68. Are We Too Wealthy?

Do we demand an unsus­tain­able and unre­al­is­tic qual­ity of life? Does our desire to be wealthy place too much pres­sure on the econ­omy and on the envi­ron­ment? Is it pos­si­ble that we may have to think about accept­ing less? 

Thor May
Bris­bane, 2014


Pref­ace: This is a dis­cus­sion paper, not a researched aca­d­e­mic doc­u­ment. The read­ing list at the end is a col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary links from the Inter­net. The author is a prin­ci­pal orga­nizer for a Bris­bane, Aus­tralia, dis­cus­sion group whose mem­bers come from diverse back­grounds, and which deals with an eclec­tic col­lec­tion of top­ics. Where a topic is of broad gen­eral inter­est I have adopted the prac­tice of post­ing dis­cus­sion starters like the present one on Academia.edu in the hope that oth­ers might also find them worth think­ing about. 




1. Are you too rich, or is Aus­tralia too rich, or the human world?

It is always rather dif­fi­cult to find any­one who will admit to being paid too much for their labour. It is always easy to find a legion who will claim that they are paid too lit­tle. Thus, reduced to a per­sonal enquiry, few will admit that they are too wealthy. Once “we” is included to mean some imper­sonal pop­u­la­tion of Aus­tralia, or even a group of nations, then a debate can usu­ally be had.


2. Resources ver­sus mate­rial wealth

A gen­eral uneasi­ness about a pop­u­la­tion being “too wealthy” can be unpacked in var­i­ous ways.

a) Given knowl­edge which has become wide­spread about lim­ited global resources rel­a­tive to the ever increas­ing demands of indus­tri­al­ized soci­eties for mate­ri­als, lim­its-to-growth debates are legit­i­mate. In Aus­tralia the extremely high con­sump­tion (and pol­lu­tion) model of eco­nomic pro­gress is mit­i­gated by a small pop­u­la­tion in a very large con­ti­nent.

b) A part of the Aus­tralian pop­u­la­tion is con­cerned at an intel­lec­tual level about the ulti­mate price of ‘being too rich’ where that means deplet­ing the envi­ron­ment in a non-sus­tain­able way. The bulk of the pop­u­la­tion does not feel this (yet) in their bones, so the cur­rent polit­i­cal cli­mate is safely built on a form of denial. 

c) To draw a con­trast with Aus­tralia, in China, which is also of con­ti­nen­tal size, but home to 20% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, most of the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion has tried to fol­low late leader Deng Xiao Peng’s dic­tum that “to be rich is glo­ri­ous”. Cur­rently the price of that maxim in China is a life or death issue for that vast pop­u­la­tion, as well as, inci­den­tally, for the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party. China’s indus­tri­al­iza­tion and urban­iza­tion has resulted in the air being poi­soned, with pol­lu­tion in cites like Bei­jing rou­tinely exceed­ing safe inter­na­tional stan­dards mul­ti­ple fac­tors. The water is poi­soned, and deplet­ing in north China at a rate which might imply mass pop­u­la­tion extinc­tion in the fore­see­able future. Food is poi­soned to the extent that the Com­mu­nist Party elite obtains food only from its own mil­i­tar­ily guarded farms while the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion is scan­dal­ized daily by exposés of crim­i­nal food con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.  Not unre­lated to mate­rial con­cerns per­haps, human rela­tions tend to be poi­soned. There is zero pub­lic trust in China. Pub­lic offi­cials are widely con­sid­ered to be scoundrels. Posi­tions of respon­si­bil­ity and secure jobs are rou­tinely pur­chased.

d) I use China as an extreme exam­ple, and because I worked in the coun­try for five years. How­ever, some­what sim­i­lar sce­nar­ios can be tracked from Lagos to Delhi to Teheran to Moscow to Sao Paulo to Mex­ico City. A gen­er­a­tion ago the United States of Amer­ica, with 4.6% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, could mind­lessly squan­der around 30% of the world’s extractable resources at the time. Now much of the world’s pop­u­la­tion aspires to the same growth track. The maths don’t com­pute. How­ever, the ulti­mate point is that the “too rich” seg­ments of soci­eties are prob­a­bly the least likely to adjust their val­ues, goals or meth­ods, or to sur­ren­der any priv­i­lege. This has always been the case. The “too poor” seg­ments of soci­eties over­whelm­ingly aspire to the priv­i­leges enjoyed by the “too rich”. 


