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Growth Bias Busted – Spotlighting Pro-Growth Bias in the Media

  • December 6, 2017

Dave Gardner |

Just a few weeks ago, in The Daily Beast, senior columnist Matt Lewis told the world, “it’s insane for a nation to aspire to a smaller population.”

In OH, BABY! The Fertility Rate Is Way Down, and Yes, That’s a Huge Problem, Lewis spread the lie that as our population has increased, we’ve become more prosperous and “environmentally friendly,” as “predicted by economists like Julian Simon….”

A few days later, a Newsweek reporter took note and reported “Fertility rates have declined, which has caused a mini panic.” Nowhere in her Birth Rates Are Dropping…piece did she address overpopulation or the benefits of reining in population growth. Of course, both U.S. and world population are still rising, so declining fertility rates should – realistically – be celebrated as very good news.

Repetition in the media of misassumptions about a limitless planet and the joys of infinite growth reinforce this mythology in our culture and brainwash new generations as they grow up in a world where news headlines celebrate economic growth, new housing starts, Cyber Monday sales, and cities topping population growth lists.

That’s why we need Growth Bias Busted. Here, each week I point out the illogic of pro-growth propaganda, and I applaud and reward instances of accurate reporting, opinion and policy that realistically acknowledge there are limits to growth.

Once upon a time, growth in population, economic throughput and consumption led to increasing prosperity. As we filled up the world, the link between growth and prosperity broke.

Today, growth is more likely to result in lower quality of life, less economic, social and personal well-being, and therefore less true prosperity. The old model no longer serves us, but we’ve all been programmed from birth to believe in the link between growth and prosperity. Much of that programming comes to us via the media.

Today, journalists and commentators, who themselves were raised on a steady diet of what can now be accurately termed the growth/prosperity fairy tale, are not keeping up with the evidence and knowledge base that tell us growth is not essential for prosperity; in fact continued growth guarantees less prosperity in the future.

We developed Growth Bias Busted to shine a spotlight on the repetition of that fairy tale in reporting and commentary. Our mission is to:

1) enlighten journalists and news organizations, and encourage them to begin questioning those unexamined assumptions about prosperity from growth

2) spread public awareness of the pro-growth spin, diminishing the power of this fairy tale

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