But let us look at our definitions of ‘growth’
Most of our ‘growth’ is waste.
An example is my ten-years’ old microwave oven. It would not work. Everyone said to me that I must trash it and buy another. That would be cheaper than trying to get someone to mend it. I tried to get someone to mend it. It cost me his coming-out fee and six-minutes’ work. Now it works wonderfully.( But he does not get much work. He will soon be out of a job.)
Which of the two alternatives was better for the economy?
Buying another and trashing what I had gave income to the importer and the foreigner country that made the new one, using energy and materials. Trashing it would cost the local council the jobs of collecting it and putting it in landfill, which is getting scarce. So the total cost of getting a new one would be income for some people.
Getting someone to mend my microwave would be income for the mender – his coming-out fee and six-minutes’ work. It would make less for the economy than trashing it – or would it?
My toaster was on the blink. I chucked it in the rubbish and bought a new one. Was the economy helped more than if someone had mended it?
I live in a house, which I refuse to sell. It makes nothing for the economy. If I sold it, I would make some money, the estate agent would make money, the wrecker would make money, the builder of a McMansion on my property would make money and so would all his subcontractors and their workmen and makers of parts for the house. The buyer of the McMansion would perhaps take out a mortgage and the bank would make money. The McMansion would need more maintenance, cleaning, central heating and air-conditioning than my present house requires. Selling my house would boost the economy. Not selling my house but living in it would not help the economy hardly at all.
I live in my house and don’t want to go to a retirement village or nursing home. If I did go, it would make money for lots of people, who look after old people ,from the operators and the care workers to the people who look after the financing of it all.
But we need to have jobs in preventing waste, not making more.
There are plenty of things needing to be done, without wasting. All infrastructure needs vast improvement – repairs and innovation, in water supply conservation, sewage, transport and energy supplies. Sewerage systems can be restructured and rebuilt to stop the current appalling waste of our most renewable fertilizer, and enabling salvage of heavy metals and re-use of grey water at source. For transport, there is the invention, manufacture and maintenance of more types of vehicles that do not waste, pollute and endanger. Housing and community environments are needed that are decent for everyone. Our present spate of development is building wastefully designed houses that pile up future problems. There are many aspects of rural Australia which need improving. How can the land be fertilized without pollution and run-off problems? What food sources can be easily grown that least deplete soils? What are the best ways to conserve marine and forest resources, and make it possible for wildlife to survive? Landcare needs many workers; you cant just plant trees and leave them.
Can we develop plants that withstand climate changes, poor soils and droughts? Preserve Australian unique flora and fauna?
Pest and weed eradication needs manpower more than chemicals. Can we find uses for pests and weeds, since they abound and are hardy, and that need manpower rather than chemicals to control? For example, not just cull – a temporary measure – but get rid of feral camels, using aboriginal desert know-how and skills, and making use of all bits of the camel. How can we develop cheap means of taking camel products from the places of killing to a centre for distribution?
Can we prevent fires and develop less flammable forests and understoreys? Is a less destructive defence than fire possible against wildfires?
The greatest conservation challenge is to reverse deserts and speed the biological processes that can crumble rocks into soils.
Australian manufacture of products that are more innovative, renovatable, reliable, updatable, durable, beautiful, recyclable and less wasteful has the extra advantage of reducing the increasing freight costs from overseas. Manufacturing techniques will conserve resources. There will be innovation in artistic and other cultural products of each country that are distinctive and contribute to variety and beauty in life in the world. Fashions will be beautiful, useful, durable and comfortable, and designed to suit different needs, because they will be geared to the changing population
Research in many fields will be increased, rather than cut. For example, technology will be from renewable non-polluting energy sources, and innovative intermediate technology will be exported as well as for domestic use, using solar, wind, and well-geared human-power (exercise).
Retailing at present is a source of waste. Most things in shops will be in waste-bins within two years. Fresh foods are wasted that are not sold the first few days. Retailers prefer to sell large appliances because the profits are greater, and hence have no call to sell innovative low technology. As freight costs and petrol costs grow, retail can change to allow more local shopping. Local councils can sponsor local ‘Australia’ shops that advertise locally-made goods. And people ought to respond by buying them. ‘Conservation Shops’ can stock and repair only conservation products. Salvage shops and centres can find uses and salvage for everything at present thrown daily out of shops, homes and building sites, and annually as hard rubbish.
If housekeeping is sustainable and saves waste, that will be more essential for our economy than markets that produce waste. Sustainable households will need more manpower and womanpower.
Services will include education that is lifelong to produce resilient, enterprising and idealistic adults; Childcare that is leisurely, for less herding and more freedom; Services include decent care for children, the disabled, sick, handicapped and elderly. This will need three times the labor force than we allocate at present, and opportunities to develop services further. Entertainment programs can be produced that are as fine as possible, giving visions for the future.
Work share can reduce the load on the increasingly overworked work force, while the unemployed will be employed for the dole. Services to the public will be improved everywhere, as a priority. ‘Invention sabbaticals’ and holidays for workers will help to develop ideas and innovations
Conditions of work can be rationalized. Once it was thought we should only need to work 20 hours a week. Why not? Today we have people working 48 hours plus, and others hardly working or not at all. Skills and retraining can be organized better.