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“Fairytales of Economic Growth”–Grantham Institute Seminar

May 15, 2021

By Paul Homewood

The left wing Grantham Institute held a seminar last week, titled “Fairytales of Economic Growth”. It was presented by Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

The You Tube intro gives an outline:

The narrow pursuit of economic growth above all else has come at a tremendous social and environmental cost. Today’s crises are forcing us to ask hard questions about what we value and how we structure our economies. In this talk, Joyce Msuya will explore the relationship between economic growth and social progress, and highlight ways we can transform our economies to meet today’s biggest social and environmental challenges in ways that improve well-being and prosperity for all.

The Seminar offers a great insight to what the UN has planned for us!

Her talk only lasts 15 minutes. I have watched that bit, and jotted these notes down:

  • Modern economics is based on the assumption that self interest and competition best serves individual and collective wellbeing.
  • Our economic system encourages consumption; society values profit, material wealth and economic expansion
  • In high income countries, there are serious signs of social and cultural decay, loneliness, loss of trust in govts, and widening gap between rich and poor.
  • In West, most people’s living standards are no longer rising, and fruits of expansion are grabbed by those who have the most.

So far, she could have been quoting from the Marxist text book.

She then inevitably goes on to discuss the “Climate Crisis”

  • A fossil fuel based model of economic growth is destroying the ecological building blocks, on which our wellbeing depends

There’s loads more of this nonsense, which we have heard many times before, and which I do not intend to repeat.

But then she comes on to her conclusions as to how we can solve the crisis:

  • She stresses that rich countries must be treated differently to poorer ones, who must be allowed and aided to grow their economies.
  • The wicked West, however, must stop using economic growth and GDP as a measure of human wellbeing.
  • We must also put nature at the heart of our economy.
  • We must also redefine what we mean by wealth, which must in future be synonymous with human wellbeing
  • Amongst poorer countries, Costa Rica is apparently a good example to West of how we should live our lives!

Now here’s a few of my thoughts.

  • A society that does not value self interest is one that does not reward hard work and learning – surely not a recipe for collective wellbeing?
  • We have seen what happens in societies which abhor profit making. Maybe Msuya thinks the USSR was a good place to live?
  • Most people would be horrified if their standards of living reverted to, say, that of the 1930s. Clearly it is nonsensical to criticise consumption, wealth and economic expansion.
  • I don’t recognise her criticisms of the West, such as decay, living standards and so on. As for “loss of trust in govts”, maybe she should be criticising her own government in Tanzania or other African ones, who could learn a lot from western democracy.
  • Her concerns about the environment miss the point. Western countries now proactively protect and nurture the environment, precisely because of economic growth. In the past, and in countries like China now, there simply was not the money or resources available to do this.
  • Equally, it has always been capitalist economies which have led the way in protecting the environment. By contrast, in communist countries, such as the USSR, the system of government actively discouraged this.
  • The final segment is all rather muddled and rambling. How, for instance, do we measure “nature”?

When it comes to election time, nobody votes because of what GDP says. They vote on the basis of all of the things they value for their own well being – standard of living, security, crime, healthcare, education, public services and many other things.

To each individual, the list and weightings will be different, but it is up to them to decide what is important, not somebody from the UN.

But most indicators however clearly show that human wellbeing, however you define it, has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, both in the West and developing countries. If anyone is in any doubt about this, go and have a look at the Our World In Data website, which I often publish.

  • It cannot be denied that seven billion or so humans on the planet are putting strain on the environment. But we know that as societies grow wealthier, population growth slows. What does Msuya propose we do to reduce population levels, which can be the only consequence of her plans?
  • There is one final, and frightening, aspect of her proposals. How on earth can we sustain our present populations, both national and global, if her policies are followed through? How, for instance, would we feed ourselves, if intensive agriculture is banned? Or heat our homes, pay for hospitals and schools, care for the elderly and all the other things we take for granted? And we in the West are the lucky ones. In many parts of the world, millions will literally starve to death.

Sadly we cannot just write all this off as the mad ramblings of a loony left wing UN bureaucrat.

