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Daniele Struppa on the ‘Degrowth’ Paper

My dear friend and former Dean at GMU, the mathematician Daniele Struppa (who is now President of Chapman University), sent to me the following e-mail in response to this letter of mine to Nature on the lunatic proposal for “degrowth.” I share it here with Daniele’s kind permission.

Reading these things [DBx: the paper on “degrowth”] is profoundly disappointing.

To begin with, it is sad to see one of the most prestigious journals (the same journal that published the Watson and Crick paper on DNA…) is publishing this kind of rubbish. The article does not have a single piece of data. It is just a manifesto for a deindustrialization of the west, filled with naïve and simplistic comments. For example “it is necessary to ensure universal access to high-quality health care”. Nobody disagrees, but do they realize that such health care requires expensive doctors, expensive medications, expensive machinery (MRI, CAT, etc.)? And why would big pharma invest in discovery if their board of directors are more interested in the environment than they are in dividends and returns? And why would a kid invest 10+ years in becoming a doctor, with gruesome hours, if he cannot make a bunch of money at the end. Sure…love for humanity, etc etc, but at the end if you leave it to passion we simply won’t have enough people to go around.

But what is even more sad is to see that most of the authors are very successful and highly published and highly cited academics. This tells us that this is not a fringe movement. It is a movement that, in Gramsci’s words, has accomplished the long march in the institutions, and now controls funding, publications, etc.

It is a very sad state of affairs.

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