The Meaningful Economy
Why is it good that
Musings of a Non-Economist
we wreck ourselves and our families with overwork,
to produce goods and services
that we don't need
and which wreck both society and world?
Nothing is meaningful in itself. When we treat something like the economy as though it has meaning in itself, it might appear to flourish for a few decades, but eventually it falls. That, it seems, is what has been happening with the world and national economies.
This book is not just about the so-called recession, but may be relevant to it. As I write, the recession still continues, longer than experts expected. I write at a time when the British Prime Minister has warned about 'red lights' flashing, warning that we might be going into a third recession. The 'old normal' cannot understand the 'new normal' (as they are calling it). I propose that the 'new normal' can be understood if we think primarily in terms of meaningfulness.
Consider two questions:
- Why should economics be split into bits? - global v national v local ecoonmics, private v public, formal v informal, business v family economics Are they not all bound together?
- Are not some economic transactions and structures more meaningful and beneficial than others?
By addressing the second question, Meaningful Economics also addresses the first. It provides an integrating foundation for them, a wider picture into which they all fit. Meaningful Economics confines itself to the field of human activity that is economic in nature, but gains its confines from philosophy rather then seeking to encroach on other areas. In so doing it finds we can understand the ways in which it relates fruitfully to other areas - technology, education, health care, the natural world, transport, religion and ethics to name a few.
Some original thinking about the notion of economics and economy seems not only useful but urgent.
- Why should we make efficiency so important? Why should be expend so much effort and attention throughout all our organisations in reducing costs?
Suppose we are inefficient and have costs slightly higher than the minimum. It means that we give money to others more than needed. Is that not a good thing, in that it helps those others?
- Why should we the affluent keep growing in income and wealth?
When I have enough, why do I want more? Is it only greed, coveting what I see others have even though I don't need it? What's the point? (The Skidalskis suggest a consumption tax.)
A New Way of Thinking about Economics
Many think the foundations of the economic system are being shaken and we need a new way to think. This page suggests one new way to think. It tries to recognise the intricate, all-pervading aspect of economy in human life, the interwovenness between personal, family, organisational, business, national, international and global economic functioning, both public and private, both formal and informal economic functioning, and that the economy of everyday life is at least as important at the 'big', 'visible' things.
==== now intro from paper on walk.
- Survival of businesses 4 February 2017. Survival of business is treated as the most important thing, which acts as a terminator for all other discussions. "We must do this in order to survive." But this slides into "grow" and then into "move up the league tables". Of course, there is some meaningfulness in this, but it is not direct, but (a) analogical (b) derivative. Analogical: survival and growth are biotic. Ultimately it matters little whether a business survives as an economic organization or not. Derivative: the arguments put forward for the importance of survival or growth are things like: it provides jobs, and (if a large business) its demise will hit the community. However, those who most urge for survival are those who are most happy to see other businesses die. Moreover, jobs - as the past 30 years has shown - can be provided by other businesses. Furthermore, we might even question the sanctity of jobs.
- Internships 2 August 2016. Free work seen as robbing the young. But all human labour is free in the sense of being widely available. The problem is not economic but juridical: justice, or ethical: taking-advantage.
- Voluntary work 2 August 2016. Free work. But all human labour is free in the sense of being widely available. "Might undermine the GDP economy"?? So what -- GDP is meaningless. The problem is not economic but juridical: justice, or ethical: taking-advantage.
- Massive levels of disposable income 2 August 2016. Usually seen as a Good Thing by those who are entrapped in GDP-thinking. But is it good? It encourages people to spend on what they don't need or even want, more than is good for them and others. e.g. fosters pride, hubris, arrogance, competitiveness, and showing-off, and superficiality, as well as making us unhealthy through lack of exercise and obesity. And the provision of the goods and services it entails depletes and destroys the earth.
- Austerity for the ok-off is a good thing? 7 December 2016
- Voluntary reduction 2 August 2016. The Christian boss who cut his pay to be that of his workers. Pistic, ethical aspects.
- transport 30 October 2016. Transport is integral to an economy. But what is its main meaningfulness in the economy? Should it be used to merely increase GDP? No. Is its main meaningfulness is to get things to other places? Yes - but only if it's not just for the rich to enjoy.
- Meaningless businesses 10 July 2016. Flower farms in Africa or other developing countries. Removing valuable food-growing land in order to send baubles to the rich nations. Why does this happen? Because the economic system is set up so that people seek highest financial return from their land. And, where food is grown for subsistence, and no money is involved, the grower (a) feels good about getting some money, (b) assumes they can use that money to buy the food they need.
- Meaningful economic activity 10 July 2016. Subsistence farming is meaningful economic activity. it might not be financial or commercial activity (to do with money or commerce), but it is economic activity (to do with resource). It is meaningful in the sense that it serves a valid need rather than merely producing baubles.
- Protecting industries 160319. Why protect industries? Steel, nuclear, construction, water bottling(!)? OK, national skills, some of which take long to build up. Not OK: national pride, personal agendas of those at the top. Protected industries hold us to ransom. They overween.
- Idolatry of career 160319. The idea of career. An idol.
- Public privte 29 April 2016. It does not matter whether Google or Apple is bigger. It does not matter whether money is public or private. What matters is good meaningful work.
- Meaningful jobs 2 April 2016, on threatened closure of Port Tablot Steel works, and interview of Longbridge worker (UK car industry demise). "I proud to be a steel worker" "I a bread winner; but I cannot provide for my wife and family". These are the dignity of people. Is it right that these should be the dignity?
- Decision to purchase; Price 17 March 2016. Can most of us in affluent cultures afford most things? The decision to buy is not solely based on price, but on other factors. Example: CarParking iPhone app gained its greatest sales when a warning was published in a positive review of a price jump from £1.79 to £2.99 (both low prices). Decision to buy is based on a variety of meaningful issues, not just price itself.
- Meaning of work and pension age 3 March 2016. Increase of pension age. Horror at idea that in 2120 we might retire at 81 because life expectancy is 110. What is the meaning of life? Why should an 81-year-old not work in meaningful ways while they can?
- GDP 10 January 2016. Why is GDP good as a measure, and as a thing in itself? Need to understand that before we criticise it. Maybe it shows to what extent human beings are actively productive. But the problem then is: what with? Is what they produce meaningful? According to www.revisionguru.co.uk, the benefits of a growing economy as measured by GDP are: see GDPgrowthBenefits-Probs.txt on tablet in p-otehrs/a/econ/. Most include like following, which is not quite like the above:
- Increases tax income to governments
- Rising demand and output encourages further investment in new captial machinery ("income induced investment")
- Increases business confidence, if sustained growth
- Increase in real GDP per capita suggests improved living standards, but not quality of life
Problems of GDP growth:
- Inflation, if growth stimulates demand more than supply
- Externalities: pollution, congestion, etc. which damages social welfare
- Inequality in income per person, and between regions.