41 Comments
  1. devonblueboy permalink
    May 15, 2021 7:55 pm

    “Sadly we cannot just write all this off as the mad ramblings of a loony left wing UN bureaucrat.”

    But we must

    • May 15, 2021 8:23 pm

      Show me one who is not a “loony left wing UN bureaucrat”. It is interesting how the UN clique see themselves and that is as an unelected World Government in the waiting maybe if we are lucky with Tanzanian tribal style government office distribution.

      • bobn permalink
        May 15, 2021 11:39 pm

        Correct. The UN takes $billions every year to squander on its 50,000 or so overpaid staff. It sets itself up a the Government of Governments and due to its corrupt and misguided views and measures it has directly led to – “loss of trust in govts”,
        This woman is part of the problem causing “loss of trust in govts”,

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        May 16, 2021 8:45 am

        Tanzania’s socialist policies after independence failed miserably. They kept tens of millions in poverty needlessly whilst the government pushed fantasy economics. Children died needlessly. Mothers died needlessly. Young people had lives of grinding poverty needlessly. We all know of the victims of Stalin and Mao but Marx’ victims were everywhere in their hundreds of millions.

  2. Ben Vorlich permalink
    May 15, 2021 7:55 pm

    Wealth,as you correctly say reduces population growth, and given 3 or 4 genertions actually create declining populations. But it’s my view it also reduces wars and conflicts through better education, travel, and not wanting to lose what you’ve got. That’s why we have to fight a war on climate change we all know that we’ve too much to lose having a full blown war with France over fishing in The Channel, despite having had 40 years of arguments of EU takingour Sovereignty . However the Palestinians in Gaza have nothing to lose, and are not discouraged by Isreal destroying what little they have because they, wrongly in my opinion, think that things will be better when Hamas and Hezbollah destroy Isreal.

  3. Penda100 permalink
    May 15, 2021 7:58 pm

    Third world poverty down, hunger down, disease down, life expectancy increased and all because of Marxist economic theory. Just look what a success Zimbabwe is. Seriously, what is the point of the UN? Msuya’s salary is effectively paid by the western states she wants to send back to the middle ages – a great idea to bite the hand that feeds you.

    • devonblueboy permalink
      May 15, 2021 8:17 pm

      Biting the hand that feeds them shows the level of ignorance common to all pan national bureaucrats. c.f. EU

    • May 16, 2021 4:47 pm

      The point? Does it need a point?

      It garners vast sums of money and not only struts its stuff on the world stage it IS the world stage. Many of the middle and top people operate on the buggins turn basis, with the added dimension that they score more points if they are not from the West or a developed country or have experience of the job they are appointed to

      The UN does have some good agencies but it could do with a severe slimminfg down

  4. johnbillscott permalink
    May 15, 2021 8:22 pm

    The UN is teeming with people like her and all are political appointees. They live in a privileged cocoon of a, too, large mutual admiration society paid by the Western Nations particularly the USA. When she retires she will have a gold plated pension, paid in US dollars. I doubt she will return to her country of origin and will reside in the safety of the Western society she despises.

  5. May 15, 2021 8:31 pm

    I disagree with all of the above

    • bobn permalink
      May 15, 2021 11:44 pm

      You disagree with all the above comments by Ms Msuya? I think we all disagree with this parasitic woman. Shame she doesnt want an honest job.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 16, 2021 8:46 am

      Then do explain why or you sound like a silly little boy.

  6. May 15, 2021 8:33 pm

    I find some of these comments a bit imbalanced, even immature

    • JimW permalink
      May 15, 2021 8:39 pm

      Please educate me. If you can, great, if you can’t please shut up.

    • devonblueboy permalink
      May 15, 2021 8:42 pm

      If you are referring to the comments provided by contributors there’s always the unsubscribe button if you disagree. Or you could always provide a rational argument in support of the position adopted by the UN spokesperson?

    • May 15, 2021 8:44 pm

      Well bu**er off somewhere else then.

  7. Gamecock permalink
    May 15, 2021 9:44 pm

    ‘Today’s crises’

    . . . are no different than yesterday’s crises. Governments, UN, keep them stirred up.