3. The end of the growth model – what is to be done?

Large num­bers of edu­cated, reflec­tive peo­ple world­wide have become aware over the last gen­er­a­tion that the glob­al­iza­tion of extreme mate­rial wealth in its present form can­not be sus­tained.  In this aware­ness peo­ple dif­fer from sev­eral pre­ced­ing human gen­er­a­tions where the pre­vail­ing belief was that eco­nomic growth (a.k.a. “pro­gress”) was a good thing. In pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions the polit­i­cal pas­sions focused on how wealth was to be divided up – hence the broad labels of agrar­ian land­lordism, mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism, crony cap­i­tal­ism, social­ism, national social­ism … and so on. 


4. How the present gen­er­a­tion is dif­fer­ent from its pre­de­ces­sors

Seg­ments of present pop­u­la­tions have decided that most prior ide­olo­gies were vari­a­tions on a global Ponzi  scheme which is approach­ing its moment of col­lapse. That col­lapse might be expressed in the deple­tion of mate­rial resources, in eco­log­i­cal fail­ure, or in the sheer break­down through over-com­plex­ity of sys­tems which fail­ure-prone humans sim­ply can­not man­age.  What­ever the loom­ing break­down point in any given locale or soci­ety, the focus of polit­i­cal dis­pute becomes “what is to be done”? 


5. Carpe diem * ?  [* carpe diem => ‘seize the day’,  ‘eat, drink and be merry’ …. ] 

If, like the sci­en­tist James Love­lock, you believe that it is already too late to save the planet and your chil­dren, an atti­tude of carpe diem might be ratio­nal (see Aitken­head, 2008) ‘enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warm­ing will hit the fan‘.  Carpe diem has been a pop­u­lar atti­tude for cer­tain per­son­al­ity types at least since the time of Aesop’s Fables (see “The Ant and the Grasshop­per”), and is pre­served in much lit­er­a­ture (e.g. the Rubi­ayat of Omar Kayam).  For most peo­ple every­where, hap­haz­ardly informed through a haze of mass media white noise, and feel­ing per­son­ally pow­er­less or indif­fer­ent, carpe diem will always seem a ratio­nal choice. Of course, peo­ple fre­quently have a “per­sonal dream” and some­times throw a wild dice for per­sonal wealth, even when the odds are hope­lessly against them. This is every­man buy­ing a weekly lot­tery ticket. It may be as amoral and fool­ish as run­ning drugs (see McCarthy 2014). The core expec­ta­tions of such folk are prob­a­bly imper­vi­ous to high flown pleas for global respon­si­bil­ity. How­ever, if we do look on from a great height, local­ized self-aban­don­ment amongst scat­tered human groups and indi­vid­u­als is a rather dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion from the final­ity of pend­ing global extinc­tion through the fail­ure of soci­eties to plan intel­li­gently for the future.


6. Tech­nol­ogy will save us (?) 

The achieve­ments of sys­tem­atic research in tech­nol­ogy and sci­ence since the late 18th Cen­tury have spurred an expo­nen­tial growth in human pop­u­la­tions, yet brought us to the point where the strains we are plac­ing on the global ecosys­tem are no longer the­o­ret­i­cal, but present and life-threat­en­ing. These tech­ni­cal achieve­ments have not been matched by any uni­ver­sal pro­gress in ren­der­ing benign the more destruc­tive ele­ments of human psy­chol­ogy and social behav­iour. One out­come of this mis­match of tech­nol­ogy and human­ity is a kind of King Kong risk of extinc­tion.

Another para­dox­i­cal out­come is that pop­u­lar fatal­ism (sub­mis­sion to ‘God’s will’)  has been at least partly replaced by a deeply held faith in the abil­ity of fresh sci­en­tific and tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion to save us from any cat­a­stro­phe.  This kind of faith is manna for politi­cians and all seek­ers of profit. Indeed, wherever there is an exis­ten­tial threat, inno­va­tion will fol­low, no mat­ter whether the threat is mil­i­tary anni­hi­la­tion , or a world food short­age, or cli­mate change. Such inno­va­tions are often highly ben­e­fi­cial. Some­times how­ever, by remov­ing an imme­di­ate polit­i­cal risk, they merely delay and mag­nify a long term dis­as­ter sce­nario.  For exam­ple, hugely increas­ing crop yields  may sim­ply gen­er­ate a large pop­u­la­tion increase and/or  the diver­sion of grains into more waste­ful live­stock breed­ing. At the moment  there is a great deal of (rather fran­tic) research into tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions to cli­mate change. Since any such solu­tions imply geo-engi­neer­ing the whole planet, the risks are incal­cu­la­ble, but sooner or later extreme solu­tions will be tried by one player or another. 