- Book 24 January 2016. Tomás Sedlácek. Economics of Good and Evil: THe Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street. 20.30 Monday 25 January 2016. *** a useful starting point. See smy and rvw on tablet a/econ/. Aspects can provide the needed philosophical foundation for this book; rvw said he should have done philosophical consideration of what good and evil are.
- wealth and its meaning. 24 January 2016. Wealth is sometimes defined as deferred consumption; we decide to not spend until later. But for billionaires this is meaningless because they would never consume all their wealth anywey. Jan 2016 Oxfam issued a statistic that the richest 62 people have more wealth than half the world's population. But it is meaningless to make that comparison. We need to consider the meaningfulness of wealth: what it can achieve in the world. Aspects can help.
- Markets 15 January 2016. The idea of a "properly working market" was raised==== in a discussion of why energy prices in the U.K. to the consumer had not decreased when suddenly the wholesale price of oil had dropped to below $30 per barrel [BBC Radio 4, Today Programme, 15 January 2016]. The implication was that the large corporates were artificially keeping prices high. However, that discussion was itself flawed, in that it considered only one way in which the market was meaningful, namely the financial aspect of price. It did not consider, for example, that low energy prices lead to increased unnecessary energy use, exacerbating climate change emissions at a time when we should be reducing them. One member of the U.K. Parliament did recognise another aspect, of jobs, which itself is a shorthand for certain other aspects such as meaningful work, but even these are reduced to the economic aspect by calling them 'jobs'.
In a meaningful economy, a "properly working market" is one judged not solely in price terms, but in terms of all the other aspects the economic functioning serves, such as biotic (ecological diversity), aesthetic (enjoyment), ethical (self-giving attitudes), etc.
- Skills fostered by governments 24 October 2015. If government puts money into training e.g. to boost the steel industry, then that very training is a covenant with those people that when that industry goes, the government will look after the people with those skills, especially those who have become too old to learn new skills. Directing skill training implies a covenant.
- Core of economy, tax / benefits system 11 September 2015 BBC R4 Today: author of book about statistics about life expectancy (in Glasgow, most affluent area, 82 years, most deprived, 54 years) said "Life expectancy should be at the very centre of the tax / benefit system". In 1970s environemtalists had said "Environmental responsibility should be at the centre of the economic system". Economics should not be driven solely by its own norms, but norms of all other aspects. c.f. Schuurman 1980.
- Non-absoluteness of economics 11 September 2015. Budget in local authorities; forced to not pay proper rates for people. What happens if they go ahead and pay? What sanction? "Go into debt"? But so what. The sanction is non-economic; government higher authority would close them down. How/why? Not by force of arms. Not by refusing to send them gold (money is now only symbol). But by legal authority: to close them down as a legal body.
- The Sharing Economy 27 July 2015. Share what we have. ICT and social media make it possible. It's not just for the money, but it's for the social side too: you can meet people. Multi-aspectual economy, meaningful in more than just money.
- Government borrowing 26 July 2015. From whom? Who benefits? Why borrow - because of cowardice and because of absolutization of the political?
- Unnecessary spending 25 July 2015. Unnecessary economy or spending, on:
- league table chasing
- using other issues as an excuse
e.g. unnecessary construction work. e.g. continual reorganisation in organisation. e.g. subsidies, support for someone's pet idea.
- exporting 8 July 2015. Exporting seems an easy of getting more funds that your rival nations do. But it is false and harmful when its meaningfulness is considered.
- Robbing poorer nations 8 July 2015. Encouraging doctors etc. to come from developing countries to here robs those nations of their skilled and knowledgeable people. That is wrong. However there is something to be said for those doctors etc. coming and experiencing another culture in their profession.
- Gambling 21 April 2015. What is the meaningfulness of gambling? Apparently, fun and money for gamblers themselves and the gambling companies, but to others its meaningfulness is injustice, penury and destruction of life. In-game gambling especially is like this, where the whole purpose is to take advantage of others by being 'clever' with timing. There is no real meaningfulness of gambling, and the world would not be worse off without it.
- Meaning of meaningfulness 21 April 2015. Ask "In what way is the world better off with it?" and "Would the world be worse off without it?"
- Survival and dominance of the firm 19 April 2015. The whole of the economy seems to be driven by three combined motives: survival of the entity and dominance of the entity. What makes such entities so meaningful that their survival, health and dominance dominate==== current economic policy? Of course they have some importance, but why one entity rather than another? They are important (meaningful) for reasons unconnected with the entity itself: providing an opportunity for sustenance and fulfilment for workers, and providing meaningful products and services from limited resources. But these can be provided by other entities almost as well. Why do we acquiesce to applauding that one entity wins compared with another? Why, even, is it important that a particular entity survives? Their workers can usually gradually get jobs elsewhere, their products and services are usually supplied by others, so why does it matter so much?
- Paradigm 19 April 2015. "Why (in what way) is it meaningful?" is the question to ask. Both critically and positively.
- Debt. 13 March 2015. All money is debt. It would not exist without national debt. All money is a promise. We trade promises. [But promises of what? meaningfulness]
- Debt. 7 March 2015: national debt for war. Government borrows from people who can give money to pay for the war. Meaningfulness: war. [Is not Part of the repayment of that debt global or national security. ; that enables the givers to enjoy life? so maybe they should not be repayed so much interest.] [Must reduce debt by changing aspirations, not by changing structures. Spiritual revival.]
- Marginal cost 10 March 2015. What is marginal cost? It is a transduction from the economic notion of value to the quantitative notion of amount, and all such transductions lose something meaningful.
- Price competition 2 February 2015. If we steal (pay nothing for) our raw materials, if we rob our workers of fair wages and working conditions, if we avoid paying for the damage we cause by our operations or from use of our products or services, then we can lower prices and undercut others. We would seem to be a success. But in the long term we fail. God says to Psalmist and to Jeremiah "Don't worry about the wicked; they seem to prosper for a time but in the end they will disappear." This is because of at least two things. 1. Their greed with overreach itself. 2. Resentment will build up against them that is hard to dissipate. What this is about is that there are multiple spheres of meaningfulness, which all apply in real life even if ignored in finance-oriented economics.
- Fear 2 February 2015. Fear as that which makes much management self-protective and unfair and unwise.
- Bloated sales and rebound 7 January 2015. Bloating sales is followed by de-bloating. Sainsbury's has just announced a drop in Christmas period sales, and that is causing concern. Increasing sales by means that are meaningless to customers -- whether by a firm or by an entire sector like the retail sector in cahoots -- will inevitably be followed by a reaction when people realise how meaningless the increased purchasing was. This can lead to problems later, for example falling share prices. When bloating (meaningless increases in monetary activity) happens across an entire world economy, the de-bloat (return to what is meaningful) is a recession.
