REITH LECTURE COMMENTS

This contains comments sent in several people in the Reith Lecture Discussion Group (RLDG) up to 8 January 2021. They are annotated with identification numbers which are used in main page. In order in which they arrrived.

Comments by Andrew Basden Written While Listening to Reith Lectures

While listening to the Lectures, AB tried to trascribe main points or phrases of the them directly onto the computer. Occasionally he we add a comment with [a TOPIC in square brackets, often uppercased] and/or preceded by "===". He then collected these. Here they are in more-or-less his collected order but slightly rearranged, and with identification numbers added. Many were from a Christian perspective, and some pieces of the Lectures are missing.

The Central Question: Rethinking (the) Economy

ab01=== RETHINK, REWIRE. The need to rethink wealth, economy, etc. and even attitudes, aspirations, and rewire the structures of society.

On Understanding What is Economy

ab02=== HUMAN FUNTIONING. Money flow and GDP are only measures of a proportion of human functioning. It is human functioning that is important, not GDP or even the economy as such. The role of the economy in magnifying human functioning through resourcing it carefully. Human functioning is Good, Harmful and/or Useless; c.f. GHU.

ab03=== GHU: "Good, Harmful, Useless": GDP and money flow as not things in themselves but as expressing and enabling and encouraging part of human human functioning, which may be good, harmful or useless. Implication: it would be good to shrink the GDP/economy that encourages Harmful, and it could be useful to shrink that which is Useless. c.f. HUMAN FUNCTIONING.

ab04=== RESPONSIBILITY: the importance of responsibility in the financial system. And in politicians. And especially in individuals. And especially in opinion-forming individuals and other leaders and voices. e.g. Neil Fergusson, who seems fixated on China and in resisting calls for us to take responsibility.

ab05=== DOOYEWEERD'S ASPECTS: the relevance of Dooyeweerd's aspects to understanding and maybe guiding the field and practice. Helps us separate out those things that are irreducible to each other and can make distinct contributions that ought not to be overlooked. Multi-aspectual functioning.

ab06=== ECONOMIC KERNEL: Dooyeweerd believes the kernel meaning and norm of the economic aspect is not profit-making, nor maximising production, consumption or money, nor even production and consumption, but is it: FRUGALITY - careful management of that which is limited. And that reducing economics, finance or banking to any of the former is ultimately counterproductive and evil. Throughout these talks, bear this in mind.

ab07=== 100 year-old companies: Hypothesis that companies that began at start with an ethical motivation rather than just self-centred money-making tend to be those that lasted 100 yaers. Links to Dooyeweerd's aspects, that all aspects harmonise to yield Shalom, so ethical aspect actually helps economic aspect in long term and it is false that "being ethical jeopardises company success".

ab08=== MEDIA. The role of the media in promoting and spreading certain views, values, etc. and not just information.

ab09=== HOW GOVERNMENTS SEE THEMSELVES (their pistic functioning). Many current governments see themselves as in competition with other governments w.r.t. GDP and other measures. So they pander to those long-established market sectors that want to protect themselves and have easy lives. e.g. aviation, roads. Our whole approach to the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLITICS/GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS/ECONOMY IS WRONG.

ab10=== GDP. GDP as bad measure and even worse as a goal (as governments make it). Other better indicators. Or maybe even quantitative indicators are a wrong approach; c.g. Gunton et al. Ecosystem Valuing without measuring, etc.

ab11=== INFRASTRUCTURE: we need to better understand the proper role of infrastructure and what it makes possible and what it does not.

On Problems

ab12=== BLOATED: Our (western) economies are bloated, and it would be good to shrink them rather than seeking to restore GDP growth to what it was. But what do we shrink? This is answered by GHU:

ab13=== CC. About climate change; climate and environmental responsibility.

ab14=== Covid-19. Things we learned from the pandemic.

ab15=== About WESTERN MONEY AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. And how do we really reimburse Africa for the damage that we Europeans and Americans and Arabs have done over past centuries?

ab16===God's intention in creating the possibility of Economy.

ab17=== HUMAN SIN. The importance of taking human sin into account. Helps us understand better why things failed, and especially why we went and go wrong. Helps prevent going up dead ends based on ungrounded optimism. e.g. relying solely on government, businesses or on individual action or anything else; all are infected with human sin.

ab18=== IDOLATRY. When we treat something as of overriding importance, to which other things may be sacrificed. e.g. GDP and 'the economy' or national place in league tables, or personal convenience or pleasure. Or we latch onto something as our sole solution; c.f. HUMAN SIN will make that ineffective.

ab19=== the GOOD IN PEOPLE. There is a tendency to demonize certain groups or types of people. But even they have some good. This needs to be recognised, alongside human sin. Beware demonizing.