7. The moral dimen­sions of being ‘too wealthy’

An ear­lier debate dealt with the propo­si­tion that “Eth­i­cal behav­iour is harder for the rich” (Thor May 2013).  My own rather fluid con­clu­sion was that priv­i­lege was prob­a­bly more impor­tant to most of the rich than wealth per se.  Dis­play­ing priv­i­lege might take many forms, even selec­tive phil­an­thropy as a kind of soft power.  The obverse of the “rich” debate topic might be a pop­u­lar per­cep­tion that the poor are less fear­ful and more gen­er­ous than the rich, or less cul­pa­ble in some other way. This is an idea which could apply to com­par­isons between whole soci­eties, or between social groups within soci­eties. Aca­d­e­mic dis­ci­plines like Soci­ol­ogy, (parts of) Psy­chol­ogy and (parts of) Eco­nom­ics are built around explor­ing such ques­tions.  The out­comes from this kind of research seem to show that inves­ti­ga­tion mod­els fre­quently prove what the researcher’s ini­tial con­fir­ma­tion bias hoped to find.  In the end we tend to be  thrown back upon our selec­tive per­sonal expe­ri­ence and anec­dote.

As an anec­do­tal expe­ri­ence, I can recall research I con­ducted from the Uni­ver­sity of the South Paci­fic in Suva, Fiji on the chang­ing sta­tus of lan­guages in use (Thor May, 1990). To obtain the required raw data for this research, with the help of a Dutch demog­ra­pher I divided the city of Suva into inter­view dis­tricts, then I sent my Year III lin­guis­tics stu­dents in pairs to con­duct struc­tured inter­views with the inhab­i­tants. Alto­gether 834 inter­views were con­ducted. My stu­dents, all mul­ti­lin­gual Melane­sians and Poly­ne­sians, were deeply affected by the inter­view expe­ri­ence itself. Like thou­sands of cities around the world, Suva is ringed by squat­ter slum camps of very poor coun­try-to-urban migrants hop­ing to make a bet­ter life. My stu­dents approached these places with great trep­i­da­tion, hav­ing grown up on a diet of dark rumours. They were aston­ished by the hos­pi­tal­ity of the squat­ter dwellers who invari­ably asked them in, offered food and water, and showed great inter­est in the research. In stark con­trast, in the rich areas of Suva they often met a frosty and sus­pi­cious recep­tion. Some­times doors were slammed in their faces. Well, this is an anec­do­tal account, eas­ily dis­missed, yet I know that the inter­view expe­ri­ence had a more last­ing impact on the per­cep­tion of my young Paci­fic Islands elite stu­dents than any lin­guis­tics text book.


8.  The Aus­tralian Story

National self-images within a cul­ture are impor­tant con­straints on group behav­iour. The Aus­tralian self-images of gen­eros­ity to losers, offer­ing help to strangers, mate­ship, and so on were forged in the harsh years of the nation’s early life, where a major­ity of poor peo­ple, dis­crim­i­nated against harshly by the law and a smug ‘bun­yip aris­toc­racy’ (imi­ta­tors of British fore­bears), often saw their best hope of sur­vival in mutual assis­tance.  The Great Depres­sion of the 1930s rein­forced the ideal of mutual sol­i­dar­ity by the poor against the pre­da­tions of the rich. In a more recent age when build­ing trades­men and mine work­ers earn bet­ter incomes than the aver­age uni­ver­sity grad­u­ate, it has often been hard to main­tain the Aus­tralian self-image of a good-hearted but poor major­ity stand­ing against a tight fisted elite. This is espe­cially so since all such ‘national virtues’ have been ruth­lessly debased by the polit­i­cal class and the adver­tis­ing indus­try.  

The con­flicted response of the Aus­tralian pub­lic to peo­ple in need like inter­na­tional asy­lum seek­ers may reflect some of this inner con­fu­sion of val­ues. That is, with spread­ing wealth, have Aus­tralians become more fear­ful and self­ish?  For me per­son­ally, com­ing from a very poor back­ground, sur­viv­ing as a life­long mem­ber of the pre­cariat (the pre­car­i­ously employed), and now liv­ing by the grace of a safety net pen­sion in a rented room, the whole guilt trip of Australia’s exces­sive wealth has remained a curi­ously abstract dis­cus­sion to be had by other peo­ple.