- Innovaton, competition6 January 2015. Competetition might stimulate innovation, but it limits the effective benefiting from innovation. It makes firms guard their innovations so that as few people as possible benefit from it.
- Make do and mend 27 December 2014. Anglesey economy, according to a paper interviewed by 'Thinking Aloud' is a 'make do and mend' economy. The author and host seemed to be see this as slightly negative, derogatory. But why should it be derogatory?
- Personal meaningfulness 14 December 2014. "Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty." Mother Theresa.
- Attitude 21 November 2014. treating finance as a 'game' to win at . especially by investment bankers.
- Communism long before 19 October 2014. Communism eschews both money and nations. Meaningful Economics does not eschew them but questions their meaningfulness. Then remembers their meaning.
- the meaning of goods and services
- the meaning of money
- the meaning of the individual
- the meaning of nations
- the meaning of revolutionary movements
- the meaning of capital
- the meaning of global economics.
All these require us to understand their meaningfulness.
- GDP 17 October 2014. 300 bn USD in free stuff, including downloads etc. GDP does not measure the real value of life. It measures also silly stuff like crime. Brynjolfsson TED talk 2013.
- "What's Tesco For?" 21 July 2014. Philip Clark, boss of Tesco, has resigned after news of continued falling market share and falling share prices. Tesco used to be the UK's largest supermarket, and always expecting to grow. So the present situation is a shock and difficult to reverse in an organisation where everything is geared to growth. In an interview on BBC Radio 4 Today programme today, the commentator posed the question "What's Tesco for?" as a way of explaining Tesco's problems. It is being threatened by the low-cost supermarkets, and also by the high-end quality supermarkets. "People use Tesco but they don't choose Tesco." Other points:
- Tesco has long been arrogantly flouting planning laws - building larger than it was allowed but local authorities who might contest it lack the financial muscle to take it on. I suspect that arrogance is something that puts people off from choosing it; I certainly boycott Tesco.
- Tesco spent a lot of money trying to get into the US supermarket market, but ultimately failed to do so and pulled out. That was before Philip Clark took over. I suspect that Tesco's attempt was self-serving.
- Years ago Tesco, with the others, muscled their way to get the law changed to allow them to compete in the corner-store sector.
What's Tesco for? It seems that its own answer is "For itself". Pure self-interest is no sustainable or substantial answer to that. Meaning, says Dooyeweerd, has the character of referring. Meaning can never be located in the thing itself. Meaning can only occur when a thing is 'for' others rather than itself.
- "economy is culture" Prof. Manuel Castells? (LSE) BBC R4 Mon 121015 8.30 am. lots people know the most important thing in lives are not economic. but 'economy is culture'. if not trust, there is no society. the de-growth movement. marx never understood value. bk. '==== aftermath of economic crisis'.
- de-growth movement. see Castells above.
- marketing . before 12 May 2014. investing in markets and construction? is a way of shifting other peoples money into my pocket. self-centred. a way of almost stealing. -ve in ethical aspect. meaningless.
- Structure of Page, Book before 12 May 2014. 'How can we grab market share?' --> commitment --> bad, unjust decisions --> meaningless (meaningful = good). chapter 'towards meaningful economy'. "all is meaningless"? no, some is meaningful in each, esp to the person for a brief time. but is that meaning meaningful? no, it's isolated, reduced. 3 parts:
- meaningless economy: a staccato set of meaninglessness in all areas, and arguement of isolated meaning
- meaningful economy: proposal for meaningful economy, brief. and integration of all areas
- what is meaningfulness? why that will work. philosophy.
- Meaningfulness 14 April 2014.
- that which we deem of importance, especially of most importance
- that which we use to end all arguments, as a fundamental justification of things
Meaningfulness is a religious or ideological aspect.
- Contradictions of meaningless economy 14 April 2014. Absolutizing economics leads to contradictions. A growing economy needs innovation. But if we reduce education to economics (students paying for education, and then being aware of how much they owe afterwards) then they become docile, not critical, which reduces their ability or tendency to innovate.
- Other aspects of meaningful 14 April 2014. e.g. increasing anger around the world allied to economy. either the occupy movement, or people angry about their living standards being threatened, or about those they deem richer. Anger is a sign of meaningfulness of various kinds. We get angry when we believe in some meaningful way we are disadvantaged by the actions of others. Anger is not of the economic aspect but of other aspects, especially pistic and juridical.
- Global economics 24 March 2014. Minsky moments, Stability is destabilizing. People don't bother paying back mortgage on house hoping that its value will increase enough so that when they sell it, they will get enough money to pay off both capital and interest.
- Money 9 February 2014. Why do we need money? Answer we give shows what we see as meaningful. For food etc. of course. But also for keeping up with fashion, with latest technology, and for selfish pleasures. These are unnecessary, meaninglessness.
- Purchasing behaviour 9 February 2014. An opinion on why recession is longer than expected. People are not purchasing. Recession. Why are they not returning to purchase more? Partly because they realise (internally if not in conscious mind) that previous purchasing was meaninglessness.
- vision 9 February 2014. "If you want people to build a ship, don't force them to collect timber and organise a ship-building programme. Teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." Anon. Quoted BBC Radio 4 , 121202, during the service at Church of Mary and the English Martyrs, Canterbury.
- Marketing, attitude 9 February 2014. Marketing is no longer motivated by giving people information, but by trying to convince people to shift their money into your pocket.
- Poverty 14 December 2013. Poverty as a meaningful concept. Poverty defined as below 1$ / day. But that is only quantitative meaningful. And it is meaningful for those who look on, comment and discuss - as a convenient label, and as a rallying cry for politicians. But the real meaning behind it is weak and complex, and lost. "We don't need money," I was told in Uganda, "because we grow our own food and build our own houses [I saw local brick kilns burning]. All we need money for is hospital fees and education." That person did not feel 'poor', yet he was telling me in effect that 1$ / day is meaningless as a determiner of whether we have poverty. "But," rich Northern commentator might respond, "if he spends all his time in growing food and building his house, how can he have time for enjoyment!" I, also Northern commentator, respond, "But enjoyment can be found in any pursuit. It is the attitude of 'I hate' that suppresses enjoyment."
- poverty 14 December 2013. Gap between rich and poor. Is not the real meaningfulness of this is not quantitative amounts of money, but justice, what is due, attitude, and greed, (which is a form of idolatry, insights Paul)? Should we not address those directly, rather than some meaningless figures?
- Trade 7 December 2013. BBC R4 Today: WTO World Trade Organisation came to its first agreement in Bali, on global 'trade facilitation', so countries can trade with each other more easily. (Developing) countries allowed to subsidise their farmers now. Hailed as good; could expand global GSP by $500bn. But is it good? Mere GDP is meaningless. And mere trade is harmful. It was the symbols of world trade in New York that God allowed to be destroyed - yet we didn't listen.
