“Unfettered demand is part of the human condition.” L.Cecchini, 2009.

In 1970 a goup with the august title, “The Club of Rome,” released its seminal study, “Limits to “Growth.” It hit the world with a bang. Reinforced by the new photos from outer space and the moon showing the Earth as a glowing, fragile light in a sea of ink black, the people of the world began to think of the planet as, “Spaceship Earth.” The cry went up, “it is our duty to save our planet.” Enter the concern with diminishing resources and our need to husband them more carefully. Under the banner, “Small Is Beautiful,” we unleashed a flood of efforts to lower consumption.

Unfortunatey for those behind the campaign the basic research was fatally flawed. It was a time when every “economist” became seized by exponential curves that showed rapidly diminishing resources of all types with petroleum being a focal point. I always joked that exponential curves actually described parabolas that ultimately bend over and collapse on themselves. But mathematical theory is not a subject for everyday writing.

The flaw was not exponential curves. No, the flaw was that all the “research” showing that we were headed to a world denuded of all resources was based on one assumption, “ceteris paribus,” or “all other things being equal.” Well the only axiom to remember here is the self-contradictory one that, “the only constant is change.” By forgetting this axiom the Club of Rome ultimately dismissed itself as a serious voice and input for understanding the planet.

After a brief spell in the 1970s of downsizing led by “Holly Hobby” and her companion “Farmer Billl” dressed in homespun and growing their own food, the 1980s witnessed another round of “unfettered demand.”

Fast forward to 2009. We are now in a debate arising from the ashes of the “Great Recession.” On the one side are those who say we should eschew the new fangled instruments that provided unprecedented credit and a quantum leap in demand, the so-called “securitized” or “collateralized” debt. We have to go back to “living within our means,” which means here and now, go back to just using our previous sources of credit and not overdo things by using “toxic assets.” The clear result would be to see serious contraction of our economy. Essentially the same result that would have come from, “Small Is Beautiful.”

I cast my lot with the realists on the other side of the equation. Bascially we hear the strains of the old tune, “How You Gonna Keep’em Down on the Farm Once They’ve Seen Gay Paree.” I still see Hollywood Sam cruising Rodeo Boulevard in his Porsche searching for an Armani suit and Ubaba Sipho riding his bike along a dusty road in the African bush searching for a really plump chicken for dinner. No, we will not go back to eating lower on the hog, we will keep on asking for more. “Unfettered demand,” will insure that we go right back to using “securitized” debt to increase our ability to satisfy that demand, and any other new credit source invented by the minds of the “best and brightest.”