Read­ing List

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Agence France Press (Feb­ru­ary 15, 2014) “Chelyabinsk mete­orite is sci­en­tists’ delight”. [included as a reminder that our best laid plans hang by an acci­dent of nature] Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, online @ http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/chelyabinsk-meteorite-is-scientists-delight-20140214-32r42.html#ixzz2tRGTuZ00

Aitken­head, Decca (1 March 2008) “James Love­lock: ‘enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warm­ing will hit the fan’”. http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety (8 April 2013) “‘Arti­fi­cial leaf’ gains the abil­ity to self-heal dam­age and pro­duce energy from dirty water.” Sci­enceDaily web­site, online @ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408185855.htm

Anony­mous (3 Sep­tem­ber, 2009) “Lat­est eco­nomic data show Aus­tralians’ stan­dard of liv­ing falling ” Sus­tain­able Pop­u­la­tion Aus­trala web­site, online @ http://www.population.org.au/articles/2011–09-16/latest-economic-data-show-australians-standard-living-falling

Anony­mous (30 Sep­tem­ber, 2013) “Pop­u­la­tion growth dam­ages ‘stan­dard of liv­ing’”. Sus­tain­able Pop­u­la­tion Aus­trala web­site, online @ http://www.population.org.au/articles/2011–09-16/population-growth-damages-standard-living

Asso­ci­ated Press (13 Jan­u­ary 2014) “Many World­wide Don’t Have Access To Clean Water”. Huff­in­g­ton Post, online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/13/worldwide-water-crisis-_n_4591542.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Brubaker, Richard (Novem­ber 24, 2013) “Tho­rium to Power Chi­nese Cities, Economies, and Cars”. All­Road­sLead­ToChina blog, online @ http://www.allroadsleadtochina.com/2013/11/24/thorium-to-power-chinese-cities-economies-and-cars/

Bruck­ner, Pas­cal (24 Feb­ru­ary 2014) “What Are The French So Afraid Of – The World?” Los Ange­les Times, online @ http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bruckner-france-gloom-and-doom-20140223,0,5771679.story#ixzz2uBZur6Nk

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Clark, Dun­can (8 March 2012) “Map – Nuclear Reac­tors Around the World – Reac­tors in oper­a­tion, under con­struc­tion and in plan­ning, or even sus­pended like many of Japan’s plants since the 2011 tsunami. • Key: Yel­low = under con­struc­tion. Blue = planned. Orange = not oper­at­ing. Green = oper­at­ing. Red = shut down • There are another roughly 50 planned power sta­tions which can­not be shown on the map because the World Nuclear Asso­ci­a­tion web­site does not have a pre­cise loca­tion for them”. The Guardian, online @ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2012/mar/08/nuclear-power-plants-world-map

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Engel­man, Robert (May 17, 2009) ” Pop­u­la­tion and Sus­tain­abil­ity: Can We Avoid Lim­it­ing the Num­ber of Peo­ple? – Slow­ing the rise in human num­bers is essen­tial for the planet–but it doesn’t require pop­u­la­tion con­trol”. Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can Mag­a­zine, online @ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/population-and-sustainability/

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Expatis­tan – com­pare the cost of liv­ing in 1616 cities around the world. online @ http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living

Foys­ter, Greg (2013) Chang­ing Gears – A Pedal-Pow­ered Detour from the Rat Race. pub­lished by Affirm Press, Aus­tralia. web­site online @ http://www.affirmpress.com.au/changing-gears

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Good­ell, Jeff (Octo­ber 3, 2011) “Cli­mate Change and the End of Aus­tralia”. Rolling Stone mag­a­zine, online @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-change-and-the-end-of-australia-20111003#ixzz1fTQ6EHqH

Hearst News­pa­pers (Novem­ber 6, 2013) “Study links Texas quakes to oil com­pa­nies’ gas injec­tions”. Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, online @ http://www.smh.com.au/world/study-links-texas-quakes-to-oil-companies-gas-injections-20131105-2wz7u.html#ixzz2joVuAG41

Hough, Andrew (Octo­ber 21, 2012) “Petrol cre­ated by using air and elec­tric­ity”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/energy-smart/petrol-created-by-using-air-and-electricity-20121020-27y29.html#ixzz29swjZ3Pf