On Solutions, Mainly Involving the Gospel

ab20=== OBEDIENCE rather than plans. This is something I picked up from Paul Marshall 'Thine is the Kingdon'. or Walsh and Middleton, Transforming Vision, or maybe some other book, that the way to a successful future is not only or even to formulate plans and goals, but is obedience to Law, where Law is the fundamental principles that God has woven into Creation.

ab21=== REVIVALS. This refers to the idea that spiritual revivals change people's hearts and because they are widespread they change the way society operates. My favourite examples are the Wesleyan, the abolition of the the slave trade, and the Welsh revival. The latter changed people's behaviour within 2 months, thought he others took longer.

ab22=== USA XNS. Many (vocal) evangelical Christians in the USA are, it seems to me, following things other than Christ, and are misrepresenting Christ in and to the world. I wonder whether God is removing the special status of the USA, because of this, in the way he exiled Israel and Judah 2500 years ago.

ab23=== OPPORTUNITY: climate and environmental responsibility as OPPORTUNITY for business (bz)

ab24=== ROLE OF BUSINESS bz people want to act; they want govs to set ambitious goals, rather than to pander to business that fear to act like aviation and the car industry. This has to do with how GOVERNMENTS SEE THEMSELVES (their pistic functioning).

[===== where are questions 25-34, or did I make a mistake in the digit?]

ab35=== ROLE OF NON-CHRISTIANS in God's plan. More than just potential for salvation; have some other role to play within Creational order, and which Christians can work with.

ab36=== See God as Landlord of the entire Creation.

Others added while updating Transcript

ab37=== MULTI-ASPECTUAL FUNCTIONING

ab38=== LIMITED SPHERE OF ANALYTICAL ASPECT

ab39=== ASPECTUAL COHERENCE: Dooyeweerd's aspects cohere; interdependence, no conflict

Questions Assembled by AB from the Zoom Discussion

(Labelled as [z1xx]. ) 1. Main Question:

Q. Rethinking the economy [z101] [- fundamental rethinking, which takes sides with no extant theory, though it can engage with all.] [I don't think that was posed as an actual question. However, at least the following questions are implied by it: What's involved in rethinking the economy? Which areas of issues are there, which can be challenged with rethinking? [z102] What prevents us rethinking? e.g. presuppositions?] [z103]

2. Fundamental questions about the economy and finance:

Q. What does it mean to be economy? [z104]

Q. (related to that) What is the kernel of the economic aspect of reality? (Mentioned: Frugality, efficiency, value, appreciation of value, stewardship, prudence, careful cooperation, maximize the good over the bad) [z105]

[Q. But what is Good? Does Good link to value? What kinds of Good? Dooyeweerd's aspects might help] [z106]

Q. Example: Did Robinson Crusoe (alone on an island) have an economy? (One person said yes in that he was able to function frugally. Another said no, in that an economy requires social aspect of exchange.) [z107]

Q. How does the economic aspect of life relate to other aspects [see Note 1]? [z108]

Q. What is value? How many kinds of values are there? The refraction of value into modal aspects [Note 1]. [z109]

Q. What should a multi-aspectual economy aim at? [see Note 1] [z110]

Q. What is the role of the faith aspect? i.e. How do the beliefs, commitments, assumptions that prevail in society (and in leaders) affect our functioning in other aspects, especially the economic? [z111]

Q. What is the proper role of markets? Especially relating to e.g. legislation and voluntary activity (see below)? [z112]

Q. In 2008 the financial crash. Trying to recover. Then in 2020 the pandemic. How does this work? [I think there was an implied question there, but not sure what it was.] [z113]

3. Individuals, markets and society:

Q. Image of Man: can we work any longer with homo economicus? [that seemed to be a rhetorical question, with the answer "No"] [z114]

Q. How does individual choice relate to social aspects? [z115]

Q. How to get past individuals? How to create accountability across time? [z116]

Q. How should Christians view individual consumption (especially in relation to our emphasis on responsibility)? [z117]

Q. How do we see stewardship? [z118]

Q. Can the idea of sin help us? And of redemption? (contribution from Christian perspective) [z119]

Q. Contribution from Christian perspective? [z120]

4. Towards a better economic system:

Q. We have many kinds of economic thinking: Donut Economics, Circular Economy, Regenerative Economics, green economy, triple-line model, Genuine Progress Indicators, Better Life Index, Human Development Index, Wellbeing Indices, etc. Why are we not using these? Why do we stick with GDP? [z121]

