Children often dream to grow faster, being anxious to become adults. Parents usually track the process of this growth by marking the height of their kid on the wooden door at home. Every inch is a cause of happiness.

Yet, there comes the time when the growth of the child is no longer measurable by the marks on the door frame. Slowly, growth enters another dimension, where the height becomes subjected to the degree of emancipation. At that point, parents normally judge their beloved child by how well the kid can take care of itself, make its own bed, prepare the food alone, be safe on the way from school and take responsibility for its misdeeds.

However, many children grow taller without ever becoming real adults. Currently, 33 % of the young adults are still living at home under the care of their relatives. While many never learn how to emancipate themselves, others eventually get up from the couch and go out to find a proper job.

A job, as part of an economic cycle, largely keeping the economy in a stage, where marking the next inch on the wooden door is still a cause for celebration, sadly not a driving force for emancipation.

The economic growth is the main ideological line in the contemporary neoliberal capitalist economic system, which has spread its hegemonic power to the circles of the media. The annual growth of national economies comes as primary judgement for the well-being of societies. If a country´s GDP is not progressively increasing, then the economy is considered an obstacle to global progress, as well as to societal well-being. Respectively, the media does not hold back on criticism.

However, less evident from news reports bearing titles, such as China poses threat to global growth, IMF warns or Is the Brexit Threat to Economic Growth Contagious? is what exactly constitutes economic growth and how does it connect to societal progress.

If the widely-accepted value of professional journalism is “to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments”[1], then currently the realm of “the best” is largely limited to fit the neoliberal economic model.

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Under capitalist terms, largely supported by neoliberal policies, growth equals progress and is measured by the level of production and consumption of goods and services within a single society. For example, if Growth in spending is the slowest in two years – not a great sign for the economy, then your hands are not tied, because once you Want to Fix the Economy? Spend More Money is always the solution to neoliberalists. The capacity of spending plays a key role for the growing GDP, a sign of healthy economy, even when, for instance, spending regarding medical service shows growing illness among the population.

Rarely is there to find any different reflection provided by the media on the GDP as measurement, then its decline or growth. Critical analysis on basic laws of the economic model followed by developed countries is largely missing from the public news information, giving preference to framing the hegemony of neoliberal mass production and consumption as the path toward progress.

It is important to ask how progressive is it for a person to be dependent on the growth of the economy, which primarily works against individual emancipation, through constantly deepening the individual needs? A question, largely absent in the media dialogue.

The capitalist economy, despite all, faces partial confrontation, mainly by global environmentalists who recently managed to put enough pressure on the global political circles to address the topic of climate change. After the Paris conference, which took place earlier this year, 195 countries adopted a new plan of cutting carbon emissions from the beginning of 2021.

Yet, while the New Your Times informs the public that “The planet is under threat from human emissions, and the Paris climate deal is, at best, a first step toward fixing the problem.”, less has been communicated about how emissions will be cut to more than half under the current economic model and its objectives. The focus of the media falls on analysing the Climate Change Disaster Top Threat to Economy in 2016, hampering investors from entering national markets, which ultimately leads to Climate change may pose threat to economic growth, a threat that is already hard to swallow for the neoliberal capitalist economic ideology.

In result, alternative concepts opposing the narrative of mass production, such as the de-growth economic idea, receive little attention from the media. The framework of the ecological issue still seems to be captured in the neoliberal model of thinking, not allowing to expand the vision for possible solutions beyond questionable promises for “green technology”.

Understandably, people enjoy the cares of an abundance economy, just as a child enjoys the cares of its parents. Nevertheless, there comes the stage when the necessity to voluntarily emancipate from these cares comes, as comfort works for the person only until it starts to work against him. Unfortunately, while the European intellectual movement of de-growth raises similar alarms since 2008, the red light in the mass media is still not on. The media continues to mark the economic growth on the wooden door.

Thus, the child continues to grow in height and the global childish economy does so too. Without noticing the effects of time, the once beloved child has turned in an adult man, lying on the couch and waiting for the next episode on the TV, the next meal prepared by mommy, the next friend who will bring beer, the next thing which is easily consumed.

His contribution to the national GDP is high, his dependency as well. While his mother washes the dishes, and cleans the couch, our “grown up” child reads the headline We Need More Economic Growth. How? and proudly goes to fridge to open another Coca Cola bottle and show the rest of the world exactly how…

                                                                                                                                               Lora Ivanova

 

References:

 

  • Fernholz T. (Nov. 3, 2009). We Need More Economic Growth. How? The American Prospect.

 

 

 

 

  • Whitney M. (Feb. 4, 2013). Want to Fix the Economy? Spend More Money. Counter Punch.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] American Press Institute 2016, https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/what-is-journalism/purpose-journalism/

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