A new definition for economics


By Austin Johnson, essay written Dec. 2012 for UAA Honors 192 course, Limits to Growth

Le moulin de l'oubli (Mill of oblivion), Gilbert Garcin, 1929 Value added modern business?
Le moulin de l’oubli (Mill of oblivion), Gilbert Garcin, 1999 Value added modern business?

“There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” The legendary Sierra Club executive director David Brower spoke these words. I have found no quote that ties business and earth together with such profound simplicity. I will use the inspiration from this quote to look at our current system of business and give examples of more sustainable practices. To conclude this UAA Honors course on limits to growth, I revisit my earlier definition of our system as one based solely on the production, consumption and exchange of goods

L’atelier de Sisyphe - Sisiphus’ workshop, Garcin, 2001
L’atelier de Sisyphe – Sisiphus’ workshop, Garcin, 2001 The business cycle

tied to a free market, whereby anyone can envision, develop and deliver products as long as the end cost is competitive. In the market place, the consideration of “good” or “bad” in products is seldom distinguished. This has led us to a place where missiles and solar panels are evaluated using the same economic metrics. Both items have a purchaser and can be produced competitively within their own markets. Both count as forms of economic growth. Companies playing the economic game continually search for the edge that will maximize profit at other’s expense. We live in a society that constantly reminds us that at the end of the day the person who profits is the “winner”. When profit is of utmost importance, we ignore other values like happiness and spirituality that offer new ways to measure wealth. It is clear that this current economic system has major flaws that render it broken. Continue reading A new definition for economics