Q. Suppose we adopt one or some of these? It might be appropriate for Scandinavia or Amsterdam, but is it appropriate for developing countries (e.g. Nigeria)? Or even major world-leading countries like the USA? [z122]

Q. But is that (donut economy etc.) the wrong direction? Donut economy etc. tries to expand the realm of pricing (quantitative value) to factors not previously included, and rely on market mechanisms to bring good in those aspects. But can it really do so? Might it not be better to employ the jural aspect i.e. legislation and control? [z123]

Q. Further to that, what is the role of the ethical aspect, which goes beyond the jural. In the ethical aspect, people give sacrificially, are generous etc. Might not that achieve good in the way neither markets nor legislation can? [z124]

Q. To what extent do we need money (GDP)? One person: we need it in order to do the necessary things. [Another: but what about non-monetary good functioning, especially as occurred during Covid-19)? What role might the non-monetary play?] [z125]

Q. Indicators. What can be measured and what cannot? [z126]

Q. (Christian perspective:) Should we not have an attitude of abundance rather than of scarcity? How can we measure abundance? [z127]

Q. What does it look like to not absolutize economics (the way our society tends to do) and yet gain the advantages of market thinking? [z128]

Q. Generation Y and generation Z are more ethical and take more aspects into account in their purchasing etc. Firms are responding. [I feel there is an implied question there, though one was not put. Perhaps it is: How much hope may we place in this, and why?] [z129]

Q. Paul Krugman's question (end of Lecture 3): If we (e.g. USA) cannot respond properly to Covid-19, how on earth can we respond properly to the challenge of climate change? Covid-19 was short-term and obvious; climate change is long-term and non-obvious. [z130]

5. Questions not Covered Above

[The above questions arose from the Zoom discussion. The following additional questions occurred to AB during the three lectures.

Q. Are our affluent economies bloated? Should we seek at all costs just to regain GDP levels pre-pandemic? Should we not welcome the chance to rethink, and shrink the economies to remove the bloat? But what is bloat? See next. [z131]

Q. Human functioning and Good, Harmful and Useless. Should we think of the economy / money-flow as something that opens up the potential of human functioning, rather than as a thing in itself? And that human functioning is a mix of Good, Harmful and Useless (non-essential). And there is some human functioning that occurs regardless of economy. So, part of the the economy brings Good, some Harm and some is useles (e.g. Bullshit jobs). This has two implications relating to the above: (a) The economy is not to be the central issue. (b) We must take into account the non-economy. (c) We should seek to shrink the economy by removing that which does Harm. [z132]

]

Notes.

Note 1. Dooyeweerd's aspects. Ways in which things can be meaningful, and each aspect has basic kinds of law by which all functioning is governed. The economic aspect is just one of fifteen: Quantitative, spatial, kinematic, physical, biotic, psychical, analytic, formative, lingual, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, ethical, pistic). Dooyeweerd emphasises that each aspect (a) has an irreducibly distinct kernel meaning, (b) inherently relates to all other aspects and cannot gain its full meaningfulness without them.

Note 2. Contributors to the Zoom discussion (alphabetical order): Opeoluwa Aiyenitaju-Adewolu, Charmele Ayadurai, Andrew Basden (chair and organiser), Ruth Basden, Nick Breems, Govert Buijs, Jordan Chaney, Richard Gunton, Sina Joneidy.

COMMENTS FROM INDIVIDUALS

Comments from Charmele Ayaduai 22nd December 2020

[comment labels: c1] GDP- shows more people are in employment. Contributing to the prosperity of the economy. How? When people go to work, they have to pay tax. This tax is used to improve social welfare. So GDP is not bad as it shows the cycle of how labour contributes to the economy and through taxes improve social welfare. [c101] It would be ideal to use perhaps an indicator that captures the wellbeing of people as well through Genuine Progress Indicator where both welfare and financial are captured [c102] GDP was always an important indicator to come out of chaos. For example in World War 2, Great Depression, Financial Crisis GDP was used as an important measure to get an economy up and running again to cater for the needs of people [c103] Statistics also show that countries with a high GDP per capita have better life index [c104] Although GDP increase will harm the environment through global warming, pollution but once past this stage when an economy grows to a "certain size" the economy is able to then develop environment friendly energy resources decreasing the green house gases. But according to Economist, even a country such as US has not grown to this "certain size" which is worrying. [c105] Italy a country which was very much affected by Global financial Crisis, is a good example of a country trying to rejuvenate itself and 10 years later got hit by Covid. It did not have sufficient medical kit to help its own nations and many people died. Italy was stuck to not being able to top up its medical kit as all countries were busy trying to save their own people. [c106] Talking about ozone layer depletion, forest being cut down etc is good but when we put a measure on ecology, and this measures are considered in financial statement ie green accounting than we can say that we are doing [c107] Robinson Crusoe and the economy Robin Crusoe was in a one person/one good economy where he had to choose to consume now or consume in the future Developing economies are already heavy with 3rd world debt, asking them to preserve trees, stop cutting down rainforest, etc is not going to help, these countries need to survive, one way is to write off the 3rd world debt and perhaps provide subsidies to encourage growth in certain areas like poaching, protecting wildlife etc [c108]

