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Where Is Capitalism Leading Us All?

October 15, 1995

Reading Robert Eisner's article and letter ("Should Government Be Made Smaller--or Just Made Better?" and "Senators Missed Point on Social Security," Sept. 17) deepened my worry about the future of capitalism.

While I am grateful for the benefits delivered to me by capitalism, I do not make the mistake of concluding that happiness now predicts happiness later. What about life 120 years from now--assuming we have an interest in the lives of our great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren?

Economists across the political spectrum seem united in identifying economic growth as the solution to many problems. It appears the closest we can hope to come to a steady state is a growing steady state. Payment chain letters and pyramid schemes also depend upon growth and bring general happiness so long as exponential growth can be sustained. But for how many generations can that sort of economic growth continue on a finite planet?

Now Eisner tells us we should encourage immigration and the "bearing of more children" to provide a growth in workers to support the retired. So population growth, the root cause of our most serious problems, is required not only to fuel economic growth but also to meet basic retirement claims.

What is the likely life span of such a growth-dependent capitalism? How can government protect "the land, water and air, without which we cannot survive" without a modification of our economic system?

RICHARD O'CONNELL

North Hills

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