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Kelion, Leo (17 April 2013) “Super-pow­ered bat­tery break­through claimed by US team”. BBC News, Tech­nol­ogy, online @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22191650

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Nim­bin­Web (n.d.) “Nim­bin on the Web”. Nim­bin Web alter­na­tive lifestyle direc­tory (North­ern Rivers, NSW), online @ http://www.nimbinweb.com.au/resources/sistsite.htm

Occu­py­Wall­Street (Feb­ru­ary 2014). “You’re work­ing for cap­i­tal­ism. Is cap­i­tal­ism work­ing for you?” Occu­py­wall­Street web­site, online @ http://occupywallst.org/

O’Neill, Jessie H. (2014) “The Affluenza Projects – A Resource for under­stand­ing the emo­tional effects of money on per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rela­tion­ships”. TheAf­fluen­za­Pro­ject web­site, online @ http://www.theaffluenzaproject.com/home/affluenza/

Patel, Heenali (14 Feb­ru­ary 2014) “Japan’s bru­tal work cul­ture takes a toll”. Asia Times, online @

Pop­u­la­tion Mat­ters (2014) “What is Sus­tain­abil­ity”. Pop­u­la­tion Mat­ters web­site, online @ http://populationmatters.org/solutions/sustainability/

Quig­gin, John (April 12, 2008) “The sus­tain­abil­ity of improv­ing liv­ing stan­dards”. Crooked Tim­ber web­site, Aus­tralia, online @ http://crookedtimber.org/2008/04/12/the-sustainability-of-improving-living-standards/

Qin Guan­grong [The Com­mu­nist Party Sec­re­tary of Yun­nan Province, China] (14 Feb­ru­ary 2014) “Chi­nese Shift: Put the Envi­ron­ment Above GDP Growth”. Huff­in­g­ton Post, online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/qin-guangrong/dont-put-growth-before-environment_b_4791384.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Reich, Robert (11 Feb­ru­ary 2014) “Why The Three Biggest Eco­nomic Lessons Were For­got­ten” Huff­in­g­ton Post, online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/why-the-three-biggest-eco_b_4768392.html?utm_hp_ref=world&ir=World

Rid­dle, Stew­art (May 24, 2013) “The future for Ford work­ers: lit­er­acy will be key”. The­Con­ver­sa­tion web­site, online @ http://theconversation.com/the-future-for-ford-workers-literacy-will-be-key-14548

Runci­man, David (13 Feb­ru­ary 2014) “The Snow­den Files by Luke Hard­ing – review – We live in a new world, and a scary one: this is a riv­et­ing read that unrav­els the mys­ter­ies behind the Snow­den rev­e­la­tions”. [included for its insights into the new rela­tion­ship between the indi­vid­ual and the state]. The Guardian, online @ http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/13/snowden-files-luke-harding-review

Sam­ple, Ian (13 Feb­ru­ary 2014) “Nuclear fusion break­through raises hopes for ulti­mate green energy source – Sci­en­tists have moved a step closer to achiev­ing sus­tain­able nuclear fusion and almost lim­it­less clean energy”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/12/nuclear-fusion-breakthrough-green-energy-source

Shee­han, Paul (Jan­u­ary 9, 2012) “Energy use suck­ing up a pre­cious resource”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/politics/energy-use-sucking-up-a-precious-resource-20120108-1pq0i.html#ixzz1iuL9tKFt

Stein­beck, John (1937) “Of Mice and Men”. [down­load­able free novel in epub for­mat] iLibcom.org web­site, online @ http://libcom.org/library/mice-men-john-steinbeck . Wikipedia sum­mary & analy­sis at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Of_Mice_and_Men

The Econ­o­mist (Oct 12th 2013) “All dried up – North­ern China is run­ning out of water, but the government’s reme­dies are poten­tially disastrous”.The Econ­o­mist mag­a­zine, online @ http://www.economist.com/news/china/21587813-northern-china-running-out-water-governments-remedies-are-potentially-disastrous-all

Troval, Eliz­a­beth (Feb 21st, 2013) “Tides are chang­ing to expand renew­able energy options in Chile”. San­ti­ago Times, online @ http://santiagotimes.cl/tides-are-changing-to-expand-renewable-energy-options-in-chile/

