If you pay attention to random things you hear, you soon become aware of the very uncommon intelligence of the common people. If I ever get around to writing my life story, there will be a chapter on the interesting, sometimes riveting, things I’ve heard come out of the mouths of the common man, even from those with only a rudimentary education. The common folk, deprived of extensive education, nonetheless find their way to the essentials of some complex subjects.
One would think it’s obvious that you can’t keep growing forever. It’s a finite world, as a taxi driver, who never went to UG, said to me this week. You can’t keep on making more cars every year, expanding populations and economies every year, businesses doing more business every year, ad infinitum. To use a noun changed into a verb, as we commonly do these days, the thing plateaus. In this vein, in recent times, we have the international columnist David Jessop relaying a warning from German leader Angela Merkel. In so many words her point was that the present level of social provision offered may not be sustainable; it may be necessary to cut the public sector, its pensions and benefits. Instead of seeing that reality looming, or in fact as already here, many Caribbean nations (I include Guyana) live in hope for continued direct aid from the developed world, as well as continuance of preferential economic arrangements for our products, and, lately, the much disputed bonanza from oil. In all of it, that underlying concept of more every year lives, and it doesn’t seem to sink in, to any of us, that as big as the world may seem it is finite – we can’t keep growing endlessly.
Reduce it to small examples we can grasp: take Auntie Philomena who runs a farm in the Waini. I’m not sure if it’s still operating, but the tradition for her farm of some 30 acres (I’m guessing at the size) is that she would reap more products every year, as her planted area expands, but there, too, once all the acreage is planted, further growth for her farm is not possible. Yes, Auntie Phil (we’re friends) could find a way to employ modern irrigation hardware and high-yield fertilizers to increase production, but even there, eventually, further growth will reach that second ceiling and stick. Notice, also, that the more efficient growth depends on the hardware and the fertilizers themselves being available in more quantities and the supply of those items will also stop growing as mankind uses up the raw materials of which they are made…..