An Introduction to the President’s Column
by Don Mann, President, NPG, Inc.
Since NPG was founded over 40 years ago I have been convinced that NPG at bottom is an economic theory: namely, that our goal should be to optimize per capita income and wealth for all, in a way that would be sustainable for the very long term, and that the only way to achieve that goal is by a negative rate of population growth until our economy has been reduced to a sustainable size.
One of the first members of our Advisory Board back in 1970 the late Emile Benoit, Professor of Economics at the Columbia Graduate School of Business, did his Doctoral Dissertation at Harvard University in the 1950′s on that very theme.
Only after our economy has been reduced to a sustainable size, by reducing the size of our population, can we possibly hope to create a non-growing, steady-state economy that would be sustainable for the very long term, and afford an adequate standard of living for all, in a sound and healthy environment.
The chief obstacle to achieving that goal is the almost universal, strongly held belief in economic growth, the world’s great secular religion. In fact, however, macro (total) economic growth is the mortal enemy of per capita wealth and income. Macro economic growth depends for its existence on an ever growing population to feed the growth of Gross National Product (GNP). If long continued, it will destroy our environment, our resources, and our per capita income along with it.
Even now macro economic growth is in the process of destroying the very life support systems of our small planet that make our existence here possible. That is neither hyperbole nor exaggeration. It is a plain statement of fact.
The bottom line with regard to macro economic growth is the very basic and irrefutable fact that no material growth can possibly continue for long in a finite environment and universe. As the late and noted economist, Kenneth Boulding, wrote some years ago: “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
The late Senator Gaylord Nelson, the originator of Earth Day, identified forging a sustainable society as the fundamental issue of our time. For over 40 years Negative Population Growth, Inc. has dedicated itself to helping achieve that goal.