- Finance meaning 7 December 2013. The push in economy today is coming from other disciplines, such as housing and banking. Housing: one meaning of economics.
- New ideas 6 December 2013. Student group at Manchester university 'Post-Crash Economic Society'. York 'Institute for New Economic Thinking.
- University teaching courses 6 December 2013. BBC R4 Today interviewee claimed in university course, he was given a lot, but no understanding of what a bank is or does. Students are given no understanding of causes and how markets work.
- Older people 19 November 2013. A meaningful economy does not assume that older people are useless. It looks at their meaningfulness. The notion of mental capital does that too. Older people have accumulated wisdom and experience, which can be brought to bear on life. While younger people tend to focus on one aspect and are able to excel in that, older people take many aspects into account, and have experience of how those aspects interrelate. It has been said that companies started by older people tend to grow faster than those started by younger, because of this.
- Heartbeat Economy an economy where things that increase your heart rate (anger, etc.) are taken into account, and avoided. 12 October 2013 bbc r4 In Business. cf. meaningful economy: anger etc. are meaningful, not just money and resources; taking the psychic aspect into account as well as the economic. "all suppliers have the duty to reduce the heartbeat or pulse rate of their customers".
- KThe Support Economy - an economy seen not as producing goods but as supporting the way we want to live. 12 October 2013 bbc r4 'in business'. cf. meaningful economy: the way we want to live lives = what is meaningful and normative to us. involves many aspects of meaning;
- Accountancy-driven 7 October 2013. Accountancy driven organisations = money as the most meaningful thing. --> Cutting costs, and everything measured by cost or price. ==> Prevents the organisation going for important stuff. Because (a) focuses on costs and veers==== focus away from other important things. (b) when you have reined in your costs, it makes you believe that things are sorted when they are not, and the root of the problem is still there. (importance of pistic aspects). and you lose incentive to seek the real root of problem and to get those things things right.
- Prestige products 7 October 2013. Prestige as the main meaningful thing. (pistic dysfunction). e.g. plasma screens on walls in homes. envy of neighbours or imagined neighbours, who will say "Wow!". but plasma screens are hungry power consumers, leading to climate change. Lose sense of responsibility. Usually prestige products are purchased when (a) we have surplus income or easy credit (b) our lives are meaningless. Link to 'Surplus income'.
- Surplus income 7 October 2013. Usually seen as a Good Thing, aspired to by economists and politicians, partly explained on grounds that it increases Freedom. But large % of surplus income is spent on meaningless things, or rather irresponsible things, such as prestige products. Surplus income combined with meaninglessness in life leads especially to such irrespy.
- Understanding Organisational spend 17 August 2013. Spending money on reviews that are never implemented, as the UK government often has done. The notion of meaningful economy can help us understand why the spend occurs. e.g. which aspect motivated the spend? And was the motivation + or - in the aspect?
- Management judgement. 29 Oct 2012 BBC Radio 4 'Today': A UK Government Select Committee criticises the City watchdog for not blocking the takeover of ABN Amro by Royal Bank of Scotland. The judgement of the Chief Executive and Deputy were "flawed".
- idolatry societal. expectations of continuing prosperity and growth. 23 June 2013
- idolatry business information systems in business and in life. Seen by business as:
- within business as merely usefulness
- in life as an opportunity to sell
Idolatry of what they see as meaningful, coupled with self-interest. Going against pistic and ethical aspects. 23 June 2013
- businesses. Productivity: why meaningful? Muhammad Yunus introduced the idea of social business: the purpose of a business is not to make money for owners but to address a social problem. e.g. a firm whose purpose is to provide employment in a Bangladeshi village. Owners get zero dividend. This would tend to reduce 'productivity' of the workers in terms of output per wage, which under usual ideas of meaningfulness, would be a Bad Thing. But it need not be. It is only a Bad Thing because reducing wages per output is seen as a Good Thing.
Of course, if this firm were to compete in markets on grounds purely of cost per output and per worker then it would not do well, but those are assumptions not truths. How to overcome that? Will need a new vision. But new visions come slowly not fast.
- The home, the local, the national economy. Stay-at-home Mums. Meaningless to conventional economics. Important in Meaningful Economics, because of the human activity they undertake, and the resources used. 26 May 2013
principle: In economic measures, all human activity should be considered, even when it does not get monetary reward. 26 May 2013
- personal After striving to be wealthy, people tire of it and give some away. Wealth is meaningless in itself. Why is this? 26 May 2013
- How investment banker behaved:. BBC R4 130325.
- self-congratulatory emails about deals
- "Pay as little as you can to keep him here"
- Pay bills much greater than the firm earned [cos daringness applauded? "Oh you naughty boy"?]
- shareholders group comes to believe "that's what bankers earn; we must pay them that" Didn't look critically at stupid remunerations until 2008.
- To 1970s people not much attention to share price. But 1980s share price increased in importance.
- Wants and needs; 'enough'. Wants are insatiable.
- If we end up valuing selves by wants we will end up unhappy because there is someone more than you.
- Cityboy column
- Asymmetric risks encourage risk taking
- The culture [ethical aspect]: The Whole year effort / functioning focused on the bonus [not on doing good, but on my bonus; ethical dysfunction]
- Everyone can see X making lots of money. leads to close to temptation. leads to insane work hours.
- Ever more detailed rules, e.g. clawback [I think they were saying how futile these were; how they enjoy challenge of getting round them]
- Constantly felt an imposter. Imposter syndrome. [= meaningless?]
- I(nternational finance and justice [bbc radio 4 Today 4 May 2013, 7.50 am] The world gives £48bn aid to Africa - and extracts £350 bn worth of minerals and other resources every year. Africa has 60% of the world's agricultural land. Africa provides 50% of the [mineral?] world's resources.
- the economy, ethical aspect [my thoughts before 1 May 2013]
- innovation with competition ===>
- ===> people doing things that are harmful without caring or realising it
- ===> need more regulation and burocracy
- e.g. racing horses. Bute toxin given to horses. In horse carcases. Put into horse meat market. ===> calls for stricter more centralized regime of horse passports for all horses.
- (cos they have incentive to not-think about it carefully, and to justify what they are doing by elevating, and forcefully telling about, one aspect's logic). They are "arrogant and unconcerned".