Comments from Sina Joneidy 23 December 2020

1. Dr Mark Carney calls for huge financial investment and pushes for more innovation. The immediate thought that struck me most was "don't go down the same route in the same old way!" [s101] why? I thought something to do with the Juridical aspect was missing in what he was talking about. The UK passed the Net Zero Law in July 2019 and is leading in it globally as the Gov.co.uk website says. The UK has a target to meet by 2050. [s102] The UK led in economic growth though industrial revolution (Economic aspect) , now after so many years Net Zero etc (other aspects). This reminds of development of discourses in the field of information systems. I ask myself, until when on this planet do we want to repeat this cycle of seeing one aspect as most important then see another aspect as most important at different time intervals and so on. It seems that is the case in almost everything in this world. [s103]

2. Up to the global financial crisis in 2008, there were other agendas for which the "solution" was also huge financial investment and more innovation! What did we end up with? What did we learn from it? This time round the agenda is Net Zero! [s104]

Comments from Charmele Ayadurai, 3 January 2021

[comment label: c2xx] (See also comments from CA earlier). Climate Change

Mark was fairly positive that UK will reach the goal of zero emission by 2050, saying that we have done half of the work already on environment answering a scientist's concerns of the ice melting. [c201]

What is strange about the optimism here is that:

UK is still heading the fast fashion industry ie Zara, M&S, H&M etc who have their factories situated in developing countries. The question we need to ask here is zero emission means moving carbon emission out of UK to developing countries keeping our turfs green and polluting other countries. Is this green? [c202]

Zara, M&S and ASOS still employ child workers and most fast fashion underpay women and children who work in the factories in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia etc. Foxconn in China biggest production line of Apple have staff committing suicide because of poor working conditions, bad management, stress, low pay etc. What about human rights? The question to ask here is by sitting in the boat of environment, can I neglect human rights? [c203]

The World bank suggest that FDI benefits developing countries bringing in technical know-how, enhancing workforce skills, increasing productivity, generating business for local firms, creating better paying jobs. Since Multinationals are more productive than local firms and earn much higher profit because of scale of operations they have the capacity to pay workers higher wages. But this does not seem to be the case as most fast fashion do not pay the factory workers well. [c204]

We need to look at the whole supply chain process not in parts where developed country is involved and neglect everything else. [c205]

Why do we look at everything in isolation, or in parts? [c206]

However there is a positive for developing countries, on 1 Jan 2021 a new law has been passed by Basel allowing developing countries like Vietnam and Malaysia to refuse low-quality, difficult to recycle waste before it is even been shipped. This will stop waste that cannot be recycled to end up in landfills or waterways. So the question to ask is what are developed countries like UK is doing to stop buying or importing in these low-quality difficult to recycle waste? [c207]

Greenpeace has also reported that Ford, General Motors and Nissan are sourcing pig iron that has resulted in destruction of amazon rainforest, slave labour, land conflict with indigenous tribe. Rainforests are cut and burned to power blast furnaces to produce pig iron which is then shipped to US for steel production. [c208]

So when we talk about the ice is melting and zero emission is not about Britain's race to get to zero emission by 2050 but the whole supply chain that the Multinationals in these countries are involved in to reach 2050. Developed countries cannot say we have reached the target of zero emission and point the fingers at developing countries anymore it is a shared responsibility. [c209]

Also US is not in the Paris Agreement and it was in the bottom of the list of ESG in 2019

So according to Mark who is the planetary citizens? Developed economy? Developing economy? Or everyone who lives in this planet?

Ms Ohumu from Nigeria asked as G20 is responsible for 80% gas emission what are they doing to help developing economy like Nigeria. Mark answers that African Development bank will need to help out. But what about the rest of the developing world where the factories of Nike etc is build on that is releasing all these gasses now? [c210]

Is there a Asian environment bank that these countries can tap into funded by IMF or World Bank to support developing countries? [c211]

There was a question from the audience saying we need to Stop China from polluting the environment. But all of these happened because of Trump's trade war. US war ships are in south china sea instigating China. And recently, Australia also in trade war with China because of its intention to probe into Covid with US, Trump baseless accusation that the virus was made in the labs in China. This stopped China importing coal from Australia. Australian ships carrying coals are still in the waters all of this is also pollution. [c212]

Comments from Jordan Chaney

Comments Sent 1st January 2021

The reports and results sections in the fourth lecture sparked some reflections on how we could set a path forward for further work.

