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Why Might Economic Growth Not Always Be A Good Thing?

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Why Might Economic Growth Not Always Be A Good Thing?

When a country undertakes the challenge of economic growth, it does it
for a number of reasons, but possibly the most important of these is
to satisfy its population. At the end of the Second World War, South
Korea wanted to grow economically in order to escape their
predominantly farming lifestyles and to experience all of the benefits
of consumerism.

But instead what South Koreaand many other developing economies find
themselves left with is far from their idealistic dreams. Growth is
not always something to be welcome for the vast majority of
economically growing countries and can have devestating effects.

The problems we see today is endless. From the smallest microcosm to
the entire earth, economic growth and waste is slowly destroying
everything around us. As members of an industrialised society the
effects are all too apparent. And in general, the destroying of the
landscape and the pollution of air and water decrease our ability to
enjoy the "real" amenities of life, thus questioning the accepted
opinion that materialism brings more to our daily lives than for
example, the life of someone in a pristine and enjoyable natural
environment. As I sit here writing this essay, in front of me lie vast
swathes of land ripped wide open, and in their place, concrete sits.
To the growing economies of the world, we must pose one question and
one question alone - Is this what you really want?

Socially, one might argue that perhaps, economic growth might be a
good thing. All of the stereos, holidays, mobile phones and
apartments, some might say bring "enjoyment". But with this massive
growth often society "wants" are often created faster than the
industrial machine can satisfy them, leading to a continual, bitter
desire that always rises beyond what can satisfy it. Human nature
dictates this. I will not stop and be satisfied with my Jaguar, my
Rolls Royce and my BMW - no, now I want a Mercedes. This leaves people
often dissatisfied than before, when consumerism had been given a
lower value. Today, in our "advanced" society, consumption exists not
to satisfy consumer wants, but merely to justify production. Not only
this, but also the demands of high economic growth and consumerism
also place a huge toll on the cogs of the industrial machine, the
workers. Why do some many people take depressants and commit suicide
in developed nations if they are really enjoying the "real" amenities
of life? The stress and high-paced lifestyle is not always what people
in less developed countries or even in developed countries would
necessarily want.

So far, I have merely dealt with the problems that countries that have
grown have encountered. But there are far more problems in countries
where growth is just starting to occur. As well as the pollution and
dissatisfaction there is also a huge social burden. In economically
growing countries the social deprevation is all to apparent. Most
economically growing countries suffer depravation of Dickensian
proportions. The massive urbanisation often leaves authourities
outstripped in terms of resources, which means that health-care,
education, basic amenities and housing considerations can not be met,
and thus we see the situation in countries like Pakistan and India
today. The cholera outbreaks, the massive shanty towns, and all of the
social depravation would not occur in an Agrarian society.

The effects of economic growth are intrinsic with the nature of
economic growth. Many newly growing countries do not have the capital
and resources available to instigate economic growth. Thus they must
utilise the investment that is available from outside. But there is a
catch. Because of the huge uncertainity and chance involved in lending
money to a politically unstable country, the lender must have a return
proportional to the risk he/she is taking. Thus a debt grows. Thus a
country like Namibiaand most of Africa must pay the loans back with
the huge rate of interest, equal per annum to their total healthcare
expenditure. This, in conjunction to the African states pechant for
being ruled by dictators and buying a plethora of guns can cripple a
country.

Thus, while in the short and long terms, economic growth does have its
disadvantages. But it also does have its advantages. And again, if I
were to ask the question, "is it worth it?", it seems as though third
and second world countries have voted with their feet, for a
resounding, "yes".

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