- measurement of economy. Consumer confidence, consumer demand and consumer sentiment indices. Consumer confidence index (in US, 5000 households are asked about):
- current business conditions and for the next six months
- current employment conditions and for the next six months
- total family income for the next six months
CCI tends to correlate with the ability to get and keep good jobs, with retail purchases, especially large-ticket items, with demand for credit, and with home construction. Consumer demand surveys measure expectatiojns of buying cars, white goods, TVs, PCs, furnsihings, toys, etc in near future. Consumer sentiment surveys measure how people feel about the overall economy and how the government is doing in looking after its economy. In 2011 CDS rose and fell when CCI and CSS fell and rose. To what extent is each meaningful? 26 April 2013
- GDP. Internet retailing, so easy and convenient: has it distorted the growth figures with people buying more? 26 April 2013
- economy. Social Progress Index. 12 April 2013
- Principle. All should be guided by what is meaningful, at all levels. Can use aspects to help us think about what is meaningful, (danger: people will use them to justify what they want to do, since each aspect has its own irreducible logic).
- Meaning of money? JK Galbraith: the connection between money and freedom. The cause of unfreedom is "a complete absence====lack of money". Mgt Thatcher believed that. [but was that the main/only reason, or was it an excuse?]
- The economy Adam Smith is Mgt Thatcher's guru. Free market.
- The economy. Mgt Thatcher: the little man, the grocer. 9 April 2013
- Economy, public v private 130403. Difference between public and private finance is meaningless. Public spend puts money into private firms; so does private spend. Private spend is on big business. We still restricted in the options we have because private sector gets rid of option.
- e.g. energy suppliers.
- e.g. Indesit taking over Hotpoint-Cannon around 2010. (heard from gas fitter 8 April 2013). cannon cookers were always good for 90 years. Indesit made 'cannon's are rubbish.
- employment 9 April 2013. Maybe the only real difference is that public bodies feel they had a duty to employ people, so they would make one man dig a hole and another fill it in. However McCaig's Folly over Oban, was built for same reason, to employ stone masons and retain their skills in a downturn. That was private philanthropy not public.
- economy 130403. Two lorries passing each other on the M6 each carrying biscuits to the other place - meaningless
- Banks Cyprus has been an offshore tax haven for rich Russians etc. with low taxes. Cyprus needs bailout from EU to prevent bankrupcy. EU led by Germany (election year) requires 5 bn euros savings from Cyprus as a condition. They want those who profited from the lax regime, those who were the cause of the problem, to pay at least something [juridically meaningful]. Cyprus government first wanted to make a one-off tax on all bank deposits, but that was resisted. Now, they will tax on bank deposits above 100000 euros and close the second-largest bank which is also the weakest. meaningless: to take in money into banks as a tax haven (am i right?). 25 March 2013
- money: money on its own is meaningful only as a symbol of something else [lingual aspect]; it is meaningless on its own as a commodity, though it seems meaningful at the time of spending or getting it.
- Meaningfulness of getting it: mainly quantitative and formative achievement.
- Meaningfulness of spending it: juridical for basic needs. money surplus over basic needs loses its inherent juridical meaning and is often purely aesthetic (style, fun). formative when we use it to achieve something (but we then need another aspect of what we achieve to see whether that achievement is good or bad). economic for investment that helps frugality, but aesthetic or formative-pistic for investment that is intended to 'make a statement' or be 'iconic'.
- when we spend it on ourselves, it becomes meaningless.
Money is a symbol (lingual) of the potential in those aspects. 25 March 2013
- money: being-rich is meaningless in itself. it does allow us to spend more, but much of that is meaningless if we spend it on ourselves. however some meaningfulness can be found:
- philanthropy. better done all the time rather than only once one has become rich
- as we spend money, it gives other people incomes, which they can get and spend.
- ?: Why is money meaningless in itself apart from lingual meaning as a symbol? Because meaning has the character of referring beyond. So if we try to make something meaningful-in-itself, it loses the modicum of meaning it had. Lingual is the aspect that enables us to explicate and share meaning explicitly by means of symbols. But it also is meaningless except that the meaning borne by the symbol is taken into account. So being a symbol in itself is meaningless. When we try to make the lingual aspect meaningful-in-itself it loses its meaning.
- The individual: Why people desire wealth and more than they need Currently 40% of the world's wealth is owned by the richest 1% of people. That percentage has doubled since ???. (BBC R4 Thought for the Day 12 March 2013). Why do these super-rich keep on getting and wanting more? Probably not purely greed for pleasures and possessions, but something deeper that drives that:
- league tables of the rich (quantitative aspect)
- the thrill of, and desire for, achievement; it's creative and challenging fun to keep on; success breeds success (formative aspect)
- fear. fear lest I cannot cope with less. However rich we are, we feel impoverished if we lose a certain percentage. (economic aspect)
- they have got used to a particular lifestyle and cannot conceive of doing things differently (aesthetic aspect)
- expectations, especially from other rich; fear of jibes; keeping up with Joneses. (social aspect)
- pride. "I am the best" "I deserve this" "I am a self-made man" (pistic aspect)
- maybe send a message? (lingual aspect)
- Aspectual analysis to understand the real normativity. Those who try to diddle people out of stuff and take advantage of people. Meaningful in formative aspect and normative. Anti-nmv in the ethical aspect (not the juridical, even though it goes against ownership because juridical 'due' is basic due, not as defined by rules or laws, so it is only anti-juridical if they take advantage of the already-poor). 26 February 2013
- ethical aspect: self-protection.
- Jobs and economy; breaking under recession 26 February 2013: The current assumptions no apply: to reduce costs: before could reduce people and expect that people would eventually find other jobs, because of growing dynamic economy, in which many new kinds of jobs were being generated that could mop up unemployment by offering jobs that seemed 'better'.
- But were they 'better'? Better in what ways? They were new, but were they as meaningful? no consideration given to whether these jobs were meaningful or not.
- The meaningless jobs merely weakened the economy like impurities in molten steel weakens it. So when pressure comes, it breaks. That is what we have just found.
- Now d2013 we have to not only reform the steel rods but before that, remove the slag, those meaningless jobs are bursting. We no longer have the state where we can just ddevise new kinds of jobs.
- Or, rather, we must ensure that the new kinds of jobs that we devise are meaningful, especially in the last three aspects.
- Marginal Improvements 18 February 2013. What made the UK cycling team win 6 gold medals out of 9 at olympics. e.g. hot pants so muscles did not cool down, hour between heats and final used for relax, etc. Opposite of innovation.
- Creative destruction (Schumpeter, 1940s) - innovation, which means technology 1 is replaced and obliterated by technology 2. Keep innovating. Meritocracy. Steve Jobs as example.
Meaningful economy: both technology 1 and technology 2 are meaningful, and should not be obliterated. We still use ships and railways. So using c.d. as a shibboleth, as a fashion-excuse for favouring the 'new', is evil. Often we use CD idea wrongly, as an excuse. Innovation: what is the meaning of it? Ideological support for capitalism. The term is used to try to smooth over e.g. unemployment.
But the logic of cd as a force for good in society depends on everyone having equal opportunity. In fact that is not true. Meaningless.
