change is not always a positive thing.

Mayberry said...

I think it's just common sense that unlimited growth is just not possible in a finite world. There's only so much raw materials in the ground, and trees only grow so fast.... We have far surpassed a sustainable population level on this rock, and soon I think there will be a "correction" as it were. Tragic, yes, but necessary. Nature has her way of restoring balance....

Dave Gardner said...

I think "progress" must now depend on us "innovating" our way into a sustainable model, one that recognizes the obvious (limits to growth). Progress doesn't have to be defined as "bigger" or "more."

Dave Gardner
Producer/Director
Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity
Join the cause at www.growthbusters.com