President Barack Obama talks about restoring economic growth. But his science adviser, John Holdren, once called for zero economic growth while writing with Paul and Anne Ehrlich–who predicted mass starvation in the 1970s.
At a time when it was popular among environmentalists to talk about capping pollutants, John Holdren was writing about placing “caps” on the U.S. economy itself–and working toward “zero economic growth.”
Holdren, who is now President Obama’s top adviser on science and technology policy, wrote in the 1970s that it would be “entirely logical” to cap the Gross National Product–the total productivity of the American economy.
“It is by now abundantly clear that the GNP cannot grow forever. Why should it?” Holdren asked in a 1977 college science textbook he co-wrote with Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, titled “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment.”
“Why should we not strive for zero economic growth (ZEG) as well as zero population growth?”
Admittedly, President Obama hasn’t formally adopted this goal. But by putting the economy into hock and running up government borrowing, which even the Congressional Budget Office warns will crowd out private investment, the president seems determined to prevent a robust recovery. Maybe John Holdren will get his wish after all.