CD creates coalitions of losers. And cliques of intellectuals who don't like capitalism.
- taxes - what's meaningful about them 1 February 2013 state
- why burocracy creeps. cos senior management fears and distrusts and looks for more evidence than they need for their job. 2 February 2013 bz, org.
- we make flying part of our bz planning, i.e. we plan events that involve flying without any thought, esp in USA. Just because we can and it's prestigious and convenient. anti- normative 1 February 2013 bz
- meaningless or anti- normative : armed forces. 1 February 2013 state
- all is meaningful at least to the person in the economic aspect. But meaningful = the economic perspective serves something else. 1 February 2013 personal
- spare capacity - people could produce more of what they got skills for. 1 February 2013 skills in economy
- the price of things is determined by what people vvalue (a) elite in london (b) as determined by media (c) indirectly from those (eg price of land and labour)
Meaningless Bit 20 January 2013: university, careers, jobs
# 20 January 2013. 80s-00s Young people encouraged to go to university, aim 50%. Now 10s, many are without jobs, let alone careers, and sit at home all day watching sport on TV. The assumptions and expectations were wrong. Going to university is meaningless. What made it meaningful was the expectation of a career after it. But that is meaningless. What made it meaningful and possible was an ever expanding GDP. That is meaningless.
# Meaningless Bit: importing 8 January 2013
Why, in the uK, do we import blueberries all the way from Chile? Why do we import £10m per day of fresh fruit and vegetables and £3 m per day of 'ornamental products' from abroad? Problems:
- climate change emissions especially since these things are flown in
- increasing government expenditure on bio-security
- occasionally things get through, devastating our trees or other things
Answer: only because we stubbornly give absolute priority to business freedom, and to our luxury. These are meaningless ultimately.
Priorties of Managers
(Which things do managers respect most, and give most attention to?)
- Advertisers / Media
- The product
- The wider world
- The product
- The wider world
- Advertisers / Media
Because the Meaningful Economy sees its mission as helping the world manage its resources while the Meaningless Economy has no mission other than its own interests. |
Managers operate in that mindset, absorb it unquestioningly and then epitomize it.
The idea that the sole role of business is to increase owner value. "The market can deal with environmental issues." But what happens is that, e.g. in energy, people distrust the energy companies, "What's in it for them? What are they hiding". So people turn against responsible energy usage.
Should not have absolutized the economic aspect.
Every aspect is important, responsibility, generosity and faith as well as economy.
# 9 November 2012. Meaningful economy can explain why this 'recession' has lasted years longer than was expected. BBC Radio 4 Today 1.11.12 interview "No theoretical basis".
# 9 November 2012: Payment Protection Insurance over-selling, charging customers 5? times what it really cost (Lloyds-TSB).
# 9 November 2012: Import ash trees despite ravaging fungus that has killed 90% of ash trees in Denmark. Why? Ostensible reason: scientists thought it was the same fungus that was already here (so no point in banning imports). But why did they not check, given its devastating effects? I suspect that it was because they were operating in a mindset that trade is paramount. Also EU rules would not allow.
# 10 August 2012. The economkc collapse. UK economy still zero growth rate 5 years on. still in recession. We had been borrowing lots - but borrowing for meaningless purpose. Borrowing is ok if for a good purpose other than determined by economic means.
# the UK government and media and people forgot about envl and poverty justice as soon as economic collapse. Copenhagen summit 2008 the USA etc led in envl irrespy, in guise of self-protection. Then the economic collapse. God's judgment?
# Keynsian investment should always be into things that are meaningful not meaningless. We usually use it on:
» pleasures, comforts
» iconic projects
» boosting GDP
» getting better pay for workers
» competing up the league tables.
These might be meaningful in one aspect, but they absolutize that aspect over all others. Leading to ultimate failure. I must explain why each of those not meaningful.
# 7 August 2012. On why M.E. is helpful and important:
e.g. Hedgefunds mixing risk. getting the right meaning for risk is important, otherwise unforeseen disasters might occur. If someone had objected at the time to what hedge people were doing, nobody would have listened, because "where's the evidence?" - it had not had time to accumulate. But with meaningful economy we can find out what is the right thing to do even before the evidence is accumulated, before disaster struck.
M.E. says: risk is not a commodity but a commitment. Commitment depends on generosity and justice especially. So risk should be entered freely, without forcing people to take risks they know not.
# UK survey of 6000 parents: x% spend 10-49 hours per month ferrying children; x% spend 50 hours or more. 12 April 2012 bbc radio 4 today
# 'Unfair competitive advantage' - e.g. minicab drivers in London cannot use bus lanes while black cabs can, complain of unfair competitive advantage. But why is it important, Meaningful, that minicabs have same rights as black cabs? 27 April 2012 after hearing BBC R4 Today.
# 7 May 2012. Greeks and French have voted against austerity. But what if my non-austerity means not just austerity but poverty for someone else?
# 14 May 2012: SOmeone once told me they would rather steal something than be given it. Why?
» because of the thrill of achieving something by one's own cleverness; being given it is boring (aesthetic aspect)
» is it not a little demeaning to be given it? pistic aspect
Now, get evidence that it is the thrill of achieving something by one's own cleverness that drives much in the financial and business and economy areas. Psychology of financiers?
Fuel prices (keeping warm in cold climates)
Family disposable income
Churches and religious organisations
Banks as repository for wealth
Investments in industry and business
Investments by gambling
Promises, agreements and contracts for casino economy
Contracts for services
Having spare capital to invest
Technological advance, innovation
Choice of supply
Choice of customer
Climate change emissions
Repair of damage
Prevention of problems (e.g. climate change, malaria)
The going rate for 'top' people
Value to customer
Goods v services
Manufacturing v service economy
The bulk of customers in society (average customer)
Deliberate alteration of prices
Public v private
Feeling you have enough
Feeling the pinch
Anomalies in pricing (e.g. £6.25 to Hadfield, £7.75 to Manchester)
Travel and transport
Special prices, offers
Encouraging people to buy
Desire to obtain
Ownerless corporations (weak shareholders),
Ownership v. governance of businesses
Need to pay every higher bonuses in order to "get the best"
Breaking even (bottom line)
Owner value (shares)
Quality of products
Foreclosure on debt
Return on capital
Return on investment
International investment banks
City of London (employing French selling to Chinese)
Need a lot
Money used to do good;
Socially useful finance
Salesmen in split-up energy companies
Equality of pay
Standard of living
Cost of living
Race to bottom
Amount of high quality human effort devoted to trivia (aesthetic or fashion) merely to try to shift money, tricking the fashion-led e.g. supplement of F.T
Financial reserves in banks
High-status sales are most-meaningful sales. Arms sales are among the highest-status sales of most countries, especially those countries that want to be 'top'. This is stupid.
