Once upon a time, in a far away land...
...there was a small and prosperous town whose only source of water was a single pump, which was fed by a single well. Because the town's water supply system had been constructed long before any of the then-living townspeople were born, its overall operation was not very well understood.
While the townspeople were very familiar with the operation of the pump, which they could see and touch; they were far less familiar with the operation of the well, which was under ground and was essentially "invisible" to them.
Fortunately for the townspeople, it was not necessary that they understood how or why their well worked. The town's water supply had been more than adequate for over 100 years, and the townspeople simply assumed that it would remain so forever.
Regrettably however, after more than a century of abundance, the water flow from the town's pump had undeniably begun to decline. The town's elders could recall days when water gushed from the pump, and even the middle-aged townspeople remembered when the flow rate was much greater than it had become.
Because the town's abundant water supply had enabled its population level and material living standards to increase substantially over the years, the declining water flow was of paramount concern to the townspeople. So the town leaders sprang into action—they put their best local pump experts to work.
The pump experts replaced every working part on the pump with new parts derived from the latest technology. They even made the new pump several times larger and installed a "rapid action" handle in order to increase the pump's water pumping capacity. But the water flow from the pump continued to decline.
So the town leaders enlisted the support of the best pump experts in the land, who installed an even larger, faster, and more technically advanced pump—at a cost that severely impaired the town's economy. Yet the water flow from the pump continued to decline. The townspeople were dumbfounded—and increasingly impoverished and thirsty!
One day, a traveler with a broader perspective came to the town. He watched in amazement as the townspeople busied themselves with initiatives and activities intended to increase the water flow from their town's pump. After awhile he asked the townspeople—"why do you insist on tinkering with your pump, when your real problem is that your well is running dry"?
The visitor was initially ignored by the townspeople, but was ultimately asked to leave the town because the local leaders felt that he was distracting the townspeople from their efforts to construct a new "mega-pump", which would surely fix their water supply problem.
Predictably, it did not; and nobody lived happily ever after...
Today, in a land all-too-close-to-home...
...increasingly large segments of our industrialized global population are experiencing declining material living standards resulting from slowing, flat, or declining economic growth in their respective countries.
Insufficient Economic Output (GDP) -> Declining Material Living Standards
Unfortunately, as was the case with the townspeople who, owing to their limited perspectives, believed erroneously that their water supply problem was caused by a defective pump; we, owing to our limited perspectives, believe erroneously that our persistent economic malaise is caused by our defective national economies.
Consequently, we believe that we can resolve our economic malaise—i.e., reverse the adverse economic growth trends and declining material living standards that we are currently experiencing—by "fixing" our "broken" national economies. That is, we believe that we can restore continuously improving material living standards for our ever-increasing global population by implementing "the proper mix of enlightened economic and political policies and initiatives".
We are mistaken...
The fundamental cause underlying our "predicament" is not economic or political; it is ecological—ever-increasing nonrenewable natural resource (NNR) scarcity. Our enormous and continuously increasing NNR requirements are manifesting themselves within the context of increasingly constrained—i.e., increasingly expensive, lower quality—NNR supplies.
Insufficient NNR Input (NNR Scarcity) -> Insufficient Economic Output (GDP) -> Declining Material Living Standards
Our persistently deteriorating economic circumstances are merely manifestations of our predicament—they are symptoms, not the disease.
Our economic and political policies and initiatives—consisting primarily of fiscal stimulus (debt) and accommodative monetary policy (money printing)—"worked" historically for industrialized nations in the West because sufficient economically viable NNR supplies existed globally to enable NNR deficient nations, such as the US, to import sufficient incremental NNRs from foreign nations to overcome domestic shortfalls.
These "fixes" no longer "work", and they will never work again, because NNR scarcity has become a global phenomenon.
Globally available, economically viable NNR supplies are no longer sufficient in an increasing number of cases to completely address our enormous and continuously increasing global NNR requirements. As a result, there are no longer sufficient economically viable NNRs available for export to NNR deficient industrialized and industrializing nations—especially nations that offer in exchange only unrepayable IOUs and continuously devaluing fiat currencies.
Our well is running dry...
Permanent Global NNR Scarcity ->
Permanently Insufficient Global Economic Output (GDP) ->
Permanently Declining Material Living Standards (Initially in the Industrialized West)