AMERICA’S GREATEST PROBLEM: GROWTH
By Frosty Wooldridge
January 24, 2008
In a three part interview, I found myself astounded by author Michael Folkerth’s book: “THE BIGGEST LIE EVER BELIEVED.” He epitomizes a humorous economist and the “King of Simple.”
His book presents irrefutable logic that this nation cannot continue growing for the long term. We must face the facts of our limited continent. We must come to terms with not being able to extract five quarts of water out of a one gallon jug!
“I constantly attempt to create analogies that represent our system of ever expanding economic growth and the impossibility of continuing the same,” Folkerth said. “Growth is not the answer; it’s the problem.
“I have been a guest speaker on many national radio programs, and relate well to the expression “carrying capacity” that erupts in the media from time to time.”
Folkerth continued, “My experience with the term “carrying capacity” is that of western ranches. Having owned and sold ranches in Western Colorado for many years, the first question that a perspective buyer will ask is, “What’s the carrying capacity?”
“In the instance of a ranch, “carrying capacity” refers to the number of cattle that the resources of the ranch will support on a year around basis.
“Say that number was 200 head of mother cows and their offspring. That means the feed, water, landmass, and handling facilities will support these numbers as a contained unit.
“Now say that we add 50 mother cows to the mix without expanding our holdings. What would happen? You may think that 50 cows and calves would starve, but that isn’t true. All of the cows and calves would starve as would the ranch owners!
“Here’s why. As the cattle eat the feed, they will do so as a unit, each satisfying their necessary intake of hay. In our example, we added 50 cows or 25 percent more than the carrying capacity. Therefore all of the cattle will eat their fill for 75 percent of the year or nine months.
“During these nine months, everything would appear to be going fine and the cattle would be fat and healthy. However, come the 10th month, feed wouldn’t slowly diminish; it would be totally absent, having consumed 100 percent of carrying capacity in the first nine months. The cattle would now all be without feed and all would starve. The rancher, now with 250 dead cows and calves, would also be ruined.
“So why as humans can we not see the very real fact that we are grooming ourselves for the same fate? We have finite resources, but continue to expand infinitely. I promise you that it is no different than the above example of the cows.
“The U.S. grows our population exponentially each year with legal, and ignored illegal immigration as a means of maintaining our consumption based economy, but our land and resources remain the same size. It won’t work.
“As an example of the pending resource depletion, we now find ourselves having to import 75 percent of our oil from foreign nations (the U.S. hit peak oil in 1970) and we borrow some $3 Billion per day from the Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, Arab nations, and others, to keep our false economy alive.”
We import some $700 billion more in products than we export. We also suffer the second largest untaxed underground economy in the world that sends $80 billion in cash transfers back to home countries, annually. We pay over $400 million daily for interest on our $9 trillion federal debt.
“As the remainder of the developing world consumes resources at ever greater rates, the U.S. position will continue to weaken,” Folkerth said. “Americans represent approximately 4.8 percent of world population and consume some 25 percent of global fuel and 30 percent of world materials.
“The other 95.2 percent of the folks on earth now want their fair share and often, their sovereign owned, natural resources. Do the math! If China alone consumed at the same rate as Americans, there would be no resources left on earth for any other country.
“The cornerstone of the U.S. economy is growth. More people, more consumption, more imported goods, is the premise under which we operate. After digesting the above information; how long do you think our economic growth model will work going forward? Scary, huh?”
Reading Folkerth’s book provides a foundation for a new awakening for the United States. He said, “We must move to a more sustainable economic model. Growth is not the answer, it remains the problem.”
You may use the ‘carrying capacity’ model for a ranch or city or state or country. Better yet, you can use it for our finite globe. It does not fail in the final analysis. The failure comes from a finite piece of land being overwhelmed by any species past the ‘carrying capacity’. You’ve heard of deer populations crashing. Even today, human populations crash or live in unheard-of misery all over the planet. For the United States, it’s only a matter of time and growth.
“Growth” proves the most dangerous word of the 21st century.
“This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids. We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed.” David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States of America made this statement on “60 Minutes” March 4, 2007
“THE BIGGEST LIE EVER TOLD”
Author: Mike Folkerth
ISBN # 0-9779965-3-0
Publisher: Lifetime Chronicle Press
Price: $13.95 includes shipping