Unilever (2014) “Help­ing small­holder farm­ers”. Unilever Cor­po­ra­tion web­site, online @ http://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/betterlivelihoods/farmers/

United Nations (2014) “What is Sus­tain­abil­ity?” United Nations web­site, online @ http://www.un.org/en/sustainablefuture/sustainability.shtml

Uni­ver­sity of Geor­gia (March 27, 2013) “Atmos­pheric CO2 May Make Bio­fuel”. LaboratoryEquipment.com web­site, online @ http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/03/atmospheric-co2-may-make-biofuel

Vidal, John (6 July 2013) “Global food sup­ply under threat as water wells dry up, ana­lyst warns”. The Guardian, online @ http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jul/06/food-supply-threat-water-wells-dry-up

Weiss, Marc and James Hurd Nixon (2014) “The Global Future of Green Cap­i­tal­ism”. Sus­tain­able Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Strate­gies LLC web­site, online @ http://sedstrategies.com/

Wikipedia (2014) “Affluenza”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza

Wikipedia (2014) “Sus­tain­abil­ity”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability

Wikipedia (2014) “Occupy Wall Street”. Wikipedia, online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street

Wikipedia (2014) “[Aesop] The Ant and the Grasshop­per”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper

Wikipedia (2014) “Carpe Diem“. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpe_diem

Wikipedia (2014) “Gift Econ­omy”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy

Wikipedia (2014) “Stig­mer­gic behav­ior in social move­ments”. [a sec­tion in the ‘stig­mergy’ entry]. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stigmergy

Wikipedia (2014) “Rubaiyat of Omar Kayam”. [Edward Fitzgerald’s trans­la­tion of Omar Kayam’s work, Per­sia, circa AD 1048–1131] Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubaiyat_of_Omar_Khayyam

World Pop­u­la­tion Bal­ance (2014) “Cur­rent Pop­u­la­tion is Three Times the Sus­tain­able Level”. World Pop­u­la­tion Bal­ance blog, online @ http://www.worldpopulationbalance.org/3_times_sustainable

Your Britain (2014) “Liv­ing Stan­dards and Sus­tain­abil­ity Pol­icy Com­mis­sion”. Your Britain web­site, online @ http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/agenda-2015/policy-commissions/living-standards-and-sustainability-policy-commission

Zencey, Eric (May/June 2010) “The­ses on Sus­tain­abil­ity – A Primer”. Onion Mag­a­zine, online @ http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/5502/


The source of this doc­u­ment:


mee­tup group: Gen­tle Thinkers http://www.meetup.com/Gentle-Thinkers/

dis­cus­sion top­ics blog (for the list of pro­posed top­ics): http://discussiontopics.thormay.net/

top­ics already dis­cussed: http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm

 com­ments: Thor May – thormay@yahoo.com;

Thor’s own web­sites: 1. arti­cles at http://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay ; 2. main site: http://thormay.net


Pro­fes­sional bio: Thor May has a core pro­fes­sional inter­est in cog­ni­tive lin­guis­tics, at which he has rarely suc­ceeded in mak­ing a liv­ing. He has also, per­haps fatally in a career sense, cul­ti­vated an inter­est in how things work – peo­ple, brains, sys­tems, coun­tries, machi­nes, what­ever… In the world of daily employ­ment he has mostly taught Eng­lish as a for­eign lan­guage, a stim­u­lat­ing activ­ity though rarely regarded as a pro­fes­sion by the world at large. His PhD dis­ser­ta­tion, Lan­guage Tan­gle, dealt with lan­guage teach­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity. Thor has been teach­ing Eng­lish to non-native speak­ers, train­ing teach­ers and lec­tur­ing lin­guis­tics, since 1976. This work has taken him to seven coun­tries in Ocea­nia and East Asia, mostly with ter­tiary stu­dents, but with a cou­ple of detours to teach sec­ondary stu­dents and young chil­dren. He has trained teach­ers in Aus­tralia, Fiji and South Korea. In an ear­lier life, prior to becom­ing a teacher, he had a decade of find­ing his way out of work­ing class ori­gins, through unskilled jobs in Aus­tralia, New Zealand and finally Eng­land (after back­pack­ing across Asia in 1972). 

con­tact: http://thormay.net    thormay@yahoo.com

aca­d­e­mic repos­i­tory: Academia.edu at http://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay
dis­cus­sion: Thor’s Unwise Ideas at http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/unwisendx.html


Are We Too Wealthy? © Thor May 2014

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