growth media

Talking post-growth on Radio 2

I was on the Jeremy Vine show today on Radio 2 to talk about post growth economics. The production team had come across my article on Japan, and got me in to talk about whether growth is actually necessary in an economy. On the other side of the table, Sam Bowman from the Adam Smith Institute.

If you’re in the UK, you can listen on iPlayer. Otherwise, here’s the audio:


  1. I listened to you on Radio 2. I can find no possible way of acknowledging that what you said is mere opinion. I see the falsehood of constant growth as a clearly evident fact, even based on repeatedly tried and tested principle. I am always initially aghast when people, like the chap from the Adam Smith Institute, can actually say something different. I am always open to new suggestions but principles do not need further test. Is it me? I feel like the victim in the Shawshank Redemption and shake my head with the words ‘Are you intentionally being obtuse’ falling out of my lips. I feel it must SURELY be a case of ‘none so blind as those who do not want to see’? Thankfully, you are able to persist in the face of it.

  2. Yes, I think it’s obvious too. Nothing can grow forever in a finite space. If you believe it can, you’re working against nature, logic and common sense. The free marketers have a much harder job, actually.

  3. I fully appreciate that you must be a VERY busy man so I understand if this is too much to ask of you – Is it possible that you may find a way to explain your last sentence to me? I understand that you cannot give me here, even a basic lesson on general economics, of which I am ignorant, however I do grasp principles, so, where there’s a will, there’s a way?

  4. Yes, I’m using ‘free marketers’ as shorthand for mainstream economists. Generally speaking, there is one school of thought that dominates economics, and it is free market neo-liberalism. They believe that government should be small and not interfere, and the more open and unregulated markets are (whether that’s money markets, commodities, or services) the better they will function and the more money they will make. They also believe in infinite growth.

    I think much of what they say is ideology rather than practically useful.

  5. Thanks. I understand the above, but I’m still left not knowing the meaning of said sentence – The marketers have a harder job than whom/what? and of doing what?
    Sorry to seem dense but I don’t see a connection with our shared comments on the Radio 2 content or what else you can be referring to.

    If you find it tiresome to explain yourself, please do not bother for me, I’d understand. I expect you could use your time more effectively elsewhere, but it’s much appreciated if you can.KW.

    1. I am saying that growth cannot carry on indefinitely in a finite space. The free marketers are arguing that it can. Since their position is in conflict with logic, I think they have a harder job than I do.

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