So, this morning on my way to work, I was listening to a segment on the Diane Rehm show about international trade and the global recession.  I’ve been listening to a lot of radio talk shows on the global economy lately (including many of President Obama’s press conferences), and while the content of these programs isn’t typically designed to be amusing (war, strife, poverty, the faltering market), this one actually made me laugh!

The comment was in reference to the fact that the wages of American blue collar workers had really stagnated over the past thirty years, that the U.S. is the largest manufacturer in the world, and that we MUST find a way to make this economy grow again–the economy has got to grow.
fat-corporation-in-story-of-stuff
What made me laugh is the fact that this premise of “economic growth,” upon which many of the current stimulus suggestions are being made, is rarely challenged, or at least accepted within mainstream dialogues.  I was reminded of Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff (pictured above), in which Annie cleverly explains that the pursuit of infinite growth on a finite planet with a finite amount of resources is mathematically, logically, environmentally impossible.

I highly recommend you watch the full presentation–so worth it.  Even if you think you’ve mastered the basic concepts, Annie lays it out in such a straightforward and articulate way, that it makes you wonder how the growth wonks haven’t caught on yet.

If you’re interested in development policy and poverty-eradication programs, I highly recommend some background reading on development theory (not just economics).  This is the perfect moment to jump start this conversation.  What is development?  What does it look like and to whom?  What is the measure of success?  And who decides when you’ve arrived?

I meet more and more student these days taking classes in development policy or the politics of inequality, and would love to hear your thoughts.

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