    H/T H.L. Mencken

    ‘are forcing us to ask hard questions’

    Nah. Questions are easy. It’s answers that can be difficult.

    ‘Modern economics is based on the assumption that self interest and competition best serves individual and collective wellbeing.’

    Modern economics is fascist, with government intervention everywhere.

    Capitalism is Marx’s pejorative of free enterprise. In free enterprise, people pursue their own interests. Their interests. ‘Collective wellbeing’ has FA to do with it. Yet this free enterprise produces great prosperity, which, in fact, does produce great well being. Communist UN calls it ‘collective’ wellbeing.

    ‘about what we value and how we structure our economies’

    ‘We,’ kemo sabe?

    You structure nothing. Central structuring of economies always fails. Individuals around the world should be free to trade as they see fit. It’s none of the UN’s beeswax.

  8. dearieme permalink
    May 15, 2021 9:52 pm

    “Reimagining” means you needn’t read further.

  9. tomo permalink
    May 15, 2021 10:34 pm

    Look at her predecessor Erik Solheim for the calibre of people that the goons at UNEP employ….

  10. markl permalink
    May 15, 2021 10:54 pm

    The UN is the epitome of a quango. Since inception it has strayed FAR from its’ mission and the world has allowed it because they are masters at playing countries against one another to satisfy their internal goals ….. which have nothing to do with world peace (their mission) and everything to do with world domination. Read Agenda 21 to find what they have evolved to.

    • Andrew Harding permalink
      May 15, 2021 11:32 pm

      Agenda 2030 is worse!

      • Vernon E permalink
        May 16, 2021 4:13 pm

        I hope our readers all recognise that her rantings are pure UN 2030 Agenda and its gaining ground every where.

  11. May 16, 2021 1:47 am

    Looks like the credit bubble is about to burst. This could spell the end of the US dollar as a reserve currency. The changes to follow could make the depression of the 1930s look like a picnic. This will likely be followed by a period of introspection in which the desirability of initiative, enterprise, keeping the lights on, and a more equitable sharing of the proceeds of productive activity will exercise the minds of voters. Even in the UN.

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      May 16, 2021 3:27 am

      … exercise the minds of voters …
      who might just be talked into more wars.
      History repeats.
      In England at least the Government are handing the police more powers in preperation for this.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        May 16, 2021 10:20 am

        British are policed by consent. Plod would do well to remember that.

    • markl permalink
      May 16, 2021 4:00 am

      What makes you think this time it will be different/worse than the last half dozen times +/-? The world doesn’t trust any country more than the US to carry the reserve currency flag. China would like to, has maneuvered for it, but doesn’t have the world trust. Right now the US is the cream of the crap for trusted economies and government. I’ve been wrong before 🙂

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 16, 2021 8:48 am

      What’s a more equitable sharing of my labour?

      I already hand over half the potatoes I grow to other people, whilst they give me nothing of what they produce – if they produce anything.

      What’s more equitable then? 60% 90%?

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        May 16, 2021 10:18 am

        Anything more than half is slavery. And half is too much.

  12. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    May 16, 2021 5:37 am

    Total control over production, movement and utility of every thing on the planet requires huge infrastructure now named the Belt and Road Initiative.
    From lab grown meats to ‘green’ energy deals are being struck.
    Arms from Israel, energy from Iran. China strikes massive deals. Digital currency, social compliance. The collapse of the Bretton-Woods petrol dollar system herald the new world reserve currancy.
    This required to implement China’s masterplan.
    Known by this rather catchy, mind focusing description,
    21st Century Permanent Technocratic Enslavement, of mankind.

  13. Malcolm Bell permalink
    May 16, 2021 7:21 am

    It is simple: if the population grows at 3% then the economy must grow at the same rate for everybody’s living standard to remain the same.

    So the “no-growthers” who also seem to be against population control, are saying that the proportion of poor must increase and every one must cut back. Is that what they want?

    I want to cut the population and so we can all live better.

    Which is the best plan?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 16, 2021 8:54 am

      Neither. You can have population growth and economic growth. Economic growth results from higher productivity which is producing more using less. And more people produces growth as well – overall, not on a per capita basis so you have to define your measurements.