Failings of Traditional Economy
Barclays Bank fined £290 million ($450 million?) in June 2012 for fixing the exchange rate during 2005 - 2009. First they fixed it too high so as to increase their profits, then they fixed it too low when financial downturn occurred so as to make markets believe they were stronger than they really were. In both cases, lying. I recall that during the recession Barclays made a show of not needing government help. It turned out that the root of the problem was attitude, and making the bank the most meaningful thing on their horizon. When a thing is most meaningful then all other things are subjected==== to it, subservient to it.
In the UK NatWest Bank's computer system failed, so that all transactions were halted for days. As a result, not only did many people go unnecessarily into the red and lose their credit rating but for example what was due on a house was not paid on time, so they lost the house and became homeless. Problem: error in updated version of batch scheduling software, inexperienced operative in India, offshored.
Example: Quantitative Easing by USA, designed to protect the US economy, created a huge wall of money that stoked up massive inflation in developing countries. So bread and rice prices rose enormously. Maybe this contributed to fuelling the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But at the same time it brought misery to all others. The failings were:
- a focus on the economic rationality to exclusion of all others (absolutization of economic aspect)
- self-serving, self-protective attitude by USA that did not care about the rest of the world (going against norms of ethical aspect)
No wonder it did not work in the longer term, and brought gross harm. Meaningful Economics says we need to take every aspect into account in our economic deliberations. 30 January 2012
We have massive choice of marginal differences, especially online
Many things in current economic behaviour is meaningless. Not absolutely, because nothing in this created cosmos is absolutely meaningless, but relatively. Relatively meaningless involves:
- It doesn't deliver what it seems to promise.
- It is harmful. (Truly meaningful is good.)
- Might be meaningful to one or two people or organisations, but has little meaning or importance in the overall scheme of things, as humanity fulfils its mandate to 'open up' the potential of all creational spheres.
- In particular, when someone does something that others follow, they set an example; is that example one that is worth setting?
Here are some examples of behaviour that is meaningless, at various levels.
- As XXX  has pointed out, everyone reduces costs in order to gain competitive advantage, but if everyone does it, then all competitive advantage is ultimately wiped out.
- So the whole process has been meaningless, i.e. doesn't deliver what it seems to promise.
- Moreover, other things are sacrificed along the way, leading to harm, such as fragility of products and greater throw-away.
- It might be meaningful for one organisation if they do this ahead of others, in that they gain competitive advantage for a short time, and gain over others - but why is that important in the scheme of things? All that happens is that one organisation gains and others fail; why is that good?
- Furthermore, the organisation that does this ahead of others is setting the example of 'reducing costs by sacrificing other things'; that is not an example worth setting.
- Competitive advantage itself is meaningless. Why is it important if company X gains at the expense of company Y?
- Fails to deliver: Competitive advantage is transient, and much meaningless effort is required to maintain it. The organisation becomes self-absorbed, and diverts its attention away from the good.
- Harmful: Competition instils a self-centred attitude into society. It also inhibits sharing of knowledge that is for the good of the cosmos (even when there are communities of practice).
- No ultimate importance: Only if company X is good in other aspects, such as justice, is this important; for example, I would want an 'ethical' company to gain competitive advantage over an 'unethical' one. Problem is: the way competitive capitalism operates, the opposite often occurs.
- Example not worth setting: Example of self-centredness.
# need to work out the mechanism by which focusing on meaningless stuff disrupts, undermines, jeopardises economy.
PRINCIPLES OF MEANINGFUL ECONOMICS
Everything is meaningful, that is 'for' something, and the meaningfulness of it determines, or at least strongly influences, the activities, plans, strategies, rules, visions etc. that occur within, related to and around it.
Explain shalom and that each aspect should serve the norms of all others not just its own norms.
here: argue why last three aspects help economics healthy; it is needed for the following
"To get the brightest and best to run our corporations, we must pay the going rate; they'll go elsewhere to wherever pays most." is the excuse heard by many wanting to defend the massive bonus payments and salaries of their colleagues. But have we really got the 'brightest and best' by paying massive amounts? It was those 'brightest and best' that caused the financial crash in 2008. // How can we explain this, and what to do? // Explain: Meaningful Economics says that all aspects are important in running corporations, including the attitudinal aspect of self-giving, the juridical aspect of justice for those whom we overlook, and the faith aspect of the underlying vision and aspirations that pervade society. It is these that make a corporation run well, especially setting the foundations for the longer term. Those who will go where the money is the most break all three of these norms: they are self-centred, they overlook justice to those not so well off, and they instil into society at large a worship of money rather than of the True God. // What to do? Resist them, call their bluff, get rid of them, and then concentrate on developing good people who will function well in all aspects especially these three, as well as the economic aspect of carefulness. It is necessary for us all to take responsibility to keep healthy our functioning in these three latest aspects, not to assume they will be taken care of by others - at least so it is in a democracy where there is freedom of press. And today it is those who are maxed in economic aspect who are seen as leaders, icons and role-models to set the aspirations and attitude and values of society. // Often, added to the excuse is "It's a globalised economy!" True - and the principles of Meaningful Economics are especially relevant for the global economy, especially these three aspects. In a nation it might be possible to keep the vision and attitude healthy while being selfish in money, but in the global world there is nobody who has the power to take responsibility for global justice, attitude and vision, so we must all take responsibility by each and everyone of us setting example. 30 January 2012
There will always be some 'inefficiency' (as accountants see it) in an organisation run according to principles of Meaningful Economics. Because the aspectual functioning that really matters and really makes healthy economics will not generate financially measurable effects. Justice for the overlooked (which prevents the stoking up of anger and trouble later, at least), self-giving attitude (which makes most other people grateful and generous and generates 'extra good'), and true vision (which inspires people to take this attitude and courageously fight for right). These it is that ensure financial and other health. But most of what they do cannot be seen nor measured not set budgets for (whether of time or money). These things can only flourish when people have a modicum of 'leisure' or leeway in their time. And this leeway is very visible to accountancy-minded as waste that can be cut. // Of course, leeway 'leisure' time can also be abused, by people being selfish and wrongly envisioned. Vicious circle; Catch-22 here. If society is already self-centred in attitude then everyone who has 'leisure' leeway will use it for their own self-centred ends, making things worse. Moreover, people of goodwill will not have the space in which to develop the 'extra good' that makes society's attitude more healthy. Except for some courageous committed people who believe it right even at their own costs (try 'New View' people!). Capitalise on such people of good faith and goodwill, look out for such (they occur in unexpected places throughout society) and give those people space. 30 January 2012
Activating Meaningful Economics
Ask "What's it for? What is its meaningfulness? What drives it?" At any level. These determine the activities, plans, strategies, rules, visions etc. that occur within, related to and around it.
Example: A shop in a rural village in the UK. What's it for, what primarily drives it?