There are seeds pointing towards expanding the "reporting" function or "results" readout for activity to encompass more than the aspect of economic value pegged to us dollar [j101]. This encourages a perspective to see beyond any pegged currency, say a move to the yaun/yen/pound/euro, to move beyond exchange as the value we value most. What else can we value more? [j102]

In the image of God, could we see the value of each person? So an aspectual/pistic move could be to "peg" reporting and results to each life. [j103]

A bios/pistic report to care for a shared environment? [j104] Maybe set up "carbon districts" or growth districts for cleaner shared natural world? [j105]

Ill explore more of the links later today.

God bless and happy new year!

Comments Sent 7th January 2021

These comments are in response to the questions sent round (actually not quite the latest version).

Q: What's involved in rethinking the economy?

1. What do we value? [j201]

2. How do we measure that? [j202]

3. What is the lifecycle/timeline [j203] we should set as a rating? Is a year, quarter [j204] or other predescribed model of marking time to show "growth" appropriate?

Q: Which areas of issues are there, which can be challenged with rethinking?

Certainly the "what" of what is measured to establish economic "value" [j201] could be evaluated [j202]. Trying to tie [j205] externalities [j206] to the central valuation of the economic rating is an area to possibly investigate.

I much like the idea of establishing "efficiency" instead of "frugality" as the core theme within the economic aspect [j207]. We could then assess what is efficiently consumed [j208] in the environment, work hours, materials, carbon consumption to produce the end product that is purchased through trade. In effect, we could establish an "Aspectual Efficiency (Impact/Weight)" [j209] to measure the required aspectual nonreducible unit that is utilized in retropancy and also the impact of the dependency of further downstream aspectual impacts of the product/item/service used [j210]. Instead of assuming that the price of a product or service incorporates the total "economic value" of the product or service which can then be transferred into GDP assessment [j211], we nudge the equilibrium of the optimal price to encompass what are typically considered externalities [j212] (carbon tax, and other items). Simply stated, this is creating a ratings or pricing or measurement system of not just supply and demand, but supply and demand and (environmental or other aspectual) impact [j213]. We could look at the aspects to guide what those other impacting aspects or units that should be measured [j214]. This could be done in the presenting a new type of efficiency as the key instead of just financial frugality [j215] as the main driver of economic aspect [j207].

Q: What prevents us rethinking? e.g. presuppositions?

Does anyone have any experience in pricing modeling or pricing theory [j216]? I do not, but this could be a presupposition we should examine to test our ability to appropriate create a measurable index. What are we trying to do, replace or expand GDP? Critique or enrich GDP? [j217]

Q. What is the role of the faith aspect?

(i.e. How do the beliefs, commitments, assumptions that prevail in society (and in leaders) affect our functioning in other aspects, especially the economic? )

JC: Faith/Pistic Aspect aligns the retropancy of the previous aspects towards the desired end [j218] of the final valuation we place on an "efficient" economic measurement or assessment. What we may need to do is set what we think should be considered efficient [j219]. Think of this, what we value as efficient would encompass what we value as being considered in the measurement and accounted for in the final measurement [j220] . So maybe its a "Gross National(or we remove the national) Efficiency Index" where we measure the environmental impact or juridical impact or cultural impact of aesthetic impact of a product or service relating to how efficient it is in harming or strengthening [j221] the said aspectual kernel associated with each aspect. So, how efficient is plane travel in harming the biotic aspect of which beings in what cultural or juridical space? The GEI or GNEI could rate the items that have higher or lower efficiencies of aspectual impact based on their use. Would love to tease this out further with you or/and others.

Q. How to get past individuals? How to create accountability across time?

--JC: Do we establish a time aspect with a kernel? Maybe a 16th needed aspect to establish a reasonable "efficiency" score/index or rating?

Q. How should Christians view individual consumption (especially in relation to our emphasis on responsibility)?

--JC: More critically, and this starts with just a conversation across culturals. I propose we all have a conversation together and just state what are common day or common week looks like with our consumption, both products, food and services/power. Thoughts? [j222]

Q. Indicators. What can be measured and what cannot?

--JC: What cannot be measured yet could be a question that guides our efficiency conversations [j223]. Maybe we can establish new modes of measurement?