      And economic growth has been undercounted for years – the only dispute is whether it’s a fair bit or a huge amount.

  14. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 16, 2021 8:42 am

    The left wing policies I want don’t actually work so we have to redefine what we want so they do work.

    It’s just a truly epic movement of the goal posts. As ever a Leftie misunderstands market economies. We choose what we value. What is consumed is what we want to consume. She of course wants us to consume only what she thinks we should want to consume. Yet another proto-fascustvwho just can’t stand other people making different choices.

  15. AC Osborn permalink
    May 16, 2021 9:26 am

    The well being of everybody in modern society relies on cheap and plentiful Energy which is why they want to make it much more expensive.

  16. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    May 16, 2021 10:17 am

    What a very stupid person Grace is.

  17. Mad Mike permalink
    May 16, 2021 10:25 am

    Its funny how these utopian policies are always put forward by people who are in well paid secure positions and know that they won’t be adversely affected whatever the outcome. Let them go out and ask for the opinions of the guy that empties your bin, drives the bus or farms the land rather than talking to other people in similarly secure and well paid positions. See what their priorities are.

    • May 16, 2021 12:24 pm

      Reminds me of my late Father in Law, a confirmed champagne socialist. Always ready to tell the little people how they should spend their money, from the lofty position of heading up the DHSS in Wales.

  18. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    May 16, 2021 10:59 am

    Chaswarnertoo – plod should indeed police by consent. My grammer this morning was poor.
    I had meant to refer only to recent legislation in England (not Scotland).
    My apolopies.

  19. Phil O'Sophical permalink
    May 16, 2021 11:35 am

    “How on earth can we sustain our present populations, both national and global, if her policies are followed through?”

    Precisely. We can’t. Hence the depopulation agenda. Join the dots.

  20. Robin Guenier permalink
    May 16, 2021 1:46 pm

    India, China and Southeast Asia incorporates a burgeoning, wealthy and consumer-oriented group of close to a billion people, including some of the world’s richest individuals. All the countries in this area are classified as ‘developing’ (under the UNFCCC) and therefore entitled to give ‘first and overriding priority’ to economic development. Moreover, five of them (China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) have greater per capita emissions than the EU. I wonder if Ms Msuya is aware of all this – and whether she includes them when she talks of ‘high income’ and ‘wealthy’ countries.

  21. dennisambler permalink
    May 16, 2021 2:37 pm

    Check out the UN system:

    Click to access un_system_chart.pdf

    In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, UNCED, called for a new charter to “guide the transition to sustainable development”. In 1992, the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, and the Rio Declaration seemed to be the most that was achievable at that time. However in 1994, Maurice Strong, (Earth Council) and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, (Green Cross International) relaunched the Earth Charter as a “civil society” initiative. As the architect of the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Development Program, (UNEP-UNDP), Strong had for many years co-ordinated and strengthened the integration of NGO’s into the UN environmental bodies.

    In Geneva in 1973, he launched the “World Assembly of NGO’s concerned with the Global Environment”. He realised that for his ambitions of a UN world government to become reality he needed the vast networking opportunities offered by the NGO’s, now referred to as “Civil Society”.

    By offering them involvement and a perception of power he brought them on board and certainly the UN could not have developed as far as it has without them as foot soldiers. NGO’s are now involved in all UN bodies and are major contributors to the IPCC reports. They have helped to build this all-encompassing bureaucracy into the behemoth that it now is.

    The aim of “World Government” is laughed at as conspiracy theory, but “World Governance”, by treaties such as Montreal, or Kyoto and its successor the Paris Agreement and by bodies such as the World Bank, WHO, WTO, IMF, etc, is a reality.

  22. Vernon E permalink
    May 16, 2021 4:37 pm

    If “World Government” is a conspiracy theorty there are an awful lot of highly influential people involved in it, but there are also numerous threads. I follow reports about UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developement which seems to be a direct offshoot of the WEF (World Economic Forum), Davos in other words, and led by one Klaus Schwab which involves the Trilateral Commission of which Keir Starmer is listed as a member! Look out, they are coming for us in droves (but not in my lifetime thankfully).

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