- For making money?
- For survival of the business?
- For getting a bit of money for the owner's family?
- For giving the owner something to do?
- For carrying on the family business?
- For providing the local community with goods?
- For providing tourists with pleasurable items?
ASPECTS OF THE MEANINGFUL ECONOMY
Quantitative: (to do with quantity, amount)
Spatial: (to do with continuous extension, space)
Kinematic: (to do with movement; flowing movement)
Physical: (to do with energy + mass)
Biotic: (to do with life functions)
Sensitive: (to do with sense, feeling, emotion)
Analytical: (to do with distinguishing )
Formative: (to do with history, culture, technology: shaping and creativity)
Lingual: (to do with symbolic communication)
Social: (to do with social interaction)
Economic: (to do with frugal use of resources)
Aesthetic: (to do with harmony, surprise, fun)
Discretionary income is income that people have above that which is needed for the basic requirements of living. People spend or otherwise use most if not all of their their discretionary income in ways they like to, in ways they fancy. This use is governed by the aesthetic aspect of enjoyment. By definition, therefore, discretionary income is the aesthetic aspect of economy.
Discretionary income is almost universally applauded. Aspirational for those who have little of it. It is a brave person indeed who would question whether it is so absolutely good, because they would be seen as someone who wants to hold down people in poverty. It is assumed that everyone should have discretionary income, and that those who have it should have more and more of it. There is no limit to how much is good.
As the amount of discretionary income increases, the amount of aesthetic functioning increases. The question that Meaningful Economics asks is:
What is the appropriate level of discretionary income?
Poverty. Poverty is seen as not having discretionary income. Being constrained to the necessities of life. This defines poverty by the aesthetic aspect. But perhaps poverty should be defined by the juridical aspect?
Juridical: (to do with what is due; 'retribution', rights and responsibilities)
Poverty. Not having resources that are due.
Ethical: (to do with self-giving love)
Attitude. Self-giving generosity or self-seeking greed? It is attitude that led to Barclays' Bank fixing the exchange rate deceitfully. Both individual and corporate and sector attitude. Individual attitude: "It will improve my bonus". Corporate and sector attitude: "It's OK to take advantage of situations" "Giving the nod to rate fixing for the sake of the country".
Attitude is not just within the corporation or the financial sector, but in the nation as a whole, and even the (West and West-aspiring) world as a whole. Attitude of competition (self-seeking, self-protecting, self-vaunting) and attitude of disdain for the poor (denying self-giving love).
The positive side of ethical aspect: generosity, gifts, voluntary work, sacrifice. Investment is partly ethical, insofar as the investment is made without expectation of due return. That kind of investment and generosity builds up the economy of the future, via the attitude of the near future.
One of the most pernicious self-centred attitudes that pervades the Western world is "I have a right to ...", where what we have a right to is whateever we happen to have become used to in our affluent lifestyles - e.g. cheap motor fuel - rather than basic thing like subsistence food. Moreover, with this attitude, we are not willing to give up some our luxuries-seen-as-necessities when it becomes clear that they are damaging thw world and are unsustainable or either a planetary or moral basis. We turn against those who warn and suggest we should not be so selfish, with more than logic. This brings us to the faith or pistic aspect.
Pistic: (to do with vision, aspiration, commitment, creed, religion)
Our vision of who we are, what reality it, what we are worth (and thus what is due to us from reality).
The global economy, national economies, business economy, community economy, househole economy and personal economy are all driven deep down by this pistic belief and vision. Our pistic functioning is often not visible except in times of crisis or threat, being indicated by: What we fight for, what we sneer at, the causes we work for sacrificially, with courage enough to sacrifice ourselves.
Greece has been highly indebted. The problem, according to some, is that it has few exports. Only three. Shipping - but its shipping is owned by people outside Greece, so the money does not enter the Greek economy. Tourism - but the infrastructure is wanting. Agriculture - but it is difficult to get the product to the (external) market.
That seems to demonstrate three problems with the traditional approach to economics, which Meaningful Economics might be able to address:
- Major industries owned by outsiders. Ownership should be meaningful, not self-seeking.
- Tourism: Unsustainable and 'trivial'. What is meaningful tourism? Not tourism for the sake of grabbing income. But, for example, to benefit the world by what Greece has to offer that is unique.
- Agriculture: This should feed the people, and not be seen as an export.
Self-protection is bad. It transgresses the ethical aspect of the meaningful economy and, as such, it will lead to problems and hinder the development of a good meaningful economy. Self-protection hinders investment.
Investment is good, insofar as it is a giving of the self, a letting-go, a generosity, a giving without guarantee of reward. That, perhaps, is why investment works, and why a society in which there is investment tends to be more prosperous. The usual explanation for why investment works, namely that it stimulates human work, creativity or innovation that would not otherwise occur, has some validity, but it is not the full or even the most important explanation. It explains the functioning of investment in its formative aspect. But the later aspects are more meaningful and impinge on the formative. The ethical aspect, as the second-last, provides meaningfulness for most of the other earlier aspects.
Making Money For Self
Now let's go down to the level of the individual person who is active in business. They are always on look out for a way to make money. (Note the subtle shift away from "to meet people's needs".) They hear someone say "Cost of getting it wrong is much greater than the cost of using a head hunter." (This morning 10 February 2012 they were talking about why use head hunting organisations to find England's next football manager.) Now, my immediate inner response was, "Ah! If I had the skills I would become a head hunter, because there are many who believe that, and will pay me whatever I ask because of their fear of getting the wrong person." Notice the selfish motive in me. Notice also how I now see my business not as meeting human needs but as a way to get 'them' to give me a lot of money. Notice how I am attracted to the idea because of my-excitement. Those are very common tacit motivations of many in business at all levels.
But finding a good England manager, is that not 'meeting human needs'? Dome argument could be made for that. But not really. By 'needs' we are talking about important things. Why is England football manager important? Think of it from God's point of view: does it really matter whether England is good at football? What is the meaning of football?
We are here challenged with meaningfulness. I espouse the notion of a 'meaningful economy'. That is, every economic activity should be towards meaning that is important and good.
The Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index, produced by the New Economics Foundation, tries to take multiple aspects into account of economic happiness in its widest sense, in the sense meant here. The 'components' it includes in HPI are:
- Life expectancy
- Life satisfaction
- Ecological footprint
See also A New View on Economics for a theological basis.
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About This Page
Offered to God as on-going work, this page is designed to stimulate discussion on various topics, as part of Andrew Basden's pages that open up various things from one of the Christian perspectives.
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Written on the Amiga with Protext.
Last updated: 17 August 2012 whats it for. 7 September 2012 slight. 9 November 2012 priorities of managers, PPI, ash trees. 19 November 2012 markets sort out green. 8 July 2015 new .end.